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Within, Without

Chapter Text

I'm so alone
I feel just like somebody else
Man, I ain't changed, but I know I ain't the same ×

× × ×

It's cold.

Dave is huddled down as far as he can be on his alchemized mattress, his arms tight around himself and his eyes fixed on the door. The meteor is too big, and too quiet. You always hear other people when you're in an apartment. There are always doors slamming, loud televisions, raised voices. But here, the silence is yawning and absolute.

Don't move

Even the room he's claimed as his own feels too big. He's used to clutter, to bustle, to heat, not these empty, cold, metal walls that extend up into blackness and this eerie, deathly quiet. Dave pretends like he's gotten used to it. He doesn’t move, doesn’t make a sound, doesn't even allow himself the comfort of pushing his mattress back into the corner of his room like he's imagined doing thousands of times since he got here. It's not like it would help, not really.

Don't make a sound

Dave suddenly misses Jade and John so intensely that it feels like two enormous hands have grabbed his lungs and squeezed, so that every breath, no matter how deep, feels impossibly shallow. His heart thumps erratically, and an ache spreads through his chest. He clenches his fists. The ceiling is so far away and everything feels so large, so large and towering and unsteady. Are his hands going numb? He's sure that this night, like so many nights before, will be his last. He's going to die, right here, alone and afraid, and there's nothing he can do about it.

× × ×

Every day is the same.

Every day is just more and more pointless bullshit. Pointless bullshit stacked on top of even more pointless bullshit. How high can the bullshit tower go? Unfortunately that's a question Dave can tell he's going to come pretty fucking close to being able to answer.

Every day he wakes up, barely feeling rested. Does he even have enough energy to roll off the mattress? Sometimes. Does he have enough energy to shower? Sometimes.

The coffee is really what gets him moving. As soon as a caffeine headache starts to pinch at his brain he can usually find the energy to drag himself out of bed. Maybe nobody will be in the lab, maybe nobody will be in the lab...

There are always people in the lab.

Rose is knitting at the table, Kanaya is reading quietly to her, and Karkat is huddled on the couch with his husktop. Terezi and Vriska are nowhere to be seen. Thank paradox space for minor miracles.

He gets his coffee, as usual, and rifles through the table of barely-passable alchemized packages of food. He bypasses the troll ones entirely. He's already gone down that road, and it's a road paved with intestinal distress.

Rose looks up and eyes his armful of food. She raises one eyebrow as if to say, "I know you're taking most of that back to your room to hide like a fucking magpie," and he stares back at her as if to say, "fuck you, I do what I want."

And he leaves.

The number of verbal social interactions for the day still sits at 0.

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 22:52 --

GC: SUP COOLK1D
TG: sup terezi
GC: VR1SK4 4ND 1 FOUND 4 H1DD3N P4SS4G3 1N WH4T US3D TO B3 F3F3R1S ROOM
GC: LOOKS L1K3 A PR3TTY LONG H4LLW4Y
GC: W1TH LOTS OF DOORS!
GC: M4YB3 TH3R3 W1LL B3 MONST3RS B3H1ND ON3 OF THOS3 DOORS! >:]
TG: yeah maybe
GC: DONT YOU W4NT TO F1GHT SOM3 MONST3RS, D4V3?
TG: i guess so
GC: L4ST ON3 TH3R3 W1LL T4ST3 TH3 SOUR DRUBB1NGS OF JUST1C3

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 22:59 --

Dave's stomach sinks as he shoves his phone back into his pocket. He speeds up, as if walking faster and faster into the uninhabited parts of the meteor will lift what suddenly feels like an unbearable metric fuckton of social responsibilities from his shoulders.

The packages he's carrying under one arm crinkle with each step, louder and louder, grating over his eardrums, piercing directly into the audio center of his brain until he can't stand the sound any longer. He drops them all in the middle of the hallway.

"I'll just take you," Dave mutters to himself, grabbing a package of the closest they've gotten to anything like Doritos. "Don't worry, I'll come back for the rest of you later, just uh, talk amongst yourselves or whatever. Have a snack party. Snack pack uh, attack? Wait no. Extravaganz...ack? Oh god. No. Never mind. Me and Doritos...Don't-ritos? Got a breakfast date." He starts off again, sneakers blessedly soundless on the floor.

It's dark, but he doesn't give a shit. He eats in a big laboratory full of dead monsters in tubes, earbuds in his ears. His entire music collection is still on his computer back in his apartment on LOHAC, so all Dave has to listen to now is his own shit. He has all the time in the world now to make more music. All the time in the world to try to fill the silence, to fill his mind, to keep whatever thought he doesn't want to be having from bobbing up to the surface like a drowned corpse.

He always finds himself coming back to this particular laboratory, and to one monster in particular. She has two heads, one with an almost human-like, or, he guesses, troll-like face, the other more elongated and animal-like, with calm, bovine eyes. She has horse legs, and spines all the way down her long tail. Her limbs are tucked close to her body, and despite all her disparate parts, the way she's curled up upon herself looks so natural. Like a fetus in a womb. Comfortable in her own skin.

When he finishes eating he heads back to his room, rapping to himself over an unfinished beat. He collects the rest of his food, the tinny rhythm in his earbuds drowning out the sound.

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 23:22 --

GC: D4V3?

-- turntechGodhead [TG] is now an idle chum! --

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 23:47 --

He can't answer her. He can't. Failure eats at him, nibbling insistently at his insides. He keeps moving, his head bowed, watching the movement of his sneakers against the floor.

× × ×

The Derse carapace everyone refers to as the Mayor is dying, Dave thinks. He thinks the others think so too, even if, like with so many other things, they don't discuss it around him.

The Mayor won't let anyone touch him, or see his injury, but Dave always brings him a new towel (that he snatches and balls up at his middle), and food (that he hardly ever touches). Do carapaces need to eat? Dave's not sure. They must be really tough, like, super extra tough, because it's been months and even though as far as Dave can tell that wound is really fucking severe, he's still hanging on. Are carapaces game constructs? Can game constructs ever heal?

Dave doesn't know how much longer the Mayor is going to last, so he comes to talk to him almost every day. Most of what he says is nonsense, but he keeps talking, looking into black insect eyes that glint listlessly up at him. He talks and listens to labored breathing, nails digging into his palms.

× × ×

The rhythmic grinding of clockwork pounds through Dave's skull. Heatwaves shimmer around him, the lava bright as fuck even through his shades. He takes off from the ground with a sudden leap, the air cooling noticeably around him as he flies up to his apartment.

He falls face first onto his mattress, the coolness of his pillow like heaven against his face, and he runs his hands reverently over the familiar texture of his sheets. Almost automatically his fingers make their way to the small slit he cut a long time ago in the side of his mattress.

OK.

It's still there.

He pulls out the picture of Jade that he printed off years ago. The resolution is shitty, and the cheap printer paper is a little ripped at the creases, but her smile is still huge and bright.

Grief hits him in the chest. She broke up with him before the Scratch because, she said, she didn't know if they would ever see each other again. Dave can't help but pick at the never-healing scabs of so many unbearably awkward moments and countless verbal fuckups he'd been prone to, though. No matter what she said, he still thinks it was mostly his fault.

The barely audible sound of metal scraping the roof above him sends Dave into a panic. He shoves the picture back into his mattress, heart racing, a chill of terror washing over him. He tries to calm his breathing, but it just makes his head swim.

The window has changed. It's daytime in Houston, and his brother is on the roof.

Dave wakes up with a start to his phone vibrating in his pocket.

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 1:14 --

GC: TH3R3 W3R3NT 4NY MONST3RS

-- turntechGodhead [TG] is now an idle chum! --

GC: YOU D1DNT M1SS 4NYTH1NG

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 1:15 --

Dave tosses his phone down onto the mattress beside him. He didn't mean to fall asleep. He really didn't mean to fall asleep.

His heart is still racing, the sweat that had broken out over his skin now clammy. He shivers, curling in upon himself, shame writhing through his insides like a sick knot of worms.

Stop

Don’t feel it, don’t be

Don’t be anything

Chapter Text

Today
Find infinite ways it could be
Plenty worse
It's a blessing but it's also a curse ×

× × ×

-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 22:03 --

GA: I Have Been Asked To Inform Everyone That There Will Be A Movie Shown Tonight In The Lab At 8:00 Hours
GA: To Quote A Human Aphorism, Be There Or Be Square
GA: I Believe That Is The Correct Phrase
TG: uh yeah it is
TG: and yeah message received i guess

-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 22:07 --

Troll movies are long, nearly incomprehensible, and extremely violent. It's not like Dave's not used to violent movies -- it's not like everything from A Clockwork Orange to Saw hadn't been playing repeatedly in his house since he was a fucking baby or anything. Dave thought he was pretty much immune to it. Fake acting and fake latex injuries, so what. Troll movies, though…even the most lame-sounding romcoms make Dave feel kind of sick to watch, and the flippant way all the trolls think of death and killing -- a desperate flippancy born of its prevalence, for them, in real life -- makes him feel sicker.

Rose doesn't like watching troll movies either, and says so without shame. Dave can't help but feel a sick sort of glee when he goads her for not being able to handle them. Vriska immediately jumps on board with the goading, and when Rose finally just leaves the room Kanaya usually trails out behind her, leaving Dave with Karkat, Terezi, and Vriska on the world's most uncomfortable couch.

He's not doing it. Not today. Not the arguing, not the internal shame spiral, not the long stretches of movie he has to spend staring at a point on the ceiling so he doesn't have to look at the screen. The fact that it's Kanaya messaging him about it like there's not a pretty good chance she's just going to wander off with Rose before the movie even starts makes anger bloom hot in his chest.

Fuck everyone.

× × ×

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 23:27 --

GC: H3Y D4V3 >:]
TG: hey terezi
GC: GU3SS WHO 1S GO1NG TO H4V3 4 P4RTY 4T TH3 4LCH3M1T3R???
TG: uh lets see let me guess
TG: you and vriska
GC: M3 4ND VR1SK4 4ND K4RK4T 4ND K4N4Y4 4ND ROS3!
GC: YOU 4R3 H34RBY COMM4ND3D TO 4TT3ND
GC: 1T 1S 4 LUNCH P4RTY SO ROS3 1S GO1NG TO 4LCH3M1Z3 4 BUNCH OF FOOD
GC: 4ND TH3N W3 4R3 GO1NG TO 4LCH3M1Z3 SO M4NY 4W3SOM3 N3W TH1NGS FOR OURS3LV3S!
TG: that sure sounds like something to do
GC: 1LL S33 YOU TH3R3, COOLK1D! >:] > :] >:] > :] >:]
TG: i guess

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 23:33 --

In a sudden burst of irritation Dave contemplates leaving his phone in his room. He stares at it for a moment, gritting his teeth, then shoves it back in his pocket.

He tries to empty his mind as he floats listlessly down to his usual laboratory. Why does he ever bother walking? Fuck walking, fuck talking, fuck eating, fuck sleeping. There's no point to any of it.

His favorite monster is serene as ever, and he leans his forehead against the glass, breathing deeply and studying her hooves, eyes tracing the perfect line where her hoof meets the short white fur on her dainty horse ankles. Her fur looks so soft, fuzzy, like the skin of a peach.

Dave sits crosslegged on the ground in front of her and uncaptchalogues his notebook.

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 00:22 --

GC: D4V3?

-- turntechGodhead [TG] is now an idle chum! --

GC: >:[

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 00:38 --

Dave ignores the buzzing on the floor next to him, writing furiously, frowning in concentration.

I kneel at the foot of my mutant goddess
Ideas take root, but not enough to make progress
What was she before the prototyping enhanced her?
I got three fucking years to decide on an answer
So I try to spin rhymes and I pray for success
Or an appeal for the reboot but that ain't mutable I guess
And just for a moment I pretend it's all better
But post-session depression's only worse since I met her

He stares down at the page, a strange, sad emptiness taking root in his chest. He wanted to write about how he was feeling, and he did, sort of, but he didn't even come close to expressing all the things that he really wanted to express: the sadness of life that never began, the hopelessness of fate, the loneliness of existence, the inability to completely fix what has once been broken.

Dave shuts his notebook and flops over onto his side. The floor is cold as hell.

Oh. Fucking great. Someone's pestering him again. He snatches up his phone in irritation.

-- arachnidsGrip [AG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 1:02 --

AG: I have a pro8lem.
TG: uh oh did you finally get a good look at yourself in a mirror
TG: fuck i thought we smashed them all so youd never find out the horrible truth
AG: Good one, loser. You really got me there.
AG: No, it's completely o8vious that the pro8lem is you.
AG: Why can't you just admit that you're avoiding Terezi?
AG: That way you'd only 8e a lame friendless nerd instead of a lame asshole who upsets my moirail.
TG: ok so everyone hates me now got it
AG: Everyone does not h8 you. You miiiiiiiight not realize this yet, but the world does not actually revolve around you.
AG: Stop 8eing such a dum8 wiggler.
TG: no

-- turntechGodhead [TG] blocked arachnidsGrip [AG] at 1:13 --

AG: >::::O
-- turntechGodhead [TG] did not receive message from arachnidsGrip [AG] --
AG: D8n't you f8cking bl8ck me, assh8le
-- turntechGodhead [TG] did not receive message from arachnidsGrip [AG] --
AG: You are going to 8e s8rry!!!!!!!!
-- turntechGodhead [TG] did not receive message from arachnidsGrip [AG] --

-- arachnidsGrip [AG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 1:14 --

Fuck everyone.

Dave recaptchalogues his notebook, shoves himself to his feet, and takes off. He doesn't have a plan. He's never had a plan, not ever. Everyone else has a plan, for themselves, and for him. He's tired of going along with everyone's stupid fucking plans. The meteor could just explode right now and Dave wouldn't give any kind of a shit.

There's another huge laboratory through a door, here, full of long-dead control panels. Wires spill out of them, disconnected from blank monitors, unplugged, cut, frayed. Dave uncaptchalogues his sword.

It's not as easy to slice through the metal of the control panel as Dave thought it would be. The palms of his hands tingle from the impact, the vibration familiar as it tingles up through his arms, settling in the sockets of his shoulders. He tries again, and again, head swimming, eyes burning.

The clatter of the sword on the floor makes him wince. Fuck. Fuck.

He sinks down beside it, rubbing frantically at his eyes. The impact still vibrates in his bones.

Terezi used to leave him chalk drawings all over the common areas, where she knew he was going to come around a corner and see them. Mostly they were Dave being cool, riding on a skateboard, or whatever, and sometimes they'd be Dave and Terezi, going on adventures or fighting enemies. He hasn't seen any in at least a month, and he tries to choke down the shame he feels about everything surrounding her.

He thought they were better friends than they actually were. There was a point during the game that he might have said that she was his best friend. But it turned out that Terezi already had other people that were way more important to her, and that's just the way it is. Dave's importance in her life is just a little spade-hole dug by a lousy kid on a beach. Karkat's importance is an olympic-sized swimming pool. Vriska's is the Grand Fucking Canyon.

Dave pushes his shades up onto his head, pressing his hands into his eyes until he sees starbursts on the insides of his eyelids. His palms are still numb. He wants to be better friends, but he doesn't know how, and the longer it goes without happening, the worse he feels.

× × ×

Dave finally lets himself fall onto his mattress, still fully dressed, god tier cape spilling across the floor. He feels sick with how tired he is, and how empty. How is it possible to feel this bad about feeling nothing? Nothing fucking matters. Nothing is the right thing to feel.

His phone buzzes insistently in his pocket. He's tempted to leave it there.

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 3:27 --

CG: MOVIE NIGHT TONIGHT, YOU KNOW WHERE.
TG: yeah kanaya told me
TG: do we really have to
CG: I DON'T SEE YOU COMING UP WITH BETTER THINGS TO DO, BULGEMUNCH.
CG: SERIOUSLY, STRIDER, PLEASE ENLIGHTEN ME ON WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING WITH OUR TIME, BECAUSE IF I HAVE TO SIT THROUGH ONE MORE BLOODTHIRSTY LEGISLACERATOR DRAMA *OR* ONE MORE BRAINLESS PIRATE ESCAPADE I'M GOING TO LAUNCH INTO THE FUCKING CEILING.
CG: AND THE ONE SCRAPING MY POOR MORTAL DIGESTION SACS OFF THE LIGHT FIXTURES IS GOING TO BE YOU.
CG: "WHY DIDN'T I CAST MY VOTE FOR TONIGHT'S MOVIE? WHY WAS I SUCH AN ASOCIAL CHUTELICKER? WHY???"
CG: THAT'S WHAT YOU'LL BE SAYING.
TG: nah
CG: SO ARE YOU COMING OR NOT?
CG: STRIDER?
CG: DAVE?

-- turntechGodhead [TG] is now an idle chum! --

CG: FUCKING
CG: UGH

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 3:59 --

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 8:14 --

TT: Dave.
TG: rose
TT: Just making sure you're still alive.
TG: nope i died like three months ago
TT: So did I. Stop being obtuse.
TG: youve reached the ghost of dave strider please leave a message thats not full of snarky horseshit thanks have a blessed day
TT: If it's not too much to ask, would you consider unblocking Vriska?
TG: the fuck
TG: no no and no
TT: She's making it slightly impossible for me to hang out in the common areas, in that she continually hassles me about you.
TG: jesus just tell her to step off
TG: how is this my problem
TG: fuck
TT: Dave, I'm worried about you. I've barely seen you in days.
TT: The others are worried about you, too.
TG: yeah right
TG: what others
TT: Let's see. Kanaya. Karkat. Vriska. Terezi.
TG: that sure is the others
TT: I'm being serious.
TG: no shit
TG: the others can fuck off
TG: find some other dude to suck off
TG: i get shit done when im alone and theres no denyin it
TG: just admit you want to bone and thats underlyin shit
TG: dont need no seer spyin with no candle bell and book
TG: got spun inside the green sun now my beats are off the hook
TT: Dave, I know you're unhappy.

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 8:36 --

TG: so fucking what

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 8:37 --

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 9:41 --

CG: HOLY NOOKSTUFFING SHIT YOU MISSED THE MOST EPIC FIGHT BETWEEN TEREZI AND VRISKA.
TG: what really
CG: THEY ACTUALLY BOTH JUST STORMED OFF TO THEIR BLOCKS SO I JUST SHUT OFF THE MOVIE.
TG: shit what were they fighting about
CG: FUCK IF I KNOW, I CAN'T KEEP UP WITH THEIR BLUEBLOODED ANCESTOR CYCLE OF REVENGE HOOFBEASTSHIT.
TG: oh
TG: so it wasnt about like
TG: current events
CG: UH
CG: NO? I GUESS? I DON'T KNOW.
CG: I JUST THOUGHT MAYBE YOU'D WANT TO WATCH SOMETHING WITH ME NOW THAT THEY'RE GONE.
TG: because terezi didnt even ask me to come to that bullshit lunch party
TG: she just told me to and didnt even give me a choice
TG: why would i want to alchemize more useless shit it sucks i suck and everyone sucks
TG: and i know youre all talking about me behind my back i mean
TG: why else would you all just like continually trade off pestering me trying to get me to hang out
TG: like oh its my turn to pester dave now put a little gold star next to my name on the pester dave chart
TG: like hanging out is going to make me fucking feel better about the absolute metric fuckton of bullshit thats happened to us
TG: all of you can just fuck right the hell off
CG: I
CG: ALRIGHT.
CG: I'M SORRY.

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 10:19 --

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 10:26 --

TG: rose I fucked up

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] is now an idle chum! --

TG: fuck rose i did something really bad
TG: please i need to talk to you
TG: rose
TG: please
TG: nvm
TG: ignore that

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 11:51 --

Chapter Text

Find my nest of salt
Everything is my fault ×

× × ×

Don't move

Don't

Move

Dave is lying in bed, pulse thundering in his ears. His heart feels like a collapsed star, inescapable gravity slowly crushing his ribs, sucking the blood from his hands and feet. How could he have gone off on Karkat like that? How could he have lost control of himself so badly?

Striders don't lose control

Striders don't lose control

Striders don't lose

He can't get enough air. What if there actually isn't enough oxygen in this part of the meteor? What if he's suffocating?

Don't make a sound

Tears sting at his eyes, but he doesn't blink. A sob builds in his chest and he chokes on it.

Don't

make

a

sound

Dave is suddenly furious. He's alone. No one can see him. No one is watching him, not anymore. No one is going to give any kind of a shit whether or not he's able to pretend to himself that stuff hasn't fucked him up. Dave lets out a sob that's half laugh.

He lurches to his feet and stumbles toward the door. After three steps his stride evens out; after six he's flinging open the door and heading off down the hallway. His heart is still pounding.

He trails a hand along the metal wall, the tips of his fingers four cold points. He's never going back to his room. Fuck that place.

The computer lab is dark after the flash of the transportalizer, but his eyes adjust as he makes his way to the coffee maker. "Never understood why anyone'd be afraid of the dark. What's the dark going to do to you? Nothing. The dark can't do shit." He grabs a mug off the counter and begins to fill it. "Why do humans start thinking like prey in the dark? We should be the predators, shit yeah."

The transportalizer zings into action behind him.

Dave jumps and slops coffee all over the countertop. "Fuck! Oh, oh, shit..." He looks over his shoulder, and Karkat is staring back at him, eyes wide. The coffee is running towards a pile of books and Dave frantically starts trying to grab them all.

Karkat slams a satin pillow down over the spill.

"Ugh." Karkat lifts the corner of the pillow and starts mopping a little. "I wish I hadn't done that. This is not fucking absorbent at all."

"Just leave it there, dude. Nobody can prove it was us."

Dave remembers with a sudden, sharp chill who he's standing there with. Karkat doesn't seem too pissed at him, at least -- he's filling Dave's half-empty mug back up to the top. He hands it over, eyes averted, and starts filling his own. He wanders over to the table and slowly sinks down, his back to Dave.

Dave's stomach sinks with guilt. Karkat didn't have anything to do with anything. He hesitates, then follows, sliding into the seat across from Karkat, his hands tightening around his mug. "Couldn't sleep."

Karkat looks up, eyebrows drawn together, and with a sigh props his head up in one hand. "I don't sleep." He takes a large sip of his coffee.

Dave stares in disbelief. "Is that normal? For trolls? Like seriously, do you not have to sleep?"

Karkat rolls his eyes. "No, it's not fucking normal." He idly pushes at the handle of his mug with one finger, rotating it in a complete circle.

"What happens if you never sleep? With humans you go completely crazy if you don't. Thats what happens on TV anyway so who knows if that's true or what."

Karkat hums distractedly, eyes back on the table, shoulders slumped. "I am so fucking tired," he admits a moment later.

With another awful twinge of guilt, for the first time Dave really notices the rings under his eyes and the exhausted slant of his mouth. There's something so honest in his voice that Dave wants to curl in upon himself and never come out again.

"I didn't sleep pretty much the whole time we were on the meteor. Before you came, I mean. And now I hardly ever can. I try, fuck, I was just lying there for almost four hours, and there's nothing like failing to accomplish a basic fucking bodily function to make you hate yourself. I miss my recuperacoon, I miss my hive, I miss..." He clunks his forehead down onto the tabletop and lets out a frustrated groan.

"Fuck sleep, then. Sleep had its chance with you, but it totally blew it, going out to the bars every night and leaving you home alone with the baby and your diet pills..."

Karkat waves his hand dismissively at Dave, his face still buried in the table. "Stop mumbling about human shit."

The corner of Dave's mouth quirks upwards. "What would you do if you were home?"

"Sleep. No, ugh. Not even anything good. I'd be trolling people. Watching movies. Programming viruses, I dunno." Karkat pushes himself up off the table, looking at Dave, head tilted just slightly. "I almost always stayed in my hive. I never gave a fuck that I never left. I guess I had more of a choice on Alternia than I thought I did."

Dave stares silently into his mug.

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 15:40 --

CG: STILL AWAKE?

-- turntechGodhead [TG] is now an idle chum! --

CG: OH, NEVER MIND. FUCK IT.
TG: no im still up

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is now an idle chum! --

TG: fuck
TG: whatever
TG: maybe you got to sleep
TG: i hope you got to sleep
TG: seriously
TG: i lied earlier kind of
TG: its not that i cant sleep
TG: i just hate the part before i fall asleep
TG: so i thought maybe i should just not sleep sometimes
TG: like if i really didnt want to go through the whole process i could just not do it
TG: who cares
TG: what do we even have to do tomorrow
TG: nothing
CG: NO, I DIDN'T FALL ASLEEP
TG: oh hey
TG: whats up
CG: I'M JUST WATCHING A MOVIE WITH HALF MY THINKPAN WHILE THE OTHER HALF WRITHES IN SELF-FLAGELLATION.
TG: sweet what movie
CG: WHEREIN A LOWLY, HORNLESS ALIEN GETS FUCKED ON THE PROTAGONIST'S EXTENDED MIDDLE FINGERS; THE GODS OF THE OUTER RIM SMILE AT THIS GLORIOUS SMACKDOWN AND GRANT THE PROTAGONIST A WISH; THE PROTAGONIST WISHES FOR THE TOTAL ANNIHILATION OF REALITY
TG: sounds shitty
CG: HA, HA.
TG: what would you really wish for
TG: I mean if someone gave you a wish
TG: i always try to have one ready
TG: you know
TG: just in case
CG: I CAN'T EVEN COMPREHEND THE SHEER AMOUNT OF FREE TIME YOU SEEM TO HAVE HAD.
CG: WHAT IS YOURS?
TG: i dont know anymore
TG: you have to choose something that cant backfire on you
TG: anyone that offers you a wish is guaran fucking teed to try to fuck you over in the most humiliating way possible
TG: wish for a bigger dick and youre like tripping over this huge monster dong
TG: its coiling around your feet like a fucking firehose
TG: come on dude you have to be serious about this shit
TG: our lives are now a thousand times more likely to put us in a situation where some assholes offering up a wish
CG: THAT IS SO FUCKING STUPID.
CG: WHY WOULD THIS WISH-GRANTING ENTITY BE TRYING TO FUCK US OVER?
CG: WHAT DOES IT GET OUT OF THIS?
TG: no man this is like a thing in human culture
TG: everyones supposed to feel bad for wanting things the easy way
TG: and you shouldnt trust strangers with gifts
TG: because they might suddenly shank you or whatever
CG: BUT THE EASIEST WAY *IS* ALWAYS THE BEST WAY.
CG: THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT THE BEST WAY.
TG: maybe for you
TG: but as a human i have to like
TG: do everything the hard way
TG: to like grow as a person
TG: otherwise the narrative isnt cohesive
TG: so i dont have a wish anymore because the one i used to have is kind of obsolete
TG: i used to wish theyd find the perfectly preserved corpse of a giant prehistoric bird in a glacier or something
TG: even though someone sometime would definitely clone that shit
TG: and yeah the birds would probably start killing people and next thing you know its the climax of a michael crichton novel
TG: but
TG: worth it
CG: SURE. UH.
CG: I WOULD HAVE SAID I WISHED I WAS HOME AND EVERYTHING WAS BACK TO NORMAL.
CG: BUT NOW I DON'T KNOW IF I EVEN ACTUALLY WANT THAT.
CG: I USED TO HAVE A FUCKING PLAN FOR MY LIFE.
CG: BUT NOW I KNOW THAT MY LIFE BEFORE WAS THE WORST KIND OF MEANINGLESS.
CG: I DON'T KNOW IF YOU CAN COME BACK FROM REALIZING THAT.
TG: fuck
TG: yeah i get that
TG: i never even had a chance to decide what i wanted to do with my life though
TG: i do a bunch of stuff
TG: blogging comics photography music collecting fossils
TG: tearing popular culture a new asshole
TG: you know
CG: I WANTED TO BE THIS HOT SHOT THRESHECUTIONER.
CG: I GUESS I THOUGHT I STILL HAD SWEEPS AND SWEEPS TO SUDDENLY DEVELOP THIS AMAZING TALENT BEFORE I WAS SENT OFF-PLANET.
CG: I SUCK SO MUCH AT USING SICKLES THE UNIVERSE FROG HAS A HICKEY, BY THE WAY.
CG: THEY WOULDN'T EVEN HESITATE TO CULL ME.
CG: I GUESS THAT WAS LESS OF A WORRY BEFORE I KNEW WHAT IT WAS ACTUALLY LIKE TO DIE.
TG: fuck dude
TG: youre right though
TG: dying sucks
TG: its kind of like going to sleep but at the very last second you cant breathe but youre trying and trying
TG: and theres nothing there suddenly but your own freaking out mind
TG: and it feels like it goes on forever
TG: but really its only been like a second
CG: ...
TG: uh
TG: fuck
TG: sorry
CG: I'VE NEVER EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT TALKING TO ANYONE ABOUT THAT BEFORE.
TG: me either
TG: actually
TG: until just a second ago i mean
CG: YEAH.

× × ×

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 00:26 --

TT: Dave, please tell me that you're all right.
TT: I'm sorry I wasn't alerted to your messages.
TG: dammit rose you woke me up
TT: It's after noon.
TG: so what
TG: who gives a fuck on this piece of shit rock
TT: Dave, you can talk to me about anything, you know that.
TG: can
TG: but wont
TG: you know that
TT: Unfortunately.

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 00:32 --

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 00:36 --

TG: hey
CG: HEY.
TG: did you get any sleep
CG: WHAT? NO.
CG: IS THIS GOING TO BE A THING WITH YOU NOW?
CG: WHY DO YOU GIVE A FUCK WHETHER OR NOT I GOT ANY SLEEP?
CG: I'VE BEEN LIKE THIS THE WHOLE TIME YOU'VE KNOWN ME, NOOKWIPE.
TG: uh
TG: dude i dunno
TG: it just seems like it sucks
CG: YEAH, IT SUCKS.
TG: sorry
TG: wait maybe im not supposed to be apologizing here
TG: im lost
CG: UGH, NEVER MIND.
CG: LOOK, I'LL TALK TO YOU LATER. I'M GOING TO GO EAT SOMETHING COMPLETELY UNAPPETIZING.
TG: yeah ok

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 00:55 --

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 11:23 --

TG: hey i uh

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is an idle chum! --

TG: fuck
TG: yeah uh ok
TG: i meant to
TG: when we were actually talking earlier
TG: to say im sorry about the other night
TG: youre so completely uninvolved its not even funny
TG: and i feel really bad for uh
TG: involving you
TG: holy shit i am fucking this up so much
TG: im sorry
CG: OK.
TG: ah fuck holy shit
TG: ok what
CG: I'M ACCEPTING YOUR APOLOGY, ASSHOLE.
TG: oh
TG: oh ok
TG: good
CG: GODS OF THE OUTER RIM DELIVER ME FROM THE UNSPEAKABLE AWKWARDNESS OF THIS CONVERSATION.
CG: HOLY FUCK, STRIDER.
CG: I KNEW YOU WERE FUCKING SORRY. OBVIOUSLY.
TG: yeah duh but i wanted to say it
TG: douche
CG: BULGESUCKER.
TG: titfucker
CG: NOOKSTENCH.
TG: anuslips
CG: GRUBFISTER.
TG: dog enthusiast
CG: OH FUCK, I AM ACTUALLY LAUGHING REALLY HARD RIGHT NOW.
TG: shit actually yeah me too
CG: OK, OK.
CG: I'M GOING TO TRY TO SLEEP, I GUESS.
TG: ok
TG: good night
TG: or morning i mean for you
TG: i think
CG: SURE, YES, "GOOD NIGHT."

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 11:53 --

Chapter Text

Like the naked leads the blind
I know I'm selfish, I'm unkind ×

× × ×

-- arachnidsGrip [AG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 23:47 --

AG: Strider.
TG: oh my god have you just been like periodically testing this whole time to see if i unblocked you yet
TG: i dont even want to know how many times youve trolled me
TG: gross
AG: Don't 8e ridiculous, Strider.
AG: For your inform8ion, I wanted to apologize.
TG: yeah and i wonder who put you up to that
TG: hi terezi
AG: She's n8t here!!!!!!!!
TG: ok fine bring it on
TG: my taste buds are all up and ready to savor your unique flavor of inane non-apology
AG: Fine.
AG: I shouldn't have said those things to you.
TG: uh huh
TG: keep it coming
AG: Shut up and let me finish!!!!!!!!
TG: hahahahaha
TG: is this bothering you
TG: what if i just start
TG: typing
TG: my
TG: messages
TG: one
TG: word
TG: at
TG: a
TG: time
TG: or maybe like
TG: v
TG: r
TG: i
TG: s
TG: k
TG: a
TG:
TG: s
TG: u
AG: SH8T 8P!!!!!!!!
TG: c
TG: k
AG: I sh8uldn't have called you n8mes, OK????????
TG: s
AG: I took it too far! My motives may have 8een m8re self-righteous than what they sh8uld have 8een, pure supp8rt f8r my moirail!!!!!!!!
AG: ARE Y8U F8CKING H8PPY????????
AG: STRIDER????????
TG: hahahaha like hell

-- arachnidsGrip [AG] blocked turntechGodhead [TG] at 00:09 --

 

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 00:11 --

TG: so do you ever just like
TG: imagine murdering one of your friends
CG: WHAT DO YOU THINK?
CG: WE HAVE THE SAME FUCKING FRIENDS.
TG: just curious
TG: you dont want to murder me though right
CG: HMM.
TG: aw fuck karkat what
TG: dude
TG: dude
TG: karkat
TG: karkat
TG: karkat
TG: karkat
CG: YOU'RE NOT HELPING YOUR CASE.
TG: karkaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat
CG: YOU ARE ANNOYING AS FUCK.
CG: BUT I WILL ADMIT THAT RECENTLY I'VE BEEN RECONSIDERING MY DESIRE TO MURDER YOU.
TG: ohfuck
TG: fuck
TG: thats like a serious confession of undying broitude from you
TG: you have no idea how much i am swooning over here
TG: somebody bring a spatula i need to get scraped off the floor
CG: SHUT UP, STRIDER.
TG: <3
CG: DON'T DO THAT.
TG: aw
CG: YOUR UNSIGHTLY HUMAN FINGERS DON'T NEED TO BE ANYWHERE NEAR QUADRANT SYMBOLS.
TG: dude no these fingers were born to caress the fuck out of these symbol and number keypads
TG: chatroom card suits flying from my hands like the shittiest gambit ever conceived
TG: do you even know how often i use the symbol and number keypads
TG: literally never
TG: i lost my keypad virginity right then did you think of that
TG: now im feeling all vulnerable and shit
CG: I WAS A LITTLE CURIOUS TO SEE HOW LONG IT WOULD TAKE YOU TO SOMEHOW MAKE IT WEIRD.
CG: IT WAS ABOUT FORTY-FIVE SECONDS.
TG: fuck i gotta work on my stamina
TG: well anyway i should go visit the mayor
TG: i usually go see him every day but i didnt go yesterday
TG: and i kinda dont need more things to feel bad about so
CG: OH, OK. TALK TO YOU LATER.
TG: yeah

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 00:45 --

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 14:12 --

TG: still awake
CG: YES. THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION WILL ALWAYS BE YES.
TG: dude just being polite
TG: so
TG: have you ever dated anyone
CG: YOU TROLLED ME IN THE MIDDLE OF WHAT IS CONSIDERED BY THE MAJORITY OF REASONABLE BEINGS TO BE A *SLEEPING PERIOD* JUST TO ASK ME THAT? NO.
CG: I MEAN, MAYBE.
CG: FUCK. I'M NOT SURE.
TG: terezi
TG: ?
CG: YEAH.
CG: I THOUGHT WE HAD A THING GOING IN THE GAME, BUT NOW, I DON'T KNOW.
CG: SINCE SHE AND VRISKA BECAME MOIRAILS, IT'S LIKE SHE'S TRYING TO FORGET ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED BETWEEN US.
TG: man im sorry
TG: i forgot that probably wouldnt be a question with a cute and or sexy answer
CG: IT DOESN'T MATTER.
CG: I GUESS YOURS WOULDN'T BE EITHER?
CG: I MEAN, WE ALL WATCHED YOU AND JADE.
TG: ew seriously please never remind me about that watching us thing again thanks
CG: I LIKED HER TOO.
TG: what really
TG: i didnt know that
CG: YEAH, IT PRETTY MUCH SUCKED.
CG: I NEVER FELT LIKE SHE EVER FORGAVE ME FOR ALL THE STUPID SHIT I SAID TO HER IN THE PAST.
TG: man that sucks
TG: shes
TG: well
TG: ive known her for like half my life but i still cant really predict what shell do
TG: she has a lot of different sides i guess
TG: and not all of them agree all the time
TG: not really sure what im getting at here
TG: but yeah i thought i was in love with her
CG: YOU THOUGHT? SO YOU WEREN'T?
TG: fuck i dont know
TG: it seems stupid to say i was a kid then
TG: because its been literally three months
TG: but thats what i feel like
CG: YEAH, I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.
CG: WHAT WAS I EVEN FUCKING THINKING, ABOUT TEREZI, AND JADE, AND OTHER PEOPLE?
CG: I WAS AN IDIOTIC WIGGLER.
TG: other people
TG: you mean john
CG: NO. FUCK OFF.
TG: so who else dated who i sort of have to know now
TG: i need all the dirt
TG: its like a nutritional necessity for me
TG: when i die theyre going to have to shovel like twenty pounds of dirt out of my stomach
TG: cause its an immutable fact of the universe that i need to have an open casket funeral
TG: my body is a piece of fine fucking art as you know
CG: RIGHT. WELL.
CG: KANAYA AND VRISKA USED TO BE MOIRAILS, BUT KANAYA WAS ACTUALLY RED FOR HER. SO THAT ENDED.
TG: whoa does rose know about that
CG: HOW THE FUCK SHOULD I KNOW?
CG: ANYWAY, ERIDAN AND FEFERI USED TO BE MOIRAILS, TOO, BUT ERIDAN WAS ALSO RED FOR HER, BUT SHE BROKE UP WITH HIM AS MOIRAILS BEFORE HE COULD TELL HER.
CG: THAT WAS A TOTAL SHITSTORM.
TG: does that happen a lot
TG: wanting to stop being moirails so you can shack up in the sex quadrant
TG: ?
CG: DID YOU HEAR THAT? THAT WAS ME ROLLING MY EYES SO HARD THEY BROKE THE SOUND BARRIER.
CG: BUT YES, THERE'S A LOT OF CROSSBLEED BETWEEN QUADRANTS THAT ARE
CG: HOLD ON

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] sent turntechGodhead [TG] file "quadrants.jpg" --

CG: NEXT TO EACH OTHER OR ABOVE AND BELOW EACH OTHER.
CG: SO YEAH, IT'S REALLY COMMON FOR TROLLS TO FLIP FROM BLACK TO RED AND FROM CONCILIATORY TO CONCUPISCENT.
TG: oh ok
TG: cool i guess
TG: anyway
CG: YEAH, ANYWAY, FEFERI STARTED DATING SOLLUX AFTER WE GOT TO THE METEOR. THEY NEVER TOLD ANYONE WHAT QUADRANT THEY WERE, THOUGH.
CG: ERIDAN FLIPPED THE FUCK OUT, SINCE FEFERI HAD JUMPED RIGHT INTO ANOTHER RELATIONSHIP THAT COULD HAVE EITHER BEEN PALE OR RED. IT WAS LIKE A PERSONAL DOUBLE SMACKDOWN.
CG: I'M NOT TAKING HIS SIDE, BY THE WAY.
CG: HE USED TO BE VRISKA'S KISMESIS, TOO, I FORGOT.
CG: AND THEN AFTER SHE BROKE UP WITH HIM HE HAD THIS DUMB BLACK THING GOING ON WITH SOLLUX THAT MADE ME WANT TO SPRAY VOMIT FROM EVERY ORIFICE.
TG: wow
TG: your friends are way cooler than you
CG: WHAT, NO, SHUT UP.
TG: dude theyre way cooler than me too
TG: fuck
TG: ive only ever dated someone for two days
TG: or at least i think we were dating kind of
TG: i guess we never really talked about it
TG: we held hands twice and hugged once
TG: and holy shit that hug was awkward
TG: i mean it was sort of nice but we were just about to start the scratch so it also sucked major dong
TG: first and last hug at the same time
TG: and i didnt know what to do with my hands so i ended up just like
TG: patting her on the back
TG: what the fuck strider
CG: TEREZI KISSED ME ONCE.
TG: oooh
CG: SHUT UP.
CG: SHE JUST KIND OF, UH.
CG: PUSHED ME AGAINST A WALL AND DID IT.
TG: holy shit
CG: SHUT UP.
TG: no im serious
TG: holy shit
TG: what was it like
CG: WET.
TG: aw come on dude
CG: NO.
TG: fine
TG: im going to bed
TG: ill just have to rely on my own imagination to fill me in on shit you dont want to share
TG: my imagination is already hella overtaxed so this might just be what finally burns it out
CG: OH MY GOD, DAVE, JUST SHUT UP. AS MUCH AS IT SEEMS TO PAIN YOU, YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW EVERY SORDID DETAIL ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT'S HAPPENED IN MY LIFE.
TG: i do though
CG: JUST GO TO SLEEP, SLUDGEPAN.
TG: fine fine
TG: karkat has a gigantic fucking ass

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 14:55 --

CG: GOD DAMN IT

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG ] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 14:56 --

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 10:03 --

TG: rise and shine campers
TG: its time for an all day canoeing and horseback riding extravaganza
TG: well canoeing and then horseback riding
TG: not both at the same time
TG: well except for that one group of horse canoers
TG: is that where you put a horse inside a canoe or a canoe inside a horse
TG: i mean on top of a horse
TG: or do i
TG: its all highly confidential not even i as your nearly omnipotent camp counsellor know the answer to that question
TG: cause this is a camp run by the department of homeland security
TG: and theyll waterboard your ass if you ask too many questions
CG: I'M AWAKE.
CG: AND I DIDN'T READ ANY OF THAT.
TG: karkat how can we be bros if you dont even read my messages
TG: every line is pure poetry sent direct to you from the broest of my brohearts
CG: NOPE, IT WAS A BUNCH OF BULLSHIT.
TG: oh it hurts
TG: the rejection
TG: the anguish
TG: i need an adult
TG: teacher karkat hurt my feelings
TG: he wont stop pulling my itty blond pigtails
CG: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT??
CG: NO, NEVER MIND. FORGET IT. I REGRET ASKING.
TG: wait you probably didnt have school
TG: dont trolls hardly ever meet up in person
TG: do trolls have school
CG: YOU MEAN THE SCHOOLFEED?
TG: whats a schoolfeed
CG: UH, THE SCHOOLFEED IS THE SCHOOLFEED.
CG: FOR THE FIRST FIVE SWEEPS OF YOUR LIFE YOU GET DAILY DOSES OF INFORMATION FED INTO YOUR THINKPAN.
TG: the fuck fed like how
CG: HOW SHOULD I KNOW HOW IT WORKS? YOU PUT ON THIS HELMET AND IT HAPPENS.
TG: so like you get information piped directly into your brain
TG: ?
TG: holy shit that is so fucking dope
CG: THAT'S NOT HOW HUMANS DO IT?
TG: no way dude
CG: WHAT THE FUCK? WHAT DO YOU DO INSTEAD?
TG: i mean i cant speak from personal experience
TG: cause i never went to school
TG: but i know all about it from tv
TG: human kids just like
TG: gather daily in front of this all powerful older human called a teacher
TG: the teacher is the complete master of a specific discipline
TG: like math or history or i dunno climbing a rope or something
TG: and the kids have to remember everything they say or else they get punished
CG: BUT YOU DIDN'T? WHY NOT?
TG: no man im a strider
CG: UH...HUH.
TG: its not like i needed to know any of that shit anyway
TG: earth is gone dude
TG: apocalypse months ago starring charlie sheen
TG: but yeah i dont remember ever not knowing how to read and write and shit
TG: i guess i just figured it out on my own i dunno
CG: I GUESS NOT ALL TROLLS GET SCHOOLFED EITHER.
CG: I THINK ALL MY FRIENDS WERE? EXCEPT FOR GAMZEE, I ALWAYS HAD THE FEELING THAT HE WASN'T.
CG: I MEAN HIS LUSUS WAS NEVER AROUND, SO THERE WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ANYONE TO MAKE HIM.
CG: HE'S KIND OF AN IDIOT.
TG: haha oh shit
TG: whats up with that guy anyway
TG: i havent seen him since we got here
CG: I DON'T KNOW.
CG: I'VE TRIED TO FIND HIM BEFORE.
CG: I WISH I COULD ACTUALLY FIND HIM. HE'S ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS.
CG: HE DID SOME REALLY BAD THINGS BEFORE YOU GOT HERE THAT I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT. AND I THINK HE'S HIDING FROM US BECAUSE OF WHAT HE THINKS WE'RE GOING TO DO TO HIM.
CG: WELL, I DO THINK KANAYA IS SERIOUS ABOUT CULLING HIM.
CG: BUT THE REST OF US AREN'T.
TG: shit
TG: isnt he the one that killed all the other trolls
CG: I ALREADY SAID I DIDN'T WANT TO FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT.
TG: shit
TG: sorry
CG: IT'S OK.
CG: I'LL BE RIGHT BACK.
TG: dude
TG: hey
TG: hey karkat
TG: karkat
TG: bro
TG: broski
TG: bromide
TG: bronana split
TG: president of the united states of bromerica
TG: brorannosaurus rex
TG: bronado warning
TG: north american man bro love association
CG: HOLY FUCK, DAVE, I SAID I WOULD BE RIGHT BACK!
TG: are you mad
CG: WHAT? NO! I JUST HAD TO USE THE FUCKING LOAD GAPER.
TG: oh ok cool
CG: I'M FUCKING STARVING, THOUGH. I'M GOING TO GET SOME FOOD.
TG: yeah ok

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 10:37 --

Chapter Text

Then I'm laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone ×

× × ×

Dave is back on LOHAC.

He can feel the heat of the ground all the way through the soles of his shoes. The rising air from the lava pits pushes at him in a big, undulating wave, ruffling his hair, dry, relentless. This time he doesn't even look towards his apartment.

There doesn't really seem to be anything the other direction other than lava, walkways over lava, and giant clockwork towers spewing out more and more lava, so Dave crouches and takes off toward the empty void of the sky.

"Yeah, fuck you, subconscious dream bubble shit. My conscious is making the calls now. I'm not playing your dumb games." He spreads his arms a little, his cloak snapping behind him. The air around him is exactly room temperature, like he doesn't even exist.

Dave spreads his arms wider, spreads his fingers, closes his eyes.

Light on his eyelids makes his eyes snap open. He stops so suddenly that his sunglasses slip down his nose.

"Rose?" he calls, softly. "Rose!" Louder.

It's the Tumor, pulsing red and blue, the countdown at 4, 3, 2.

Rose's quest bed is empty. His is waiting.

He wakes up fighting for breath, the phantom of the explosion still burning through his skin.

× × ×

Dave idly flips through his notebook of lyrics. He can't even think right now, can't even parse his own writing, much less come up with anything new. His eyes feel swollen and sticky. His nose is still stuffed up.

He sniffles, and hates the fucking sound. It's the gross sound of failure.

His phone buzzes next to him on the bed.

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 14:13 --

CG: HEY
TG: hey
CG: OH, THANK FUCK. I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO IF EVERYONE WAS SERIOUSLY ASLEEP RIGHT NOW.
TG: shit is everything ok
CG: NOT ANY MORE OR LESS THAN USUAL.
CG: I AM SO BORED THAT THE WORD "BORED" DOESN'T EVEN COME *CLOSE* TO DESCRIBING THE UNSPEAKABLE, SOUL-STOMPING TEDIUM THAT IS MY LIFE.
CG: IF I HAVE TO SPEND EVEN ONE MORE SECOND WITH ONLY MYSELF FOR COMPANY I AM GOING TO EXPLODE INTO A MILLION SCREAMING PIECES OF HATE.
CG: DO YOU EVER JUST LOATHE THE SOUND OF YOUR OWN THOUGHTS?
TG: hell yeah
TG: like
TG: ive been making all this music
TG: and i cant even listen to most of it after i finish
TG: because its just more and more of myself slathered on top of myself
TG: the sickening sugary dave icing on a giant infinite tiered dave cake
TG: what am i even doing trying to express my piece of shit personality or my piece of shit life
TG: who even gives a fuck
CG: I CAN LISTEN TO SOME, IF YOU WANT.
CG: I MEAN, I DON'T KNOW IF IT WILL HELP OR NOT, SINCE I KNOW FUCKALL ABOUT MUSIC, BUT
TG: uh
TG: yeah
TG: yeah ok

-- turntechGodhead [TG] sent carcinoGeneticist [CG] file "callingchaos.mp3" --

CG: HOLY FUCK, YOU DID THIS?
TG: uh yeah
TG: its really shitty quality because literally all i have to work with right now is my fucking phone and also you can only do four tracks at once on this app
TG: so sorry about that
CG: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? THIS IS AMAZING.
TG: what no
TG: shut up
CG: YOU SHUT UP. I'M SERIOUS.
TG: oh
TG: uh
TG: thanks
CG: YOU SHOULD SEND ME ALL OF THEM.
TG: what
CG: I NEVER GAVE A SHIT ABOUT SLAM POETRY BEFORE. I'M EXPANDING MY CULTURAL HORIZONS. EXTENDING THE PROVERBIAL HUMAN "AHLIV BRANCH". YOU'RE WELCOME.
TG: ...
TG: its olive
TG: and ok fine

-- turntechGodhead [TG] sent carcinoGeneticist [CG] file "forever.mp3" --

TG: this might take a while
CG: THANK FUCK.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] sent carcinoGeneticist [CG] file "fatewithstyle.mp3" --

CG: I WISH I HAD SOMETHING TO EXCHANGE. ALL I HAVE ARE THESE HUMAN MOVIES.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] sent carcinoGeneticist [CG] file "ghosts.mp3" --

CG: I HAVE NOW LITERALLY WATCHED EVERY SINGLE FUCKING ONE THAT I HAVE, AS OF A COUPLE OF HOURS AGO.
TG: how many do you have
CG: THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY SEVEN.
TG: uh
TG: wow

-- turntechGodhead [TG] sent carcinoGeneticist [CG] file "fuckambition.mp3" --

CG: I SHOULD HAVE TRIED TO PACE MYSELF MORE. MAYBE I COULD HAVE MADE THEM LAST FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER TWO PERIGEES.
CG: WHAT THE FUCK ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO DO, THOUGH?

-- turntechGodhead [TG] sent carcinoGeneticist [CG] file "clothmother.mp3" --

CG: I'LL PROBABLY END UP STARTING OVER FROM THE BEGINNING EVENTUALLY, BUT I CAN'T BRING MYSELF TO DO IT JUST YET.
CG: IT'S JUST SO DISCOURAGING.
CG: I'LL HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE ABSOLUTE CRITICAL MASS OF BOREDOM THAT WILL MAKE WATCHING NONSTOP MOVIES AGAIN FOR THE NEXT FIVE PERIGEES SEEM ANYTHING CLOSE TO APPEALING.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] sent carcinoGeneticist [CG] file "cultureissuicide.mp3" --

CG: I JUST, UGH.
CG: I REALLY MISS MY FRIENDS THAT ARE
CG: WELL
CG: GONE
CG: IT'S NOT LIKE I DIDN'T SPEND A PAN-GRATINGLY ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF TIME ON ALTERNIA WATCHING MOVIES, BUT THEN I HAD ELEVEN OTHER PEOPLE TO TALK TO.
CG: THAT'S PROBABLY WHAT I SPENT THE MOST TIME DOING. TALKING TO MY FRIENDS. THAT AND TAKING CARE OF MY LUSUS.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] sent carcinoGeneticist [CG] file "truthlies.mp3" --

CG: MOST OF IT INVOLVED THE MOST INANE FUCKING DRAMA THAT YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE.
CG: I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT ME THAT I ACTUALLY ENJOYED IT.
TG: i never had friends except for jade rose and john
TG: im used to spending time alone so i guess i know what to do with myself
TG: i mean we all lived in different time zones so we talked a lot but not like constantly
TG: im not used to having other people around to like
TG: live with
TG: i mean i lived with my bro but thats a totally different uh
TG: experience
TG: i dont really know how to deal with all of you on like
TG: a day to day basis
TG: im pretty much a complete fuckup
CG: LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, DAVE.
CG: EVERYONE CURRENTLY SMASHED TOGETHER ON THIS UNIVERSE-FORSAKEN PIECE OF ROCK IS A COMPLETE FUCKUP.
CG: YOU DON'T HANG OUT IN THE COMMON AREAS AS MUCH AS I DO. IT'S ALMOST PAINFUL, THE WAY EVERYONE'S PERSONAL FLAWS GET SMEARED ALL OVER THE FUCKING WALLS.
CG: I'M INCLUDING MYSELF IN THAT, BY THE WAY. IT'S EVEN WORSE WHEN YOU CAN SEE YOURSELF ACTING IN A CERTAIN WAY BUT SOMEHOW YOU CAN'T STOP, AND YOU JUST BARREL ON AHEAD LIKE AN OUT OF CONTROL SPACECRAFT STRAIGHT INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING SUN.
CG: I HATE EVERYONE ALREADY, AND I HATE MYSELF MORE.
TG: yeah everyone sucks
CG: HAHA, YEAH.
TG: you dont suck yet though
TG: just fyi
CG: THANKS. I THINK I CAN SAFELY SAY THAT YOU ALSO HAVE YET TO DESCEND TO THAT LEVEL OF SUCK.
TG: thanks
TG: you dont know though im probably on the fast track through all the suck tiers
TG: definitely clearing them faster than actual god tiers
TG: suckbucks are pouring into my ceramic porkhollow so fast its gonna cause an implosion the likes of which have never been witnessed by any living creature
TG: implosion cause i guess suckbucks are like antimatter or something
TG: sorry that went off the rails a little
CG: THIS MIGHT SOUND WEIRD, BUT I'M SORRY THAT WE DIDN'T REALLY GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT WHEN WE FIRST TALKED.
CG: BEFORE YOU ENTERED THE GAME, I MEAN.
CG: YOUR TEXT COLOR REALLY FUCKED WITH ME.
CG: BUT IT WAS NICE THAT YOU DIDN'T TAKE ANY SHIT FROM US AND I ACTUALLY...REALLY RESPECTED THAT?
CG: BUT I WAS ALSO PISSED AS HELL AT ALL OF YOU HUMANS AT THAT POINT SO IT JUST MADE ME ANGRIER THAT ANYTHING ABOUT ANY OF YOU WAS AT ALL RESPECTABLE.
TG: oh
TG: uh thanks
TG: what do you mean my text color fucked with you
CG: ...
CG: I
CG: WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT IN WANTING TO HIDE THIS SHIT ANYMORE??
CG: IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER. 99.99999999999% OF TROLLS ARE FUCKING DEAD.
TG: uh
CG: MOST TROLLS TYPE IN THEIR BLOOD COLOR. MAYBE YOU KNOW THAT BY NOW? AND WHEN WE DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HUMANS YET IT REALLY CONFUSED ME THAT YOU WOULD JUST OPENLY TYPE IN THAT BRIGHT FUCKING CANDY RED.
CG: AND THEN I GOT REALLY FUCKING PISSED ABOUT IT.
TG: what why
CG: BECAUSE THAT'S THE COLOR OF MY BLOOD, FUCKFACE. EVER WONDER WHY I TYPE IN GREY? IT'S NOT NORMAL TO HAVE THIS COLOR BLOOD.
TG: oh
TG: oh right
TG: sorry dude
CG: DON'T FUCKING APOLOGIZE. YOU COULDN'T HAVE KNOWN THEN, OBVIOUSLY.
TG: man im sorry i know fuckall about the blood color thing
TG: i know its a huge deal to all of you but i still dont really get it sorry
CG: IT'S OK. I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE POINT OF EXPLAINING IT WOULD BE. IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER ANYMORE.
TG: yeah but it kind of fucked you up right
TG: that matters
CG: ...
CG: I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT LIKE THAT.
TG: not to like force you to talk about shit you dont want to talk about
TG: but i know a lot about being uh
TG: different
TG: just so you know
TG: you can talk to me about it if you want
CG: ...THANKS. (:B
TG: what is that like a bald bucktoothed dude
CG: GOD FUCKING DAMN IT, IT'S ME. WITH MY HORNS. SMILING.
TG: oh right i see it now
CG: ANYWAY, OFFER ACCEPTED, I GUESS.
CG: MAYBE SOMETIME.
TG: cool
CG: I REALLY LIKE YOUR MUSIC, BY THE WAY.
TG: oh
TG: thanks
TG: youre not just saying that right
CG: WHY THE FUCK WOULD I BE "JUST SAYING" THAT?
TG: yeah youre right if you actually thought it sucked you wouldnt exactly be cagey about that fact i dont think
CG: NO.
TG: lol

Dave types with one finger, his phone propped up on one arm. His eyelids droop, and grey and red text swims in his vision. He shakes his head, trying desperately to hold onto any small sliver of alertness. The very idea of dream bubbles fills him with dread. And almost equally, in the back of his mind, the idea of leaving Karkat alone with hours upon hours of insomnia makes him sick.

TG: im getting really sleepy so im really really sorry if i just sort of
TG: disappear off the face of pesterchum
CG: IF YOU NEED TO GO IT'S FINE.
CG: YOU DON'T NEED TO STAY UP ALL THE TIME WITH ME OR ANYTHING, WHAT THE FUCK.
TG: i sort of want to though
TG: going to sleep isnt a fucking picnic for me
TG: dream bubbles usually have it out for my general sanity
TG: im trying to figure out a way to control them or something but i dont know if the bubbles themselves have some sort of malicious intent or if its literally my own personal subconscious that is hellbent on making me as miserable as fucking possible
CG: I'M NOT SURE.
CG: MY EXPERIENCE WITH DREAM BUBBLES HASN'T BEEN THE BEST, EITHER.
CG: THAT IS THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE FUCKING SWEEP, BY THE WAY.
CG: BUT LIKE YOU SAID, IT COULD JUST BE ME, BEING COMPLETELY FUCKING OBSESSED WITH MY OWN EXTENSIVE CATALOG OF FAILURES.
TG: haha yeah
CG: I THINK EVERYONE HAS BEEN HAVING THIS PROBLEM, TO SOME EXTENT.
CG: I HEARD KANAYA TELL ROSE THAT SHE ALWAYS TRIES TO THINK OF SOMEWHERE SHE FELT SAFE AS SHE GOES TO SLEEP.
TG: hm
TG: dunno if i have one of those
TG: i mean i was pretty happy when i was by myself at home i guess but it wasnt really that safe overall and the actual level of safeness could radically change at any fucking second
TG: but i did really like to just chill
TG: lookin out the window at crows and shit
TG: did you have crows on alternia
CG: I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS.
TG: uh theyre these big black birds
TG: i always liked watching them walk around and shit
TG: they look super awkward when theyre not flying
TG: they do this little hop skip thing its fucking great
CG: ARE THEY FEATHERBEASTS?
TG: if thats the convoluted ass troll way to say bird then yes
CG: WOW, I'M SO GLAD WE WERE ABLE TO CLEAR THAT ONE UP.
CG: ANYWAY.
CG: I GUESS I FELT SAFEST RIGHT AFTER I FIRST PUPATED AND MY LUSUS WAS TAKING CARE OF ME.
TG: pupated
CG: MEMORIES FROM WHEN I WAS A WIGGLER ARE WEIRD AND MIXED UP AND NOT VERY TROLL-LIKE. I DON'T THINK I REALLY HAD ANY KIND OF CONCEPT OF THINGS BEING SAFE OR UNSAFE. MY THOUGHTS WEREN'T THAT COMPLEX. BUT AFTER I STARTED TO UNDERSTAND THAT I HAD A HOME? THAT'S ACTUALLY A TIME IN MY LIFE THAT I LIKE THINKING ABOUT.
TG: thats cool
TG: maybe this is a weird question but like
TG: what are you
CG: I'M A TROLL, FUCKHEAD.
TG: no i mean like
TG: im a mammal
TG: are you some kind of insect or something
CG: WHAT THE FUCK IS AN INSECT?
TG: haha ok this conversation is going nowhere
TG: and im officially too sleepy to figure out how to explain this shit to you
CG: YEAH, WHATEVER. GO TO SLEEP.
TG: just for the record though im not fucking happy about it
CG: ALRIGHT. WHATEVER. GOOD LUCK WITH THE BUBBLES.
TG: thanks

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 15:52 --

Chapter Text

Watch me start a fire in the middle of your shade ×

× × ×

The stairs are always cold. Dave sits at the top of them anyway, and they stretch out for what seems like forever in front of him, down and away into blackness.

He's been down there, and it's nothing special. Nothing's different in different parts of the meteor, Dave has learned. No matter what direction you go, there are just more of the same empty hallways that lost their mystery within the first week. But Dave likes to sit here. There are no banisters. It makes him feel self destructive.

Dave stares down at his phone. July 30th, 2009. He knows the date has to be somewhat off, because of all the time traveling he did in the game, but he's also not sure whether something reset when he unalchemized the phone and sunglasses back out of his iShades. He feels like he should know, and he doesn't know why it upsets him that he doesn't. Time isn't bound to planets and stars. It's wild and paradoxical, and hardly ever even plays by its own rules.

But it doesn't matter. The trolls have their own system of time, and have never tried to learn the human system. Dave doesn't blame them. He doesn't want to try to use their system either. So all that's left of the entire fucking Gregorian calendar, no, the entire concept of Earth time itself, is the vague assumption of a couple of teenagers that the time shown on their devices is correct.

Earth never did Dave any favors. He's not really sure why he gives a shit.

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 4:00 --

GC: H3Y

-- turntechGodhead [TG] is now an idle chum! --

GC: >:[
GC: 1 DONT KNOW 1F YOUR3 3V3N R34D1NG MY M3SS4G3S 4NYMOR3
GC: BUT D4V3 1 R34LLY W4NT TO H4NG OUT W1TH YOU
GC: S1GN
GC: M4YB3 W3LL T4LK L4T3R

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 4:12 --

TG: terezi messaged me and wants to hang out
CG: WHAT DID YOU SAY?
TG: uh
TG: nothing
CG: FUCKING ANSWER HER, YOU DOUCHEASS.
TG: oh my god any time you smash together human words its like the clouds open up and angels sing the national anthem
CG: NOT WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW.
TG: ugh
CG: DID YOU REPLY TO HER AT ALL?
TG: well
TG: no
CG: FUCKING MESSAGE HER BACK.
CG: SHE'S YOUR FRIEND, AND I KNOW SHE THINKS SHE FUCKED THAT UP SOMEHOW.
CG: I'VE BEEN ACTING AS THE DAVE STRIDER UPDATE SERVICE FOR EVERYONE, LATELY, AND IT'S REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING.
TG: oh
TG: fuck
TG: fuck im sorry
TG: im really sorry
TG: i gotta go
CG: WAIT!!
TG: sorry

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 4:21 --

CG: FUCK, I DIDN'T MEAN
CG: I MEANT THAT *THEY* WERE BEING ANNOYING, NOT
CG: SHIT
CG: I DIDN'T MEAN THAT TO SOUND LIKE
CG: FUCK, DAVE, I'M REALLY SORRY.

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 4:39 --

TG: terezi im really sorry
TG: about everything
TG: well hang later im just going through a whole bunch of shit right now
TG: im not really the best person to hang out with atm
TG: sorry
GC: 1 DONT UND3RST4ND

Dave sinks down onto his side at the top of the stairs, shame burning a sick hole in his chest. He wraps an arm around his head, tries to breathe normally, and fails. With his ears covered all he can hear are his own uneven breaths, and he feels trapped, trapped in his own body, trapped in his own brain.

GC: D4V3?

-- turntechGodhead [TG] is now an idle chum! --

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 4:48 --

Dave's limbs feel like lead. His head feels like it's full of electrically-charged fog, prickly and almost painful, so thick that he can't even reach his own thoughts. He barely remembers dragging himself back to his own room.

He crawls onto his mattress, face down. He's never moving again. What's the point? What's the fucking point of even leaving this fucking room? There's nothing out there but the same gray walls and the same cold floors, and the same friends that he seems eternally fated to fuck up with.

He imagines, as he has what seems like hundreds of times already, that he's walking up, up to the surface and flying away, watching the meteor blast on without him, a rapidly disappearing dot of ruby in the velvet silence of space. He could do it, if he really wanted to.

Time is practically meaningless, subjected to starts and stops by the fallibility of the human brain. Dave's known this for a while, but that doesn't make the time pass easier when it feels like it's slowed exponentially, trailing on and on and on towards the next second in a series of more and more infinitely countable decimals. What was he thinking? He can't fucking make friends. He's not good enough. He's too annoying, too high maintenance, too fucking needy, and his thought processes are too irreparably weird for anyone to actually understand.

"Dave?"

The voice is far away, and just barely breaks in through the fog in Dave's mind. That...couldn't...what the...fuck...

"Dave? Dave! Where the fuck is your room? I've never been down here before." It's closer, now. Dave opens his eyes, blinking sluggishly, eyebrows drawing together.

"Dave?" It's Karkat.

"Uh...Why..." Dave's voice breaks. He clears his throat and tries again, louder. "Karkat? Why..."

There's some fumbling outside his room, then the door slides open. "I brought you some coffee, dipshit." Karkat looks inside, clearly a little nervous. He's holding a steaming mug of coffee in each hand.

Dave doesn't move.

Karkat comes inside, gingerly prodding the door switch with his elbow. "I reached that point. You know, the critical mass of boredom that would make me start all the movies over again? I was going to start with My Best Friend's Girl. You should watch it with me." He sets both coffees down besides Dave's mattress.

"Uh..."

Karkat sits crosslegged on the mattress next to him and uncaptchalogues his husktop. "I actually really liked this one. Dane Cook is definitely my favorite human actor."

Dave groans. "Fuck..."

"What?" Karkat looks at him in confusion. He's so genuinely clueless that Dave is smacked right in the chest by a weird, incredulous mixture of embarrassment and warmth.

"Yeah, ok. Whatever."

They settle down, Dave dragging himself sideways on the mattress, and Karkat curling up at the foot of it. Karkat pulls the husktop around so both of them can see, and hits play. Dave slowly reaches over and grabs his coffee.

"So which one of us is Tank and which one of us is Dustin?" Dave asks, halfway through the movie. "I mean, we were sort of after the same girl at one point."

"You're Tank, I'm Dustin. Obviously."

"Gross."

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 8:12 --

CG: HEY, UH
TG: hey
TG: ?
CG: EARLIER. I DIDN'T MEAN TO MAKE IT SOUND LIKE
CG: FUCK IT. I'M NOT ACTUALLY ANNOYED BY YOU.
TG: oh
TG: ok
TG: same here
TG: about you i mean
TG: if that was even something that i needed to say back idk
CG: IT WASN'T. BUT THANKS.
TG: i wouldnt blame you if you did think i was annoying though
TG: i already know that im actually really fucking annoying i mean its kind of a basic facet of my personality
TG: i do it on purpose a lot but mainly to cover up for all the times im not actually doing it on purpose
CG: WHAT THE BULGECHAFING FUCK. YOU THINK *YOU'RE* ANNOYING??
CG: EVEN IF I DIDN'T *MENTION* THE FACT THAT I DON'T KNOW A SINGLE OTHER SENTIENT BEING, TROLL OR HUMAN OR OTHERWISE, THAT IS EVEN REMOTELY SELF AWARE ENOUGH TO EVEN *START* TO CONCEIVE OF THEIR TRULY ANNOYING QUALITIES
CG: YOU'RE ALREADY NOT EVEN CLOSE TO CLEARING THE LIST OF THE TOP TEN MOST ANNOYING PEOPLE I PERSONALLY KNOW, MOST OF WHICH I PERSONALLY TRIED TO LEAD THROUGH OUR COMPLETE SHITSHOW OF A SESSION.
TG: oh
CG: AND LET'S NOT EVEN GET INTO ALL THE ARGUMENTS I HAVE HAD WITH MY ABSOLUTELY *INFURIATINGLY* ANNOYING LITERAL SELF.
TG: uh
CG: SO NO, DAVE. I DON'T *ACTUALLY* THINK YOU'RE ANNOYING.
TG: ok
TG: im actually
TG: uh
TG: really glad
TG: thats
TG: a really big relief
CG: GOOD. YES.
TG: also
TG: thanks uh
TG: for coming to see me earlier
CG: YEAH. NO PROBLEM.
TG: cool
TG: im not
TG: you probably noticed
TG: but you didnt know me before so idk
TG: how do i even say this
TG: im not exactly
TG: doing very well right now
TG: some of its from the game and shit
TG: but theres also stuff that like
TG: maybe ive always been feeling and got used to a long time ago but now im starting to realize this shit aint normal and maybe its ok to think that it sucks
TG: if that made any sense
CG: YEAH, THAT MAKES SENSE.
TG: cool
TG: so im really sorry that im not great to be around
TG: but
TG: maybe this is weird idk but i just really like uh
TG: talking to you
TG: shit
TG: forget i said anything that was weird and kind of gay im sorry
CG: I LIKE TALKING TO YOU, TOO.
CG: I DON'T THINK IT'S WEIRD.
TG: ok
CG: I'M NOT EXACTLY ON THE BEST TERMS WITH MOST EVERYONE HERE.
CG: I USED TO BE CLOSE TO TEREZI AND KANAYA. AND GAMZEE.
CG: BUT NONE OF THEM SEEM TO BE ABLE TO MAKE TIME FOR ME ANYMORE.
CG: WOW, THAT SOUNDED BITTER AS FUCK.
CG: AND THAT'S MY PROBLEM. I CAN'T SEEM TO KEEP MYSELF FROM BEING BITTER AS FUCK. IT'S FUCKING RIDICULOUS. I HATE BEING JEALOUS. I DON'T WANT TO BE THAT TROLL. BUT I FUCKING AM, AND I HATE IT.
TG: man im sorry
CG: SO. I LIKE TALKING TO YOU, TOO.
TG: oh ok
TG: good
TG: thanks
CG: BUT I DON'T WANT YOU TO THINK THAT'S ALL IT'S ABOUT. THAT I'M ONLY TALKING TO YOU BECAUSE YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE LEFT WHO'S UNINVOLVED IN MY OWN PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP FUCKUPS. I ACTUALLY REALLY ENJOY OUR CONVERSATIONS.
TG: cool
CG: YEAH.
TG: me too
CG: GOOD.
TG: yeah
TG: good
CG: OK, THIS CONVERSATION HAS OFFICIALLY ROUNDED "AWKWARD" AND PLUNGED DIRECTLY THE FUCK INTO "UTTERLY UNBEARABLE." CAN WE PLEASE, PLEASE, *PLEASE* FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO TALK ABOUT? IT CAN THE MOST BANAL TOPIC IMAGINABLE. I DON'T CARE.
TG: oh thank god
TG: i was going to fucking die
TG: and it would have been just as fuck
CG: HAHA, YEAH.
TG: so uh
TG: what other movies do you have
TG: never mind i dont even know how you can even tell me there are literally hundreds of them right
TG: maybe like
TG: what kinds of movies do you have
TG: or like i dunno do you have jurassic park
CG: I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS.
TG: dammit
CG: ALL THE ONES I HAVE ARE ROMANTIC COMEDIES.
TG: what
TG: holy shit what the fuck
CG: WHAT?
TG: dude
CG: WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT??
TG: everything
CG: FUCK YOU!! I WAS TRYING TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR MISERABLE SPECIES. A SPECIES I ACTUALLY CREATED WITH MY OWN FUCKING HANDS, MAY I REMIND YOU, SHITSPONGE??
TG: hahaha oh my god
TG: oh wait i guess thats you right
TG: oh merciful alien god who gave us all the sicknasty gift of life
TG: lemme erect a fuckin shrine to you or some shit
TG: wear a bikini made of fucking gold and fan you with a giant ass feather
TG: how about that
CG: THAT MIGHT SLIGHTLY BEGIN TO MAKE UP FOR THE FACT THAT YOU OWE YOUR EXISTENCE TO ME, YES.
TG: hahaha asshole

Chapter Text

I've seen the future, I know the end
A dog chases its tail
×

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 13:06 --

TG: hey
CG: HEY.
TG: what are you doing
CG: STEWING IN THE NAUSEATING JUICES OF MY OWN SHITTY PERSONALITY, WHAT ABOUT YOU?
TG: same
CG: SO...THIS IS DEFINITELY A WEIRD QUESTION.
CG: YOU'VE DEALT WITH VERSIONS OF YOURSELF FROM THE PAST AND FUTURE, RIGHT?
TG: yeah
TG: why
CG: DO YOU...GET ALONG WITH THEM?
TG: yeah
TG: i mean
TG: i really wouldnt want to have to deal with any doomed daves again
TG: since the only reason im still alive is that theyre dead
TG: and i always felt kind of weird around davesprite
TG: we got along really well but i was always afraid that maybe he sort of
TG: resented me
TG: i mean hes the one and only original dave but he seriously got the shaft
TG: he never acted like he resented me to my face though so for all i know he fuckin loves being half bird
TG: but that shit aside i can always trust other daves to do the right thing
TG: thats sort of the strategy all my time loops are based on so
TG: its hella incorrect to think of them as being separate people anyway i mean
TG: i will literally become them or already became them
TG: if I can trust myself I can trust them you dig
CG: YEAH.
CG: HMM.
CG: YOU'RE RIGHT. I SHOULD PROBABLY STOP THINKING OF THEM AS OTHER PEOPLE.
TG: why are you even asking me this
TG: there arent other daves running around or some shit
TG: right
TG: cause my desire to use my powers again is still holding steady at just about zero percent
CG: DON'T LAUGH.
TG: yeah theres no way i can guarantee that sorry
CG: FUCK YOU. SOMETIMES I HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH MYSELF USING THE TIMELINE FUNCTION OF TROLLIAN.
TG: dude
TG: what the fuck dont do that
CG: UGH. I'M STARTING TO THINK YOU'RE PROBABLY RIGHT.
TG: theres no fucking point
TG: what the fuck is your past or future self going to tell you that even fucking matters anymore
TG: i remember those convoluted ass message boards during the game holy fuck karkat
TG: that is some bullshit right there
CG: UGH. I KNOW.
CG: SOMETIMES I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING ELSE TO DO, OK?
TG: dude seriously talk to me instead
TG: wake me up i dont care
TG: if you just wanna have like a normal conversation it doesnt have to be one thats going to involve whatever weird self inflicted humiliation kink you have
CG: WHAT?! NO!!
TG: though if it is actually a kink thing idk im not really qualified to say if its ok or not sorry
CG: NO, NO, *NO*, FUCK YOU, NO.
TG: hmm
CG: WHAT??? STOP THINKING WHATEVER YOU'RE THINKING, RIGHT NOW, I COMMAND YOU, AS LEADER ON THIS METEOR *AND* CREATOR OF YOUR SPECIES, YOU ABSOLUTE PIECE OF SHIT.
TG: lol
CG: UGH.
CG: BUT YES. YOU'RE PROBABLY RIGHT. I SHOULD JUST...FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO.
TG: yeah
TG: good
CG: I DONT FUCKING KNOW WHAT, THOUGH. EVERY TIME I TRY TO THINK OF ANYTHING, I END UP PRACTICALLY TEARING MY HAIR OUT BY THE ROOTS.
TG: same
TG: exploring sucks cause everythings the same no matter how far you go
TG: alchemizing shit got old like the day after we got here
TG: im getting pretty burnt out on writing music too
TG: when you write too much too fast all you start noticing are things that you start thinking of as being cliche and i just want to start indiscriminately torching shit left and right
TG: its frustrating as fuck
CG: I GUESS WE CAN ALWAYS WATCH MORE MOVIES.
TG: sigh
TG: i guess
TG: what happened to not wanting to watch movies all the time anymore
CG: IT'S DIFFERENT WHEN THERE'S SOMEONE ELSE THERE. I DON'T FEEL AS MUCH LIKE MY SOUL IS OOZING OUT OF MY EYEBALLS.
TG: i guess
CG: I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU DON'T LIKE THESE MOVIES. THEY'RE FUCKING GENIUS.
TG: ugh
TG: its just not my cup of tea ok
TG: its so far removed from my cup of tea that its more like an object thats the complete polar opposite of a cup of tea
TG: like a bulldozer or i dunno antarctica
CG: WHY??
TG: uh
TG: lemme try to explain this
TG: i guess they best way to explain it is
TG: on earth you pretty much only watch that kind of movie if youre somebodys mom
CG: "SOMEBODY'S MOM"? THAT *IS* AN ADULT HUMAN LUSUS, RIGHT?
TG: yeah i guess that is the definition of mom
CG: WHY DOES THAT MEAN YOU CAN'T WATCH THESE MOVIES? ARE THESE MOVIES MADE FOR MOMS AS SOME SORT OF OFFERING, TO APPEASE THEM? AND NO ONE ELSE IS ALLOWED TO WATCH?
TG: uh
TG: no
TG: this sounds really bad when i type it out fuck
TG: i guess moms arent thought of that well among humans usually
TG: i guess their culture is thought of as uh
TG: dumb or maybe superfluous
TG: fuck
TG: thats
TG: fuck
CG: I DON'T UNDERSTAND. THERE'S NOTHING IN THE MOVIES ABOUT THIS. THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ADULT HUMAN LUSII HAVE THEIR OWN CULTURES? AND SOME ARE THOUGHT OF AS BETTER THAN OTHERS? BY WHO?
TG: uh
TG: yeah
TG: and i dunno by who by society in general i guess
TG: fuck
TG: this sounds really bad
CG: DAVE! EXPLAIN. I STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND.
TG: uh
TG: i guess its also not seen as good to like shit that chicks like if youre a dude
TG: people call those types of movies chick flicks cause theyre aimed at chicks
TG: movies about romance and relationships and shit arent seen as being serious movies cause those are things chicks are supposedly into i guess
TG: and dudes would be looked down on for liking shit like that
TG:
TG: fuck
CG: ...
CG: I DON'T FUCKING UNDERSTAND THIS AT ALL!! RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE ABSOLUTELY INTRINSIC BUILDING BLOCKS OF ALL OF SOCIETY. YOU CAN'T ACCOMPLISH *SHIT* WITHOUT RELATIONSHIPS!! HOW IS EXPLORING THEM IN MOVIES A BAD THING?? HOW ELSE ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO KNOW HOW THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO WORK??
CG: FUCK!
CG: YOU LOOK DOWN ON ME BECAUSE I LIKE THESE MOVIES, DON'T YOU??
TG: no no no
TG: im uh
TG: trying not to
TG: i promise
CG: OH, YOU'RE "TRYING NOT TO"? WHAT PART OF THAT, EXACTLY, MEANS THAT YOU DON'T??
CG: GOD FUCKING DAMMIT
TG: im sorry im sorry
TG: its really hard to know how im supposed to feel
TG: you have some totally different like
TG: values than i grew up with and its really confusing ok
TG: i had some dumb assumptions at first but i dont feel that way anymore i promise
CG: WHAT'S WRONG WITH WATCHING THE MOVIES, THEN?
TG:
TG: ugh
TG: nothing
TG:
TG: are
TG: you really mad
CG: YES.
TG: shit
TG: shit
TG: if
TG: you want to go i understand
CG: FUCK YOU, NO. I'LL GET OVER IT. JUST
CG: FORGET IT, NEVER MIND, IT DOESN'T MATTER.
CG: DON'T YOU DARE LOG OFF.
TG: ok
TG: i guess
CG: DON'T WORRY, WE'RE STILL FRIENDS.
CG: I CAN'T EVEN ACTUALLY JUSTIFY BEING ANGRY. IT'S NOT LIKE I DIDN'T HAVE ALL SORTS OF "DUMB ASSUMPTIONS" ABOUT YOU.
TG: yeah
TG: ok
TG: like what
CG: FUCKING...DON'T MAKE ME GIVE YOU A LIST. IT'S ONLY GOING TO BE HUMILIATING FOR BOTH OF US.
TG: oh so theres a whole list
TG: pick a seat dude the two of us are in for the longest possible journey aboard humiliation air
TG: stow your belongings and buckle your fucking seat belt this shit is gonna get turbulent as hell
CG: OH MY GOD.
TG: was that oh my god like im about to totally snap and roast your ass
TG: or oh my god like i cant believe dave would bust out a metaphor right now
TG: you should probably be expecting that type of shit already tbh
CG: THIS. IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.
CG: THIS SHIT WHERE YOU PRETEND LIKE YOU DON'T GIVE A FUCK.
CG: IT STILL PISSES ME OFF, BY THE WAY.
CG: I USED TO THINK YOU WERE SUCH A COMPLETE FUCKING ASSHOLE.
TG: oh so im not actually an asshole
TG: oh boy thank you im just so happy that you finally learned to accept me for myself im so proud
CG: OF COURSE I FUCKING DID, YOU DUMB SHIT.
TG: fuck off
CG: NO, YOU FUCK OFF!!
CG: UGH. FUCK.
CG: LOOK.
TG: fucking what
CG: CAN WE JUST PUT THIS SHIT BEHIND US? WE MET UNDER ANTAGONISTIC CIRCUMSTANCES.
CG: WE BOTH KNOW BETTER NOW. WHO GIVES A FUCK.
TG: fine ill watch your dumb movies
TG: sign me the fuck up
TG: lets do this right
TG: braid each others hair
TG: eat ice cream straight out of the container
TG: argue over which one of us gets to fuck ben affleck
TG: please tell me you at least have titanic
CG: IS THAT THE ONE THAT DEMONSTRATES THE IDIOCY OF TRAVELING OVER THE OCEAN?
TG: thats the one

Chapter Text

As they say, two can play
But keep that song away from me ×

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 24:26 --

TG: hey
TT: Hello, Dave.
TG: so uh
TG: how are things
TT: Not entirely without merit.
TG: right
TT: Given how reticent you have become lately, am I correct in assuming that you want something from me?
TG: no
TG: just thought maybe youd want to talk
TT: Alright then.
TT: What would you like to talk about?
TG: doesnt matter
TG: whatevers fine
TT: Right.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 24:31 --

TG: oh my god i am currently having the most awkward conversation with rose that has ever occurred in all of fucking recorded history
TG: i can feel my brain whirlpooling endlessly into a supermassive black hole of awkward
TG: theres no way i can survive this its fucking awful
TG: i have no idea what to talk about my life is over
CG: OH, FOR FUCK'S SAKE.
CG: ASK HER ABOUT HER KNITTING. SHE'S BEEN SPENDING A PRETTY BIG CHUNK OF HER TIME KNITTING A SWEATER IN THE COMMON AREA.
TG: how the fuck am i supposed to ask her about that i dont know shit about knitting
TG: all i know about knitting i know from cartoons from the fifties like whenever theres a granny for whatever reason cause i guess all grannies in the fifties did nothing but knit all the fucking time
TG: and theres a scarf being spontaneously generated off the ends of the needles like whoever made this shitty cartoon also had the exact amount of knowledge that i have about knitting
TG: which is absolutely fucking none
TG: and anyway ive already spent a lot of time comparing her to grannies so thats sort of old by now
CG: JUST ASK HER ABOUT THE SWEATER. THE POINT OF ASKING PEOPLE ABOUT SHIT LIKE THAT ISN'T THAT YOU HAVE A FIVE HOUR LONG MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL CONVERSATION ABOUT FUCKING KNITTING.
CG: IT'S SO THEY KNOW YOU CARE ENOUGH TO ASK THEM ABOUT THEIR HOBBIES, DUMBASS.
TG: uh ok
TG: hold on

TG: so i heard youre making a sweater hows that going
TT: It's coming along quite nicely. I finished the back yesterday, and just started on the right sleeve.
TT: I was always reluctant to attempt cables, before. But it's not nearly as difficult as I had previously believed.
TT: Quite the opposite, actually.
TG: cool cool
TT: Let's keep this stimulating dialogue going. Has Karkat given you any more fascinating talking points?

-- turntechGodhead [TG] blocked tentacleTherapist [TT] at 12:44 --

TG: fuck oh fuck oh fuck
TG: i uh sort of
TG: blocked her
CG: WHAT?? WHY??
TG: she was onto us
CG: YOU CAN'T SEE IT, BUT I AM FACEPALMING. I AM LITERALLY FACEPALMING. MY PALMS ARE AGAINST MY FACE.
CG: I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU.
TG: you cant fucking type and put your face in both hands asshole
CG: YEAH, BECAUSE ME EMBELLISHING MY OWN ACTIONS OVER TROLLIAN IS DEFINITELY THE MOST ASSHOLE THING THAT HAS BEEN DONE IN THE PAST THIRTY SECONDS.
TG: ugh
TG: yeah just go ahead and keep piling on the sarcasm
TG: its cozy
TG: just like home
TG: lemme just pull this heavy ass blanket of sarcasm over my head and suffocate myself to death
CG: WHATEVER. SHUT UP.
CG: SHOULDN'T YOU BE UNBLOCKING HER?
TG: no
CG: UGH.
CG: WHAT EXACTLY...HAPPENED BETWEEN YOU TWO?
TG: duh she knew you were telling me what to say and i panicked
CG: NOT WHAT HAPPENED JUST NOW, FUCKFACE. DURING THE RECKONING.
CG: YOU ALWAYS SEEMED CLOSE BEFORE. WHAT HAPPENED?
TG: man i dunno
TG: something changed with her and i dont know what exactly
TG: maybe its a combination of factors idk
TG: a combination of factors that suck giant veiny horse dick
CG: YOU HAVE FEELINGS FOR HER, DON'T YOU?
TG: what
TG: what no
TG: no no no
TG: shes my fucking sister
CG: FUCKING...
CG: WILL YOU PLEASE, PLEASE, *PLEASE* EXPLAIN TO ME EXACTLY WHY THAT IS A PROBLEM?
CG: I HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY UNABLE TO GET ANY OF YOU CAGEY ASS HUMANS TO GIVE ME A STRAIGHT ANSWER ABOUT THIS.
TG: dude theres nothing to explain you cant have feelings for your sister
CG: WHY? WHY DOES THE IDEA FREAK EVERYONE OUT SO MUCH?
CG: HUMAN MOVIES ARE NO HELP AT EXPLAINING IT, EITHER.
CG: I'M ACTUALLY REALLY CURIOUS ABOUT THIS.
TG: uh
TG: thats a really weird thing to be curious about btw
TG: but i guess
TG: its just super not allowed by society
TG: if you have a baby with someone in your family its more likely to be fucked up genetically
TG: so i guess the dudes that didnt try to fuck their sisters had babies that survived better i dunno
TG: theres this thing called the uh
TG: some european dude effect
TG: where if youre around someone a lot when youre a baby you will never be attracted to them
TG: and that usually applies to people who are related to you
TG: and the idea of having sex with them is really gross to you idk
CG: SO IT'S GROSS TO YOU? THE IDEA OF HAVING SEX WITH ROSE?
TG: uh
CG: BUT YOU COULDN'T HAVE SPENT MUCH TIME TOGETHER AS BABIES.
TG: well no
CG: WAIT, DO YOU HAVE SOME KIND OF SENSORY ORGAN THAT CAN DETECT SIMILAR DNA? SO YOU KNOW IF SOMEONE IS "RELATED" TO YOU?
TG: well
TG: no
CG: SO HOW DO YOU KNOW NOT TO BE ATTRACTED TO A "BROTHER" OR "SISTER" IF YOU DIDN'T SHARE YOUR "BABYHOOD" WITH THEM?
TG: jesus fuck
TG: you dont ok
CG: OH
CG: UH
TG: you have these conversations with them online for a couple of years that are like chock fucking full of sexual tension
TG: and you start thinking about them as somebody that someday you might want to fuck
TG: who knows
TG: and they know pretty much everything about you
TG: shit youd never want anyone else to know about
TG: and its really fucking hot
TG: like no one else ever really gave enough of a shit to try to actually you know
TG: get me
TG: not just take everything i say for granted you know
TG: my other friends can be pretty fucking shallow tbh
CG: SHIT.
CG: I'M SORRY.
TG: then suddenly it turns out that were fucking brother and sister
TG: and kanaya is now like her new bestest best friend
TG: even though when we went god tier
TG: i
TG: fuck
TG: i felt closer to her than ive ever felt to anyone in my entire life
TG: but now its like that """moment""" we had didnt even happen
TG: i dont think it meant the same thing to her as it did to me and i dont know what to do
CG: YOU COULD TELL HER WHAT YOU JUST TOLD ME.
CG: MAYBE NOT ALL OF IT.
CG: BUT I THINK SHE DESERVES TO KNOW THAT YOU STILL CARE ABOUT HER, AND THAT YOU MISS HER.
CG: I HAVEN'T KNOWN HER FOR NEARLY AS LONG AS YOU HAVE, BUT I KNOW IT'S REALLY FUCKING HARD TO SQUEEZE ANY KIND OF SINCERITY OUT OF HER.
CG: MAYBE SHE'S AS FREAKED OUT AS YOU ARE, AND TRYING TO HIDE IT?
TG: i dunno
TG: maybe
CG: IF WHAT YOU SAY IS TRUE ABOUT HUMANS AND RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN BROTHERS AND SISTERS, SHE *HAS* TO BE FREAKED OUT ABOUT IT.
CG: HOW SURE ARE YOU THAT SHE HAD FEELINGS FOR YOU?
TG: pretty sure
TG: i think
TG: probably
TG: maybe
CG: UGH. YOU ARE HOPELESS.
TG: yeah yeah tell me something i dont know
CG: BUT I KNOW FIRST HAND HOW FUCKING DIFFICULT IT IS TO GET A STRAIGHT ANSWER OUT OF HER. OR *YOU*.
CG: MAYBE SHE'S NOT SURE HOW GENUINE YOUR FEELINGS ARE EITHER?
TG: i dunno
TG: i dont even know if this is a road i actually want to be going down
TG: am i even the same person anymore
TG: im even less sure about her
TG: yeah i used to have a massive boner for rose lalonde but the game kind of ruined a lot of shit
TG: not to mention the fact that i sort of got involved with jade in the meantime
CG: DOES SHE KNOW ABOUT THAT?
TG: she knows about everything dude
CG: DO YOU THINK SHE COULD BE JEALOUS?
TG: man i dont even know what was going on with her at that point in the game
TG: she suddenly got all these massive amounts of powers and it p much went straight to her head
TG: serving the horrorterrors was seriously like her life long wet dream come to life
TG: she basically dumped all of us and started trying to break the game
TG: i dont think she was thinking about any of us that much then i mean i had to stop her from going on a solo fucking suicide mission
TG: so i dunno maybe but that was sort of the least of anyones worries at that point
CG: HMM.
TG: yeah

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 1:13 --

TG: uh look
TG: im uh
TG: sorry
TT: For blocking me? Or for your recent avoidant behavior?
TG: both i guess
TT: Apology accepted, I suppose.
TT: Even though it was an apology that was most likely prompted by a third party.
TG: how much of your powers are actually just cold reading huh
TG: karkat didnt tell me to apologize
TG: he just told me to tell you that i miss you
TG:
TG: fuck
TT: Alright.
TT: I miss you too, Dave.
TT: All teasing aside, I think Karkat is a good influence on you.
TG: ok thanks now i just feel gross

Chapter Text

Traditions I can trace against the child in your face
Won't escape my attention ×

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 15:19 --

CG: DAVE, ARE YOU AWAKE?

-- turntechGodhead [TG] is now an idle chum! --

CG: FUCK FUCK FUCK
CG: I'M SORT OF FLIPPING THE FUCK OUT HERE DAVE PLEASE WAKE UP
CG: I REALLY HOPE YOU WEREN'T JUST BEING HUMAN POLITE WHEN YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T CARE IF I WOKE YOU UP
CG: FUCK YOU PROBABLY WERE
CG: WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU ACTUALLY MEAN THAT
CG: I AM SUCH A FUCKING IDIOT
TG: whats going on
TG: holy shit are you ok
CG: OH GOD
TG: fuck fuck what happened
CG: I JUST
CG: FINALLY FELL ASLEEP BUT
CG: DREAM BUBBLES
CG: ...OH MY GOD PLEASE JUST GO BACK TO SLEEP. WHY THE FUCK WOULD I TROLL YOU ABOUT THIS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING DAY??
CG: PLEASE JUST LEAVE ME TO SPIN MY OWN PERSONAL COCOON OF SHAME, AND MAYBE AFTER I FINALLY MANAGE TO GNAW MY WAY OUT I WILL HAVE TRANSFORMED INTO SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T PERSONALLY HUMILIATE ITSELF EVERY CHANCE IT FUCKING GETS.
TG: holy shit karkat its cool
TG: i dont give a fuck that you woke me up
TG: i meant it when i said you could ok
CG: ...OK.
TG: what happened
TG: in the dream bubble
TG: i mean if you dont mind talking about it its cool if you dont want to
CG: I
CG: SHIT!!
CG: I CAN'T EVEN REMEMBER. ANYMORE.
CG: I AM SO FUCKING STUPID.
CG: JUST GO BACK TO SLEEP.
TG: dude no way
CG: GOD DAMMIT JUST
TG: the fuck if you even think its possible for me to go back to sleep after finding out that youre freaking out alone somewhere
TG: you seriously have a low opinion of me dude
CG: ...
CG: FINE.
TG: we can watch a movie if you want
TG: hang out in the lab again like normal people
CG: YEAH.
CG: YEAH, OK.
TG: see you
CG: OK.

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 15:31 --
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 15:31 --

× × ×

Dave is slouched down on the couch in the lab, eyelids drooping, palms against velveteen. Karkat is asleep beside him, the light from the screen flickering over his face, his eyebrows still drawn together. His arms are crossed over his chest, shoulders tense even though he's clearly asleep, breathing loud, head dropped a little to one side. The corners of Dave's mouth twist downwards. Is it even possible for Karkat to fucking relax? He doesn't know if it's a troll thing or a Karkat thing, but it fills him with a weird feeling, part worry, part nausea, part warmth.

Should he try to wake him up? The movie's almost over. Alicia Silverstone is learning a life lesson, or something. Dave isn't sure, he's barely been paying attention to the plot, or the characters, or anything, really. Karkat looks uncomfortable. Do normal people try to wake each other up if they fall asleep and look uncomfortable or are prone to terrible dreams? Or do they pretend like they didn't notice? Dave guesses that what trolls do is more important, but Dave knows about that even less, and anyway, he can tell that Karkat is pretty different from other trolls, and he just, doesn't know.

He doesn't know anything at all. Doesn't know how to talk to people, doesn't know how to hang out, doesn't know how to keep the shame that's starting to twist in his chest from spiralling out of control and sucking him in. And there's that familiar itch again, the itch that says to get up, to run away, to hide where nobody can find you, where nobody can see you fail over and over and over.

Dave grits his teeth and stays put.

Maybe he'll just move. Just a little. Maybe he didn't know Karkat was asleep, and he's just changing position, like someone probably would if they'd been sitting in the same place for a long time? He leans forward, arms crossed over his middle, eyes glued to Karkat's face. Karkat's upper lip twitches, briefly exposing one white fang. Is it even safe to just suddenly wake up a troll? Fuck, uh...fuck.

Dave squares his shoulders and reaches over to the husktop, tapping what he thinks might be the spacebar. The movie doesn't pause. Shit. Uh...the rest of the keys are labeled with the troll alphabet, which to Dave is still complete nonsense. Are troll keyboards the same as human keyboards, just with troll letters instead? The likelihood of that seems astronomically small. Dave hits the key in the top left-hand corner, hoping it's an escape key. It isn't. Now Alicia Silverstone is kissing a guy that Dave really thought was her brother...? What even happened in this movie?

Karkat is still totally still except for his eyes, which twitch back and forth under his eyelids. Maybe Dave should just let him keep sleeping. It doesn't really seem like he's having a bad dream or anything, Dave doesn't think, and Karkat hardly ever sleeps. What if he isn't able to get back to sleep after Dave wakes him up? Or what if he starts off in a worse dream bubble?

OK. If it seems like Karkat is having a bad dream, he'll wake him up. He'll just stay here and make sure.

× × ×

The sound of the transportalizer wakes Dave up with a start. He's on his feet before he's even fully conscious, sword in his hands. The feel of the hilt between his palms slaps him fully awake, and he stares wide-eyed at Rose and Kanaya, who are staring back, mouths open.

"Dave? What's...going on?" Karkat asks, voice rough and sleepy, and Dave shakily captchalogues his sword. His feet are frozen to the floor.

"Good morning, Dave, Karkat," Rose says, and Dave hates that he can't read her, can't tell if she's pissed off or worried or amused or a mixture of all three, and Kanaya nods solemnly at them, brow furrowed, as she and Rose make their way over to the coffee maker. Karkat is tugging on his sleeve, pulling him over to the transportalizer and out of the room, husktop under one arm.

"Sorry, I'm sorry," Dave is stammering, stumbling a little over his own feet. Karkat drops his sleeve, a deep furrow between his brows, hand hanging in the air for a moment before he shoves it roughly into his pocket.

"It's ok, Dave, it's ok," Karkat reassures him, voice still hoarse. He clears his throat, and Dave doesn't know what to make of his expression, either, except that it's awful. He doesn't know what to do except apologize, and now he can't even do that. "Do you want to go to my respiteblock? We can, watch something, or..."

Dave nods quickly, words jumbling up in his brain before they can make it anywhere near his mouth. This...is bad. He should be saying no, shouldn't be voluntarily putting himself in a social situation when he's starting to get like...this. But Karkat is turning and heading off down the hallway toward the other transportalizers, and Dave is following him, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.

When they get to Karkat's transportalizer, Karkat captchalogues his husktop, grabbing Dave by the arms and maneuvering him into place. Light fizzles around them. "It only lets shit through that I'm touching," Karkat says, voice still oddly stilted, and he crosses his arms tightly over his chest. Dave nods.

Karkat's room isn't quite as bare as Dave's. He has a few movie posters on the walls, all of which Dave is pretty sure didn't quite alchemize the way he meant for them to, a recuperacoon, a desk, and a chair. Karkat looks around helplessly for a moment.

"I think I have another chair in...yeah," he mutters, and a chair drops out of his sylladex. He drops heavily into his own chair, and Dave sinks slowly into his, pulling his knees up to his chest, arms tight around his legs. "I can get us some breakfast later, fuck, I should have grabbed something before we left, I just...thought I should get you out," he explains, still so stilted and awkward. Dave nods, face half buried in his knees. "Don't worry, it's ok," he adds, eyes averted, "I'll just, uh, put on a movie."

Dave's arms start to buzz oddly, starting in his palms, radiating up his wrists as if he's been sword fighting, though he hasn't, not in months. He rolls his shoulders, pushes them up to his ears. It feels bad, insistent and unreal, and Dave grits his teeth, trying to ignore it. His wrists feel awful against the fabric of his pants, and he drops his feet back to the floor, letting his hands fall palms up on his thighs. It's a little better, not mixing phantom sensations with real ones, and he tries to watch the movie, tries to let the dialogue take up the forefront of his mind.

The romcoms really aren't...that bad. Maybe he would have seen more movies like these if he'd had a normal life. Maybe he'd have taken Jade to movies like this, if he could have? He doesn't know. The thought's comforting, in a way. Maybe it's good that these movies are all that's left of Earth culture, stupid and banal as most of them are. They're optimistic, and hopeful. Secure in the belief that everything will have a happy ending. Which maybe...isn't such a bad thing to wish for?

"Are you hungry?" Karkat asks him as the credits start rolling. Dave's arms finally feel somewhat normal again, and he flexes his fingers before rubbing his palms on the legs of his pants.

"Yeah," Dave answers, still not really sure what to do, or say. Karkat stands up, looking lost for a moment, before reaching out and squeezing Dave's shoulder.

"Look, I'll be right back. You don't have to go back to the lab, if you don't want to." Dave shakes his head. "Right, yeah. I'll be right back." Karkat rushes off, and for a minute or so afterwards, Dave's shoulder feels cold.

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 10:02 --

TG: hey im really sorry about earlier
TG: i dont know what happened exactly
TG: but thanks for
TG: uh
TG: watching out for me idk
CG: YEAH. OF COURSE. DAVE, IT'S OK.
CG: DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?
TG: yeah i think so
TG: i guess
TG: on earth
TG: if i was ever woken up suddenly
TG: it was by my bro getting the drop on me
TG: so i had to be ready yknow
TG: but i didnt know that
TG: uh
TG: that would happen
TG: i havent gotten surprise woken up since i left earth until today so i wasnt really uh
TG: prepared
CG: THIS IS ALL MY FAULT. I SHOULDN'T HAVE LET MYSELF FALL ASLEEP IN THE FUCKING LAB.
TG: shut up how is this your fault
CG: I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW I *COULD* JUST FALL ASLEEP IN THE LAB. FUCK FUCK FUCK
TG: no
TG: no no
TG: stop blaming yourself for every fucking thing jesus christ
TG: youre the only one that seems like they give any kind of shit about me
TG: so as far as i can see youre dead last on the list of people whos fault it probably is ok
CG: I GUESS.
CG: DON'T MIND ME, I'M JUST TURNING SHIT AROUND TO BE ABOUT MYSELF AGAIN, WHEN I MEANT FOR THIS CONVERSATION TO BE ABOUT YOU. OH GOOD.
TG: if i minded would i still be talking to you
TG: i dont think so
CG: ...
TG: and if you think youre the most self absorbed participant of this conversation you are wrong as hell
CG: WHAT THE FUCK. NO.
TG: yes
CG: FUCK YOU, NO.
TG: yes
CG: NO, NO, AND NO, AND DON'T YOU DARE SAY YES.
TG:
TG:
TG:
TG: yes
CG: OH GREAT, YOU'VE DONE IT NOW, THIS CONVERSATION HAS SPIRALLED INTO SUCH IDIOCY THAT SOME SORT OF TEMPORAL PARADOX IS OCCURRING! LOOK! SUDDENLY EVERY TRACE OF THE LAST FIVE MINUTES HAS BEEN ENTIRELY WIPED FROM ALL OF EXISTENCE!
CG: WHERE WERE WE AGAIN? OH YES! "CG: DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?"
TG: fine
TG: i dont really know what else to say i guess
TG: i dont know what was happening
TG: everything just starts to feel weird sometimes
TG: like
TG: too big
TG: and also
TG: uh
TG: idk
TG: i dont think i want to try to describe it anymore sorry
CG: OK. IT'S FINE.
CG: DID IT HELP TO WATCH SOMETHING? IF...IT HAPPENS AGAIN?
TG: yeah i think so
TG: i think it made it better to focus on other shit
TG: thanks for taking me out of the lab btw
CG: OH.
CG: YEAH. NO PROBLEM.
TG: cool

Chapter Text

Why are you asking why
I'm walking but my feet are never touching the ground ×

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 1:03 --

CG: SO. I'VE BEEN THINKING.
CG: I KNOW WE HAVE OVER A SWEEP BEFORE WE GET TO THE NEW SESSION.
CG: BUT I'M...NOT ACTUALLY VERY GOOD AT FIGHTING.
CG: I THINK YOU'RE MUCH BETTER AT IT THAN I AM.
CG: I'VE ONLY EVER STRIFED WITH MY LUSUS, AND HE WASN'T REALLY THE BEST TEACHER?
CG: SO. I WAS WONDERING IF MAYBE YOU'D TEACH ME SOME THINGS.
TG: oh
TG: uh
TG: i guess
CG: IF I START PREPARING NOW I MIGHT NOT, YOU KNOW. GET INSTANTLY KILLED.
TG: yeah
TG: yeah ok
TG: i guess i can show you some things
TG: i dunno how to use sicklekind
TG: but ill do my best i guess
CG: WANT TO START AFTER LUNCH?
TG: uh
TG: sure

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 1:12 --
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 1:12 --

× × ×

Dave and Karkat stand awkwardly in Dave's room.

"I don't even know where to start with this," Dave admits, fidgeting with the edges of his cape. He impatiently pulls the whole thing up over his head and tosses it in the corner. "Uh...do you know how to fall?"

"Not...not particularly," Karkat answers, looking nervous.

"That's sort of the first step of any kind of martial arts, or like, anything, really, skateboarding, parkour, whatever, you have to know how to fall without getting hurt too bad, otherwise you're sort of fucked..." Dave realizes he's rambling and shuts his mouth. "Here." He kicks off his shoes and stands on the edge of his mattress. "When you fall the natural impulse is to try to like, catch yourself on your arms, but you gotta kick that impulse, 'cause that's the fastest way to dislocate your shoulder or break your wrist."

Karkat frowns in concentration.

"You have to try to twist your body so your weight lands on, like, your side, but not all at once." He demonstrates, falling forward onto the mattress, twisting in midair so the impact rolls up his body from his hip to his shoulder. "I'll show you again." He does. "You should try it."

Karkat nods, and toes off his shoes. Dave rolls off the mattress, and Karkat comes to stand at the edge of it. He shakes himself out, and falls.

"That was pretty good," Dave says. "Try to relax a little more."

Karkat glares up at him. "You try to relax a little more."

"Yeah no. Try it again."

Dave shows Karkat specifically how to fall forward, backward, and on his side. Karkat looks kind of hot and miserable in his sweatshirt, but Dave doesn't comment.

"Now do it on the actual floor." Dave steps away from the mattress, and does another break fall. Karkat huffs, and does one too.

"Ha! That didn't even hurt," Karkat brags from the floor.

Dave pushes himself to his feet, brushing at the sides of his pants. "Say that again after doing this shit for a week."

× × ×

"Hey, I brought Karkat this time," Dave says quietly, sitting crosslegged on the floor. Karkat follows him, and the Mayor blinks up at both of them. "We're friends now so. Maybe he'll come with me from now on, I don't know."

The Mayor makes a quiet clicking noise, and one shiny hand reaches over to grab onto the fabric of Dave's pants.

"He doesn't talk but I can tell he understands me. And I guess he's a he? I actually have no idea. I've been trying to take care of him but he won't let me near that, uh, wound." Dave begins to pat the Mayor rhythmically on the upper back. The clicking sound slows and stops. The Mayor's eyes blink shut, and he seems to relax completely. "He likes it when I do this, though."

Dave glances up at Karkat, and Karkat looks away quickly, an embarrassed twist to his mouth.

"What?" Dave asks, suspicious, hand hanging in the air over the Mayor's shoulder.

Karkat draws back in upon himself, expression guarded. "What do you mean, what?"

The Mayor starts clicking at them again, and Dave resumes patting him.

× × ×

CG: SO I KNOW HUMAN SOCIETY ISN'T DIVIDED BY SOMETHING LIKE THE HEMOSPECTRUM
CG: BUT IT'S STILL OBVIOUSLY DIVIDED INTO HIGH AND LOW CASTES, FROM WHAT I CAN GATHER FROM MOVIES.
CG: LIKE IN TITANIC. WHAT MAKES CAL BETTER THAN JACK?
CG: IT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH "MONEY", RIGHT, WHICH IS TREASURE? BUT YOU EXCHANGE IT FOR OTHER THINGS?
TG: yeah thats right
TG: cals family is super rich which means they have a lot of money
TG: so they can do p much whatever they want
TG: and roses family did have a lot of money but i think they lost it somehow i forget
TG: i never pay attention to the beginning of that movie sorry
TG: but im p sure she was gonna have to marry him for money
CG: SO MONEY IS SHARED BETWEEN GENETICALLY SIMILAR HUMANS, AND THEIR MATES, RIGHT?
TG: yeah p much
TG: trolls dont have money huh
TG: are you a bunch of communists or something
TG: if treasure isnt money whats even the point of it
TG: do you just like
TG: hoard it
TG: do you all have huge caverns of gold that you just like lounge in and rub all over your naked bodies
TG: please tell me there are giant pits of gold coins involved
TG: which somehow you can dive into and swim around in without sustaining massive bodily injuries like scrooge mcduck
CG: FUCK NO. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
CG: I NEVER HAD ANY TREASURE. IT'S A HIGHBLOOD THING. SO *I* DON'T EVEN FUCKING KNOW THE POINT OF IT.
CG: IT'S JUST SHIT THEY CAPTURE FROM OTHER TROLLS AFTER THEY CULL THEM.
CG: I KNOW VRISKA HAD A LOT. ASK HER.
TG: oh gross no no no
TG: you just made me imagine her swimming naked in gold thanks a fucking lot
CG: DAVE!! WHY WOULD YOU EVEN *TELL* ME THAT??
CG: KEEP YOUR BLACK FEELINGS FOR VRISKA TO YOUR FUCKING SELF. I'M NEVER GOING TO STOP VOMITING, THANK YOU *SO* MUCH.
TG: oh fuck no shut the fuck up what is WRONG with you
CG: *ANYWAY!!!*
TG: yes ANYWAY jesus fucking christ
CG: YOU KNOW, THE WHOLE MOVIE WOULD HAVE GONE MUCH SMOOTHER IF HUMANS HAD QUADRANTS.
CG: AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, CAL DIDN'T ACTUALLY HAVE RED FEELINGS FOR ROSE. THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN FAR BETTER OFF IN A MOIRALLEGIANCE. CAL'S THE EQUIVALENT OF A HIGHBLOOD, SO HE COULD STILL HAVE TAKEN CARE OF HER.
CG: THEN ROSE AND JACK WOULD BE FREE TO PURSUE THEIR MATESPRITESHIP, AND CAL AND JACK COULD ALSO PURSUE THEIR OBVIOUS BLACK FEELINGS.
TG: what hahaha cal and jack arent into each other what are you talking about
TG: theyre both dudes
TG: dudes that are into chicks
CG: DAMN IT, THIS IS ANOTHER HUMAN THING THAT NO ONE WILL FUCKING EXPLAIN TO ME.
TG: what do you mean
CG: WHY DOES IT MATTER SO MUCH TO HUMANS WHETHER WHOEVER THEY'RE INVOLVED ROMANTICALLY WITH IS A "DUDE" OR A "CHICK"?
CG: AND WHAT IS A "HOMOSEXUAL" AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF YOU ARE OR AREN'T ONE?
TG: hahaha oh my god
TG: who taught you that word
CG: FUCK YOU, SOME OF US ARE STILL TRYING TO FORGE CULTURAL CONNECTIONS, HERE.
CG: YET AGAIN, I AM TRYING TO BE AN AMBASSADOR BETWEEN OUR TWO SPECIES, YOU UNGRATEFUL SHIT.
TG: was it a movie or no wait wait wait
TG: this is fucking hilarious it had to be john
TG: holy shit that dude is the fucking universal paradigm of square
CG: JUST ANSWER THE FUCKING QUESTION.
TG: fine fine
TG: uh
TG: so yeah
TG: most humans are attracted to the opposite sex and the word for that is heterosexual
TG: but there are humans too that are attracted to the same sex and thats what homosexual is
TG: its not really that accepted in society to like the same sex though so you dont really see it that much in movies and shit because
TG: uh
TG: most people think its wrong
TG: wrong and uh
TG: gross
CG: BUT WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?
CG: SAME SEX? OPPOSITE SEX?
TG: sex meaning genitalia not the act sorry
CG: WHAT THE FUCK??
CG: OPPOSITE GENITALIA TO WHAT??
TG: what
TG: wait
TG: what
CG: THE FUCK?? WHAT'S THE SAME ABOUT SOME OF THEM THAT'S NOT THE SAME ABOUT ALL OF THEM??
TG: holy
TG: fuck
TG: what
CG: I FUCKING HATE YOU, STRIDER, YOU CRYPTIC FUCKING ASSHOLE.
TG: wait wait wait
TG: holy shit this is the single most important moment of my life
TG: this is the ultimate reason for my existence
TG: i suddenly believe in a supreme being and it is good to me fuck yes
TG: i am in such fucking awe of this moment oh my god oh my god
TG: im not worthy
CG: KILL ME.
CG: PLEASE.
TG: no fucking way you have to share this moment with me karkat
TG: do you not understand the fucking magnitude of this situation
TG: i need a bottle of champagne lets send off this sex education ship with a fucking bang
TG: get it
TG: bang
CG: ...
TG: ok here goes
TG: when a man and a woman love each other very much
TG: they text nude pics to each other
TG: then do body shots on a leather sectional
TG: then the dude sticks his dick into the chicks pussy repeatedly for a while
TG: and if they didnt use birth control because of lack of planning or whatever some time later the chick pops a new baby human out of her body
CG: O...K.
TG: oh fuck oh fuck i just seriously gave the talk to an alien
TG: why is everything always so wonderful
CG: SO HUMAN MALES HAVE A "DICK", AND HUMAN FEMALES HAVE A "PUSSY"?
TG: oh my god ow my sides
TG: holy fuck karkat
TG: you are the best ever did you know that
TG: youre my favorite person i fucking mean it
CG: GOD FUCKING DAMN IT!!
CG: HOW CAN SOME HUMANS HAVE DIFFERENT GENITALIA THAN OTHERS? THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE! ARE YOU AND ROSE A DIFFERENT SPECIES??
TG: haha holy shit no no no
TG: i dont know why thats just the way it is with humans
TG: so uh
TG: i guess
TG: all trolls have the same parts then
CG: OF COURSE WE DO!!
TG: uh
TG: holy shit
TG: what uh
TG: parts
CG: OH MY GOD

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] blocked turntechGodhead [TG] at 17:22 --

TG: karkat karkat
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] did not receive message from turntechGodhead [TG] --
TG: hahahaha karkat oh my god
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] did not receive message from turntechGodhead [TG] --
TG: im seriously crying oh fuck
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] did not receive message from turntechGodhead [TG] --
TG: hahaha ill just see you tomorrow you dick
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] did not receive message from turntechGodhead [TG] --

Chapter Text

Wish I knew what you were looking for
Might have known what you would find ×

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 23:24 --

CG: DAVE, WAKE UP!
CG: I'M BORED AND I WANT TO PRACTICE STRIFING AGAIN.
TG: karkat what the hell
TG: i know i said you could wake me up but fuck
CG: I'VE BEEN AWAKE FOR FOUR HOURS ALREADY, YOU LAZY SHIT.
TG: uggghhh
TG: i stayed up like all night talking to you asshole
TG: how are you this awake right now
TG: oh yeah i see you decided to unblock me huh
TG: lol
CG: NO. COMMENT.
CG: GET YOUR ASS OUT OF BED AND HANG OUT WITH ME.
TG: not until you answer my question
TG: you know
TG: from last night
TG: wink
CG: NOPE. AND THE NEXT TIME YOU WINK AT ME YOU WILL LOSE THE OFFENDING GANDERBULB.
TG: ugh fine
TG: lemme get some coffee first at least jesus
CG: FINE, FINE. MEET YOU IN THE LAB?
TG: yeah ok

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 23:32 --
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 23:32 --

× × ×

"So, uh." Dave twists his fingers together. They're standing again in front of Dave's mattress, their shoes lined up against the wall. "I guess we should keep practicing the falling thing. It kind of has to be automatic, you know, otherwise it's kind of useless to even learn? And I don't, uh, want you to get hurt. You know, when we actually start. Uh. Strifing."

Karkat huffs, his eyes shifting to one side. "Yeah, I guess."

"So, you know. You have to be prepared for. Shit like this!" Dave suddenly shoves Karkat as hard as he can toward the mattress. Karkat goes down like a wet bag of sand.

"Ugh! Fuck you, Dave, you fucking jerk," Karkat groans, his face buried in blankets. Dave laughs at him.

"Here." Dave holds out one hand, and after glaring at it for a moment, Karkat takes it, yanking hard, clearly trying to bring Dave down with him. Dave doesn't lose his balance. Karkat's hand is really warm, Dave thinks as he pulls him up. Are all trolls like that or is it just Karkat? Dave wishes he could be that warm. He's cold all the time here, and it blows.

Karkat runs through the same sort of routine they did the day before, practicing falls from different directions, teaching his body to react in the same way every time. The second time Dave shoves him unexpectedly, he does a perfect break fall. "Ha! Take that!" Karkat gloats from the floor, and Dave smirks down at him. Karkat's hand is still so warm, and when Karkat stumbles on the way up and crashes full on into him, Dave is left feeling cold from thigh to shoulder.

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 22:50 --

CG: DAVE.
TG: whaaaaaat
CG: WAKE UP, SHITSPONGE! STRIFING PRACTICE!
TG: ugh karkat come on
TG: i dont want to get up yet
TG: i never want to get up
TG: i am so fucking warm right now
TG: you dont understand the only time i am ever fucking warm is when im in bed
TG: even just the idea of getting out from under these covers is literally killing me
TG: you are literally killing me right now karkat how do you feel about that
CG: DAVE, COME ON. STOP BEING A WIGGLER.
TG: never
CG: DAVE
TG: just give me five more minutes to contemplate my own imminent mortality jesus christ
CG: DAVE.
TG: what
CG: IT'S BEEN FIVE MINUTES.
TG: ugggggh karkaaaat

× × ×

Karkat is a quick learner. It's only been four days, and now every time Dave shoves him over without warning, Karkat executes a perfect break fall and is up on his feet within seconds. They've made a game of it while wandering around the meteor, and Karkat tries to push Dave over, too, but never succeeds at it. Dave just laughs at him every time he tries.

"Did you have dinosaurs on Alternia? Or, wait, I guess I mean, just...fossils?"

Karkat is looking up at him, head tilted to one side. "...Fossils? What does that even mean?"

"Uh..." Dave flounders for a moment. "On Earth in some places the ground formed in a way that, uh, sort of left imprints of the bodies of dead animals, and that's how humans know about all this crazy shit that used to live on our planet but is dead now?"

Karkat is still looking at him in confusion. "I don't think so. I don't even think there's anything on Alternia that hasn't always been on Alternia."

"It's not just animals and shit, though, I mean, that's how we know what humans used to look like, before we evolved into humans, you know?"

"What do you mean, before you 'evolved into humans'?" Karkat is staring, now, eyes wide. "What does that mean? What the fuck were you before?"

Dave's mouth drops open. "That's...what? Don't tell me that trolls haven't figured out fucking evolution. The fuck have you guys been doing?"

Karkat scrunches up his face and socks Dave in the arm. "Hmm, only colonizing the fucking galaxy, asshole! I'm not going to take this from a species that only made it offplanet to their singular, inferior moon!"

"Hey! Lay off the moon! Our moon is the best!" Dave punches Karkat back, and they both start snickering. "Humans have only been humans for like, a couple hundred thousand years or something? Before that we were only a little different, but if you go back far enough, we were like, little rodents and shit. But that was like, millions of years ago."

"There have only been humans for a few hundred thousand years? Holy shit, your species is young. What. The. Fuck."

"So what! How old are trolls, then?" Dave crosses his arms.

Karkat lifts his chin haughtily. "We don't even know how old our species is, that's how old we are."

Dave snorts. "Oh my god, you can't be serious. Whatever."

Karkat takes a breath as if to retort, and Dave is suddenly on the floor, dazed and winded. Karkat is looking down at him, hands still outstretched where he'd shoved him, mouth open. "Holy shit. I did it."

Dave wraps his arms around his head, curling up into an overdramatic ball. "Nooooo, Karkat, nooooo, my life is over..." Karkat laughs loudly and pretends to kick him.

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 21:32 --

CG: WAKE UP!
TG: karkat no
CG: DAVE, YES!
TG: aw what the fuck its so goddamn early why are you waking me up earlier and earlier every day this is terrible
CG: "EARLIER" DOESN'T MEAN SHIT ON THIS METEOR. TIME IS COMPLETELY ARBITRARY HERE. OBVIOUSLY.
CG: I'M BORED.
TG: ugh
TG: fine
TG: im awake now anyway thanks a lot
TG: dick
CG: ANYWAY, WHEN ARE WE GOING TO MOVE ON TO OTHER SHIT? I CAN FALL PERFECTLY, NOW.
CG: WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET TO THE ACTUAL STRIFING?
TG: jesus i dunno
TG: i dunno if im even going to be any help with that i mean ive never even seen an actual sickle
TG: whats even the point of fighting with a weird curvy blade it seems inefficient dude
CG: THAT'S NOT WHAT YOU'LL BE SAYING WHEN I KICK YOUR ASS.
TG: aw dude what
TG: its on

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 21:41 --
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 21:41 --

× × ×

Dave and Karkat are leaning against the wall in the ectobiology lab, sipping coffee. "How should we even do this? I guess we should actually strife, so I can see how good you actually are?" Karkat glares up at him, and Dave smirks. "Maybe I'll figure some shit out, I dunno."

"OK. Sure." Karkat's eyes flick away from Dave's for a moment, then flick back. He looks down and buries himself in his coffee.

Oh shit. With how excited Karkat's been about the prospect of strifing with him, Dave didn't think he would end up getting nervous about it. "Don't worry. I won't actually attack you. You should just like, try to attack me. I'll block you and like, try to get a feel for how the sickles are supposed to work? I guess?"

Karkat nods, eyes flicking back up to Dave's. "OK. Yeah."

"Also I'm immortal and shit, so. Don't worry about hitting me. Not that you're going to be able to," Dave brags, and Karkat scowls and bumps into him with one shoulder. Dave bumps him back, harder, and Karkat almost slops his coffee out all over the floor. They end up in a sort of stalemate shoulder bump, where they're both leaning as hard as they can against each other. Neither one actually gives way, and they end up staying like that, backs still against the wall, snickering into their mugs.

"Dude, how are you so warm all the time? It's not fucking fair," Dave complains, giving an extra little shove that only unbalances Karkat a little. He's had both hands around his coffee mug this whole time, trying to leach as much warmth out of it as possible.

"What? I dunno." Karkat frowns and looks away. "Side effect of the mutation, I guess."

"So it's not normal for trolls?" Dave is a little taken aback.

Karkat's mouth twists. "No...right, I guess you've never...the lower on the hemospectrum a troll is, the higher the body temperature."

"Oh." Dave takes a long sip of coffee. "Weird." He considers it for a moment. "Like...how much higher? What's the range here? Oh wait, there's no way we have anything close to the same scale for temperature. Fuck."

Karkat shoves against him again, and Dave only just barely catches himself. "Ha! And, no, there's no way we do, but, our body temperatures range from 1 to 100 degrees. Usually. Unless you're me."

Dave stares at him. "Is...your...your whole scale is based around that, isn't it?"

"Yeah? So what? It begins with the Empress, and ends with the lowbloods. What's yours based off of?"

"Water."

Karkat gives him a withering look. "...Water?"

"Uh, yeah."

They finish their coffee and set their mugs down by the wall. Dave pulls off his cape and begins a quick series of stretches, bending in half at the waist, hands flat on the floor. He straightens up, pulling each arm sideways across his chest for a few seconds to stretch his shoulders, then each elbow behind his head to stretch the backs of his arms. Karkat is watching him with his eyebrows raised.

"What, do trolls not stretch, either?"

Karkat shrugs.

"Whatever. Let's go." Dave uncaptchalogues his sword.

Karkat grins at him, his teeth flashing white in the dim room. "Fuck yeah."

Chapter Text

I can't tell you
How I feel
My heart is like a wheel ×

× × ×

Dave's hands shift on the hilt of his sword, his palms sweating. His arms are starting to twinge with that same weird phantom numbness that tends to creep into his joints at the worst possible moments. He squares his shoulders.

Karkat uncaptchalogues his sickles, and they fall into his hands. He drops into a stance that Dave is unfamiliar with, the light glinting off the blades like twin crescent moons. His eyes are in shadow. Dave's hands tighten.

Karkat lunges forward, and Dave has the brief, screaming thought that Karkat might be better at this than he's given him credit for before his sword comes up almost on its own, blocking the sideways swipe to his right ear that Karkat had attempted. The impact vibrates up his arms. He grits his teeth.

Dave flashsteps backwards, eyes glued to Karkat's every movement. Surely to god Karkat's not going to be very subtle about when or where he's going to attack. Dave knows he's never sparred with anything as intelligent as a human before.

Dave's body reacts on its own, deflecting the other sickle with a loud clang as it comes towards his stomach. His palms ache.

No no, no no

He blocks Karkat's next two swipes, catching the second in mid air, twisting his blade, sending one sickle clattering to the floor.

It's as if water has swallowed up his mind, the room spiralling away, muffled and distant. Dave manages to step backwards, once, twice, until his back hits the wall, and the cold immediacy of it startles him. He can't control his breaths, and they start coming faster, loud in his own ears. Somehow he recaptchalogues his sword and slides to the floor.

"Dave?" He can't breathe. There's not enough oxygen. "Dave!"

"Sorry, I'm sorry," Dave gasps out, covering his mouth with both hands.

Karkat drops down beside him. "What's going on? Are you ok?" His voice is frantic.

Dave can't answer. He slumps forward, curls in upon himself, tries desperately to breathe normally.

There are hands on his shoulders, pushing him back against the wall. Dave feels the backs of his hands hit the floor as Karkat's terrified face swims in his vision. "Shh," Karkat says, eyebrows drawing together, hand sliding down Dave's cheek and along his jaw. "Shh."

Dave's hands twitch. He feels phased out of reality, or like his mind is a roomful of balloons that's just had the roof torn off it. Karkat's fingers trace the line of his cheek for the second time, then move to his forehead, his hair, his jaw. Dave closes his eyes, letting his head fall back against the wall. Karkat's touch is starting to feel real the way nothing else is, warm and sure against his clammy skin.

"It's ok, it's ok, shh," Karkat is saying, gruffly, and Dave manages to open his eyes, staring up at him from what feels like so far away. Karkat's eyebrows are still drawn together, and his cheeks are flushed. Everything feels so strange.

"What...are you doing," Dave gets out, voice unsteady, and Karkat's frown flattens into a determined line.

"Shh," he repeats. "It's ok."

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 7:24 --

TG: karkat

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is now an idle chum! --

TG: fuck fuck
TG: karkat come on
TG: where are you

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 8:13 --

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 8:47 --

TG: are you there

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is now an idle chum! --

TG: karkat whats going on
TG: talk to me
TG: please

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 9:18 --

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 9:35 --

TG: karkat

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is now an idle chum! --

TG: i dont know what to do
TG: oh god im so sorry about earlier i dont know whats going on
TG: i dont know whats wrong with me
TG: i know i was gonna help you with strifing
TG: but i dont know if i can
TG: please talk to me karkat please
CG: I FORCED YOU INTO STRIFING WITH ME. THIS IS ALL MY FAULT.
CG: THEN I LOST CONTROL AND LET MY FEELINGS TAKE OVER. I'M THE WORST POSSIBLE KIND OF SCUM.
CG: IT WON'T HAPPEN AGAIN.
TG: feelings
TG: what feelings
TG: what the fuck are you talking about
TG: karkat whats going on
TG: karkat please

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is now an idle chum! --

TG: no no no dont you dare go away
TG: get the fuck back here you asshole
TG: im gonna come find your fucking room the long way just try and stop me
TG: i dont give a shit what you did or what you think you did or what
TG: i agreed to strife with you i mean what we did was mostly my idea
TG: i didnt know this would happen
TG: and i dont understand your weird alien shit
TG: but how am i supposed to understand your weird alien shit if you dont fucking explain it to me
TG: i explain a lot of shit to you all the time
TG: and a lot of that shit makes me hella uncomfortable let me tell you
TG: its not fucking fair karkat
TG: please answer me please
CG: I'M PALE AS FUCK FOR YOU, OK??
TG: wait
TG: what
CG: WHAT I DID EARLIER WAS SO DISGUSTINGLY PRESUMPTIVE, BUT I CAN'T EVEN REGRET IT.
CG: I JUST PHYSICALLY CAN'T.
CG: IT WAS FUCKING WONDERFUL, AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
TG: oh
CG: YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT MOIRALLEGIANCE *MEANS*.
CG: ALL YOU HUMANS ACT PALE TOWARDS EVERYONE ALL THE TIME. I THOUGHT I COULD KEEP MYSELF DISTANT ENOUGH THAT IT WOULDN'T AFFECT ME.
CG: BUT, SURPRISE!! KARKAT VANTAS YET AGAIN CAN'T KEEP HIS FEELINGS OFF OF THE GODDAMN FUCKING HUMANS!!
CG: I SHOULD KNOW BETTER BY NOW. I AM SUCH A FUCKING IDIOT.
CG: I JUST COULDN'T...STAY AWAY FROM YOU.
CG: LOOK, I'M JUST GOING TO GO TO BED.
TG: fuck you dont you dare
TG: i dont really get quadrants yet you know that
TG: but how the fuck am i supposed to if you dont explain this shit properly
CG: I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO *START* WITH THIS, DAVE.
TG: just tell me uh
TG: how you feel
CG: OH MY GOD
TG: karkat please
TG: im freaking out here i need to know ok
CG: YOU
CG: I JUST
TG: karkat
CG: GODDAMNIT I'M TYPING!!
CG: I NEED YOU TO BE OK. IT'S THIS CONSTANT BURNING FEELING IN MY THORAX. I DON'T KNOW HOW TO EXPLAIN IT BETTER THAN THAT.
CG: I JUST NEED TO *DO* SOMETHING. I WANT TO
CG: UGH.
CG: YOU'RE NOT GOING TO LIKE THIS.
CG: I WANT TO PROTECT YOU. FROM SHIT.
CG: BUT I DON'T WANT YOU TO THINK THAT IT'S BECAUSE I THINK YOU'RE WEAK, BECAUSE THAT'S NOT HOW THIS WORKS.
CG: BUT I CAN'T HELP IT.
CG: I'M SO PALE FOR YOU I CAN HARDLY BREATHE.
CG: I'VE HAD PALE FEELINGS BEFORE, BUT NOTHING LIKE THIS.
CG: OH GOD PLEASE SAY SOMETHING
TG: its ok
TG: itll be ok i promise
CG: HOW CAN IT POSSIBLY BE FUCKING OK?
CG: I'M FUCKING ALL OF THIS UP. HOW COULD I GO AND DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS??
TG: dude well figure it out i promise
TG: just give me a minute to sort this shit out
TG: i mean
TG: its not romantic for humans
TG: the need to help others and wanting to protect your friends i mean
TG: so im sorry if ive been doing stuff that made you feel like im
TG: i dunno
TG: leading you on or
CG: PLEASE JUST HURRY THE FUCK UP WITH THE REJECTION. I CAN'T TAKE THIS.
TG: jesus im not fucking rejecting you
CG: WHAT.
TG: how can i reject you when i dont even understand what i would be rejecting you from
CG: OH, GOOD. THAT FILLS ME WITH *SO* MANY DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF CONFIDENCE.
TG: dammit just
TG: tell me what makes it romantic to you
CG: ...
CG: TROLLS...UGH. HUMANS START OFF EVERY INTERACTION WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT EVERYONE'S ALREADY BASICALLY LOOKING OUT FOR EACH OTHER.
CG: SO WHEN YOU BECOME CLOSER FRIENDS, IT'S BUILDING ON AN ALREADY-EXISTING FEELING OF GOODWILL, SO IT'S NOT A HUGE FUCKING DEAL.
TG: wow yeah thats a huge oversimplification of human relationships but ok
CG: *ANYWAY*, TROLLS START OFF EVERY INTERACTION LIKE WE'RE ALREADY ENEMIES. MY FRIENDS WERE ALL TROLLS THAT WERE JUST MY ENEMIES *LESS*, AND THEIR QUADRANTMATES.
CG: SO WHEN EVEN THE MOST FRIENDLY INTERACTIONS YOU HAVE ARE LACED WITH ANTAGONISM, IT JUST REALLY FUCKING MEANS SOMETHING WHEN SOMEONE ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW.
CG: CARES ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU.
CG: BECAUSE *YOU* MEAN SOMETHING TO THEM, NOT BECAUSE OF PERSONAL GAIN OR SELF-INTEREST OR ANY OF THAT SHIT.
CG: BECAUSE YOU YOURSELF ARE IMPORTANT ENOUGH.
CG: IT'S ROMANTIC AS FUCK.
TG: ok
TG: i guess i can see that
CG: MOIRAILS TELL EACH OTHER EVERYTHING. THEY HELP EACH OTHER OUT, HAVE EACH OTHERS' BACKS. THEY CALM EACH OTHER DOWN LIKE I...DID EARLIER. AND IT'S THE MOST COMMON QUADRANT TO COHABITATE.
TG: its not one of the sex quadrants though right
CG: OH FOR GOD'S SAKE, DAVE, NO IT IS NOT.
TG: just checking
CG: UGH. YOU...
CG: IS THIS GOING TO BECOME SOME SORT OF HUGE *THING* BECAUSE WE'RE BOTH MALE?
CG: BY THE WAY, I STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT GIANT FESTERING MOUND OF HOOFBEASTSHIT.
TG: dude im into chicks
CG: SO AM I!! SO FUCKING WHAT?? WHAT DOES *THAT* HAVE TO DO WITH IT??
TG: its just weird ok
CG: THAT'S IT. I'M DONE HERE.
TG: fuck karkat wait
TG: im sorry im sorry
CG: UGH.
CG: THIS IS WHY I DIDN'T WANT TO SAY ANYTHING.
CG: I KNEW YOU WOULD GET FUCKING *WEIRD* ABOUT THIS.
TG: please dont go im sorry
TG: im sorry im sorry
TG: youre my best friend
TG: i cant
TG: you
TG: mean a lot to me
TG: like
TG: a whole fucking lot
TG: im sorry im not good at saying stuff like this
TG: ive never known anyone like you before and i dont
TG: fuck
CG: FORGET IT.
TG: no no no
TG: please just
TG: lemme say something ok
CG: FINE.
TG: yeah humans usually interact with general goodwill or whatever
TG: but you gotta understand that most of that shit aint sincere
TG: people might be polite but if theyre a stranger they never actually give any kind of a shit about you
TG: humans say so much shit they dont mean
TG: i mean take us
TG: john seems nice on the surface but underneath i kinda dont think hes actually able to care about anyone but himself
TG: and jade always has really good intentions but doesnt have enough actual insight to act on them so a lot of the time she comes off as totally insincere
TG: and rose always acts like shes better than everyone else because she cant stand the idea of not having all the answers but shes a total mess inside just like the rest of us
TG: oh yeah and me
TG: i always try to cover up my massive fucking internal cesspool of flaws by pretending like i dont give a shit about anything
TG: so thats what im used to dealing with all the time
TG: but you
TG: are actually the most legitimately nice person ive ever met
CG: STOP IT, NO.
TG: i mean it after i got to the meteor youve seriously been so great to me
TG: i dont even know why because i have been such an asshole to you on multiple occasions
TG: theres no way that i actually deserve to have you as a friend
CG: DON'T SAY SHIT LIKE THAT.
CG: IT'S NOT TRUE.
TG: i didnt even know how to talk to you at first because i cant like
TG: divert your attention with dumb jokes like i could with john
TG: and youve never actually bought into my whole ""brand"" like jade did
TG: and i definitely cant do that bullshit i do with rose where we say sincere sounding things in a completely insincere way but somehow underneath we both know that we are actually being sincere after all
TG: so im not used to
TG: well
TG: saying shit i actually mean
TG: its hard and i suck at it
TG: and im sorry
CG: ...
CG: ...I ACCEPT YOUR APOLOGY.
TG: ok
TG: i
TG: fuck
TG:
TG: so
CG: SO WHAT.
TG: so maybe we should friend date or whatever
CG: OK, AND YOU CAN START BY ACTUALLY USING THE *WORD* FOR IT, WHICH I KNOW YOU FUCKING KNOW.
CG: THINK OF IT AS PRACTICE IN "SAYING SHIT YOU ACTUALLY MEAN."
TG: yeah
TG: yeah ok
TG: maybe we should be moirails
TG: karkat
CG: SORRY, I JUST
CG: YEAH.
CG: ALRIGHT.
CG: <>
TG: oh uh
TG: <%
TG: fuck im sorry im sorry
TG: <>
CG: ...
TG: what do we do now
CG: I...DON'T KNOW.
CG: IT'S...KIND OF LATE.
CG: I GUESS WE SHOULD. UH. GO TO SLEEP.
TG: yeah
TG: goodnight i guess
CG: YEAH.

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 10:41 --
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 11:18 --

Chapter Text

What are we running for
When there's nowhere we can run to anymore ×

× × ×

"Hey." Oh, thank god.

Dave has been waiting in the transportalizer hub for what feels like an eternity, leaning against the wall, fucking around on his phone, waiting for Karkat to come out of his room. He probably knows every inch of Karkat's transportalizer now by heart, based on the number of times he's looked up and stared at it. He was starting to think Karkat was just going to stay in there forever, and anxiety had already started to fill his chest, fluttering and weird, making his breaths feel shallow.

He's already had to weather the awkward storm of Vriska and Terezi coming through to get breakfast, too. He could tell that Terezi knew he was there, but she didn't say anything. She just grabbed Vriska by the sleeve and dragged her off as soon as she looked liked she was going to open her mouth. He was going to lose it if he was still here when they came back, too. Guilt had wholeheartedly jumped in with the anxiety, and Dave had slumped under the weight of it.

"Hey," Karkat answers, freezing on the transportalizer pad, and Dave fumbles his phone trying to get it back into his pocket.

"You..." they both say at the same time, and stop, staring at each other. Dave squashes down the desire to crawl back into bed and never leave. Everything they said to each other the night before hangs in the air, heavy and unequivocal. Nothing's ever been serious between them before. What the fuck is he supposed to do now?

Dave steps forward. Fuck it. "Let's go...somewhere else."

Karkat is nodding, stepping forward too, looking relieved. "Yeah. Yeah. OK."

They end up wandering around down through what Dave has come to think of his part of the meteor, and Dave realizes with a start that it's actually been several weeks since he's even been down here past his bedroom. It feels weird to be here with Karkat. It's a little like opening an old notebook to find shit he only vaguely remembers drawing when he was a little kid. So familiar, but at the same time, so alien.

"Hey, uh, this way," Dave says, pointing down a side hallway. Karkat nods and follows him.

He leads Karkat through a giant room full of machinery and empty screens. Their footsteps echo around them, metallic but muffled, barely able to pierce the overpowering silence that crowds the air. The two of them go through a small door in the back corner, where the stairs spiral downward into nothing.

Dave sits down on the narrow landing just inside the door. After a moment Karkat follows him, and they sit in silence for a few minutes, staring down into blackness. Why is it so awkward between them now? For the first time, Dave had felt like he'd had something like a normal friendship. Everything had been so easygoing and natural, but now the space between them feels too large and too small all at the same time.

Dave feels exhausted already.

"I spent a lot of time in here at first," Dave says, finally. "I dunno why. I'm used to being up high, I guess. My apartment was on the top floor. I guess when I'm in here I feel more like, uh. Me."

Karkat is nodding, and after a moment, he turns himself sideways, so that he's facing Dave. Dave follows him almost without thinking, and they sit facing each other, crosslegged, knees a few inches apart.

"Are you really OK with this?" Karkat asks, looking up into Dave's face, finally, frowning intently, but with so much insecurity bleeding out around the edges that Dave feels something desperate clench in his chest.

"Yes," Dave blurts out, and bites down on his lip. It suddenly occurs to him how much of a mistake this probably is. What is he even getting himself into? Yeah, great, go ahead and agree to alien date your new best friend, who is an alien. An alien who's...Yeah. Great idea. Really fucking great. He doesn't have any kind of clue what he's doing. The whole idea is completely absurd. The image of himself, in the future, alone here again, isolated and sick with guilt slams into him. He shoves it roughly away.

No, no, no. He won't let that happen. He can't let that happen. Maybe he doesn't know how to be a...a moirail. Maybe he doesn't even really know how to be a friend. All he knows is that, though, beyond all reason, he's willing to do almost anything right now for Karkat. He prods at that thought, and finds himself a little frightened at the intensity behind it.

Karkat's brow furrows, his eyes worried. "Take off your sunglasses."

Dave's eyes widen. "Uh. Yeah. OK." He pulls them off, ducking his head as he folds the arms and sets them carefully down on the step below. He flicks his eyes up to Karkat's, and making eye contact without shades on is an almost painful kind of intense. Dave forces himself to keep his eyes still. Karkat's eyes are so dark. Dave can't tell any difference between pupil and iris, if trolls even have pupils, or irises. There's an odd gleam to them, too, and Dave feels rooted to the spot, a strange sort of electricity prickling over him. They stare at each other for a long time, Karkat's eyes widening until they're enormous.

Karkat breaks eye contact, finally, rubbing both hands over his face. "I...didn't think that..." He laughs, shaky, self-deprecating. "I didn't think that humans had eyes that matched their blood color."

"They don't. Unless they're me."

Karkat lets out a strange, bitter little laugh.

"Are you really OK with this?" Dave asks, the corners of his mouth turning downwards despite himself. He feels so strange and exposed without his shades, and he fights the urge to put them back on.

Karkat looks up at him again, mouth in an ashamed little twist. "Yeah."

Dave finds himself smiling a little. Karkat hesitates and smiles back, but there's something so sad in it that Dave can't quite define. He wants that sadness to go away. He needs that sadness to go away. Dave is maybe starting to understand what Karkat could have been talking about, about a burning feeling in his chest, about protection, about feeling so much that he can barely breathe.

× × ×

They spend most of the day walking around the meteor, just like they had before, but everything is different. They talk a little, but mostly they wander in silence. Karkat seems so oddly shy. It's not something Dave has ever seen in him before, and it makes him want to...hmm. He doesn't even know quite how to describe what it makes him want to do.

"Hey." Karkat bumps him with one shoulder. "What are you thinking about?"

Dave bumps him back. "About how quiet you're being and how weird it is."

Karkat seems torn between laughing and shoving Dave's face into a wall. "I'm quiet plenty of the time! Excuse me for just enjoying spending time with you, fuckface." He comes to an abrupt standstill, his eyes widening, and Dave suddenly thinks that he didn't mean to say that last part. Holy shit. Karkat is actually blushing. Dave doesn't think he's ever noticed that someone was blushing, before, and it's making him feel really weird.

"Didn't say it was bad," Dave says as Karkat covers his face with both hands. "I don't mind. It's kind of...nice. Not that I think you should be quiet all the time or something," Dave clarifies quickly. "I mean, I..." He crosses both arms tightly over his chest. Karkat looks up at him from between his fingers. Words twist up on his tongue. "Y-Yeah."

Karkat's hands drop from his face, and he huffs and starts walking. Dave didn't miss the fact that he was smiling, though.

× × ×

Dave is slouched down on the couch again, drowsy and oddly happy, letting the movie lap over his consciousness like how he imagines waves might. Karkat is curled up next to him, head on the arm rest, knees tucked almost all the way up to his chest. When they're in here, like this, it's easy to imagine that this is all that even exists: the two of them, the couch, the husktop and table, all floating in a bubble of flickering light, and it's nice.

The movie is over what feels like way too soon. "Want to watch another one?" Dave asks, eyelids drooping.

"Yeah, no, I am so fucking tired," Karkat says, waving a hand in the air. "I'm going to merge molecularly with this couch if I stay out here."

"Yeah, OK." Dave blinks sleepily as Karkat captchalogues his husktop and stands, stretching. His spine pops audibly in two places. "I guess I should go to bed, too."

They both crowd onto the lab's transportalizer, and make their way down the hall in silence. Karkat pauses in front of his own transportalizer, brow deeply furrowed. "See you tomorrow, I guess."

"Yeah."

They stare at each other, hesitating. Before Dave can even process it, Karkat's arms are around his waist, face pressed for one long moment into his chest. Dave's hands hang in the air, and before he even has the chance to figure out what to do with them, Karkat is gone, and Dave is left trying to blink away the dark imprint the flash of the transportalizer left behind on his vision.

Dave crosses his arms tightly over his chest. He ducks his head, unable to keep the corners of his mouth from turning up.

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 2:13 --

TG: still awake
CG: YEAH.
TG: im actually
TG: way too wired to go to sleep
CG: HEH. YEAH, I'M FAILING COMPLETELY AT SLEEPING, TOO.
CG: THE SOPOR SLIME SUBSTITUTE WE ALCHEMIZED ISN'T WORTH SHIT.
CG: IT'S GOT...WELL. *ALMOST* THE RIGHT TEXTURE. BUT IT DOESN'T KNOCK YOU OUT LIKE THE REAL THING, SO, SURPRISE, IT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY WORTHLESS.
CG: SOMETIMES I WONDER WHY I EVEN BOTHER.
TG: you should get a fucking mattress dude
TG: thats one thing that humans do in a way thats without question the absolutely superior one
TG: fuck mattresses are nice
TG: im lying on one right now and holy shit it is the best
CG: STOP GLOATING ABOUT YOUR RIDICULOUS HUMAN SLEEPING PLATFORM.
CG: HOW YOU CAN EVEN SLEEP PROPERLY WHILE GRAVITY IS ACTING ON YOU, I HAVE NO IDEA.
TG: you gotta embrace gravity karkat
TG: its an inevitable law of nature
TG: like will smith or my own irresistible brand of animal magnetism
CG: UH HUH. ONLY IF BY THAT YOU MEAN THAT YOU'RE SEXUALLY IRRESISTIBLE TO ANIMALS.
TG: haha nice one
TG: wait a sec
TG: so
TG: are you actually floating in slime right now
CG: YEAH, SO WHAT?
TG: so when we talk in the middle of the night how often are you actually floating in slime
TG: im a little weirded out by this i have to say
CG: WHAT? WHY?? WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE WEIRD ABOUT TROLLING YOU FROM MY RECUPERACOON?
CG: I DON'T THINK IT'S *THAT* WEIRD THAT YOU SEEM TO BE SPRAWLED OUT ON YOUR HUMAN "MATTRESS" EVERY TIME I TROLL YOU. EVEN THOUGH IT SEEMS NECESSARY FOR YOU TO MENTION IT ALMOST CONSTANTLY.
TG: i do not mention it almost constantly what the hell
CG: YOU DO TOO!!
TG: whatever
TG: how are you even typing right now
TG: i guess your creepy laptop thats sort of alive can withstand slime
TG: hold on does your laptop have organs and shit
TG: do you have to like feed it and give it baths
CG: WHAT? NO!
CG: AND I HAVE MY HUSKTOP ON MY DESK CHAIR. I'M HANGING OVER THE EDGE OF MY RECUPERACOON TO TYPE.
CG: I HAD IT THERE BECAUSE I WAS WATCHING A MOVIE.
TG: dammit you shattered my mental image
TG: thats so much more boring than what i was imagining
TG: i was picturing your laptop just like
TG: floating there
TG: treading slime with its little spider legs
TG: you cant tell me that wouldnt be awesome
CG: HMM. I GUESS.
CG: DAVE?
TG: what
CG: ARE
CG: YOU REALLY OK WITH BEING MOIRAILS?
TG:
TG: yeah
TG: yeah i am
CG: OK.
CG: I'M UH. SORRY I KEEP ASKING.
CG: IT'S NOT THAT I THINK YOU'RE LYING OR
CG: I DON'T KNOW.
CG: I'M STILL JUST HAVING A HARD TIME BELIEVING THIS IS REAL, I GUESS.
CG: I DIDN'T REALLY...EXPECT THAT THINGS WOULD TURN OUT THIS WAY.
TG: hey its ok
TG: i dont really mind i dont think
TG: you can keep asking if you need to i guess
CG: OK.
CG: THANKS.
TG: i hope im doing this right
TG: oh god i dont know what im doing at all
TG: theres about a hundred percent chance im gonna fuck this up somehow
TG: and i really dont want to
TG: what am i even going to do if
TG: yeah
CG: UGH
CG: DAVE
CG: <>
TG: did i just give you some kind of pale orgasm or something with my gross amounts of insecurity
CG: HA! PRETTY MUCH.
TG: oh
TG: really
CG: YOU'RE SUCH A PATHETIC MESS THAT I JUST CAN'T HELP MYSELF.
TG: hahaha oh shit
TG: is this troll flirting
TG: this is fucking beautiful let me try
TG: its really goddamn needy of you to have to ask me like every two seconds if i still wanna be your bff
TG: but its so adorable that i cant even be mad
CG: ...
TG: wait uh
CG: HMM!
TG: no no
TG: there is no hmming necessary here
TG: because clearly my phone just kind of typed that out on its own
TG: do you ever get the feeling that this meteor is haunted
CG: NOPE.
TG: fuck
CG: ARE YOU SURE IT WASN'T YOU? BECAUSE THAT MAY HAVE GOTTEN YOU A FEW POINTS.
TG: thats good i need those points in the afterlife after i die of embarrassment

Chapter Text

You're watching yourself but you're too unfair ×

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 23:28 --

CG: ARE YOU AWAKE YET?
TG: oh man thats such a blatant attempt to wake me up but its fucking filled to the brim with plausible deniability
TG: nice
CG: HA!
CG: I'LL START OVER.
CG: WAKE UP, YOU LAZY PIECE OF SHIT. I'M REALLY FUCKING BORED, AND I WANT TO HANG OUT WITH YOU.
CG: HOW'S THAT?
TG: hahaha
TG: fine fine gimme a minute
CG: SEE YOU IN THE HUB?
TG: yeah ok

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 23:34 --
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 23:34 --

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 14:07 --

TG: hey
CG: HEY.
CG: WEREN'T YOU JUST FALLING ASLEEP ON THE COUCH?
TG: yeah
TG: but i got curious about something
CG: YEAH? WHAT IS IT?
TG: just
TG: what would moirails even do together on alternia
TG: am i missing out on the full experience
TG: would you like leave me a note in my locker saying do you want to tell me all of your innermost secrets check yes or no
TG: ask me to pale prom
TG: give me your class ring
TG: pop my pale cherry in the back of a pickup truck
CG: WHAT? WHAT DOES A CHERRY HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?
TG: ill tell you when youre older
CG: OH GOD. I CAN'T WAIT.
TG: hahaha
CG: BUT YEAH. NOT...REALLY?
CG: I'VE GOTTEN THE IMPRESSION SO FAR THAT HUMANS HAVE THIS RITUALISTIC SEQUENCE TO THE DIFFERENT STAGES OF YOUR SINGULAR FORM OF ROMANCE. TROLLS DON'T DO THOSE SORTS OF THINGS.
CG: TROLLS ARE EXTREMELY PRIVATE ABOUT THE FLUSHED AND PALE QUADRANTS, ESPECIALLY, SO THERE ARE NO CUSTOMARY PUBLIC DISPLAYS.
CG: OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT LOWBLOODED TROLLS SOMETIMES WEAR ITEMS THAT SHOW THE BLOOD COLOR OF THEIR HIGHBLOODED MOIRAIL OR MATESPRIT, I GUESS.
CG: CALIGINOUS AND ASHEN RELATIONSHIPS ARE FREQUENTLY ACTED OUT ACROSS A PUBLIC STAGE, BUT THERE ARE NO PREDETERMINED ACTIVITIES FOR THE PARTICIPANTS TO ENGAGE IN.
TG: oh ok
CG: I GUESS IN MOVIES POSITIONS, ANGLES, COLORS, AND OTHER SHIT LIKE THAT ARE USED TO EMPHASIZE RELATIONSHIPS, BUT THOSE ARE PURELY SYMBOLIC.
TG: huh
TG: somehow im a little disappointed
CG: OH.
CG: REALLY?
CG: YOU'D REALLY WANT TO...SHOW OFF OUR RELATIONSHIP IN PUBLIC?
TG: uh
TG: hmm
TG: im trying to think of a human equivalent here
TG: and i guess i cant really think of one either
TG: i guess humans only do that ritualistic sequence shit for what we think of as romantic relationships
TG: uh or i guess i mean what most people think of as romantic relationships
TG: everything else is on more on a case by case basis i think
CG: YEAH. THAT'S THE IMPRESSION I'VE GOTTEN, TOO.
TG: so i dunno
TG: not even sure what counts as "public" on this meteor anyway
TG: but i kind of like thinking about what it would be like if we werent stuck on this godforsaken rock
TG: if we were on earth i dunno maybe we could get slushies and hang around outside the seven eleven
TG: see a movie maybe
TG: fuck around at a construction site on a sunday
TG: hang around in the mall food court
TG: idk
CG: YEAH.
CG: I THINK I'D LIKE THAT.
CG: DAVE?

-- turntechGodhead [TG] is now an idle chum! --

CG: <>

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 14:51 --

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 22:06 --

CG: HEY
CG: DAVE
CG: WAKE UP
TG: uggghhh
TG: noooo
TG: holy shit this is the earliest yet
TG: do you have some kind of gross plan to turn me into a responsible human being
TG: you cant make me
CG: YOU'RE LUCKY I WAITED UNTIL NOW TO WAKE YOU UP, SINCE I'M PRETTY SURE YOU FELL ASLEEP WHILE WE WERE TALKING LAST NIGHT.
TG: what
TG: oh shit i did
TG: sorry
CG: IT'S OK. I DIDN'T MIND.
TG: oh ok
TG: i guess i wouldnt really mind either
TG: actually probably the opposite since you like hardly ever sleep dude
CG: YEAH, YEAH.
CG: I DID ACTUALLY GET SOME SLEEP THIS TIME, THOUGH.
TG: oh really
TG: how uh
TG: was it
CG: NOT BAD.
CG: I SPENT ALL MY TIME IN MEMORIES OF MY HIVE, WHEN I WAS TROLLING MY FRIENDS.
CG: SO NOTHING BAD. THERE ARE ALWAYS THINGS THAT ARE EMBARRASSING IN HINDSIGHT, THOUGH.
TG: like what
CG: UGH.
CG: I DON'T KNOW. LIKE THE WAY I USED TO TALK TO ERIDAN.
CG: WE ALWAYS HAD THIS WEIRD...UNDERSTANDING, THAT WE NEVER ACTUALLY DISCUSSED.
CG: HE ALREADY HAD A MOIRAIL, BUT OUR CONVERSATIONS ALWAYS CAME REALLY GODDAMN CLOSE TO PALE.
CG: WE BOTH KNEW IT, BUT WE NEVER ACKNOWLEDGED IT, YOU KNOW?
CG: I DON'T EVEN KNOW IF I WAS ACTUALLY PALE FOR HIM OR IF I JUST LIKED THE ATTENTION BECAUSE I COULD TELL HE WAS PALE FOR ME.
CG: EITHER WAY, IT'S...EMBARRASSING TO THINK ABOUT.
CG: BUT NOT VERY BAD AT ALL AS FAR AS DREAMBUBBLES GO.
TG: oh shit i think im a little jealous
TG: if you ever come across this dudes ghost and he tries to have a serious heart to heart with you
TG: tell him ill kick his ass
CG: OH MY GOD.
CG: YOU *ARE* JOKING RIGHT NOW, RIGHT?
TG: uh yeah
TG: well mostly
TG: maybe
CG: YOU'RE "MOSTLY MAYBE" JOKING? WHICH PART ARE YOU SERIOUS ABOUT, THEN? KICKING HIS ASS? OR BEING JEALOUS?
TG: uh
TG:
TG: i guess
TG: the second one
CG: WHAT THE HELL, REALLY? YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO BE JEALOUS, TRUST ME.
TG: oh
TG: ok
CG: IF ANYTHING, I SHOULD BE THE JEALOUS ONE, KNOWING HOW YOU ARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS.
TG: oh no
TG: no way
TG: my friends arent
TG: yeah i care about them a lot and shit but youre
TG: different
TG: oh man
TG: what am i even saying here
CG: DON'T WORRY, I'M NOT ACTUALLY JEALOUS, YOU DORK. <>
TG: ok <>
CG: WANT TO GET BREAKFAST?
TG: yeah i do

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 22:32 --
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 22:32 --

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 13:59 --

TG: hey
CG: HEY.
TG: uh
TG: sorry im always like
TG: messaging you every night even after you already told me youre so tired youre gonna die
CG: I DON'T MIND.
CG: AT ALL.
TG: ok good
CG: I...LIKE TALKING TO YOU, LIKE THIS. ACTUALLY.
TG: oh good yeah me too
TG: i mean i really like hanging out in person dont get me wrong but im not actually that good at it
TG: yet i guess
TG: i didnt have any irl friends until now so
CG: IRL?
TG: in real life
CG: ...
CG: THIS ISN'T REAL LIFE? WHAT'S NOT REAL ABOUT THIS?
TG: uh
TG: hmm
TG: good question
CG: I GUESS I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU MEAN, THOUGH.
CG: I NEVER SAW MY FRIENDS IN PERSON UNTIL THE GAME, EITHER.
TG: youre way better than me at this shit though
TG: sometimes i dont know if im ever going to be able to just like
TG: have a normal conversation
TG: without feeling like a complete failure somehow i mean
CG: ...
CG: DO YOU REALLY FEEL LIKE THAT WHEN WE'RE TALKING IN PERSON?
TG: uh
TG:
TG: yeah
TG: not like
TG: constantly but
CG: I...HMM.
CG: I DIDN'T KNOW THAT.
TG: there go my karkat is blaming himself senses
TG: tingling like dudes tingling at a tingle party
TG: oh shit run someone called the cops theyre gonna find out what an absolutely offensive amount of tingling is going on up in here
CG: ...
TG: fuck now i know you are
TG: are you blaming yourself for the fact that i feel like that or for the fact that you didnt notice
CG: A LITTLE OF BOTH, MAYBE. MAINLY THE SECOND.
TG: dude its cool you didnt notice because i didnt want you to notice
CG: YEAH, BUT
CG: ...
TG: ok before it was super important to me that you thought i had my shit together
TG: because thats mainly how i was dealing i guess
TG: if nobody else knows what a fucking mess i am all the time its almost like its not real yknow
TG: but
TG: i dont actually mind anymore
TG: if its you
CG: ...
CG: OH GOD, I
CG: DAVE
TG: its ok
TG: karkat its ok
CG: I'M SO PALE FOR YOU IT HURTS.
TG: oh
TG: i
TG:
TG: yeah
TG: me too

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 21:53 --

CG: DAVE
CG: HEY
CG: WAKE UP
CG: DAVE
TG: whyyyyy
TG: ive never woken up this early in my entire life i swear to god
CG: SOMEHOW I DOUBT THAT.
TG: oh my god karkat i cant believe you would just brush my life experiences aside like this
TG: ill have you know that the number of mornings i have been unconscious for is so high its barely even understandable by the human or troll brain
TG: you dont know me
TG: you dont know my life
CG: I DO TOO.
CG: YOU'RE A VIRGIN WHO CAN'T DRIVE.
TG: hahaha karkat nooo
TG: that was way harsh
TG: im not a prude im just highly selective
CG: GET YOUR ASS UPSTAIRS.
TG: lol fine fine

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 22:07 --
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 22:07 --

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 11:42 --

CG: DAVE, ARE YOU SURE YOU'RE OK?
TG: yeah
CG: I DON'T BELIEVE YOU.
TG: im fine
CG: YEAH RIGHT, DAVE, COME *ON*.
TG: jesus fine i feel like shit
TG: mainly because shes right
CG: FUCK NO SHE IS NOT *RIGHT*.
TG: she is though
TG: i still havent said anything to terezi after i told her i needed some time
TG: i just keep putting it off and putting it off
TG: and it keeps getting worse and worse for me to be putting it off
TG: but i dont even know what to say to her anymore
TG: and shes gotta know by now that you and i have been spending like all our time together
TG: so its not even like im just totally blowing everyone off
TG: and if she didnt know before she totally knows now
TG:
TG: thanks for uh
TG: standing up for me by the way
CG: I WILL STAND UP FOR YOU *WHENEVER*. TRUST ME ON THAT.
CG: VRISKA IS FULL OF SO MUCH *SHIT*.
CG: I CAN'T FUCKING BELIEVE THIS.
CG: I'VE KNOWN TEREZI FOR A LONG FUCKING TIME, AND IF SHE IS ACTUALLY JUST *LYING AROUND* SOMEWHERE *AGONIZING* OVER THE FACT THAT THE TWO OF YOU AREN'T CLOSE FRIENDS, I WILL PERSONALLY SWALLOW MY OWN BULGE UNTIL I IMPLODE INTO A SINGLE PARTICLE OF THE PUREST POSSIBLE HATRED!
CG: TEREZI MIGHT BE SAD AND CONFUSED ABOUT IT, BUT SHE KNOWS YOU HAVE YOUR REASONS AND SHE'S RESPECTING THAT.
CG: SHE'S BEEN ABLE TO KEEP VRISKA OFF YOUR BACK FOR A WHILE NOW, TOO. UNTIL TONIGHT, BUT I CAN'T BLAME HER FOR VRISKA LURKING AROUND.
CG: WHY WOULD TEREZI DO THAT IF SHE HATED YOU?
TG: i dont
TG: know
CG: AND ANYWAY, IT'S NOT LIKE IT'S *HARD* TO BE FRIENDS WITH YOU.
CG: IT DIDN'T TAKE A FUCKING GENIUS TO FIGURE OUT THAT YOU DIDN'T LIKE DOING ALL THE SHIT EVERYONE ELSE WAS DOING.
CG: I MEAN, I NOTICED, AND I WASN'T EVEN PALE FOR YOU THEN.
CG: TEREZI COULD HAVE TRIED TO MEET YOU HALFWAY. BUT NO, ALL SHE EVER DID WAS TRY TO DRAG YOU INTO A BUNCH OF SHIT THAT SHE WANTED TO DO AND YOU DIDN'T.
TG: i
TG: guess
CG: AND VRISKA JUST HATES THE FACT THAT SHE HASN'T IDENTIFIED THE MOST PRECISE WAY TO GET UNDER YOUR SKIN.
CG: SHE'S THROWING SHIT AT THE WALL, HOPING SOMETHING WILL STICK.
CG: AND DON'T WORRY, THIS TIME SHE PROBABLY LEARNED MORE ABOUT ME THAN ABOUT YOU.
TG: maybe
CG: ...
CG: DAVE, I'M COMING TO YOUR BLOCK.
TG: ok

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 12:03 --

Chapter Text

There's a world within me that I cannot explain
Many rooms to explore, but the doors look the same ×

× × ×

When he hears the door slide open, Dave only manages to work up just enough energy to roll over onto his back. It feels like his bones are made of lead. He'd been aiming for all the way over, so that he'd at least be facing the door, but this would have to be good enough for now.

"I knew you weren't fucking OK," Karkat is muttering, smacking the door switch, beginning to pace back and forth as the door shuts with a hiss. "I'm going to fucking kill her, I swear I'm going to fucking kill her..." He rakes his fingers through his hair, and it almost seems to stand on end, prickling up like the fur of a cat.

Shit, this...this isn't...Dave's thoughts feel delayed, like he has to physically reach for them, grasp them, turn them over in his hands. "Karkat."

Karkat is still pacing, hands in his hair, and Dave can only parse a few words here and there, about him, about Vriska, and somehow he manages to sit up, slouching forward over his crossed legs.

"Karkat."

Karkat freezes, eyes wild, and his face seems to crumple. "I'm doing it again. I came down here so I could...I'm supposed to be making you feel better but I'm freaking the fuck out, oh god, oh god..." His volume is rising, his hands tightening in his own hair.

"Come here," Dave interrupts, patting the mattress in front of him. Karkat looks uncertain for a moment, then comes over and sinks down. This is awful. Every fiber of Dave's brain is screaming that, and he grits his teeth against the almost physical sensation of it. Dry heat. Electrical current. An endless ocean of radio static.

"OK." Karkat breathes in and out, deliberately, head in his hands. "OK."

Dave lifts his hand, momentarily surprised at how heavy it actually isn't, and hesitates. Karkat is still taking deep breaths, bent almost double, elbows on his knees, and Dave reaches over, hooking one finger into the hem of one of the ankles of Karkat's jeans.

Karkat doesn't seem to notice. Dave grabs an entire fistful of fabric, tugging gently, and Karkat looks up, guilt stamped across his face. "I don't know what to do about her! I can't tell her what to do! None of my asshole friends ever do a fucking thing I tell them to do. Not even when I'm trying to save their miserable fucking lives..." Dave's hand tightens, almost of its own volition, and Karkat lets out a frustrated breath, scrubbing angrily at his eyes.

Dave feels his stomach sink. The grand scheme of Karkat's life smacks into him, and he fights the urge to pull away, struck with something close to despair at how little he must measure up. There are only seven trolls left alive. There used to be twelve. Karkat cares about them all so much, Dave is sure he does, still does. It's only been a few months since they all died, and Dave suddenly feels devastated, childish and horribly selfish.

"I'm sorry," he manages to get out, and the feel of denim digging into his palm is the only thing that actually seems stable.

"I could have made this shit easier, you know," Karkat says, eyes on the floor, brows deeply furrowed. "This whole time. I didn't...I wanted..." He lets out an angry snort of a laugh. "I didn't want you to be friends with them. I just wanted you for myself."

Dave sits in stunned silence, watching Karkat chew nervously at his bottom lip, his eyes still glued to the floor.

"I'm fucking garbage," Karkat says, hoarse, hands clenched tightly now in the fabric of his own sleeves. "Disgusting. Reprehensible."

Dave feels his lower lip trembling. "Shut up," he says, voice breaking. "Stop talking about yourself like that. I fucking hate it!"

Everything tilts.

The walls almost seem to melt, to pulse in and out of existence, quavering and unreal, and Dave feels nausea sink into his gut. Karkat grabs him by the shoulders, eyes wide and panicked, as the room shifts and reforms completely around them, darkens, widens, the ceiling rising, the floor beside them twitching its way up into a staircase.

They're in one of the hallways, now, Karkat's husktop open beside them on the floor. "No, no, no, no, no," Karkat is saying, claws digging painfully into Dave's shoulders. "Not here, not now, please, god, no..." With a start Dave realizes that Sollux is lying at the bottom of the stairs, covered in his own blood.

Karkat's laptop chimes with a new message, and Karkat slams it shut, snatching it up and hurling it down the hallway. It lands with a sickening crack, and slides a short way until it's stopped by the wall.

honk

"Why are we here? Why are you here?" Karkat is asking, arms around his knees, eyes enormous, haunted. "This is a fucking dreambubble, I know it is..."

HONK

Dave jumps to his feet, staring up the dark staircase, heart pounding, fear beginning to creep up his spine, to prickle the hairs at the back of his neck. "What was that?" His eyes flick over to Sollux, who's not dead, Dave knows he's not, he's still alive, but...he looks... "What the fuck happened here?"

Karkat's arms tighten around his knees. His eyes are unfocused. "Rose told me, about flying into the furthest ring, about what would happen if the meteor actually flew through the bubbles..."

"Karkat, come on," Dave says, bending down and yanking on Karkat's sleeve. He's still pissed off, and adrenaline is making him feel jittery and agitated. "If this is a dreambubble, we can get out of here, we just have to start walking, come on..."

They make their way quickly down the hallway, the sound of their footsteps against the floor seeming far, far too loud. Karkat grabs a handful of Dave's cape, head down, and Dave grits his teeth, angry at himself, now, for being angry, but, jesus, he didn't want any of this. He just wanted to go to fucking bed.

They walk. There are no more honks, but somehow that's even worse. The darkness of the meteor usually feels so safe and empty, but now every shadow swarms with the presence of some horrible, nebulous threat. Dave walks faster, suddenly terrified of the darkness at his back. He still doesn't even know exactly what happened with the trolls before he got here, and his skin begins to crawl with the horror of it, that he's living with, as far as he understands it, a bunch of teenagers that literally murdered a bunch of their own friends. He just has to keep walking. That's all.

"This happened before, to me and Rose, after Rose knocked me out and, like, bogarted our suicide mission. I was dreaming but she actually showed up, because she flew right through my dreambubble." Dave hates the way his voice sounds right now, high and shaky, but Karkat is nodding beside him.

The hallway ends, almost abruptly, by a door that Dave swears must have just formed out of the shadows. It's dark purple, with a crescent moon overlaid in filigree at the center. Dave flings it open, and after they rush inside, only an empty expanse of wall remains behind them where the door once was.

Karkat wanders over to one of the windows and looks out, hands on the sill. His whole posture bleeds defeat, and Dave follows, the last remaining bits of his earlier anger helplessly dissipating at how sad Karkat looks, how lost. "You were a Prospit dreamer, yeah?" He leans against the edge of the window, arms crossed.

Karkat nods.

"Welcome to, uh, Derse, I guess." Dave winces internally. He didn't know where he was going with that, not at all. They slip into an uncomfortable silence, staring out over the city.

"I only survived all that," Karkat says, finally, gesturing savagely behind them, "because I was a fucking coward." His voice is so painfully cold and matter of fact that Dave feels a shock go through him. "I got Equius and Nepeta killed because I was too fucking scared to try to deal with Gamzee myself."

Dave doesn't know what to say. He has no frame of reference for where exactly Karkat's self hatred ends and the truth begins. He stares at Karkat, trying desperately to read him.

"And when I finally did work up the guts to do it, nobody needed me at all. The fact that I'm still alive in the alpha timeline is completely fucking ludicrous. I can't fight, I can't lead, I'm completely worthless, I don't deserve to be alive..."

Dave shoves his shades on top of his head, anger cracking open again inside him, raw and messy, like an egg. "Don't be fucking stupid."

Karkat's upper lip twitches up, exposing fangs, uneven, sharp, but the unconscious threat is practically laughable.

Frustration burns in Dave's throat. "What does that say about me, then? I like you! I want to be your fucking friend. How many times do I have to fucking say this shit? You're not responsible for everyone else's personal decisions, jesus fucking christ. You weren't keeping me away from the others, I did that my own damn self. And I don't know what happened back there," he points an accusing finger at the far wall, "I just know that you're the best friend I've ever had, so the idea that you're worthless? Is the single dumbest fucking thing I've ever heard in my entire goddamn life."

Karkat starts to take a breath, eyes narrowed and furious, looking like he's about to start arguing, but Dave talks right over him.

"No, no, no, no, no," he grinds out, slapping his hands over his own ears, eyes squeezed shut. "I'm not listening to the mountain of complete bullshit that's about to come out of your mouth, just, shut up, shut up, shut up..."

Dave's eyes snap open when he hears Karkat make a strange little sound, involuntary and broken. He drops his hands, shock and guilt making his stomach plummet. Karkat is crying. He just made someone cry. He just made Karkat cry.

He's grabbing Karkat by the shoulders before he even knows what he's doing. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, please don't..." Strange red-tinted tears well up in Karkat's eyes until they spill helplessly down his face. "No, no, I'm so sorry, no, oh no..."

Karkat lets out another strangled little hiccup, and drops his head against Dave's chest.

Dave freezes. Everything is reduced to the slick, jet black of Karkat's hair, to the way one of Karkat's horns is pressing oddly against his collarbone, to the miserable way Karkat's shoulders are trembling. Dave finally gives in, finally lets his arms do what he realizes now that they've wanted to do ever since Karkat came down to his room, and he puts them hesitantly around Karkat's back. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

Terror fills Dave for one awful moment as Karkat stiffens, but then Karkat is hugging him back, arms going around his waist, face buried completely in his shirt. Dave tries not to panic. This isn't normal, he knows it isn't, and it's terrifying, how good it feels just to...hug someone. He forces himself to relax a little, to let his cheek rest lightly on Karkat's hair. Karkat makes another terrible little sound, and his hands curl in the back of Dave's shirt, under his cape. Dave's breath catches. Dave feels something deep inside him melt, reform, like metal under a blowtorch, or ice under the summer sun. Karkat is here, and there's something so incredible about being able to communicate so clearly and freely without words that before he's even aware of it his arms are pulling Karkat close, tighter and tighter, until they're clinging together, Karkat with his face buried in Dave's neck, Dave with his forehead pressed against Karkat's shoulder.

They stand like that for a long time, Karkat's breaths slowly evening out, until Derse finally melts away.

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 13:07 --

TG: rose are you ok
TT: Yes, I'm fine.
TT: I assume, from the fact that it is you messaging me, that you and Karkat are also fine?
TG: yeah were fine
TG: so that was the meteor crashing into a dreambubble right
TT: It was, though "crashing" is a bit of a violent description.
TG: maybe i got that backwards
TG: that dreambubble crashed into us
TT: Dave, I'm starting to have doubts about how "fine" you are.
TG: what are you talking about
TG: im the finest piece of ass on this meteor and you know it
TT: Let's skip the witty repartee, quietly acknowledge the fact that I walked directly into that one, and move along.
TT: I can't think of a better way to phrase this, but, did you have a bad dream?
TG: no
TG: karkat did though
TT: I'm sorry.
TG: thats all
TG: ?
TG: youre not like
TG: morbidly curious about what happened
TT: Of course I am.
TT: But I'm not going to ask you to assuage my curiosity when doing so is likely to betray the confidence of a friend.
TG: oh
TG: thanks
TG:
TG: i dont know what to do rose
TG: theres just
TG: shit that happened in the past
TG: that karkat blames himself for
TG: that i dont think could possibly be all his fault like he thinks it is
TG: and i want him to stop fucking hating on himself over it but i dont know how to make him stop
TT: Ah.
TT: I...don't really know what to tell you, Dave.
TG: yeah i figured
TG: im just gonna
TG: not let any of that shit stop us from being friends i guess
TT: That's what I would advise.
TG: jesus rose you are such a fucking quack
TT: Now, now.
TT: I'll have you know that both my degrees come from the distinguished Wikipedian Institute of Psychology.
TG: oh shit
TG: look at me accidentally smearing the good name of our dear departed wikipedia
TG: rip
TT: It will indeed be missed.
TG: dude its already missed
TG: i miss the fucking internet
TG: just as a whole
TG: even the objectively terrible parts like youtube comments
TT: Me too.
TT: Though seeing how quickly comments on something as innocuous as a video of a baby kangaroo would go from "aww" to whether or not there is a God always held a sick sort of fascination for me.
TG: oh man
TG: i used to go on youtube and post the most obvious bait and that shit would get snapped up like a baby lowered over a pit of starving ass crocodiles
TT: You didn't.
TG: of course i fucking did rose dont you know me at all
TT: Point taken.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering gallowsCalibrator [GC] at 13:32 --

TG: are you guys ok
TG: i dunno maybe you had the luxury of being able to sleep through that whole physical dreambubble experience
GC: NO
GC: BUT Y3S W3 4R3 OK
TG: oh good
GC: 4R3 YOU 4ND K4RK4T OK?
TG: yeah were fine
TG: hey terezi look
GC: Y3S
TG: im sorry
TG: i want to be friends again
TG: i guess i want to make up for a lot of shit but i dont even know where to start
TG: so i guess this is my super shitty attempt to start to make up for it
GC: 1 ST1LL W4NT TO B3 FR13NDS TOO >:]
GC: 4ND 4LSO
GC: 1 4M NOT M4D 4T YOU!
TG: uh
TG: ok
TG: thats good
GC: ROS3 S41D YOU M1GHT TH1NK 1 W4S M4D 4T YOU
TG: oh
GC: ROS3 H4S 4CTU4LLY 3XPL41N3D 4 LOT OF TH1NGS TO M3
TG: whoa wait a second what
GC: SORRY, D4V3, 1 H4V3 TO GO NOW
GC: BUT W3 C4N T4LK L4T3R
TG: uh
TG: ok
GC: S33 YOU 4ROUND COOLK1D >:]
TG: yeah
TG: see you terezi

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 13:22 --

Chapter Text

Play all my records, keep dancing all night
But leave me alone for a while ×

× × ×

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 21:14 --

TT: Good morning.
TG: hey
TG: sup
TT: Not very much.
TT: There's nothing quite like waking up from a dream bubble to discover that, while you were sleeping, the meteor had physically intercepted another dream bubble.
TG: yeah for real
TG: that shit is disorienting as hell
TT: Yes.
TT: Anyway, I just wanted to wish you happy birthday.
TG: wait what
TG: holy shit
TG: dude
TT: What?
TG: i forgot
TT: ...You forgot.
TG: yeah
TG:
TG: so what
TT: Never mind.
TT: I suppose that answers my next question, which was whether or not you had any plans.
TG: yeah i got hella plans
TG: right now karkat and i are hanging out at his old hive watching tv
TG: have you ever watched tv in a dream bubble it is off the charts fuckin weird
TT: I can't say that I have.
TG: jesus i cant even really explain it properly
TG: just imagine trying to describe every detail of the plots of individual episodes of a show you havent seen in years
TG: and mix that halfassed summary up with the fact that the bubbles seem to reflect all these little subconscious reactions in ways that are absolutely downright unanticipated
TG: its like watching a visual manifestation of the budding self awareness of the youtube algorithm filtered through the lens of a straight up fever dream
TG: its the most incredible thing ive ever seen in my entire life
TG: karkat keeps apologizing over and over and its fucking hilarious
TT: I'll have to try it out next time I'm back at my house. It sounds entertaining.
TG: hell yeah
TG: and after we get out of the dream bubble we were gonna go work on can town
TG: we just launched the new space program so i gotta draw more space shit on the ceiling
TG: yknow
TG: cause im the only one that can fly

Karkat throws up his hands. "Holy fuck. That's it. I can't even take this anymore." He closes the video window on his dream computer.

His old block is almost exactly the same as the one he has on the meteor, and there's something ridiculously endearing about that. The only big difference is the windows, two groups of a bunch of square openings, high up on two of the walls. The light they let in has an odd quality to it, nothing like Dave ever saw on Earth. It's sort of luminous and orangey, and it makes the shadows look so blue in comparison. Apparently this is what it's like during the "dim seasons," as Karkat had said once, offhand. Dave doesn't really know enough about planets and orbits and axial tilt to exactly grasp what's going on with those, but whatever.

Dave snaps his attention up from his phone. "Oh, hell no!" He tosses his phone on the desk and makes a grab for the keyboard, but Karkat grabs it first and holds it over his head. "Come on! You can't tell me this isn't a million times more entertaining than anything we've seen in months!"

Karkat resolutely holds the keyboard just out of Dave's reach. "You weren't even watching it anyway!"

Dave lunges at the keyboard and manages to snag a corner. "Dude, I was just talking to Rose for a minute!" He gives a hard tug, but Karkat manages to keep a tight grip on the keyboard, growling. "She was telling me happy birthday. Can you believe that shit? I've been 14 for like hours already and I didn't even know..."

Karkat's weird clicky growling abruptly stutters and stops. Dave puts one foot up on the edge of Karkat's desk chair and pushes as hard as he can, laughing triumphantly as Karkat finally loses his grip and rolls a short distance away from the force of it. Karkat rolls himself back to the desk, looking beyond sulky with that almost perfectly parabolic frown of his.

Dave realizes he has no idea what to even do with the keyboard now that he has it, shrugs, and sets it back on the desk. "What's that face about?"

Karkat flushes up to his hairline, his mouth flattening out into a guilty line. "What face."

"Oh my god. Don't even try to lie to me, you look like a fucking tomato."

Karkat slumps. "I forgot about your birthday."

Dave gives him an incredulous look. "So did I, so who the fuck cares?"

"Don't humans have all these important traditions for birthdays? Isn't it an enormous fucking deal to forget someone's birthday?" Karkat looks like he's trying to sink right through the back of his chair.

Dave shrugs. "Does everything you know about human birthdays come from Sixteen Candles? It's whatever. Damn, dude, stop looking so guilty. You're making me feel guilty." He shoves again at the corner of Karkat's chair with one foot, trying to spin it around, but Karkat grabs onto the edge of his desk, glaring. Dave gives up on pushing, just leaving his foot propped up there, one arm resting on his knee.

"I don't look guilty," Karkat says after a moment, his shoulders seeming magnetically drawn up to his ears. Nope, now he looks even more guilty. Dave rolls his eyes.

"Oh my god. Dude, it's cool. I..." His brain stutters and flips through years like the wind blowing across pages of an open book, even though he knows what he's going to find. "...I never did shit for my birthday. My friends and I would send each other presents, but that was about it."

"Fuck," Karkat says, the furrow between his brows deepening. Shit. The proverbial mercury in Dave's internal Karkat guilt-o-meter is now threatening to burst straight out of one end. "Where would I even start trying to come up with a present for you? How do you pick something? Are there certain criteria..."

"Karkat, no, dude, it's cool, seriously," Dave reassures him, furiously shaking his head. "Hey, unless youwant me to start a big bunch of drama about it? Because fuck yeah I can, absolutely, I mean, uh, oh my god, Karkat, how could you, I can't believe you of all people could actually forget my birthday!" He mimes yanking off a ring and throwing it at Karkat's feet. "You can have your fucking ring! It's not even a real diamond! The wedding is off!"

Karkat snorts, one corner of his mouth twitching up a little. "Fine. I guess I believe you."

Dave lifts his other foot to join the first, hugging his knees to his chest. He's never celebrated a birthday, not ever. Injustice simmers deep within him, black and sticky, like tar. He swallows it back down. "Maybe it would be fun to do something, I dunno. What do people even do for their birthdays? Eat cake? Sing a song? Ride a pony in a circle? Brutalize a piñata?"

"Fuck if I know. It took me more than half way through all those human movies before I could follow them well enough to even start to wonder what a 'birthday' was."

"What is it you guys have again? Wiggling days?" Dave smirks.

Karkat raises an eyebrow. "Wriggling days. But yeah. " He shrugs. "To commemorate the day grubs finally grow large and strong enough to rip through the outer membranes of our eggs, devour them, and emerge from the caverns."

Dave's eyes widen. "Oh. Whoa. Uh, what do you do? To celebrate, I mean?"

"It's not something to 'celebrate'." Karkat crooks his fingers in imitation of quotation marks. "It's a sober reminder that we were hatched trolls, so we have a fuck ton of responsibility to uphold." He shrugs. "So it's a day we stay up, ruminate about past mistakes, and basically feel like shit."

Wow. Uh. "Damn. That's...damn." Dave stares off into space for a moment. He's going to have to do something nice for Karkat when his wriggling day comes around, because that sounds awful. Wait, birthdays...stuff for birthdays...He's forgetting something.

TT: Well. Let me know if you wish to celebrate in the more traditional human sense.
TT: I must admit that I've been working on a present for you, but I'm afraid that I'm hardly closer to finishing it than I was when I started.
TT: I hope you'll forgive me.

And the feeling finally resolves itself into what it was, exactly, that he'd been forgetting. "Oh, fuck. Fuck..."

Karkat tilts his head to one side. "What?"

TG: oh fuck rose seriously dont give me a present
TG: lets just forget about the whole ""presents"" thing i mean
TG: this is the first time well even be in the same place for our birthdays
TG: thats got to count for something right
TG: uh
TG: what do you think rose
TG: Yes that sounds good I completely agree that we shouldnt do presents this year and shit.
TG: yes good rose youre talking some good sense right there
TT: Oh, for fuck's sake.
TT: Dave, if you forgot about your own birthday, it's painfully obvious that you also forgot about mine.
TG: oh fuck
TT: In the nine or so minutes since we began this conversation, I have already cycled through hurt, denial, irritation, and a very, very grudging acceptance of the situation.
TG: fuck oh fuck
TG: rose im so sorry
TG: ill make it up to you i swear
TT: I suppose that's what I will have to accept.

"Oh, fuck," Dave says again, quieter. "I was gonna forget that Rose's birthday is tomorrow, and now she's mad at me."

Karkat's brow furrows, guilt starting to radiate off him again in waves. "So it is a big deal to forget someone's birthday! I fucking knew it was!"

Oh, goddammit.

× × ×

Dave colors intently at the big red spot on Jupiter. He's floating on his back, like Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He barely remembers what Jupiter even looked like, and there's something kind of sad about that. How many moons did it even have? Like a bunch. The only one he remembers anything about is that one that maybe had oceans. Nobody even had the chance to find out if there were giant alien fish in there or what. Man. He'll draw that one in at least, and maybe they'll send a Can Town space probe up there.

He can hear Karkat talking to the Mayor down on the floor, and he glances down at them. The Mayor is gesturing at the launch pad Karkat is drawing a good distance from town, and Karkat is nodding. He's too high up to hear exactly what Karkat is saying back, and well, that's OK. Interacting with anyone else right now, even Karkat, seems like a little too much to handle.

He draws a bunch of lines spiralling out from Jupiter's spot, alternating red and yellow. The corners of his mouth are twisting down, despite himself. It's not fucking fair. Why is a birthday of all things such a big fucking deal to Rose? He's never celebrated one, and he's fine. He imagines himself blowing out candles on a cake, surrounded by people that are all there just for him, their attention all on him, all at once, and the thought is so alien that it's almost physically repulsive. He doesn't need that shit.

The tip of the red chalk breaks and crumbles. It's not fucking fair. How can someone even expect shit for their birthday? He never expected anything. Sometimes presents would show up outside his bedroom door on his birthdays, maybe a sampler or headphones or a larger sword, impeccably wrapped. Sometimes there'd be nothing. But...

Dave's mind spirals down into the next thought, his stomach clenching with anxiety. Most of the time at least one of the presents, if he got any, would be rigged. Nothing that ever actually hurt him, Dave quickly justifies, but something to surprise him. A loud noise. A small explosion. Something filled with liquid that bursts. A disturbing image at the bottom of a box. Shit that said clearly, over and over, that gifts come with a catch, that you always need to be on your toes, that you should never trust anyone.

He floats along the ceiling a short distance and draws a big yellow circle for Saturn, and adds the rings in white. Uranus is next. He colors it in with the side of the chalk, flat blue. He knows Rose got real presents, all the time, real presents without any kind of a catch, from a mom that obviously loved the fuck out of her. The fact that she always complained bitterly about them suddenly makes him furious.

He starts on Neptune. You know what? He was having a great fucking day before he knew it was his birthday. That would be the best birthday to have ever, just to have a normal fucking day, without all the dread that somehow, even millions of miles away from Earth, even in another fucking universe from his apartment in Houston, is tensing his shoulders, making his palms sweat, making his stomach hurt. He scribbles faster and faster.

Stop thinking about it, stop thinking about it. Just stop. There's no fucking point in thinking about it anymore. The man is dead.

Dave suddenly feels unbearably alone. He lets himself float down, away from the ceiling, still on his back, and doesn't move when he touches the floor on the outskirts of town. He lies there, looking up at his handiwork. He's almost done with the whole solar system, as best as he can remember it. He stares up at Neptune, eyebrows drawn. It's only half finished, and he hates how bad of a circle he'd drawn, hates how irregular the coloring is. He averts his eyes.

Karkat's face appears above him, worried. Dave raises a hand in greeting. "Hey."

"Are you OK?"

Dave snorts. "Never better."

Karkat rolls his eyes. "No offense, but yeah fucking right." The Mayor appears on his other side, and grabs a couple of handfuls of Dave's sleeve.

The corner of Dave's mouth quirks up, but the smile doesn't make it anywhere near his eyes. "Hey Karkat, did you ever get like really fucking pissed off at your friends for having it better than you?"

"You're kidding, right? Of course I fucking did. Everyone has problems, but god damn you should have heard the shit my highblood friends would complain about. It was fucking sickening." Dave lets out a little huff of a laugh. "And even my friends lower on the hemospectrum, I mean, they had it rough too, but they were at least going to be allowed to fucking...grow up..."

Karkat's eyes get an awful, faraway look to them, so Dave pushes his shades up on top of his head, and Karkat's attention snaps back to him. "It's just all this birthday shit. Rose has all these expectations, because she grew up in...in a house that was...I mean, I think her expectations are probably pretty reasonable for most people, but..." Karkat is looking confused, and Dave sighs. "I just don't know if it's OK for me to be upset, or for her to be upset. Just a bunch of stupid human bullshit, basically."

Dave takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly as Karkat curls one hand around his upper arm.

"And what brings this to an even higher level of completely fucking absurd, is that it's not like any of us were even actually born in the first place. Jesus fucking christ." It'll be OK, he tries to tell himself as the corners of Karkat's mouth droop in worry.

He'll figure it out. Maybe he should tell Rose all this shit. Maybe...but the thought of telling her even half the shit he'd need to in order to make her understand just makes him feel so sick inside. Maybe it's better if she just keeps thinking he's an asshole.

Karkat's hand tightens on his arm, and the Mayor pats Dave's cheek with one tiny hand. Dave looks up at both of them, giving them a little self-deprecating smile.

"Thanks," he says, voice thick.

Chapter Text

i awaken to the same ceiling
and i can’t seem to shake this sick feeling ×

× × ×

Dave grabs his cape off the back of one of the chairs at his desk, and slips it over his head. He glances at his phone. No new messages. He'd messaged Rose last night, and she never got back to him. Ever since Rose started fucking around with whatever weird mixture of alchemy and chemistry it was that she'd been trying to use to make apple juice for him, she'd never stopped. Dave really wishes she would just stop. He doesn't know exactly why it's become such a fixation for her, but it definitely hasn't actually been about making apple juice in a long, long time.

He pulls on his shoes. It's not like he can throw any stones, glass houses and all, but shit. Any time he tries to get her to talk about anything, she deftly turns the conversation around to him, deflecting, diverting, distracting, until he's questioning the very thing he was trying to get her to talk about. Fucking Rose. Fucking...Rose.

He slams the door switch with the side of his fist, and heads off into the hallway. He's only been up for about five minutes and he already feels like one giant raw nerve. He decisively pulls his hood up over his head, and that's...a little better. He'll feel even better after he has breakfast with Karkat, and then they can go down to Can Town, and he can spend some time wandering around the dinosaur flats over in the corner with the Mayor clinging to his back.

"Hey, losers!" The rudimentary PA system shrieks to life, and Dave grits his teeth. "Put all your plans on hold, there's a dream bubble approaching fast! Think happy thoughts...! Vriska out!" The PA lets out a deafening crackle and is silent. Dave lets out a long, frustrated breath, and tugs his phone out of his pocket. They all take turns being lookout, but somehow it's almost always Vriska that makes the announcements. Hell, it's probably "lucky" for her to get to yell into a microphone at a captive audience on what's ended up being practically a daily basis.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist at 20:21 --

TG: fuck
TG: karkat are you in the lab
CG: YES. I JUST GOT HERE.
CG: ARE YOU CLOSE?
TG: yeah i just left my room lets meet in the hub real quick
CG: BE RIGHT THERE.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 20:23 --

Why is this happening, Dave thinks as he breaks into a sprint, taking the last set of stairs two at a time. The idea of being separated from Karkat again while they intercept a dream bubble is making him feel shaky and awful. He jumps onto the transportalizer, and sighs in relief when he materializes and sees Karkat standing in the hub, holding two coffees. "Oh, man, I am so glad to see you."

Karkat smiles up at him, and Dave feels the majority of the tension flood out of his body. "I got some food for you, too. Want to go to my block?"

"Yes. Yes, I do." He takes a coffee from Karkat's hand. Karkat grabs his elbow, and the two of them step onto the transportalizer.

They sit down at Karkat's desk. Dave's chair is a permanent fixture there, now, just like there's a second chair now at his own desk for Karkat. Karkat sets down his coffee and a box of pop tarts drops out of his sylladex.

"Shit yeah, strawberry," Dave exclaims, grabbing the two-pack that Karkat hands him. "Thanks, man." They smile at each other.

Karkat's gaze slips to the side, and he ducks his head, still smiling. "Fuck, I am so glad this isn't going to be a repeat of last time."

Dave takes a sip of coffee, watching Karkat unwrap some kind of glazed grub loaf thing that pretty much looks like a puke-colored twinkie with icing. "Dude, don't even remind me about that. We're both here, it's cool."

"Yeah." Karkat takes a bite of his breakfast and leans back in his chair, chewing. He swallows. "So I've been thinking..." He trails off, looking intently at his food, methodically pulling the wrapper down the sides. "Uh. What if I changed rooms? If I was just, right across the hall from you, or, something, that shit would be way less likely to happen." Karkat stares intently at the floor, and tears a piece off his pastry with his teeth.

Dave quickly nods. "Hell yeah." Karkat's gaze snaps back to him.

"Seriously?" he asks around a mouthful of food.

"Yeah, duh," Dave says, fumbling at the wrapper on his pop tarts. His fingers aren't cooperating with him right now in any way whatsoever, and the helpless grin spreading over his face isn't even coming close to expressing the warm glow that's radiating outward from his chest. "Let's both move. I'm definitely not like, permanently attached to my room or anything. Seriously the complete opposite of that. We should find like, a couple of rooms right next to each other somewhere awesome. Oh man." He bites down on his lip, ducking his head, trying and failing to get a grip on his expression.

"Yes, fuck yes, that sounds amazing," Karkat is saying, voice almost vibrating with excitement, and he's putting one hand up over his eyes, like he does when he knows he's blushing. Dave finally gets the package open, and that's when everything around them starts shifting, the ceilings lowering, lightening, plaster blooming on the walls, openings for windows being extruded in strange bursts.

They end up in a weird conglomeration of Dave's old apartment and Karkat's old hive, the floor changing over from thin pale carpet to dark metal in odd, almost pixelated patches, right down the middle between their chairs. They both glance up at once to the desk, and to the computer, which is now half Dave's, half Karkat's, and they give each other an incredulous look.

As they eat, they both take turns trying to get the computer to work, and it is so hilariously non-functional, a jumble of English and Alternian and some total nonsense mixture of the two. Dave starts clicking indiscriminately, and the weird, remixed garble of an SBaHJ comic he eventually manages to open makes him double over in laughter and Karkat snort into his coffee.

After they're done eating, Dave pulls his captcharoid camera out of his sylladex. "Oh well, want anything for your new room while we're here?"

Karkat looks around. "Hmm, maybe."

Dave jumps up from his chair. "Shit, I'm taking everything."

Alchemizing shit from codes he snaps in a dream bubble works pretty well for some things, but not for others. It works great for furniture and other simple objects, because, once they've been made, your own memories of them are basically indistinguishable from the way you perceive them. If you remember your desk being a certain way, there's never going to be anything about that desk that goes against your expectations.

Technology is a toss up. Objects with one function usually work OK. Computers and game systems are way too complex to replicate right, which totally sucks ass. DVDs and shit are even worse -- they're prone to the same weirdnesses any videos they watch in a dream bubble are prone to. Dave loves them. He'd watch that shit all day. Karkat hates them, though, especially his own dream movies. Dave's finally gotten it out of him that it makes him feel way too self-conscious, and Dave guesses he can see that.

Maybe it would be good to have an actual bed again. He hasn't bothered, yet, mostly out of laziness, and the mattresses and bedding he and Rose had alchemized when they first got here, out of pillows and random fabric from Kanaya's sylladex, were actually perfectly passable. It seems so much more home-like to sleep even just a couple of feet up off the ground, though, so Dave snaps a captchalogue card of his whole mattress and box spring.

Dave snaps card after card, of his shelves, dead things in jars and all, of his Midnight Crew posters, of the picture of Ben Stiller wearing his shades. He snaps a card of his fan, too. Maybe he can combine it with something else and make a goddamn heater. Karkat follows him around, looking at shit, pressing buttons on his mixers and samplers, poking at the platter on one of his turntables, looking surprised when it spins. "Dude, I could show you some shit. Do you want to learn how to..." He trails off, eyebrows raised expectantly, miming scratching a record in midair. Karkat pulls his hand back like he'd been burned, crossing his arms over his chest.

"No, what, I was just..."

"It's cool," Dave reassures him. He considers his turntable setup for a moment. Is this going to work? Hell, he might as well try. He snaps a card of the whole thing, record collection and all. He looks around. What else? His camera? Sure, why not. He pushes back the curtain on his closet door, too, and snaps a card of all his darkroom shit. "Are you sure you don't want anything from your hive?" he asks Karkat from across the room. "You have a couch in another block, right?"

Karkat snorts. "Yeah, I have 'a couch,'" he repeats, making his voice all snooty, and Dave rolls his eyes.

"I don't even care, that is not a high class thing to say, shut up." Karkat laughs at him.

They manage to get a few things from Karkat's hive before the bubble passes: a couch, a lamp, some more shelves, kitchen chairs, a table. Dave is starting to envision new possibilities, here. Why should they only stick to one room each? They should make like, a whole house. Oh, man.

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 1:59 --

TT: Sorry.
TT: I was asleep.
TG: this whole time
TT: Does it mattter? I stayed up all night working.
TG: rose
TT: What.
TG: do you want to
TG: uh
TG: talk about anything
TT: Hm.
TT: What exactly should I be wanting to talk about?
TG: rose come on
TG: what is up with you and that fucking juice
TG: sure i was excited at first but now this has crossed into the territory of really fucking unhealthy somehow
TG: i dont even want it anymore ok
TT: This isn't about you.
TG:
TG: yeah
TG: obviously
TT: I'm close to the answer. I know I am. I have to be.
TT: Scientifically, an apple is not a simple object.
TT: It is the result of millions of years of evolution, the product of countless lines of successful reproduction. It is molecularly complex, and contains within it the yet undeveloped offspring of a tree.
TT: One can divide an apple in half, and in half again, until one is dividing cells, dividing molecules, dividing atoms, dividing protons and electrons, dividing and dividing, potentially into infinity.
TT: But conceptually, it is indivisible.
TT: What concepts mix to create an apple?
TT: Is it possible to create, shall we say, a periodic table of concepts? A physical set of iconographs, that when combined can form every existing and potential piece of reality itself?
TT: And if so, can these elemental concepts be broken down even farther?
TT: I believe nothing is indivisible.
TT: If I can figure out how to synthesize the components for something as fundamental as an apple, there will be no limits to what we can accomplish.
TT: None at all.
TG: i get it
TG: i know this shit is important to you
TG: and i know it should probably be more important to me but
TG: look
TG: if i knew for sure your goal was just like
TG: total universal knowledge
TG: id be like cool yeah go for it
TT: Uh...huh.
TG: but how do i say this
TG: i have a bad feeling youre just trying to break shit again
TG: and its making me so fucking uneasy you have no idea
TT: I'm thinking about the future.
TT: Everyone's future.
TT: Do you even understand how much time I have spent planning for the future? How much work I have put in?
TT: Nobody else on this meteor cares at ALL about what happens when we actually arrive, except for Vriska, and myself.
TT: We need to be ready, or we are all going to die. Nothing is going to be able to bring us back this time. Nothing.
TT: Do you fucking understand??
TG:
TG: yeah
TG: but
TG: this shit is making you fucking unhappy
TT: Fuck. Off.

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 2:44 --

TG: rose
TG: goddamn it rose
TG: fine
TG: fine i get it

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 2:57 --

Chapter Text

Oh please
If this is a game I wish someone would win ×

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 11:31 --

TG: hey
CG: WELL, I GUESS THAT ANSWERS MY QUESTION.
TG: what question
CG: WHETHER WE WERE GOING TO KEEP HAVING THESE CONVERSATIONS BEFORE WE GO TO SLEEP.
TG: ok maybe its a little weird
TG: i mean i can literally hear you typing on the other side of the wall
TG: but idk
TG: so what
CG: YEAH.
TG: i guess its still just easier for me to talk like this
TG: which is probably not good exactly
TG: but it not being good doesnt mean its not true idk
CG: I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.
CG: AND WHO ARE WE EVEN TRYING TO IMPRESS WITH OUR ABILITIES TO DISCUSS SENSITIVE MATTERS IN FUCKING PERSON?
CG: NOBODY GIVES A SHIT.
CG: I GUESS AT FIRST I MAY HAVE BEEN INSECURE ABOUT IT.
CG: BUT THERE WAS A LOT OF SHIT I DIDN'T REALLY UNDERSTAND ABOUT WHAT IT'S...ACTUALLY LIKE, TO HAVE A MOIRAIL.
CG: HOW MUCH WORK IT IS, I GUESS.
CG: AND I DON'T MEAN THAT IN A BAD WAY.
TG: yeah i know
CG: ALL MOVIES EVER DEAL WITH IS THE BUILD UP TO A ROMANCE, NOT THE ACTUAL DAY TO DAY REALITIES OF BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR SOMEONE ELSE'S WELL BEING.
CG: I NEVER REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT IT.
CG: I HAD THIS SUBCONSCIOUS IDEA THAT EVERYTHING WOULD JUST SORT OF WORK ITSELF OUT ON ITS OWN.
CG: I GUESS I'M SAYING, I'M GLAD TO HAVE BEEN WRONG ABOUT THAT.
CG: I'M JUST...REALLY FUCKING HAPPY THAT YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE TALKING TO ME AT ALL.
TG: oh man
TG: i guess you had to lower your standards a whole fucking lot for me
CG: OH, FUCK, NO, THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT
TG: maybe i should try to be more selfless and feel bad about that or something
TG: but instead im really glad you did
TG: seriously
TG: off the charts glad
CG: OH
TG: you have to trust me that im being a total sappy mess over here like
TG: hiding my head under a pillow and shit
CG: FUCK <>
TG: hahaha <>
CG: HUH. YOU ACTUALLY *WERE* LAUGHING.
TG: oh shit
TG: oh my god now i can hear you laughing at me you dick
CG: YOU STOP LAUGHING FIRST!!
TG: oh fuck i cant
TG: you stop laughing
CG: OH MY GOD SHUT UP I CAN'T
CG: OK, OK.
CG: I'M GOOD.
TG: ok me too
TG: oh my god no quit it youre gonna start me up again fuck
CG: OK, I'M GOOD, I SWEAR.
TG: ok yeah me too
TG: ok
CG: WHAT SHOULD WE DO TOMORROW?
TG: oh man idk
TG: i guess we p much have everything set up in our uh
TG: what should we even call this
CG: THIS WHAT?
TG: this place were living now
TG: i was thinking of it as a house at first cause like
TG: ive never lived in a house and it sounded cool
TG: but its literally four rooms and theres no real separation between them and the whole rest of everything
TG: i guess it could be an apartment
TG: but jesus now that i think about it saying our house or our apartment sounds so fucking weird and grown up
TG: like we both have jobs and pay rent and come home every night and kick back with a beer and watch wheel of fortune
TG: instead of just like squatting in an unused space facility
CG: HMM.
CG: I GUESS I WAS THINKING OF IT AS A HIVE.
CG: IT'S WEIRD AS FUCK THAT HUMANS DON'T OWN DWELLINGS UNTIL ADULTHOOD.
CG: I'M USED TO HAVING MY OWN HIVE, SO THAT PART DOESN'T SEEM UNUSUAL.
CG: SHARING IT WITH SOMEONE ELSE DOES, THOUGH, SO MAYBE "HIVE" ISN'T THE MOST ACCURATE DESCRIPTION EITHER.
TG: hive does sound badass though
TG: but yeah idk maybe it doesnt matter
TG: i mean is this something were even going to be discussing with other people
TG: is it weird that i sort of dont want other people to come down here
CG: NOT REALLY.
CG: I MEAN. I NEVER HAD ANYONE BESIDES YOU VISIT MY OLD BLOCK.
TG: me either
CG: WE DON'T HAVE TO BECOME LESS PRIVATE WITH THE OTHERS JUST BECAUSE WE HAPPEN TO BE LIVING IN THE SAME GENERAL VICINITY AS EACH OTHER.
TG: yeah ok
TG: i guess if i ever had anyone over it would probably just be rose
TG: but shes not even talking to me right now so whatever
TG: ill cross that bridge when i get to it i guess
CG: SHIT.
CG: WHAT HAPPENED WITH ROSE?
TG: ugh
TG: i guess i sort of insinuated that shes selfish and power hungry
CG: OH.
CG: ...WHAT THE FUCK, DAVE?
TG: yeah yeah i know
TG: its kind of true though
TG: she always says shes doing shit for all of us to help us win the game
TG: and i guess the shit she did ended up being for the best in the long run
TG: but i really dont think she understands the forces shes fucking with even a fraction of the amount she thinks she does
TG: it makes me uneasy as fuck
TG: not that i can really talk i guess because my understanding of this stuff is so low that it barely even registers on i guess whatever conceptual chart of things and how much we understand them im talking about here
TG: so honestly im probably full of shit
TG: but now shes locked in this know it all heroes of light echo chamber with vriska
TG: which maybe would be ok if she didnt seem so fucking miserable
TG: but on the other hand im also not sure if maybe shes just mad at *me*
TG: which she probably has every reason to be tbh
TG: and is perfectly fine and agreeable with everyone else and i dont have anything to worry about
TG: ugh i reread that and i dont even know where i was going with half of that sorry
CG: NO, I UNDERSTOOD.
CG: I CAN TALK TO KANAYA. IF YOU WANT.
CG: MAYBE SHE KNOWS MORE ABOUT IT.
TG: oh man idk
TG: i can see this turning into some huge snowball of gossip like so easily
CG: HMM.
CG: KANAYA ISN'T ONE TO SPREAD RUMORS, EVEN IF SHE DOES TEND TO...INVOLVE HERSELF IN SHIT.
CG: I HAVEN'T SEEN THEM TOGETHER AS OFTEN LATELY, THOUGH. MAYBE THEY HAD SOME SORT OF FALLING OUT?
TG: dude i hope not
CG: YEAH.
CG: UGH.
CG: I
CG: DON'T KNOW IF I SHOULD BE THE ONE TO TALK TO KANAYA, ACTUALLY.
TG: why not
CG: SHE AND I...WE SORT OF...HAD THIS MASSIVE PALE FLIRTATION GOING ON FOR A LONG TIME.
CG: AND IF SHE NEEDS SOMEONE TO TALK TO, UH.
CG: I'M SORT OF AFRAID THAT I WOULD DO IT.
TG: oh my god
TG: karkat did you have any friends that you *didnt* have some sort of massive pale flirtation going on with for a long time
CG: OF COURSE I DID!!
TG: hahaha
TG: i dont mind at all
TG: i think its kind of hilarious
TG: hell if you ever wanna mix it up just let me know
TG: pull someones car keys out of a hat
TG: go have a torrid night of intimate conversation
TG: just as long as you fill me in on the all details in the morning
CG: HOLY SHIT NO. STOP.
TG: embrace your pale promiscuity dude
CG: OH MY GOD NO.
TG: hahaha that little growling noise you just made was fuckin gold
CG: SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP.
TG: lol
TG: well anyway fine i guess i could talk to her
TG: i cant help but think that this is just going to end up with rose never talking to me again but whatever
TG: oh
TG:
TG: fuck
TG: did i cross some sort of line with the way i was teasing you a minute ago
TG: now that i think about it i may have crossed some sort of line
CG: YOU MAY HAVE TAKEN A STEP OVER THE LINE, YES.
TG: oh fuck im sorry
CG: IT'S OK.
TG: man karkat im sorry
TG: seriously
TG: just like
TG: run over to my room and smack me with a rolled up newspaper if i ever say shit that bothers you
CG: HMM.
CG: I MIGHT.
TG: haha

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering grimAuxiliatrix [GA] at 12:03 --

TG: hey
GA: Hello Dave
GA: To What Do I Owe The Pleasure
TG: oh idk
TG: we like never talk
TG: why is that
GA: Now That You Mention It
GA: I Am Not Sure
GA: Though
GA: I Cannot Help But Think That Your Decision To Troll Me Just Now Is Based Less On Your Desire For A Conversation Than It Is To Gain Information About Rose
TG: oh man
TG: are you mad
TG: if you are i guess its just sort of par for the course for me this week
GA: No
GA: I Am Not Angry
GA: I Am Actually Somewhat Amused
TG: oh
GA: Only Somewhat However
GA: Because I Am Also Worried About Rose
GA: And The Fact That You As Her Brother Are Contacting Me About Her
GA: Is Very Worrisome
TG: oh
TG: i dont know about that i mean
TG: i think she talks to you way more than she ever talked to me dude
GA: Perhaps
GA: However
GA: She Has Not Been Confiding In Me As Of Late
GA: I Am Afraid That I May Have Said Something To Upset Her
GA: But I Have Been Unable To Determine What That Something Might Have Been
TG: oh
TG: im so sorry kanaya
GA: Thank You
TG: if you ever want to hang out just let us know
TG: seriously
GA: Thank You
GA: Once Again
GA: At The Moment I Am All Right
GA: Because I Am In The Middle Of A Large Sewing Project
GA: But I May Take You Up On The Offer At A Later Date
GA: Has Rose Been Equally Reticent With You
TG: yes and no
TG: she always has a lot of shit to say but like
TG: ive never been able to get her to actually talk about actual shit thats actually bothering her
TG: so i was sort of hoping that you would know what was going on
GA: I Am Sorry Dave
GA: But I Do Not
TG: ok

 

TG: yeah that was a dead end
CG: FUCK.
TG: yeah
TG: kanaya doesnt know any more than i do about it
TG: she says she was worried that rose was mad at her so maybe its not just me
CG: I THINK IN YOUR CASE IT WAS AT LEAST A SMALL PERCENTAGE YOU.
TG:
TG: *anyway*
TG: i told kanaya we can hang out with her whenever she wants
TG: hope thats cool
CG: YEAH, OF COURSE.

 

TG: so whats the large sewing project youre working on
GA: Oh
GA: Im A Little Embarrassed To Say
TG: uh
TG: ok
GA: Oh Dear
GA: I May Have Accidentally Implied Something Risque
GA: That Was Not My Intention
TG: hahaha omg
GA: It Is A Replica Of A Gown From The Movie Adaptation Of One Of My Favorite Novels
GA: It Is A Very Complex Gown
GA: The Skirt Alone Has Required Almost Twenty Meters Of Fabric Of Three Different Varieties
GA: Also The Beading On The Bodice Is Extremely Intricate
TG: oh shit kanaya youre a fucking cosplayer
TG: how did i not know this
GA: I Am A What
TG: oh fuck is cosplay some kind of noble art on alternia
TG: please tell me it is holy shit that is beautiful
GA: Are You Referring To The Replication Of Garments From Movies And The Like
TG: something like that yeah
GA: It Is Somewhat Of A Noble Art
GA: Especially When It Comes To The More Ancient Of Our Movies
GA: However The Movie I Am Referring To Is Not Considered To Be
GA: Good
TG: kanaya seriously we need to talk more
GA: I Would Not Be Averse To That

Chapter Text

I feel me slippin' away
I wipe my feelings off ×

× × ×

Dave is standing in the small room down the hall that he's claimed as his darkroom. He pulls his new photos off the line one by one, and he can still barely contain his excitement over the fact that he actually got all this shit to work. Dave is honestly really proud of how good his memory of all his photography equipment apparently was. He rules, fuck yeah. He didn't even realize how much he'd missed taking photographs until he'd picked it up again about three weeks ago, and he's already gone through about fifteen whole rolls of film.

The first five of those hadn't really come out, but that's OK. The lighting around the meteor is pretty much the worst imaginable for photography, and his first attempts to use a flash had resulted mostly in a bunch of completely washed out looking shit. After some fucking around with various fabric scraps he'd begged off Kanaya, he'd managed to come up with a more appropriate flash -- dimmer, warmer, more diffuse.

Dave slips through the curtains at the door, and steps out into the hallway. Oh, yeah. Definitely better. Dave smiles down at his photographs. This is great. A lot of them are general meteor scenery, particularly interesting jumbles of wires, wide shots of rows upon rows of monsters in tubes, upward angles of stairways, distant dream bubbles in the sky behind the stark lines of the buildings. A lot of them are selfies, at home, in the lab, in front of the bathroom mirror. A lot of them are of Karkat.

It took Karkat a while to even tolerate the idea of Dave snapping pictures of him. For the whole first two weeks, he'd resolutely hide his face the instant there was even a vague possibility of the camera coming out. There was one shot in particular that Dave had taken without asking, of Karkat at the computer desk in his block, hunched over, head propped up on one fist, typing idly with one hand, looking sleepy as hell. Dave had been so taken with the visual, with the way Karkat was sitting with his legs tucked up under him, with the messiness of his hair, with the way the softness of the cheek under his hand was pushed up towards one eye, that he'd raised his camera without even thinking.

Karkat had been fucking furious. A lot of words got thrown around between them, like "oversensitive" and "invasion of privacy," but they'd worked it out. Karkat agreed to allow himself to be photographed sometimes, and Dave agreed to ask permission before he does it. It sucks, though, because there are so many candid moments that Dave wants to capture, when Karkat has his guard down, when he's sleepy, when he's paying such close attention to a movie it's like nothing else exists. And what sucks even worse is that Dave loves the photo that started all of this, loves the angle, loves the way it was framed, loves the quiet, everyday emotions it invokes. Now the sight of it sort of makes him feel sick. He's never made a print of it.

These prints are great, though. He finally managed to get a few shots where Karkat doesn't look either outrageously hostile or like a deer in the headlights. Dave's going to wear him down eventually, just with sheer overexposure. He doesn't get Karkat's camera shyness at all, and it's so frustrating. Dave loves being in photographs. He wishes there was someone who wanted to take this many photographs of him.

Karkat is sitting on the couch, reading one of Kanaya's trashy vampire novels. See, this is what Dave is talking about. He looks so relaxed but also so intense, his eyebrows drawn, his eyes focused fiercely on the page. If Dave tells Karkat he's going to take a photo, the mood will vanish completely, and the fact that Dave isn't allowed to capture that expression forever seems like a fucking insult to art. Dave sighs to himself.

He lays the best of his photos out on the table and sits down, considering them. He's using the wall over the table to display photographs, but only the best ones. It's actually getting pretty full, and he soon he's going to need to start swapping out old bests for new bests.

Karkat snaps his book shut and comes over to look over Dave's shoulder. "That one, definitely," he says, pointing to a shot of one of the screens at a severe angle from below, the focus on the empty chair in front of it, the monolith of a screen blurring into the distance. The image asks a lot of questions, and yeah, Dave is really proud of that one. He sets it aside. "Oh, and this one." Karkat points to another one, where Dave had turned the camera on himself outside when they were on lookout. The flash had washed out all traces of bubbles in the sky, so it's just Dave's profile against smooth, perfect black, the lightness of his hair standing out almost like a halo around his head. Yeah, Dave's pretty proud of that one, too. He looks damn good in it. He sets it on top of the first one.

"How about this one?" Dave points to a picture he'd taken of Karkat, one that actually looks somewhat candid. Karkat is lying on his stomach on the couch, arm hanging over the edge, and Dave had gotten a closeup of his face and shoulders, his eyes half-lidded but still piercing, the twist of his mouth a little sulky.

"Fuck no." Karkat points at another one, of water against the tiles of the shower room. "What about that one?" Dave turns around to look at him.

"Why not the first one?"

Karkat frowns, straightening up, crossing his arms. "I don't like it."

Dave sighs. There are thirty-two photos pinned to the wall right now. Twenty-three of those are meteorscapes. Nine of them are of Dave. None of them are of Karkat. "Come on, dude. It's my photo, and I think it's awesome."

"It's a photo of me, so I should get to have the final say. I don't like it."

Dave pushes his shades up into his hair, pinning Karkat with a look, one eyebrow raised. "Why?"

Karkat seems to shrink back into himself. He looks at the floor. "I don't want to have another fight about this, Dave, I really, really don't."

Dave sighs again and slumps back into his chair. "Me either. I just...if you look at that wall," Dave gestures at it, "it looks like you don't even fucking live here. I like the pics I take of you. I want to like...see them." Dave twists around, crosses his arms on the back of the chair, rests his chin on his folded wrists.

Karkat's expression is absolutely unreadable, and Dave blows a frustrated puff of air out his nose. "Why?" Karkat asks, finally.

Dave can't believe the tone of his voice, so wary, so untrusting, and he feels something awful catch in his chest. "Do you think I'm making fun of you or something?" Dave is trying not to get his feelings hurt. He's trying really hard.

"I don't know, maybe," Karkat answers, staring intently at the floor.

"I'm fucking not."

"...Oh."

"You still don't believe me, I know you don't," Dave says, hating the way his voice is quavering. "I love taking pictures of you. I was hoping maybe, that if I showed you my photos, that you'd be able to see what I see..."

Karkat's eyes flick back up to Dave's, his brow furrowing deeper. "What are you talking about?"

"Just..." He sits up straight. His heart is pounding, and he's not really sure why. "I don't know. That I uh, like the way you look."

What is he even saying here, exactly? He feels hot and cold all over at once, his hands shaky, his mouth dry. Karkat stares at him, mouth dropping open a little. "I..."

"Don't even," Dave interrupts, feeling suddenly so giddy and strange. "That's what I think, that's just the way it is, and there's nothing you can possibly fucking say to make me think otherwise, and..."

"Shut up," Karkat is saying, and, after a split second of hesitation, he lunges forward and hugs Dave tightly around the shoulders. Dave grabs him around the waist, burying his face in Karkat's chest. He's so warm, and solid, and oh, man. This is the kind of thing he's been trying to resist. It's so fucked up. Nobody on Earth ever seemed to have any kind of problem resisting the urge to hug the fuck out of their best friend. Fuck...Dave's pretty ashamed of his own complete lack of self control.

Karkat's making this very soft clicking noise deep in his chest, and Dave hugs him tighter.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 10:27 --

TG: hey
TT: What.
TG: so hows it going
TT: I don't have time to play along with your unbearably awkward stabs at polite conversation, Dave, please.
TT: These clumsy little attempts to get me to reveal tidbits of information are seriously wearing on my nerves.
TT: Just ask whatever it is that you seem inexplicably compelled to ask and then leave me alone, for God's sake.
TG: fine
TG: are you mad at kanaya or something
TT: I don't know what you're talking about.
TG: yeah right
TG: i think kanaya talked to her sewing machine more in the past month than she talked to you
TG: you guys used to be joined at the fucking hip
TG: what happened
TG: she doesnt actually talk to her sewing machine btw that was just an expression
TT: Yes. Yes, Dave, of course it was. Obviously.
TT: Why are you of all people asking me about this?
TT: I would normally consider you to be the very last person on this meteor to be even remotely interested in gossip.
TT: I rank both Gamzee and the Mayor higher on that list than you.
TG: im not fucking gossiping
TG: im just worried
TG: imagine that
TT: Then let me assuage your ill-placed concerns.
TT: Everything's fine.
TT: Mind your own fucking business.

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 10:36 --

-- arachnidsGrip [AG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 11:02 --

AG: Stop 8othering Rose.
TG: groan
AG: She's 8usy. Stop getting on her case all the time!
AG: It's interfering with her powers. Your neediness is putting us 8ehind schedule!!!!!!!!
TG: what are you guys even doing
TG: is it still that business with dividing an apple into infinity or whatever
AG: I convinced her to put that on hold.
AG: We recently came into the possession of some veeeeeeery important information.
AG: I'm not even going to patronize you 8y pretending that you would 8e a8le to understand!
TG: and yet you still manage to be patronizing as fuck
TG: good for you
AG: Just leave her alone.
AG: Go make out with Karkat. Or wh8ver it is that you guys have 8een doing in your priv8y priv8 time!
TG: what
TG: no
AG: Some of us have impoooooooortant things to do.

-- arachnidsGrip [AG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 11:02 --

TG: thats not what
TG: uh
TG: fuck

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering arachnidsGrip [AG] at 11:03 --

Dave glances up at Karkat, who's curled up in the corner of the couch, typing furiously on his husktop. Is he messaging someone? Karkat spends a lot of time typing furiously on his husktop, and he always goes into weird contortions in order to keep the screen pointed away from anyone who might walk by and see an errant word or something. Normally it fills Dave with an almost unbearable amount of curiosity, but now it fills him with a horrible sort of lurking dread. If Karkat is messaging someone, who is it? And why?

He wants to ask, wants to bug Karkat until he pays attention to him, wants so badly to be reassured, that...what? That he's Karkat's absolute number one priority? That's really fucking needy, and it's...

Fuck...

Really, really not normal.

Dave feels his heart sink in embarrassment. He suddenly sees them, as if from the outside, as if he's Rose, or Terezi, or Vriska, or Kanaya, and he hates it. What are they all thinking? Do the others talk about the two of them behind their backs? Is it common for Vriska to insinuate things about them?

It's almost more than Dave can bear. The idea of something so vitally important to him being used as a punchline makes anger and shame twist inside him until he thinks he can't possibly stand it anymore. He has the nearly irresistible urge to run to his room and lock himself in, but the prospect of hours alone, trying and failing to sleep, seems so hellish that he doesn't.

"Can...we watch a movie?" Dave asks, voice breaking on the first word, and Karkat looks up from his husktop, the furrow between his brows deepening.

"Sure," Karkat answers, making a few final keystrokes, before turning on the couch so that he's facing forward, husktop in his lap. His thigh is only inches away from Dave's, and Dave is suddenly, unbearably conscious of that fact. "Everything OK?"

"Yeah, it's fine."

Chapter Text

Always had more dogs than bones
I could never wear those clothes ×

× × ×

Dave comes out of the darkroom with a new stack of photos. He doesn't even know if he's even actually going to want to keep any of these, because he's been so distracted, lately, and it's showing. This whole roll is sloppy. Badly framed. Uninspired.

Karkat is sitting on the couch. He's almost done reading that vampire novel -- there's only about a quarter inch of pages left. Dave is hoping that it's either really good or really sexy, because Karkat has had his face buried in it almost constantly for the past week. He just seems so on edge, and Dave feels so unbalanced, still reeling from that shit Vriska said, that his clumsy attempts to pretend like everything was normal were cringingly unsuccessful. He was trying to act like nothing had changed, that he didn't care what other people thought or saw, but he could see himself as if from far away, fucking it up, acting weird, letting all of this shit color even the most fucking basic of interactions, and now Karkat is purposefully losing himself in that goddamn book so hard that Dave is surprised he still exists on this physical plane.

Dave sits at the table, spreading all the photos out in front of him. Karkat doesn't even get up like he usually does, to come over and offer his own opinions on which ones they should keep, and Dave feels his stomach sink. He shifts through them without even really seeing them, an awful burning in the back of his throat. All of these are horrible. Why did he even make prints of any of these? They're all just meteorscapes, empty fucking meteorscapes, lonely and dark and pretentious. It would have been a colossal waste of time if wasting time wasn't everyone's number one goal in life on this fucking meteor.

This is the worst. Dave suddenly feels so restless and awful, and he stands, scooping up his photos and dumping them all in the trash. He leaves, bypasses the doors to their rooms, brushes past the long curtain they have up across the hallway. He speeds up, until he's jogging, until he's running, until his feet leave the floor and he's flying.

The Mayor is drawing trees on one of the walls. He looks up when he hears Dave's feet touch the floor, and waves excitedly. They agreed that there should be a forest on that wall a week or so ago, but neither he or Karkat has been back to work on it. Another surge of guilt plunges Dave's stomach to his feet, and he runs over and throws his arms around the Mayor.

"I'm sorry, dude, I'm sorry we haven't been helping out," he says, voice rough, and the Mayor pats him on the back with both hands. "I'm being such a fuckup." He lets the Mayor go and slumps to the ground, crosslegged, his elbows on his knees.

The Mayor kneels beside him. How, he asks with a tilt of his head.

"I'm being so dumb, and I'm just making everything weird. I'm trying not to. I don't know what to do." Another pang of guilt and shame hits him in the gut. What is he supposed to do in this situation? Karkat is the one he should be talking to about all this shit. That's like, supposedly the whole definition of their relationship. Dave is pretty sure that Karkat would think that talking to anybody else about his problems would constitute some kind of infidelity, even if those problems directly involve Karkat himself.

Why is he getting so weird about everything? Is there just something wrong inside him that all-out sabotages the good shit in his life? Does he have some sort of personality defect that keeps him from getting too close to people? Dave feels anxiety flutter in his chest, the beginning of an ache building in his stomach. The Mayor reaches up, drawing an x on his forehead with one finger. Stop this train of thought.

Dave sighs. Yeah. The Mayor takes one side of Dave's hood in each hand, and pulls it up over his head. Dave feels a tiny bit better, and gladly takes the green chalk the Mayor offers him.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering grimAuxiliatrix [GA] at 1:26 --

TG: hey kanaya
GA: Yes Dave
TG: this is gonna sound weird but
TG: what uh
TG: sort of relationship do you think karkat and i have
GA: I Do Not Really Think It Is My Business To Say
GA: The Two Of You Are Very Private About The Nature Of Your Relationship
GA: Needless Speculation Seems Tantamount To A Sort Of Violation In This Case
TG: im giving you permission to make it your business ok
GA: All Right
GA: I Am Not Honestly Sure
GA: I Know The Two Of You Are Very Important To Each Other
GA: Many Of The Things You Do And Say Strongly Imply That You Are Sharing One Of The Red Quadrants
GA: But The Way You Consistently Refer To Yourselves As A Unit
GA: Saying We Will Do This Or Would You Like To Hang Out With Us
GA: Is Not Something Usual For Trolls
GA: Not Even For Ones Sharing A Quadrant
GA: So I Thought Perhaps There Was A Human Quadrant Involved
GA: Excuse Me
GA: I Realize Humans Do Not Have Quadrants
TG: ...
GA: I Am Sorry
GA: I May Have Said Too Much
TG: its ok
TG: i asked
GA: Why Are You Inquiring
GA: If You Do Not Mind
TG: uh
TG: i dunno
TG: i guess i was just uh
TG: i never really thought about how other people see us before and i think im freaking out a little
GA: I See
TG: its so much easier when its just the two of us i mean
TG: ugh
TG: that sounds really fucking weird
TG: i dont even know what i mean
TG: fuck
GA: Please Do Not Think I Am Judging You
GA: Quite The Opposite
GA: I Think Both Of You Are Good For Each Other
GA: In Whatever Troll Or Human Quadrant You Might Be In
GA: I Have Never Seen Karkat So Happy
GA: And I Have Known Him For A Long Time
TG: oh
TG: really
GA: Yes
TG: thanks kanaya
GA: You Are Welcome

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 2:17 --

CG: WHERE ARE YOU?
TG: can town
CG: OH
TG: is uh everything ok

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is now an idle chum! --

TG: oh
TG: nm i guess
CG: SHOULDN'T I BE THE ONE ASKING YOU THAT?
TG: uh
TG: why
CG: WHAT DO YOU MEAN *WHY*?
CG: PLEASE.
CG: YOU'RE NOT ANYWHERE *CLOSE* TO AS GOOD AT HIDING YOUR EMOTIONS AS YOU THINK YOU ARE.
CG: SOMETHING'S OBVIOUSLY BOTHERING YOU.
TG: i guess but
CG: ...
CG: YOU WANT TO BREAK UP WITH ME, DON'T YOU?
TG: what
TG: the fuck
TG: no no no
TG: fuck no
TG: where the fuck did that come from
CG: I DON'T KNOW, DAVE. WHERE MIGHT I HAVE GOTTEN THAT IDEA?
CG: FOR THE PAST WEEK YOU HAVEN'T EVEN COME WITHIN TWO METERS OF ME.
CG: IT'S LIKE YOU HAVEN'T EVEN WANTED TO FUCKING *LOOK* AT ME.
TG: i dont
TG: thats not true
TG: i dont think
CG: YES. IT IS.
CG: WHEN THERE'S SHIT BOTHERING YOU, YOU'VE ALWAYS TALKED TO ME ABOUT IT. ALWAYS.
CG: EVEN IF YOU DON'T GO INTO DETAIL, YOU ALWAYS AT LEAST BRING IT UP.
CG: THERE'S SOMETHING HUGE BOTHERING YOU RIGHT NOW, AND YOU HAVEN'T EVEN WANTED TO SHARE THE *EXISTENCE* OF WHATEVER THE FUCK THAT THING IS WITH ME.
CG: IT'S OBVIOUS THAT SOMEHOW I'M PART OF IT.
TG: uh
TG: i guess
CG: I FUCKING KNEW IT.
CG: HOW LONG EXACTLY WERE YOU GOING TO KEEP STRINGING ME ALONG??
TG: jesus christ karkat im not breaking up with you
CG: THEN WHAT?
CG: JUST FUCKING TELL ME.
CG: I DID SOMETHING WRONG, DIDN'T I?
CG: I FUCKING KNEW IT
CG: FUCK
CG: FUCK
TG: karkat calm down its ok
TG: its not you its just me being a fuckup
CG: "IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME"?? NOW I KNOW YOU'RE JUST TRYING TO SPARE MY FEELINGS
TG: i swear im not karkat i swear
CG: ...
CG: LOOK, I
CG: I'M TRYING TO BELIEVE YOU
TG: yeah i know just
TG: listen to what im saying
TG: and not whatever bullshit youre thinking about yourself because that shit aint true
TG: ok
CG: OK. OK.
TG: im sorry ive been acting so weird
TG: i know i have been but somehow i just cant stop
TG: i feel weird about the fact that im feeling weird and its turned into this huge spiral of weirdness
CG: BUT
CG: ...
CG: WHY?
TG: i dont know how to
TG: say exactly
TG: i guess like
TG: fuck
TG: vriska said something and i just started thinking about what other people were thinking about us
TG: you and me
TG: and that made me start being really self conscious i guess
CG: I DON'T UNDERSTAND.
TG: i uh
TG:
TG: i just
TG: like it when were alone
TG: i dont have to spend a lot of time like analyzing my own behavior or whatever because you just
TG: dont give a shit if i just act like myself i guess
TG: so the idea of other people talking about us or like
TG: joking about us behind our backs or something just really
TG: really bothered me
TG: it was like they were suddenly here while we were supposed to be alone
TG: and it really fucked me up
CG: I
CG: OK
TG: im not explaining this right at all fuck
TG: fuck
CG: NO, I
CG: THINK I GET IT
TG: please dont be thinking something bad about yourself right now please
TG: i should have told you all this shit to begin with
TG: i didnt know how i was gonna explain it
TG: but i should have tried anyway and im sorry
CG: DON'T...APOLOGIZE.
CG: I SHOULDN'T HAVE FLOWN OFF THE FUCKING HANDLE LIKE THAT.
CG: I JUST WORRY THAT
CG: FUCK.
CG: THAT YOU DON'T TAKE THIS MOIRALLEGIANCE SERIOUSLY.
TG: what
TG: no
CG: LET ME JUST...SAY THIS.
CG: I DON'T HAVE DOUBTS ABOUT YOU CARING ABOUT ME, NOT ANYMORE.
CG: BUT SOMETIMES THINGS YOU SAY MAKE ME THINK YOU DON'T HAVE THE SAME FEELINGS I DO.
CG: AND I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE A HUMAN, GROWING UP WITH DIFFERENT SOCIAL EXPECTATIONS, OR WHAT.
CG: BUT IT'S NOT FUCKING FAIR TO *YOU* FOR ME TO EXPECT YOU TO REACT LIKE A TROLL.
CG: AND IF THAT'S TRUE, IT'S WRONG FOR ME TO GET UPSET ABOUT IT. BUT I CAN'T HELP IT.
CG: AND I HATE THAT I CAN'T.
TG: oh
TG: karkat
TG: oh no
TG: please tell me what im doing wrong ok
CG: JUST...WILL YOU COME HOME?
CG: PLEASE.
TG: yeah
TG: im coming

"I gotta go," Dave says, staggering to his feet, shoving his phone back into his pocket. The Mayor sets down the chalk he'd been using, and nods encouragingly at him. Dave lets out a breath, feeling a bit of his anxiety lessen. "Thanks."

He bursts back into the rumpusblock, out of breath. Karkat is standing by the trash can, looking lost. "Why did you throw away all these photos?" he asks, but Dave crosses the room and scoops him up into a hug.

"I didn't like any of them," Dave mumbles into Karkat's shoulder, and Karkat hugs him back, just as tightly, burying his face in the side of Dave's neck. "I don't even like taking photos if they're not of you, what's even the fucking point..."

Karkat's arms tighten around Dave's shoulders. "Holy fuck, what are you even talking about..."

Dave laughs, probably for the first time all week, and tightens his arms, pulling Karkat up on his tiptoes. "I'm saying I'm sorry, and that everyone can go to fucking hell, I don't give a shit..."

Karkat makes this soft, keening sound that makes Dave feel warm all over. "I'm sorry, too, Dave, I'm so sorry..."

They watch movies for the rest of the night, sitting as close as possible on the couch, pressed together in a warm line all the way from thigh to shoulder.

Chapter Text

Oh no, I said too much
I haven't said enough ×

× × ×

When Dave comes out of his room, stretching and rubbing his eyes, Karkat is lying on his back on the couch in a flawlessly careless sprawl. One knee is bent, propped up against the back of the couch, his other leg hanging off the edge, one sock on the floor. He's reading yet another one of Kanaya's novels, holding it open inches from his face. Dave can't help it. He lets his camera drop out of his sylladex.

"Can I?" he asks, leaning over the arm of the couch near Karkat's head, and Karkat lowers the book. He's making that one expression where he's trying really hard to look disapproving or something but his eyes are actually smiling, warm and dark and...nice. The lighting is perfect, and Dave leans closer, studying Karkat upside down from behind the viewfinder of his camera until the corners of Karkat's mouth turn up. He snaps three photos in quick succession, and takes another two the instant that smile widens, further exposing a row of sharp incisors.

"Oh my god, Dave, why are you taking so many," Karkat complains, while Dave continuously snaps photos. "None of these are going to be any good, I'm fucking talking..." Dave grins. He doesn't think he's ever felt more satisfied about anything he's ever done in his life than he has about making Karkat Vantas OK with being photographed. It's been a month and a half, and Karkat is finally, finally warming up to it. Dave snaps a few more photos just for good measure, and the way Karkat is smiling in the last few is making warmth creep over his chest and up his neck. He lowers the camera slowly, crouching down a bit, putting his weight on his forearms on the arm of the couch, and Karkat reaches up, hooking Dave's sunglasses by the bridge with one finger and tugging them off.

The warmth doesn't stop at Dave's neck, and floods all the up way to his hairline. What...

...What

Dave swallows, but his voice comes out all uneven anyway. "Wanna get breakfast?"

"Yeah," Karkat answers, but neither of them move. Their eyes are locked, and there's something so fascinating about Karkat like this. The usual crease between his eyebrows is gone and his eyes are half-lidded and happy and Dave's heart rate inexplicably spikes when Karkat reaches up, dragging a couple of fingertips along the curve of his jaw. "What do you wanna eat?"

"I dunno," Dave answers, somehow. His brain feels weird and foggy and sluggish. "It's whatever."

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering grimAuxiliatrix [GA] at 23:46 --

TG: hey kanaya

-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] is now an idle chum! --

TG: aw
TG: well when you get this
TG: you should come hang out with us in can town
TG: there was a natural disaster in the business district
TG: skyscrapers toppling
TG: citizens screaming
TG: untold fatalities
TG: and by natural disaster i mean karkat was accidentally sitting on my cape and when i tried to get up i went down like a pillowcase full of fuckin quarters off the back of a seven forty seven
TG: the mayor is actually pretty upset about it and i feel kind of bad
TG: and karkat was freaking out for a while over indirectly causing me to possibly get hurt
TG: sigh
TG: i didnt get hurt btw
TG: i mean falling on a bunch of cans did hurt like hell
TG: but i didnt get *hurt* hurt
TG:
TG: hm i think i probably failed at making any of this seem fun
TG: huh
TG: well anyway
GA: Hello Dave
TG: oh hey
GA: Ordinarily I Would Love To Visit Can Town
GA: Even In Harrowing Times Such As The Ones You Are Describing
GA: But Rose Is
GA: How Should I Put This
GA: Currently Monopolizing My Attention
TG: oh
TG: fuck
TG: really
TG: so is she
TG: wow is everything ok
GA: Yes I Think So
GA: I Do Not Wish To Go Too Much Into It
GA: But Rose Finally Reached Out To Me
GA: And After Some Discussion Seemed Genuinely Remorseful Regarding Her Recent Behavior
TG: oh
TG: thats good i think
GA: Yes
GA: I Think It Will Be Good
GA: Eventually
GA: Currently The Word I Would Use To Describe The Situation Is
GA: Messy
TG: oh man
TG: im sorry
GA: Thank You
TG: i dont know what to do
TG: i suck so bad at this stuff
TG: i was trying really hard to be a good friend but like
TG: i think at this point she really just hates me
GA: I Know She Does Not Hate You
GA: I Will Not Attempt To Explain Her Behavior
GA: That Is Something She Will Have To Do Herself
GA: But I Do Not Believe Her Anger Towards You Has Been Reasonable
TG: ok
TG:
TG: thanks
GA: You Are Welcome
GA: Good Luck With Your Disaster Management
TG: ha
TG: thanks
TG: good luck with yours

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering grimAuxiliatrix [GA] at 24:31 --

× × ×

"What are you thinking about?" Karkat asks from behind Dave's camera, zooming in, zooming out, zooming in. Dave lets him fuck with it whenever he wants to, and he always seems to be more interested in zooming in on things and looking at them than taking pictures, but that's OK. Dave thinks Karkat must be staring at his ear or something right now in glorious closeup, and he'd find that fact hilarious if he weren't so preoccupied.

"Where the line is between whether shit is gossip or not," Dave answers, letting his head fall back against the couch. He looks straight up at the camera, and Karkat actually takes a photo. Huh.

"Oh. Yeah." Karkat lowers the camera and sits beside him, sideways, legs tucked under him. "Rose?"

"Yeah." Karkat hands the camera back and Dave captchalogues it. "I guess I'm just worried that my intentions are wrong or something. Like do I want to know what's going on between Kanaya and Rose right now because I'm nosy as fuck or do I want to know because I want them to be OK? I'm pretty sure it's the second one, but I don't really know how to know for sure..."

Karkat leans his head sideways against the back of the couch, and is silent for a moment, chewing a little at his lower lip. "Why are you even worried about that?" he asks, finally, and Dave sighs and twists around, mirroring Karkat's position.

"Uh, I guess it was something Rose said a while ago, but I know it was mostly just her trying to get out of answering shit I asked her, so I dunno..."

The furrow between Karkat's brows deepens sharply. "But it's been on your mind anyway."

"Yeah."

Karkat is frowning intensely, so Dave reaches up and smashes a palm into his face. "Hey!" Karkat grabs his wrist and pushes it away.

Dave pushes back, but Karkat has some kind of vise grip on him. They struggle lethargically for a moment, and Dave's only able to get his hand about two inches from Karkat's face, and no closer. "I'm not like, upset or anything, jesus."

"You seem kind of upset."

Dave relaxes his arm and lets his hand fall. Karkat's goes down with it. "I dunno." The pad of Karkat's thumb is resting right over the pulse point in his wrist, and there's something inexplicably nice about that. "Maybe I am."

Karkat raises an eyebrow. "You can be upset about it, dude." His eyes are dark, as always.

Dave nods a little. "Yeah. OK. I guess, I just, wish I knew if she actually meant it, you know? If she was just talking shit, whatever, I mean, I know I've said shit to her I didn't mean when I was pissed off. But if she actually thinks that I'm...just..."

"There's no way she can actually think that. There's no fucking way."

Dave nods again, more sure. Karkat seems absolutely certain about it, and he can feel the worry lessening a little, muscles he didn't even know were tense relaxing. "OK. Yeah. You're right." One corner of his mouth crooks up into a little half smile.

Karkat smiles back, and Dave can feel the pulse thrumming in his wrist under the light pressure of Karkat's thumb.

× × ×

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 9:12 --

TT: Hello, Dave.
TG: oh
TG: hello
TT: I would like to apologize.
TG: oh
TG: its ok rose
TG: seriously
TG: you dont have to do that
TT: Yes, I do.
TG: well
TG: ok i guess
TT: I'm sorry.
TG:
TG: thats uh
TG: all
TT: I'm not sure what else to say.
TG: ok
TT: I'm not feeling quite as eloquent as usual.
TT: In fact, I feel more like my brain has been spooned out of my skull with an intricately filigreed ladle and then haphazardly replaced.
TG:
TG: jesus rose
TT: ...
TT: Kanaya really let me have it.
TG: oh fuck
TG: that would be
TG: fuck
TT: Yes.
TG: are you ok
TT: I feel...much better, now, actually.
TT: I needed to hear those things, unpleasant though they seemed at the time.
TT: There were things about myself that I believed to be...beyond redemption, but those things didn't...cause her to react like I thought they would.
TT: I was frankly relieved to have been chewed out for acts that, in comparison, seemed exponentially more manageable.
TG: yeah i guess that would be
TG: uh
TT: I realize I'm being cryptic, and I apologize.
TG: huh
TG: thats not something i ever thought id hear you say
TT: Touché.

"They made up," Dave says, still staring down at his phone.

The fury of typing from the corner of the couch slows and stops. "They did? Really?"

"Yeah, and Rose just...apologized to me." Dave looks up, finally. Karkat is looking back at him over his husktop, crosslegged, eyebrows raised. Dave sets his phone decisively on the arm of the couch and leans way over, lightly resting his chin on the top of the husktop screen, fixing Karkat with an intense look. "What are you writing?"

Karkat rolls his eyes. "Oh my god. For the millionth time, you're not going to surprise me into telling you." He goes back to staring at his screen.

"Can't a guy just ask? Can't a guy just show a little bit of innocent interest in what you're constantly typing at like a hundred words per minute?" Dave thrusts his jaw forward in what he hopes is some kind of irresistible pout.

Karkat's eyes flick up to him from beneath their lashes, unimpressed. "A hundred and fifteen."

"Holy shit, really?"

"Are you sure you don't want to talk about Rose?" There's a stray piece of hair that's fallen in front of Dave's shades, and Karkat reaches up and flicks it back into place.

Dave sighs. "Maybe later."

Karkat looks back down at his screen, staring intently for another moment. "It's a screenplay, OK?" he says, finally, staring confrontationally at Dave, shoulders creeping up towards his ears.

"Whoa, really?" Dave sits up straight and scoots over into Karkat's personal space, Karkat's shin warm against the side of his leg. "What's it about?"

Karkat shuts the husktop with a quick, decisive click. "Nope! That's all you're getting."

"It's a romcom, isn't it."

"No."

"Oh my god, it fucking is. There's no way it isn't a romcom."

"No!"

"Are you imagining this starring Matthew Mcconaughey? Or, wait, is it all trolls? Or are there humans? Or are there trolls and humans? What quadrant are the leads going for here? Quadrant slash quadrants? Oh man..."

Karkat buries his face in his hands. The tips of his ears are red. "Jesus christ, Dave, this is why I wasn't going to fucking tell you..."

"Dude," Dave says, a little taken aback. "Why do you always think I'm making fun of you? I'm virtually never actually making fun of you."

Karkat takes his hands away from his face, and his cheeks are red, too. He crooks his fingers in exaggerated air-quotes. "You're 'virtually never actually making fun of' me? What the hell does that mean?"

Dave leans farther into Karkat's personal space, tilting his head, studying him closely. Karkat sits up straighter, crossing his arms over his chest. "It means I'm not really making fun of you, like, ever. Unless there's some unscheduled later date where maybe I do actually want to make fun of you for something. You know. Just in case."

Karkat's mouth gives that familiar disapproving twist, but untwists quickly into a begrudging little half smile. "Alright. I accept that answer. I guess."

"Cool."

Chapter Text

Wish I could speak in just one sweep
What you are and what you mean to me ×

× × ×

Dave has finally developed that one roll of photos, as he's been thinking of it, or, actually, not trying to think of it. The roll had been sitting on his darkroom table for over a month, and most of the time he pretended to have completely forgotten about it. Nope, nope, he couldn't see it there, hidden in the shadows, absolutely, perfectly unobtrusive. What roll of film? He doesn't even remember what's on that roll of film.

But now he's done it.

He tried not to look too carefully at the pictures as he immersed them in different chemical baths, averted his eyes as he pinned them all up to dry. He's filled with a weird sort of dread about the whole thing, since it's getting harder and harder to ignore some...things. Things like...possible personal associations that seem to be creeping closer and closer to being facts of goddamn life. It's sort of a daily struggle, actually, to continue to ignore them.

He takes a deep breath and yanks one of the photos off the line. Oh, man. So. Yeah. It's one of the ones he took of Karkat upside down on the couch, in that moment when...Nope. Nope. Dave lets out a frustrated breath, sinking down into his chair. Oh...man.

What do you do when you really just can't stop looking at your best friend?

Is Karkat what most people would consider to be good-looking? Dave actually isn't sure. He's an alien, for one thing, and there are all sorts of weird little alien things about him. The golden sclera of his eyes and the strange, subtle nocturnal gleam behind them. The way his nose is almost like a human's, but not quite, in a way Dave's been trying really hard to specifically define. The strange color of his skin, flat grey all the way inside his mouth, even. Teeth like a dog's, maybe, not razor sharp but definitely sharp enough when paired with the force of a bite. Hair coarse and messy, each strand perfectly straight and way thicker than a human's. Motherfucking horns, for chrissakes.

It's probably normal, though, right? That you'd spend a lot of time looking at someone if they were a goddamn alien? Dave studies the picture carefully, eyes tracing over the dark circles under Karkat's eyes, over the thick, dark strokes of his eyebrows, over the roundness of his cheeks. He slowly turns the photo upside-down, so that Karkat is right side up, and a strange shiver arcs its way up his spine.

...What.

Nope.

Nope.

Dave quickly yanks all the other photos down off the line and tosses the whole messy stack face down onto the junk table behind him. He stares after it for a moment. That isn't even close to good enough, so he shoves them all way back into the far corner, under a stack of unused chemical trays, until not even a corner is visible. He lets out a shaky breath.

Maybe.

Maybe that'll help.

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 1:01 --

TG: hey rose
TT: Hello, Dave.
TG: can i ask you something
TT: I don't know. Is something preventing your physical ability to do so?
TG: god damn it dont even give me that grammar shit i am having a crisis
TT: Oh. Well. My apologies.
TT: What kind of crisis will we be discussing?
TG: dammit rose
TG: just
TG: shit
TG: how do i even explain this
TG: do you ever just like
TG: find yourself staring at the trolls
TT: ...
TT: I'm a little confused as to why this is a crisis you're having now, over a year into our journey, but the answer is yes.
TT: Of course I do.
TG: oh thank god
TT: They look so strikingly like us, and yet, there are so many subtle differences.
TT: It is, frankly, fascinating.
TG: yes
TG: fuck yes
TG: it totally is
TT: The trolls have a hard time not staring at us, too, you know.
TT: When Vriska and I first started working together, we were finally forced to agree that we needed to get all the curiosity out of our systems, and spent a good chunk of time cataloguing our differences.
TT: With all the time you spend with Karkat, though, I'm very surprised that you haven't gotten used to it by now.
TG: uh
TG: yeah
TG: me too
TG: ive been trying not to notice it maybe i guess
TG: you know me
TG: always trying to be polite
TT: Right.
TT: A quality of yours which explains why I'm still finding crude drawings of human genitalia in my journal from our strategy meeting a month ago.
TG: hey that journal was reaching critical levels of boring as fuck
TG: we were doing it a goddamn service
TG: if we drew even one less dick that journal was gonna crumple under the weight of its own unbearable tedium
TT: Hmm. A new fascinating addition to my notes:
TT: "Dave equates unbearable tedium with the lack of two or more dicks."
TG: rose no

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering grimAuxiliatrix [GA] at 1:17 --

TG: hey kanaya
GA: Yes Dave
TG: this is probably a weird question but like
TG: do you ever just wanna stare at me or rose
TG: cause were aliens
TG: and we probably look weird or something
GA: Oh Dear
GA: Has My Behavior Come Off As Improper
TG: no no no
TG: im just
TG: uh
TG: curious
GA: Hmm
GA: The Answer I Suppose Would Have To Be Yes
GA: Humans Are Very
GA: Delicate Looking
GA: It Seems Unlikely That You Would Be Able To Survive For Long
TG: what hey
GA: And Yet You Do
GA: It Is Very Fascinating
GA: Though I Have Gotten Fairly Accustomed To You Both At This Point In Our Journey And No Longer Feel The Same Overpowering Curiosity That I Used To
TG: oh
TG: hm
GA: If You Do Not Mind
GA: Why Are You Asking
TG: i uh
TG: i dunno
TG: ive just been noticing all these little things suddenly
GA: I See
TG: maybe i was just being really unobservant before i dunno
GA: Perhaps
TG: maybe just uh
TG: forget i asked
GA: Well
GA: If You Wish

Just stop worrying about it, Dave tries to tell himself, eyes flicking up from his phone to Karkat, who's across the room with the Mayor. They're having what seems to be a private conversation, the Mayor all wide gestures and Karkat small ones, and the murmur of Karkat's voice is almost inaudible.

The Mayor seems to be finished with what he had to say, and wanders off downtown. Karkat starts scribbling on the floor again.

Jesus. Talking to Rose and Kanaya only made this shit worse. The idea of looking has crept in under Dave's skin, and he feels so oddly consumed by the image of Karkat's silhouette, crosslegged, slouched, the way his hair parts at the nape of his neck, the way the little, even bumps at the top of his spine are just visible above the loose collar of his sweatshirt. Dave stares for a moment more, twisting his hands together, before he pushes himself to his feet, dropping his camera out of his sylladex as he goes.

"Don't move," Dave says, raising the camera.

"What? Oh," Karkat says as he hears the high whine of the flash coming on. He moves anyway, looks up over his shoulder at Dave, one eyebrow raised.

"Nah, dude, you're messing up my shot," Dave complains, and Karkat turns again, his smile still visible past the roundness of his cheek.

"Fine."

Dave gets down on his knees, lining up the camera, focusing directly on the sharp line between collar and skin. Cataloguing our differences floats through his mind in Rose's purple text, and he snaps a photo. "Your spine is like, different than mine, I think."

"Different? More like, obviously better," Karkat says, shooting Dave a snarky little grin over his shoulder.

"Mmhmm," Dave answers, distracted by the fact that from this close up he can definitely tell that Karkat's vertebrae are shaped a little differently than his. They're sharper. Way more apparent. He reaches out, overcome suddenly with curiosity, and drags his thumb up the back of Karkat's neck, feeling the reality of each individual bump and divot, taking in the strangely smooth warmth of his skin. When he gets to the top he doesn't stop, absentmindedly brushing over the short, bristly hairs right at Karkat's hairline. Wow. They're prickly. Almost sharp.

Karkat is making a soft clicking noise, really more of a vibration than a sound, and Dave suddenly realizes that his heart is pounding and a fantastic, urgent feeling drops through his stomach, sudden and electric. He pulls his hand back as quickly as he dares, blood rushing to his face. "Sorry, I. Uh..."

"Don't worry," Karkat says, turning around to face him. Dave sits back on his heels. "You can...do that sort of shit. If you want," he says, eyes fixed on the floor.

"Oh." Dave is tongue-tied. He grips his camera tightly between his hands. "O...K."

Karkat takes a breath and reaches out, tugging Dave's camera free and setting it beside them. He picks up one of Dave's own hands with one of his, lifting it to his own face, leaning into it. Dave lets out a breath, sliding his palm up over Karkat's cheek. Karkat drops his arm, eyes drifting closed, and Dave curls tentative fingers into his hair. Oh, fuck. This is really weird. Wow. Dave rubs a few strands between his thumb and forefinger, marvelling at how slick they are compared to his own. He slides his hand in further, staring intently at how those perfectly jet black strands fill the spaces between his fingers.

The side of his forefinger brushes over the base of one horn, and Karkat's soft, contented clicking stutters and increases in tempo. Oh. Oh...Oh wow. Dave gently pulls his hand free, then runs his fingertips up one side of Karkat's horn and down the other. It's so smooth.

Karkat is blushing, eyes closed, bottom lip just barely snagged between his teeth, and Dave swallows thickly. "Thanks," Dave says, voice unsteady, and he lowers his hand. Karkat's eyes slit open, dark, gleaming, and when he smiles, it's the most relaxed, most genuine smile Dave has ever seen on him.

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering grimAuxiliatrix [GA] at 22:27 --

TG: hey kanaya whats your take on moirallegiance
GA: My Take
TG: yeah like
TG: im trying to collect some samples here yknow
TG: im like a rich housewife in a paint store hoarding all those little color swatches handful by desperate handful
TG: husbands been gone on a two week business trip with his smokin twenty year old assistant and my self worth is all tied up in home decor you know how it is
TG: what does it feel like
TG: is what im asking i guess
GA: Hmm
GA: I Am Not Sure I Am The Best Troll To Ask
GA: My Own Previous Attempt At Moirallegiance Was Not Exactly Ideal
GA: And I Was Unfortunately The Cause Of Its Dissolution
TG: oh yeah
TG: fuck
GA: I Know Now That My Feelings For Vriska Were Always Flushed
GA: That Relationship Was Frankly A Disaster From The Start
GA: It Is One Thing To Be Told What Emotions Will Feel Like
GA: And Quite Another To Experience Them Oneself
TG: oh man
TG: im sorry
GA: You Do Not Have To Be Sorry
GA: At This Point I Am More Than Satisfied With The Outcome
GA: When Vriska And Terezi First Began Their Moirallegiance I Must Admit I Was Very Hurt
GA: But Terezi Is Much Better For Her Than I Was
GA: Terezi Does Not Seem To Harbor A Hidden Desire To Flip Quadrants
GA: And The Act Of Harboring That Hidden Desire Certainly Took An Emotional Toll On Me
GA: I Am Very Glad Now To Be Done With It
TG: yeah i can see that
TG: have uh
TG: have you actually been pale for someone though
GA: Yes
GA: But I Do Not Think You Will Like Hearing About It
TG: why n
TG: oh
TG: oh yeah
TG: nah its cool im not like
TG: the jealous type i guess
TG: i dont think
TG: hmm
GA: You Do Not Seem Very Sure
TG: yeah
TG: uh
TG: youre right i guess
TG: about it being one thing to be told what shit feels like and another thing to actually feel it
TG: i never thought id be like
TG: uh
TG: a person thats ever jealous
TG: but
TG: fuck
TG: maybe i am idk
GA: Do Not Worry
GA: Any Aspirations I May Have Had Towards Moirallegiance With Karkat Are Firmly In The Past
GA: And I Have No Reason To Believe That He Has Any Such Aspirations Towards Me
GA: He Is Very Devoted To You
TG: oh
TG: oh man
TG: i
TG: ok
TG: i guess my question still stands
TG: i promise i wont get mad
GA: Very Well
GA: My Feelings Reached An Apex When Karkat And I Were Working On The Frog Breeding
GA: But I Had Only Just Broken Things Off With Vriska And It Did Not Seem Appropriate To Initiate A New Relationship So Soon After The End Of The Previous One
TG: yeah dude you shouldnt date on the rebound
GA: Yes
GA: But I Had Always Had A Fondness For Karkat That Was Always Much Paler Than I Was Ready To Admit
GA: And During That Time I Felt That Fondness Spike Dramatically
TG: so whats that like
TG: what makes that different than oh uh lets say
TG: how you felt for vriska
GA: Hmm
GA: This Will Be Difficult To Put Into Precise Words
GA: But I Will Attempt It
TG: ok
GA: Moirallegiance Is Primarily A Love Between Personalities
GA: It Is A Partnership Between The Strengths And The Flaws Of The Participants
GA: An Ideal Moirallegiance Is One Where The Moirails Balance Each Other Out Perfectly And Completely
GA: Situations Where One Troll Would Fail Could Be Effortlessly Handled By The Other And Vice Versa
GA: Both Inward And Outwardly Destructive Tendencies Are Able To Be Balanced Purely By The Interaction Of Such Complementary Personalities
TG: hm ok
GA: Working Together With Karkat Made Me Feel Like In A Way I Had Come Home
GA: We Functioned So Well Together
GA: And In The Process I Began To Feel An Overpowering Desire To
GA: Hmm
GA: Be There For Him Always
GA: And To Act For Him At Times He Could Not Act On His Own
TG: oh
TG:
TG: ok
GA: I Am Sorry Dave I Did Not Wish To Make You Uncomfortable
TG: its ok seriously
TG: so anyway
GA: Yes
GA: Matespritship Is A Love That Primarily Exists In The Physical Realm
GA: With Vriska I Always Felt A Strong Desire To Be Close To Her
GA: Nebulous As It Was In My Younger Thinkpan I Did Not Recognize It At First As The Very Physical Feeling That It Was
GA: I Did Not Yet Understand How The Mechanics Of Flushed Attraction Would Affect Me
GA: And I Lay Awake Many Times Wondering How I Could Feel So Drawn To A Troll That Was Such A Terrible Compliment To My Own Personality
GA: And Eventually I Realized That There Was Just Something About Her Physical Form That
GA: Oh My
GA: I Am A Little Embarrassed To Say
TG: its ok kanaya
TG: sorry im always like bombarding you with questions about super personal shit
TG: you just p much always know what youre talking about
GA: Oh My Goodness I Most Certainly Do Not
TG: hahaha

Chapter Text

How embarrassed I'd have been
If you knew what I was thinking, uh ×

× × ×

TG: also like
TG: uh
GA: Yes
TG: sorry trying to figure out how to word this
GA: Take Your Time
TG: thanks
TG: so i guess that uh
TG: moirails can like
TG: touch each others faces and shit right
GA: They Can Yes
TG: how does that uh
TG: work
GA: Oh
GA: Hmm
GA: Being Touched Lightly On The Head And Neck Is Extremely Calming To A Troll
GA: It Is A Very Important Show Of Trust For Moirails To Touch And Allow Themselves To Be Touched In This Manner
GA: It Is The Most Culturally Recognizable Sign Of Moirallegiance
GA: Does That Answer Your Question
GA: I Am Unsure
TG: oh
TG: yeah mostly i think
TG: did you and vriska do that stuff
TG:
TG: wow fuck that was such an inappropriate question sorry
TG: why would i even ask that what the hell
GA: It Is Alright
GA: And We Did Not
GA: We Lived Quite Far Away From Each Other And Did Not Meet Up In Person Very Often
GA: We Primarily Communicated Over Trollian
TG: oh
TG: yeah
TG: fuck this shit aint easy for me
TG: thats such an absurd fucking understatement btw
TG: idk how much you know about humans but we have this off the charts preposterous ass laundry list of people were not supposed to want to touch
TG: and this shit is all kinds of fucking with me
TG: even though what the fuck apocalyptic scenario is supposed to come down on everyone if we do
TG: i mean we already caused the end of the fucking world here
TG: but i have this feeling like someones still fucking watching me
TG: like i got the ghost of my piece of shit old planet hangin around shaking chains in my face
TG: so what if i maybe want to possibly initiate a quote culturally recognizable sign of moirallegiance unquote with a god damned alien
TG: go haunt some other smug tool you asshole
GA: I Am So Sorry Dave
TG: fuck
TG: i didnt mean to just
TG: unload all that on you
GA: It Is Quite All Right
GA: Though Perhaps You Should Talk To Karkat About This
GA: I Believe He Would Understand Better Than You Think
TG: yeah
TG: maybe
TG: youre probably right
TG: oh shit
TG: fuck did i cross some kinda quadrant line up there
TG: im really sorry
GA: I Am Used To This Sort Of Thing From Humans At This Point In Our Trip
GA: But For Karkats Sake I Would Suggest You Talk To Him About It Instead Of Me
TG: ok yeah
TG: i think i can do that
TG: thanks

Dave's phone drops to the bed and he lets out a long breath. He just feels so boneless and lethargic. He's been awake for over an hour, now, just lying around, thinking, messaging Kanaya, and despite everything he's been tending to worry about lately he's actually...happy.

Lying in bed isn't anything like what it used to be. His room is full, now, full of furniture, of weird alchemized devices, of posters, of half-assed electronics. There's pretty much not an inch of wallspace left uncovered. All the clutter feels cozy, like home, but good.

Oh, man, it just feels so amazing to lie around. Dave thinks laziness is way underrated as a lifestyle choice. The bed is just so soft, under the covers is just so warm, and the fact that he can hear Karkat in the other room typing away suddenly fills him right up to the brim with something that, if he was forced to put a word to it, might come out close to "bliss."

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 22:36 --

TG: dude im like permanently attached to this bed
TG: it is so goddamn comfortable
TG: what do i do
CG: PFF.
CG: I WAS WONDERING WHAT WAS TAKING YOU SO LONG.
TG: uh oh
CG: WHAT?
TG: did you hear that weird sort of slorping sound
CG: ...NO
TG: oh fuck there it was again
CG: UH
TG: yep
TG: its all over
TG: the mattress is officially consuming me in preparation for its breeding cycle

Dave can hear Karkat snort from the other room, and a grin spreads over his face.

TG: i might need someone to yknow
TG: help me out here
CG: OH, RIGHT, I SEE
CG: WHAT KIND OF TOOLS SHOULD I BE PREPARING TO USE TO EXTRACT YOU, EXACTLY?
CG: I'M NOT VERY WELL VERSED IN YOUR HUMAN MATTRESS WRANGLING TECHNIQUES.
TG: oh ho
TG: well
TG: i speak as a complete and total expert in all things related to human mattress wrangling techniques
TG: and youll need uh lets see
TG: kiss from a rose playing on a boombox
TG: definitely some chocolate syrup
TG: sixteen feet of rope
TG: two whole boxes of tissues and
TG: one bill clinton mask
CG: HMM.
CG: WHAT KIND OF TIME FRAME ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE? HOW LONG IS THE ACTUAL DIGESTION GOING TO TAKE?
CG: IT MIGHT TAKE A WHILE TO SUCCESSFULLY ALCHEMIZE THE SYRUP.
TG: probably about three hours or so yknow
TG: you cant underestimate the stamina of these things
CG: NO, NO, I SUPPOSE NOT.
CG: STAND BY.

Dave hears a rustling from the other room, then complete silence. Did...did Karkat actually leave...? Oh god. Karkat didn't think he was actually serious, did he?

TG: omg karkat no
TG: you know im joking right
TG: haha oh fuck

There's no answer.

And. Total...silence. Dave leaps out of bed, just in his long-sleeved undershirt and boxers, and runs across the room, bare feet slapping against the cold floor. He smacks the door switch with an open palm and looks frantically out into the hallway.

Karkat is leaning against the wall right by his door with the biggest shit-eating grin on his face.

Dave laughs loudly and shoves Karkat by the shoulder. "You piece of shit." Karkat shoves him back, laughing at him, and later on when the two of them are walking to Can Town Dave spends the whole trip there wondering what would happen if he slipped an arm around Karkat's shoulders.

× × ×

Dave is drowsy as fuck. The brightest light in the room is from the movie playing on Karkat's husktop, and he's curled up on his side on the couch with his head in Karkat’s lap. He lets his eyelids droop. Karkat has an arm around his shoulders, hand curled near his collarbone, and Dave is smiling, can't help but be smiling, the lightness in his chest lifting the corners of his mouth.

All too soon the credits are rolling, but Dave thinks he would rather die than move, so he doesn't. "We should make our own movie."

"Uh, why."

Dave flops over onto his back. Karkat's hand flattens out on his chest, resting slightly to the right of his heart, and Dave feels a little thrill go through him. "You write screenplays like all the time, dude," Dave says, looking up at Karkat, watching the flickering light from the DVD menu playing over his face.

Karkat frowns. "Yeah, but..." Karkat still won't let Dave read anything he writes. Dave's gathered that there have been about four different screenplays, abandoned at different points for different reasons, from the extremely vague and begrudging way Karkat talks about them. "No way. We're not using any of my screenplays. No fucking way."

Dave privately thinks that nothing Karkat has written could possibly be any weirder or more potentially embarrassing than anything Dave has speculated that he could be writing about, because, yeah. If Dave ever actually gets to read any of them, he thinks he's probably going to be a little let down when they're not just wall to wall tentacle porn or something. "That's OK, I mean, you could always write a new one."

Karkat thinks for a moment, mouth twisting, nose scrunching up. "Ugh, I don't know. Can you act? I sure as hell can't."

"Aw, dude, nobody gives a fuck. We don't even have to show this to anybody else. Whether either of us can or can't act is so beyond the point of any of this."

"We don't have a camera."

"I will alchemize the fuck out of a camera. Somehow. I'll figure it out."

Karkat sighs. "Maybe."

"Yes!" Dave punches the air, and lets his arm fall back behind his head, draped over Karkat's knees.

Karkat's eyes slip to the side, and Dave knows he's trying to look annoyed, but he's failing at it completely. Oh man. "Will you move so I can put on another movie?" Karkat asks, the corners of his mouth turning up.

"Nope, never, get used to me being in your lap, because that's going to be a fucking law of nature from now on...wait, oh, uh, that didn't, uh..." Dave feels himself flush all the way to the tips of his ears, and Karkat just rolls his eyes and leans forward anyway, squishing Dave's face into his sternum. Dave makes a noise like a wounded seal.

"Get up, I'm sleepy as fuck," Karkat says, later, shoving at Dave's shoulder, and Dave snorts awake.

"No, nooo," Dave mumbles, draping himself further over Karkat's lap. Karkat is laughing quietly, and pats Dave on the back before squirming out from under him. Dave groans and snuggles down into the warm spot Karkat left behind. Not fair.

As Dave gradually drifts awake he can hear Karkat in the bathroom brushing his teeth, and he finally manages to lever himself out of his sleepy sprawl and off the couch in order to follow him. Karkat's staring at himself in the mirror, eyebrows drawn together in maximum Karkat intensity, and Dave feels the corners of his mouth turn up. Karkat spits into the sink, and as soon as he straightens Dave moves closer, reaching out, curling his hands around Karkat's upper arms, and, slowly, after a breathless moment of hesitation, tentatively slides them inward across Karkat's shoulders to his neck. Dave watches Karkat let out a long sigh, head dropping slightly to one side, the eyes of his reflection slipping closed. Dave slides his fingers into Karkat's hair, and the way Karkat's reflection is starting to flush red is sending a wave of warmth over him.

The toothbrush clatters in the sink as Karkat leans bonelessly back into Dave, that soft, contented clicking vibrating gently against his chest. Dave freezes for a moment, but forces himself to move, his arms going loosely around Karkat's upper arms. Karkat takes a slow, deep breath and lets his head fall back against Dave's shoulder, exposing the full line of his throat. Dave's hands are trembling, but he lifts one anyway, and he breathlessly watches his own reflection run hesitant fingertips up Karkat's throat and along his jaw.

Karkat lets out the tiniest little sound, breathy and contented, and Dave can't help but tighten his arms, burying his face in the side of Karkat's neck, as heat floods all the way up to his hairline.

"Are you OK?" Karkat is asking, gruffly, and when he doesn't get an answer he turns in Dave's arms, his own arms going easily around Dave's waist.

"Yeah," Dave answers, face still hidden.

"Liar," Karkat says in his ear, and the warm puff of his breath sends a shiver right down Dave's back.

"I suck at this," Dave mumbles into Karkat's sweatshirt, and Karkat pulls away just far enough to push him upright. He lifts Dave's shades up on top of his head, looking questioningly into his eyes, and Dave's breath catches in his chest as Karkat frames his face with both hands, brushing his thumbs lightly over his cheeks. "I'm not...used...to this," Dave says, feeling his face heat up again. "It feels...wrong, to...want to," he chokes out, "but I do want to, so...bad..." His eyes are burning, and that just makes everything worse.

"Hey, shh," Karkat says, "it's OK, Dave, it's OK..." Dave pulls Karkat closer, burying his face again in Karkat's shoulder, breathing him in, grabbing shaky handfuls of his sweatshirt, their bodies pressed so tightly together all the way from chests to thighs that even when Dave is lying in bed later he can still feel the warmth of Karkat's breath on his neck in the irresistible flood of heat that keeps crashing over him and he

oh

 

 

oh

Chapter Text

Don't know about you
But I can feel it through and through ×

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 23:15 --

TG: so what should our movie be about
CG: OH, HEY!
CG: NOT EVEN GOING TO WISH ME HUMAN GOOD MORNING?
TG: nah
TG: i decided not to get up today anyway so does that even matter
CG: ...
CG: WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DECIDED NOT TO GET UP
CG: DUDE
TG: yeah im just not feeling it
CG: NOT FEELING WHAT?
TG: just yknow
TG: general verticalness
CG: OH
CG: ...
CG: I GUESS
TG: can we talk about something else
TG: i just wanted to talk to you
CG: ...ALRIGHT, FINE, WHATEVER.
CG: ...
CG: UH.
CG: SO YOU’RE ACTUALLY SERIOUS ABOUT MAKING A MOVIE?
TG: yeah duh
TG: i need something to do that doesnt involve setting my own hair on fire
TG: these are the only things left that i can occupy myself with right now karkat
TG: setting my own hair on fire
TG: and making a motherfucking movie
CG: FINE, FINE
CG: DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING IN MIND FOR THIS FUTURE INSULT TO CINEMA?
TG: no
CG: GENRE? CHARACTERS? PLOT POINTS?
TG: no
CG: I SEE.
TG: i mean were kinda limited because of our location here
TG: we could p much do either allegorical spiral into the depths of the mind or haunted space station
TG: take your pick
TG: hmm
TG: oh oh fuck it needs to have some kind of shitty twist like
TG: everyone is actually dead
TG: or maybe the twist is that
TG: gasp
TG: there wasnt actually a twist the whole time
TG: oh my dick yes
CG: TWIST?
CG: WHAT EXACTLY IS BEING TWISTED HERE??
TG: hahaha fuck
TG: the story dude
CG: WHAT
TG: you know in a movie where you think the story is gonna go one way for the whole movie and then at the end it gets revealed that everyones a ghost or theyre actually in hell or their food is actually made out of people
TG: imagine like if at the end of how to lose a guy in ten days it turned out that kate hudson was actually a creepy old dude trying to get the bad ending in a dating sim
TG: thats a twist
CG: WHY?
CG: WHAT EXACTLY IS THE POINT OF THAT?
CG: DOESN'T THAT MAKE HOURS OF PREVIOUS PLOT AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT MEANINGLESS??
TG: uh idk
TG: for shock value i guess maybe
TG: twist endings are a joke now sort of because there was this time where like every goddamned movie had one
TG: so it would be funny to not have one because
TG:
TG: you know what never mind
CG: RIGHT.
TG: maybe we should just film some stuff and see what happens
TG: ugh
CG: DAVE
CG: ARE YOU SURE YOU DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT WHY YOU DON'T WANT TO LEAVE YOUR ROOM?
TG: yeah
TG:
TG: i guess
TG: idk im just being a huge failure in here thats all
CG: YOU'RE NOT A FAILURE, DAVE, WHATEVER.
TG: yeah i am
TG: its just this human thing that i dont want to talk about ok
CG: ARE YOU GOING THROUGH SOME SORT OF DISGUSTING MOLT OR SOMETHING?
TG: hahaha holy fuck no
TG: im just having a private emotional crisis ok
CG: AND YOU DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT, YOU JUST WANT TO TALK ABOUT TALKING ABOUT IT, IS THAT IT?
TG: yeah
TG: is that a crime
CG: JESUS, FINE, NO
TG: so anyway
TG: you just have to trust me that im being a huge failure here
TG: the less i move the less effect im having on the general universe
TG: and also i feel like shit
CG: I'M COMING IN THERE.
TG: oh hell no

Dave groans as he hears the door slide open. He doesn't move from where he's curled up on the bed, facing the wall, cocooned in blankets. He can hear Karkat shutting the door behind him, then marching across the room to stand over his bed. He can visualize Karkat almost perfectly, his arms crossed, his chin thrust out confrontationally, his eyes narrowed. With a sigh Dave flops over. He isn't wrong.

Karkat's expression softens as soon as their eyes meet, and the bed dips a little under his hands as he leans down over Dave. "I'm not going to just leave you alone in here," he mutters, and Dave feels a little of the tension inside him dissipate.

"Do you ever like..." Dave sighs, pulling the blankets all the way up over his eyes, "...look back at shit you did and said in the past but now you know some piece of information about yourself that makes everything make so much goddamn sense, and maybe it was something you knew all along but your own brain spent like ninety percent of its processing power burying the fact that you knew it, but now everything you ever did seems so fucking transparent and..."

"...You realize how everyone else must see you all the time and it makes you hate yourself even more? Yes."

"Dude," Dave says, lowering the blankets, eyebrows drawn. Karkat shrugs, his eyes on the bed. Dave scrambles for something else to say, but nothing is good enough.

Karkat hesitates, then straightens up, pulls back the covers, and gets in, squirming around for a moment, getting comfortable. "I guess maybe I can understand the appeal of this 'bed'." Dave can practically see the quotation marks around the word. Karkat snuggles further under the blankets, and Dave's thoughts can really only be depicted by a towering monument of an exclamation point.

“Yeah. It's the good shit." They fall into silence for a few beats, and Dave closes his eyes, curling further in upon himself. "I thought I knew myself better than this, I guess," he says, quietly, into the pillow. "And it's just, like, I'm finding out that I'm more human than I...thought I was? Ugh. That doesn't even make sense."

"Hmm. Sorry." Karkat pulls the covers up over both their heads, and Dave feels a stab of affection at the fact that Karkat seems to want to be completely submerged in a bed. Alien shit, man.

It's dim under the covers. Dave can just barely make out the shadow of Karkat's head and shoulder against the blanket, and Dave feels desperate, suddenly, boiling over with feelings he can't even put a sufficient name to, but he tries anyway. Want. More. Closer. He buries his face farther into the pillow. "I guess I'm getting bogged down by like, banal shit. But it doesn't...feel banal? Not anything like I thought, and...I don't know, man."

Karkat reaches out, curling a hand around Dave's upper arm, and Dave doesn't even understand how anyone can actually function like this. He feels like a boiler coming apart at the seams, concentrated pressure building and building, bolts flying. He flushes up to the tips of his ears. "I wish I understood all this human shit, I'm sorry," Karkat is saying, sounding a little miserable. Dave reaches out before he can even think, hooking an arm around Karkat's shoulders, squirming over so that his head is tucked under Karkat's chin. Karkat lets out a surprised series of clicks, and after a moment his arm goes around Dave, too, his hand pressed flat between his shoulder blades.

"It's OK," Dave finally mutters into Karkat's chest, but it's not.

× × ×

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 1:01 --

TT: Hello, Dave.
TG: hey rose
TT: I will cut to the chase.
TT: Karkat is worried about you, and seems to think that I, as a fellow human, might be able to help.
TT: Is there anything you would like to talk about?
TG: fucking hell
TT: Dave, seriously.
TG: i just wanted to spend today wallowing in my own misery
TG: is that so fucking terrible
TT: Dave.
TG: fine fine fine jesus fine
TT: Are you still there?
TG: goddammit let me think
TG: this is hard to explain ok
TG: gotta line up all my thoughts up
TG: before my tongue up and knots up
TG: march em straight into the mouth of a lovecraftian monstrosity
TG: to be slaughtered in a fever of eldritch ferocity
TG: aint nobody seen shit compared to this atrocity
TG: just a bite off the fork of a witchs curiosity
TT: I'm beginning to feel insulted.
TG: good
TG:
TG: have you ever like
TG: had some aspect of yourself that like
TG: you knew about yourself pretty much always
TG: that you tried really really hard to not know about yourself
TT: Of course.
TG: im talking about like
TG: uh
TG: ok
TG: sexuality
TT: Then, doubly yes.
TG: wait what
TT: If I take your question in the broader sense, yes, I have experienced that. If I take your question to be purely about sexuality, then yes, I have also experienced that.
TG: what the actual fuck
TG: rose are you gay
TT: Are you?
TG: no
TG: i mean yes
TG: i mean maybe
TT: I believe I am.
TG: holy fuck
TT: I share your sentiment.
TG: why the fuck didnt you tell me
TT: Why didn't you?
TG: fair
TG: uh
TG: idk i didnt really uh
TG: know
TG: exactly
TG: like
TG: i did know about it sort of but just as this weird ball of feelings i couldnt really attach to anything
TG: just shit i felt but didnt have a name for i guess
TT: Hmm, yes. I know the feeling.
TG: and now i guess im just really fucking embarrassed
TG: i said so much shit to some people a long time ago that in hindsight was really fucking obvious and now i just feel like such a tool
TT: Some people.
TG: yeah
TG: you know just
TG: some people
TT: Would I happen to have made the acquaintance of these unspecified people?
TG: jesus fuck
TG: i had an enormous humiliating gay crush on john are you fucking happy rose
TT: Yes.
TG: dont say i told you so because i will fucking murder you
TT: I wouldn't. Never in so crass a manner.
TT: But you must admit that I did attribute your behaviour to this very thing on multiple occasions.
TG: ok thats it wheres my sword
TT: You think you would win such a battle? Don't make me laugh.
TG: omg
TG: rose
TG:
TG: dont tell anyone but i kind of love you
TG: is that weird
TT: I kind of love you too, Dave.
TG: ok good
TT: I had no such humiliating crush before the game, but I do look back on some of my childhood behaviour with a great deal of embarrassment.
TT: I spent many of my younger years buried in books.
TT: I always had a...fixation on plots that involved the mentorship of a younger woman by an older one.
TG: oh my god
TT: There was one book in particular, that I discovered on one of Mother's bookshelves, that was a collection of erotic short stories.
TT: I would sneak it out while she was out of the house, and absolutely devour it in a fit of prurient preteen fascination.
TT: My favorite story was always the one that involved two women. I didn't know why that would be. I couldn't imagine why it would have such a startling effect on me, so I would enjoy it thoroughly, then put it immediately out of my head.
TT: Eventually the pattern became too pronounced for me to deny any longer, I suppose.
TG: what the fuck
TG: idk i guess i dont really have a story like that
TG: but i guess its like
TG: i get to be really good friends with a dude and then
TG: i uh
TT: Fall in love with them?
TG: no
TG: no
TG: not where i was going with that jesus fuck
TT: Why would that be such a bad thing to say?
TG:
TG: i guess
TG: maybe it wouldnt but
TG: damn it just sounds so grown up and
TG: i dont think im ready for that shit rose
TT: I don't believe most people are exactly "ready" to fall in love for the first time, Dave.
TT: Also, you speak as though you've had this experience more than once.
TG: nope
TT: May I make an educated guess as to the identity of the second party?
TG: nope
TT: Dave, there's only one person it could even possibly be, for Christ's sake.
TG: nope
TG: i just figured this shit out last night so excuse me if im not exactly prepared to splash down directly the fuck into the nitty gritty of this tmi conversation
TT: All right. That's fair.
TG: thanks
TT: You're welcome.

Chapter Text

Your heart's been aching, but
You're too shy to say it ×

× × ×

TG: so what if we were like
TG: stowaways on some spaceship
CG: SO, PRETTY MUCH LIKE REAL LIFE, THEN.
TG: hahaha yeah
TG: but anyway were stowaways and we wake up one morning and the entire crew is dead
TG: and nobody survived but us
TG: and now an external source is autopiloting the ship and we dont know where its headed
TG: so we have to look for clues and shit on the ship
CG: WHY ARE WE STOWAWAYS
CG: WHY CAN'T WE BE OFFICERS
TG: because were an external influence duh
TG: everything was gonna go to plan with the actual crew so we have to be there to throw a wrench into shit
CG: IT WOULD BE SO MUCH MORE HEROIC IF WE WERE OFFICERS. WE'RE OFFICERS THAT SEE THROUGH THE EVIL PLAN AND EVENTUALLY GET PROMOTED.
TG: what no
TG: that is so fucking square
CG: WHAT??
TG: its would be way more exciting if we were like
TG: intruders on the ship
TG: theres way more mystery that way
TG: did the crew know what was happening
TG: maybe they even agreed to it for some reason
TG: or not who knows
TG: we just wanted to catch a ride to the next space station or something
TG: but now were involved in interplanetary espionage or some shit
TG: or just plain old revenge murder idk
CG: I GUESS I SEE YOUR POINT.
CG: WHY DO OUR CHARACTERS KNOW EACH OTHER?
TG: uh idk does it really matter
CG: UH, YES?
CG: IT'S OBVIOUSLY GOING TO AFFECT HOW WE ACT AROUND EACH OTHER.
CG: HAVE WE BEEN FRIENDS FOR A LONG TIME?
CG: OR DID WE JUST MEET?
CG: OR DID WE JUST MEET *ON THE SHIP*?
TG: oh
TG: fuck
TG: its a massive fucking interplanetary cargo ship or something going between huge spaceports
TG: so there could totally be multiple unrelated stowaways on it at all times
TG: maybe one of us is the only character for the beginning but then whoever it is starts hearing noises way far off in the ship
CG: AND GOES TO INVESTIGATE.
TG: creeping through the halls with just a flashlight
CG: THE NOISES GET LOUDER
TG: theres a door ajar up ahead and then the noises just
TG: stop
CG: THE BEAM OF THE FLASHLIGHT TRAVELS ALONG THE FLOOR UNTIL IT REACHES......
CG: YOU EATING CHIPS OUT OF A BAG
TG: hahahaha
TG: oh my god yes
TG: i do want to be the unknown source of the mystery noises yes
CG: WHAT KIND OF CARGO SHOULD THE SHIP BE CARRYING?
CG: THAT MIGHT HAVE TO DO WITH WHY EVERYONE IS DEAD. MAYBE IT'S SOMEONE'S PLAN TO STEAL THE CARGO.
TG: yeah yeah good idea
TG: thats at least a direction our investigation goes down
TG: until we find out that the cargo is something absolutely ridiculous
TG: like
TG: pianos
TG: or dildos
CG: MAYBE THAT'S JUST A MISDIRECTION, AND THERE'S SOME REALLY IMPORTANT SECRET CARGO.
CG: LIKE A HUGE FUCKING WEAPON.
TG: just nestled in among the dildos
CG: THE CARGO IS *NOT* DILDOS. OH MY GOD.
TG: dude im joking about the dildos its cool
CG: ...ALRIGHT.
TG: would you want to explain why we were alchemizing a holy fuckton of dildos
CG: HA!
CG: "IT'S FOR A MOVIE."
TG: oh my christ
CG: HAHAHA DAVE ARE YOU OK
TG: shut up
TG: i just choked on my own saliva are you happy
CG: YES.
TG: im flipping you off through the wall
TG: can you feel it
CG: NOPE.
TG: hahaha
TG: ok so maybe the cargo isnt something stupid like dildos
TG: but i really want it to be something like
TG: surreal
TG: that would be totally sweet conceptually
CG: HMM.
TG: maybe like
TG: boxes upon boxes of dollhouse furniture or something
TG: tiny little tables and chairs and beds
TG: so its like this grotesque childish facsimile of "home" boxed up inside this sterile metallic monstrosity of a ship
CG: IS THIS A HUMAN THING?
CG: TO CREATE REPLICAS OF FURNITURE?
CG: FOR...DECORATION?
TG: uh sort of
TG: kids play with them
TG: i guess to practice having a house or something who knows
TG: but troll kids just go ahead and build their own real house right so i guess its hella unnecessary to have toys like that
CG: HMM. INTERESTING.
TG: oh fuck i just got an image of a shot of like
TG: ok this would happen like way later
TG: earlier we rule out the cargo as being the cause of all this
TG: but something makes us go back down there
TG: and it would be like
TG: we turn one of the crates over and hundreds of tiny chairs just cascade out all over the floor
TG: and as they pour out we suddenly see a hand
TG: and we find out that theres a body in every crate
CG: OH?
CG: WHY?
TG: uh idk yet
CG: MAYBE THEY WERE HIGH RANKING OFFICIALS THAT WERE ASSASSINATED?
TG: hmm maybe
TG: oh fuck maybe the bodies arent even the thing thats being smuggled
TG: maybe theres something being transported inside the bodies
TG: so the whole movie is just like
TG: peeling back layer after layer
TG: fuck
CG: HOW ARE WE EVEN GOING TO DO THIS?
CG: AND WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU SUDDENLY START WANTING TO CUT OPEN A BODY YOU FOUND IN A CRATE TO LOOK FOR SOME ITEM YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW IS THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?
TG: maybe we found some kind of clue idk
TG: and anyway i dont really see this as being that literal of a story
TG: more of like a symbolic one yknow
CG: WHAT
TG: uh
CG: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, NOT THAT LITERAL OF A STORY?
TG: wait do trolls like not even have the concept of conceptual movies
TG: dude
CG: WHY WOULD YOU MAKE A MOVIE THAT DOESN'T HAVE A STORY??
CG: WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT
TG: its not like it wouldnt have a story
TG: its just that the story is secondary to the imagery
TG: idk sometimes its easier to make people feel what you want them to feel just with certain images
TG: like images that would normally never go together have more of an effect
TG: its jarring or maybe surprising
TG: i mean ive never made a movie before but i do that kind of shit in my raps so
CG: ...OK.
CG: I THINK SOMEHOW I UNDERSTAND THIS EVEN LESS NOW THAN I DID BEFORE, THANKS.
CG: AND I STILL DON'T KNOW HOW WE'RE EVEN GOING TO FILM THIS.
CG: WHAT ARE WE GOING TO USE AS A BODY?
TG: i bet kanaya would pretend to be a corpse for us
CG: WELL, MAYBE.
CG: BUT, *FUCK* ARE WE GETTING AHEAD OF OURSELVES, HERE. WE DON'T EVEN HAVE A FUCKING CAMERA.
TG: dude i told you i got that part under control
CG: FINE, FINE
TG: dont worry about special effects and shit well figure it out
TG: lets just iron out the story dude
CG: OK, WHATEVER.
CG: SO. I'M ON THE SHIP, BY MYSELF.
CG: MAYBE THE MOVIE OPENS WITH A "NORMAL" DAY AS A STOWAWAY.
TG: yeah youre like crawling around in vents and stealing loaves of bread and shit
CG: YES.
CG: I GO TO SLEEP...OH, SHIT, MAYBE THEN I WAKE UP BECAUSE I FEEL THE SHIP CHANGING COURSE. AND WHEN I'M AWAKE I NOTICE THAT EVERYTHING IS FUCKING SILENT.
CG: I LEAVE THE PILE I MADE IN ONE OF THE VENTS AND GO TO INVESTIGATE, AND EVERYONE IS DEAD. IT LOOKS LIKE THEY DIED SUDDENLY, RIGHT WHERE THEY WERE STANDING.
TG: yes
CG: I START LOOKING AROUND. I GO UP TO THE BRIDGE. EVERYONE'S DEAD THERE TOO, EVEN THE HELMSMAN.
CG: BUT SOMEHOW THE SHIP'S STILL MOVING.
CG: I GUESS I KEEP EXPLORING, AND EVERYWHERE I GO IS THE SAME.
CG: AND THEN I HEAR YOU IN ONE OF THE NUTRITION BLOCKS, SCROUNGING AROUND FOR FOOD.
TG: and i flip out like fuck at first because holy shit i thought i was alone
CG: SO WE INTRODUCE OURSELVES AND FIND OUT WE JUST HAD BASICALLY THE SAME SHIT HAPPEN TO US
CG: AND WE DECIDE TO GO TRY TO SEE WHERE THE SHIP CHANGED COURSE TO
CG: AND IT'S SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF THE EMPIRE
TG: wait are we on a human ship or a troll ship
CG: A TROLL SHIP.
CG: THE HELMSMAN BEING DEAD IS WHAT MAKES THE FACT THAT THE SHIP CHANGED COURSE CREEPY AS FUCK.
TG: uh
TG: k
TG: why is a troll ship carrying cargo for humans
CG: THAT'S THE MYSTERY.
TG: oh sweet
TG: and why am i stowing away on a troll ship
CG: HOW SHOULD I KNOW? WHY ARE YOU?
TG: uh maybe i needed to get out of the place i stowed away on the ship from like extra fast
TG: maybe im wanted by the law
CG: YES, YES, THAT MAKES SENSE. WHY?
TG: public indecency
CG: HA! SHUT UP.
TG: nah maybe i stole something idk
TG: cause im like this hobo kid just riding the space rails
TG: pickpocketing shit from fat rich dudes in top hats
TG: making a living off the nimbleness of my fingers and the quickness of my wits
CG: OH MY GOD.
CG: WHATEVER. OK. SO YOU STOLE SOMETHING, AND THEN YOU RAN AWAY AND GOT ON A TROLL SHIP.
TG: yeah
CG: SO ANYWAY. SINCE THE SHIP IS TRAVELING SO FAR AWAY, WE HAVE A WHILE TO TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT'S GOING ON.
TG: a while like
TG: weeks
TG: or like
TG: years
CG: DUDE, COMING UP WITH SHIT FOR US TO DO FOR *YEARS* WOULD BE SUCH A FUCKING PAIN IN THE ASS.
TG: haha oh yeah
TG: its gotta be a long enough time for us to go kind of nuts though
CG: I GUESS.
TG: like i want it to be questionable whether or not any of that shit with the cargo and the bodies is actually a thing that happened or if its just an illustration of our mental states yknow
CG: UH. SURE.
CG: ANYWAY.
CG: WE START GOING THROUGH THE OFFICERS' QUARTERS, AND WE FIND LITTLE TIDBITS OF INFORMATION THAT SEEM TO BE RELATED.
CG: MAYBE THAT'S WHY WE GO DOWN TO THE CARGO HOLD IN THE FIRST PLACE.
TG: oh yeah
TG: and we give up at first bc of the stupidity of the cargo
TG: oh yeah uh
TG: are there literally dead bodies of the crew lying around all over the ship
TG: one what do our characters even do about that
TG: two how are we even gonna make that happen
CG: I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO WORRY ABOUT SPECIAL EFFECTS LATER??
TG: yeah ok fine
CG: *ANYWAY*
CG: WE GIVE UP ON THE CARGO THE FIRST TIME, AND...SOMETHING HAPPENS.
CG: MAYBE THE SHIP CHANGES COURSE AGAIN?
TG: oh shit yeah
CG: SO WE RUSH BACK UP TO THE BRIDGE AND COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE SHIP HAS TO HAVE BEEN REMOTELY CONTROLLED.
CG: WHOEVER'S STEALING THE CARGO IS CONTROLLING THE SHIP FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE, AND KEEPS CHANGING COURSE TO THROW OFF ANYONE TRYING TO TRACK IT.
TG: good good
TG: so what should they actually be trying to steal here
TG: whats the thing hidden inside the bodies
CG: SOME SORT OF SECRET WEAPON.
TG: hold on
TG: wait wait
TG: inside each body should be like
TG: a single dollhouse chair
TG: just like the ones in all the boxes
CG: WHY THE *FUCK* WOULD IT BE THAT??
TG: its not literal dude
TG: omg this is getting to be a fucking amazing amount of pretentious
TG: holy shit i am loving this
CG: OH MY GOD, NO. STOP.
CG: WHAT THE FUCK.
TG: karkat come on
TG: this is fucking beautiful
CG: NO, WHAT THIS IS, IS NOT MAKING ANY FUCKING SENSE.
TG: oh my god thats the point
CG: ...
CG: I NEED TO JUST...GO TO SLEEP.
TG:
TG: are you mad at me
CG: MAYBE.
TG: oh fuck
TG: dude
TG: i got kind of carried away sorry
TG: im probably not being very culturally sensitive here
CG: IT'S OK. ME EITHER. ACTUALLY, NO, I *KNOW* I'M DOING A SHITTY JOB AT BEING CULTURALLY SENSITIVE.
CG: IT'S STUPID AS FUCK FOR ME TO BE MAD.
TG: nah its cool i can take it
TG: feel free to rip on human culture whenever man
TG: that was like my number one hobby back on earth so
CG: OK. I GUESS.
CG: CAN WE HUG
TG: yeah dude of fucking course

Chapter Text

Go on, tell your symptoms to me
It’s not in any of the books you can read ×

× × ×

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 22:52 --

GC: H3Y COOLK1D
TG: hey terezi
TG: wow long time no see
TG: damn
TG: sorry
TG: ive been kind of busy i guess
GC: SO H4V3 1
GC: 1T 1S NOT YOUR F4ULT
TG: yeah but
TG: yknow
TG: well anyway whats been up with you
GC: VR1SK4 4ND 1 JUST GOT B4CK FROM 4 W33K LONG 3XP3D1T1ON
GC: TH1S F4C1L1TY 1S V3RY D33P 4ND V3RY L4RG3
GC: W3 B3L13V3 NOW TH4T 1T F1LLS TH3 3NT1R3 1NT3R1OR OF TH3 M3T3OR
TG: oh fuck really
TG: wow
TG: did you find anything cool
GC: NO
TG: hahaha that fucking sucks
GC: >:T
TG: lol sorry terezi
GC: 4NYW4Y
GC: D1D 4NYTH1NG 3XC1T1NG H4PP3N WH1L3 W3 W3R3 GON3
TG: no not really
TG: actually definitely not really
TG: the most exciting thing that happened to me in weeks was that i finally found my earbuds
TG: turns out they were behind the bed
TG: who knew
TG: i know im super pumped about it
GC: HMM
TG: yeah i know
TG: not much is going on with us other than that
TG: karkat and i were trying to write a movie
TG: but i just kept pissing him off with human ideas about plot and he doesnt want to talk about it anymore i dont think
GC: H3H3H3
GC: POOR K4RK4T
GC: 1 GU3SS TH3 MOST 3XC1T1NG TH1NG TH4T H4PP3N3D DUR1NG TH3 3XP3D1T1ON W4S TH4T W3 R4N 1NTO G4MZ33 4ND H3 4CTU4LLY C4M3 W1TH US FOR 4 WH1L3
TG: whoa what
TG: shit
TG: i havent seen that guy once since the day we got here
TG: not once
TG: that is so weird man
GC: Y3S 1T W4S W31RD
GC: 1T W4S
GC: R34LLY W31RD
TG: damn
TG: are you guys friends now or what
GC: >:| NO 1 WOULD NOT S4Y TH4T
TG: hold on
TG: paint me a picture here
TG: when you say he came along with you
TG: do you mean that he just kind of appeared one day and like sat next to the campfire and started inserting himself awkwardly into conversations
GC: >:[ Y3S
TG: oh my god
TG: that is fucking incredible
GC: >:O NO 1T 1S NOT

× × ×

"There," Karkat says, hitting what Dave always assumes is the enter key on his keyboard with a decisive tap. Dave looks up at him, eyebrows raised. Karkat actually looks really proud of himself, and it's not a look Dave is used to seeing on him. Not at all. It's making something flutter, excited, in his chest.

"There what?"

"Look." Karkat pushes his husktop into Dave's lap. "I'm going to regret this, I fucking know it. But. Read it."

Oh. Whoa. What.

FADE IN:

EXT. SPACECRAFT

A large cargo vessel enters from the right. It's traveling through the depths of space, and light shines on the hull as it passes in front of a large star.

CUT TO:

INT. SPACECRAFT - HALLWAY - WAKING HOURS

Troll crew members pass back and forth, busy with their night to night activities.

QUICK CUT TO:

KARKAT VANTAS, an eight-sweep old troll stowaway, who is hiding inside one of the vents. He has the hood of his plain grey jacket up over his horns.

KARKAT'S POV -

Two crew members stop to talk a short distance from the opening of the vent. KARKAT watches them through the slats until they part ways.

QUICK CUT TO:

KARKAT quickly opening the hatch. He jumps down, replaces it, and runs across the hallway. He begins to climb a ladder into an access tunnel.

"Holy fuck, dude, you actually wrote this out?" Dave asks, mouth dropping open. "Holy fuck! I thought you didn't even want to do this anymore."

Karkat ducks his head. "I dunno. I didn't. But then I started writing it and it sort of turned into a...thing." He flicks his eyes up to Dave's. "Yeah. Sorry I didn't tell you. I didn't think I was actually going to fucking finish it."

"Dude I gotta see where I come in," Dave says, scrolling quickly through the screenplay with a huge grin. "Holy shit..."

The flashlight moves up the floor, eventually reaching the shoes of

DAVE STRIDER, an eight-sweep old human, who is rummaging around in one of the storage cubes in the nutrition block. He has one knee up on the preparation slab, and is feeling around in the topmost storage cube. The surprise of seeing KARKAT causes him to lose his balance. The flashlight reflects off his sunglasses.

"Oh my god," Dave laughs. "Holy shit, Karkat, I can't believe you actually wrote all of this. This is incredible."

"You're not even reading, you're just skipping around," Karkat complains, and Dave wrinkles his nose at him. They grin at each other.

KARKAT
Who are you? What are you doing here?

DAVE
(stands, brushing himself off)
Shouldn't I be asking you the same question?

KARKAT
No, because I'm not a human sneaking around on a troll ship.

DAVE
You don't exactly look like you belong here either.

KARKAT
That's none of your business.

DAVE
(sighs)
Whatever. Looks like we're in the same situation, here. Why don't we stick together? Figure out what's going on?

KARKAT
And why should I trust you?

DAVE
I don't really think you have a choice.

Dave scrolls faster through the screenplay, grinning wider and wider.

"I didn't end it the way you wanted, I don't think, but," Karkat is saying, "you can direct. So you can do whatever you want. With the," his fingers crook in imitation of quotes, "'conceptual' stuff."

Dave nods, eyes glued to the screen. "Yeah, OK, that sounds cool."

DAVE
What are we going to do?

KARKAT
(puts an arm around Dave's shoulders)
It's going to be OK.

DAVE
(hesitates, then leans back into Karkat)
I'm so glad you're here with me.

KARKAT
(pulls Dave completely into a hug)
Me too.

Dave's mouth drops open. "Oh my god. Karkat. Is this a romance?"

Karkat has his knees pulled up to his chest, and Dave can just barely see the crook of his smile behind the sleeve of his sweatshirt. "Maybe."

Dave laughs and grins at Karkat, his lower lip caught for a second between his teeth. "Dude! Is this the pale equivalent of the dip and kiss? Do we become moirails? Please tell me we do..."

Karkat is blushing all the way up to his hairline. "Maybe."

The more Dave reads, the more delighted he is. This is even better than he could have possibly imagined. It's just so earnestly, gloriously bad. Dave's own characterization is all over the place, and he can't even wait to try to act this out. The stops are coming out of the melodrama. All of them, right out. Nobody's ever going to be able to get all the melodrama out of the carpet.

× × ×

He has to do it.

Now.

He hadn't really wanted to admit to himself how relieved he'd been, before, when he thought he wasn't going to have to. But now...he said he would, promised he would, and the opportunity might not come around again for a long time.

Karkat's asleep in Dave's bed. They'd intercepted a dream bubble in the middle of the night, and Karkat had come over right after Terezi's announcement. They'd bullshitted back and forth for a while, until Karkat had abruptly fallen asleep, sprawled out on his stomach, absolutely dead to the world. He hadn't even managed to stay awake long enough to influence the bubble. So it's all Dave's.

All...his.

Dave has never opened his bedroom door in a dream bubble, not once, not ever. The door is always there, no matter what, because he can't forget about it, no matter how hard he tries. So all this time he's ignored it, and hoped that Karkat would never ask. He's not...ready, to talk about that, and his stomach sinks with guilt again at that fact.

He worries his lip between his teeth, and studies Karkat's sleeping face as if it's going to be the last time. Karkat is so...just...His eyebrows are furrowed, like they always are, but his lips are parted, and the fact that Dave knows exactly how soft his cheek is now...it's...the sight of him is filling Dave with this hopeless sort of desperation, and he suddenly wants to give up completely, to just stay in bed, to put the entirety of himself into Karkat's personal space and to never even think about getting up again. This is fucked up. Why does leaving his room feel like it's going to be a god damned death sentence?

Dave takes a deep breath and extricates himself as efficiently as possible from the covers, from the bed, from any feelings of safety. He puts on his shoes, puts on his cloak, pulls up the hood. The air is oppressive, hot and still.

It's dark.

The only light comes through the tiny gap between the curtains, and it spills across the contents of the room in a sharp, jagged line. Everything is so quiet, and Dave feels terror clench in his chest. It's all there. The TV. The computer. The futon. Mixing equipment. Wires. Puppets. Swords. Silence pushes against Dave's eardrums, coalesces into a roar between his ears.

Nobody's home. Everything's going to be OK. Everything's going to be OK. Nobody's home.

Dave's feet begin to move, and he's almost surprised by it. He watches them against the shitty, low-pile carpet, and almost winces when one shoe crosses through the beam of light.

Yeah. Right where...right where he remembered. Dave reaches over the computer keyboard and picks up the smuppet there with one hand that doesn't even feel like his, anymore. One of the smuppet's eyes hides the lens of a webcam.

The sound of Dave's uneven breathing echoes off the walls as he tries to tear the smuppet apart. It's tougher than he thought it would be. The plush doesn't rip no matter how hard he pulls, and when he finally gets a finger in between the stitches and they begin to give tears are spilling down his face, dripping off his chin, splashing on the front of his shirt.

This is so stupid. This was such a bad idea. Why is he doing this to himself? He pulls bits of stuffing off the corners of the webcam, hands shaking, vision blurred. The shutter of his captcharoid camera breaks the silence like a gunshot.

Karkat's still asleep, and the bed is still warm. Dave climbs into it, shaky and exhausted, and he pushes his head up under Karkat's arm. Karkat wakes up just enough to ask if everything's OK, his voice drowsy and rough, and everything about him is so safe that Dave can't even answer. He just buries his face farther under Karkat's chest, and Karkat is asleep again a moment later, his arm slung over Dave's back, and Dave suddenly feels like laughing.

He did it.

He fucking did it.

Chapter Text

It's such a feeling, can't control myself
Got me bouncing off the walls, got me jumping off the shelf ×

× × ×

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 21:36 --

TT: You still haven't told him, have you?
TG: jesus rose stop asking
TG: its none of your damn business
TT: Of course it's my business. Especially when Karkat has taken to pestering me on a semi-regular basis regarding you.
TG: what
TG: he uh
TG: does
TT: It is an uncomfortable position to be in. I am having to lie fairly frequently in order to preserve your secret, which, to be quite honest, has no business being a secret in the first place.
TT: It's been months, Dave.
TG: im not ready ok
TG: i really like things the way they are right now
TG: so im sorry but im not ready to like
TG: throw a wrench into all that shit
TT: Uh huh.
TG: i mean what exactly is going to change here
TG: were already troll dating and im pretty sure that humans only do half the shit we do when theyre dating too so who the fuck cares
TT: Karkat does.
TT: He knows something is going on with you. He may not have the context to understand the full scope of human behavior, but he knows you very well, Dave.
TT: He knows there is something you're not telling him.
TG: yeah and i know theres shit he doesnt tell me either i mean
TG: just because youre someones moirail doesnt mean you cant have shit you keep to yourself
TG: and since when is lying like a huge fucking deal to you anyway
TT: Oh, for fuck's sake, Dave, are you even listening to yourself?
TT: That's it.
TT: I thought I'd plumbed the depths of circular Striderian justification quite some time ago, but, no! I suppose I have yet to even glimpse the bottom of what is apparently a Marianas Trench of complete and utter bullshit.
TT: This is fucking ridiculous.
TT: I'm done.

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 21:59 --

TG: shit rose
TG: dammit
TG: look im sorry i just
TG:
TG: jesus never mind
TG: forget it

× × ×

"OK, so, like, Karkat, move a little bit to the right. No wait. My right. Your left." Karkat obliges, and Dave pulls the camera back just slightly. It's a bit of an alchemized monstrosity, part webcam for the lens, part Karkat's husktop for the interface, and it's perched on a tripod of sorts they made out of the stand of the fan from Dave's apartment. "Now, uh, turn a little more towards the Mayor, yeah. Yeah!"

The Mayor idly sways back and forth a little, his arms behind his back. He's perched on top of a stool as a stand-in for Dave while Dave fucks with the camera, and, damn is directing and starring in a movie a lot of work. Karkat holds his position, eyebrows drawn in an intense look of concentration as he repeats his next line over and over to himself under his breath.

Dave gives a thumbs-up, and the Mayor jumps off the stool and runs over to join Dave at the camera. "OK! Ready?" Karkat gives a terse nod, and Dave goes over to stand in place of the stool, kicking it out of the shot. "OK, remember, tilt the camera towards that wall after Karkat says 'yes, I'. Action!"

The Mayor hits a key, and the little red light on the front of the camera comes on. Karkat looks exaggeratedly hesitant, reaching a hand towards Dave, then pulling it back and crossing his arms over his chest. "Wait! I...need to tell you something."

Dave raises his chin. "Right now?"

"Yes." Dave can practically hear Karkat mentally counting down the seconds of his scripted hesitation. Three, two, one. "I..."

The Mayor tilts the camera, and both of them pretend to fall, as if the ship has changed course. Dave's supposed to pretend to hit his head against the wall, and, unlike the other four times they've shot this scene, he actually does. Kind of hard, actually. He really hopes his expression didn't make it on camera. Oh well. Added realism? He falls to the ground.

"Cut!" Dave yells from the floor, and he can hear the Mayor strike a key. He curls into a ball, clutching his head. "Ow, fuck, fuck, that wasn't acting, fucking ow..." Karkat laughs at him, and hauls him up into a sitting position by the back of his shirt.

"Let me see," Karkat says, and there's a knowing edge to his grin that's sending a whole flock of butterflies loose in Dave's stomach. He pulls Dave's hands away from his own head, and flicks his bangs out of the way, eyes glued to his forehead. "You're fine, Dave, jesus."

"Oh, yeah, that's it, I know I'm gonna be better in no time with that kind of bedside manner." Dave can feel himself blushing, and the words just won't stop. "I can feel my immune system like, kicking into overdrive at the sound of your voice, dude. Or, I mean, whatever system fixes like, bruises and shit. Do you think I'm gonna have a huge fucking bruise? Are we gonna have continuity issues here? Think anyone on this meteor has makeup that's not grey?"

Karkat is grinning wider. He brushes the pad of his thumb over Dave's forehead, and such a light touch across the spot in question, which still throbs with a dull pain, is turning Dave's insides into fucking fire. "Shut up, Dave, you're fine." His eyes are half-lidded, and Dave is overcome for the millionth time by the incredible thought that maybe he knows, he knows, he knows...

Karkat shoves him, and the impact of his back against the ground drives the air out of his lungs. His heart is pounding like he just ran a marathon, and Karkat is staring down at him from his full height, now, with a grin like a shark.

"Well, fuck, I guess you're just too injured now to set up the next shot, so I guess I'm going to have to do it."

"No, Karkat, nooo..." Dave flops over onto his stomach, the floor like ice against his cheek. "This is mutiny, I'm the director..."

Karkat is snickering from behind the camera, this little half-evil "heh heh heh", and Dave doesn't even understand how people can continue to deal with this shit on a regular basis. Does love make everyone want to live and die all at once in staggeringly equal amounts? How the fuck does anyone actually manage to reach adulthood like this? "Don't fucking move, I mean it."

"No, dude, you're doing it wrong," Dave complains, but doesn't move.

"You can't even see what I'm doing!"

"I can feel it! I can feel the gaze of the camera walking its unflattering little fingers all over my foreshortened ass. Don't tell me my ass isn't in this shot because I know it is."

Dave can hear the tripod moving over the floor. "Well, it wasn't before, but, oh wait, oh my god, what's happening now? The camera seems to be magnetically drawn to this...one...spot..."

"No, no, Karkat no," Dave laughs, his face buried in the floor. "Oh my god what if we did do the whole shot like that, all this moving dialogue off camera and this like ten minute closeup of my ass..."

Karkat snorts and lies down on the floor next to him. "Are we both in the shot?" he calls over to the Mayor, who apparently gives a thumbs-up or something, because Karkat says, "Action!"

Dave holds resolutely still. He can hear Karkat acting out the scene, being dazed by the impact, shaking himself off, crawling closer to Dave, pulling him over onto his back. Dave lets his head loll over Karkat's knee. This is awesome. He can pretend to be unconscious all damn day.

"Dave? Dave!" Karkat says, clutching the front of his shirt, the hysterical note in his voice so brilliantly melodramatic. Dave feels a swell of laughter rise in his chest, but he keeps his expression blank. "Are you OK? Please be OK, oh my god..."

Dave lets his eyelids flutter open. "Yeah, yeah, I'm OK..." He runs a hand over his forehead, wincing theatrically. "That really...hurt..."

"Dave," Karkat says, and hearing his name like that, all breathy and overdramatic, makes that bubble of hilarity in Dave's chest burst right open. He slaps both hands over his mouth, but it's too late.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Dave laughs, and gasps for breath. "It's just, oh my god, the difference between how you actually reacted when I hit my head and this scene are just so...oh my god..."

Karkat's eyes are narrowing, and oh, oh, fuck, he's actually starting to look pissed. His hand is tightening in the front of Dave's shirt. "Can we please get through this one fucking scene without you fucking breaking character in the middle of it?"

"Dude, I'm sorry! I can't help it!" Karkat's expression darkens.

"Whatever. Let's...do it again." Karkat shoves himself to his feet, and Dave just barely catches himself on his elbows.

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering grimAuxiliatrix [GA] at 8:02 --

TG: i should probably just stop prefacing everything with this because its like constant
TG: but
TG: i have a weird question
TG: am i annoying
GA: I Do Not Find You To Be So
TG: i think youre the only one dude
TG: like everyones mad at me right now i think
TG: and by everyone i mean karkat and rose
GA: I Am Sorry
GA: If You Do Not Mind Me Asking
GA: Why Are They Mad At You
TG: well see like
TG: i guess uh
TG: ok
TG: when i was first here i was always trying to like
TG: project this personality i thought i should have
TG: or more like the personality i thought everyone thought i should have
TG: but its not really me yknow
TG: i mean it is sort of
TG: but i guess lately im trying to like
TG: do shit that i actually want to do instead of shit that other people think i should want to do
TG: and im getting super used to being around certain people and im ending up unintentionally acting like myself more around them i guess
TG: and im worried that uh
TG: the more i act like myself that
TG: well
TG: that im actually just extremely annoying
GA: Have You Talked To Karkat About This
TG: yeah like
TG: a really long time ago
TG: but i dont think he understood the extent of it yknow
GA: I Am Sorry
TG: and the more i realize how annoying im being the less i can actually turn it off
TG: i just double back on the annoyingness like i dunno a serial killer returning to the scene of the crime
TG: just gotta relive all that personal humiliation in a brand new spine tingling way
TG: otherwise i just cant even get my rocks off i guess
TG: ugh
GA: I Really Think You Should Bring This Up With Karkat
GA: He Is Much More Understanding About The Flaws Of Others Than I Think You Give Him Credit For
TG: maybe
TG: hmm
TG: its like im stuck in this no mans land of still wanting him to think im a somewhat competent human being but also having the overpowering urge to puke up my own heart onto the floor in front of him like here please take this pulsating mass of my own insecurities and flaws i want you to have it
TG: wow fuck that sounded way less disgusting in my head sorry
GA: Please Dave
GA: I Will Put It More Bluntly
GA: I Am Not The One You Should Be Talking To About This
TG: oh
TG: uh
TG: im sorry kanaya
TG: i should probably go uh
TG: sorry

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering grimAuxiliatrix [GA] at 8:18 --

Chapter Text

Mind out on the pavement
Confusing and consuming ×

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 23:06 --

TG: hey karkat are you awake yet

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is now an idle chum! --

TG: fuck
TG: this is hella late for you to be sleeping bro
TG: if we were on earth the sun would be like
TG: shaking this huge fiery fist at you
TG: how dare you not bask in my glory you lazy fuck
TG: high ranking officials in the church of sun worshippers would be coming to arrest you and take you to sun jail
TG: theres a whole human tv show about that you know
TG: its a spinoff of night court
TG: called
TG: day court
TG: ok sorry none of that was even remotely true
TG: or remotely funny
TG: but i was thinking about it and i think were like slightly over halfway done shooting this movie now and i am so ready to keep going
TG: were like pros at this point
TG: its gonna be complete smooth sailing from here on out
TG: just a nice easy downhill roll
TG: hmm that metaphor got kind of mixed
TG: well maybe were in one of those boats thats also a car idk
TG: like something youd see in a bond film
TG: hmmm was there ever a boat car in a bond film
TG: i cant remember
TG: i know theres that one where hes driving a moon buggy all over a desert
TG: oh yeah thats in the movie that implies that in the bond universe the moon landing was faked
TG: im totally gonna think of all the future movies with that in mind now
TG: i really hope the future directors were like
TG: hey pierce brosnan act out this scene with the thought in the back of your mind that nobodys actually ever been to the goddamn moon
TG: that would add a level of wistfulness or something to the character i think
TG: karkaaaat
TG: oh shit i just thought of something for us to do after we finish this movie
TG: like
TG: we should make novelizations of all the movies we remember that didnt make it onto the meteor
TG: illustrated novelizations
TG: oh my fuck this is gonna be beautiful
TG: i have so many ideas already
CG: JESUS, DAVE, FINE, I'M AWAKE.
TG: holy shit yes
CG: ...
CG: FUCK
TG: what
CG: ...
CG: WHAT IF I SAID I DIDN'T WANT TO FILM ANYTHING TODAY
TG: what if what
TG: that sentence just glanced off the backs of my eyeballs
TG: didnt even make it anywhere close to my brain
TG: what are you talking about
CG: ...
CG: I DON'T WANT TO FILM ANYTHING TODAY, OKAY??
TG: what
TG: why not
CG: ...
CG: ARE YOU BEING FUCKING SERIOUS RIGHT NOW
CG: THE FACT THAT YOU EVEN HAVE TO *ASK* WHY I MIGHT POSSIBLY NOT WANT TO WORK ON THIS GODFORSAKEN SHITSHOW OF A MOVIE *MIGHT* HAVE A *BIT* TO DO WITH WHY I DON'T EXACTLY WANT TO SPEND THE NEXT SEVEN HOURS RESHOOTING THE SAME BULGECHAFING SCENE OVER, AND OVER, AND OVER, INTO MOTHERFUCKING OBLIVION.
CG: I'M DONE.
TG: but
TG:
TG: wait
TG: what do you mean done
TG: ?
CG: I'M NOT WORKING ON THIS MOVIE ANYMORE.
CG: I QUIT.
TG: why??
CG: I DON'T BELIEVE THIS.
CG: ARE YOU PURPOSEFULLY TRYING TO ANTAGONIZE ME?
CG: BECAUSE IF SO, IT'S WORKING! IT'S WORKING SPLENDIDLY! LET'S ALL HAVE A ROUND OF APPLAUSE AND ALL INSERT OURSELVES BULGE-FIRST INTO THE WHIRLING BLADES OF THE NEAREST REFUSE DISINTEGRATION DEVICE.
TG: no im not doing that on purpose
TG: why would i be doing that on purpose
CG: HOW SHOULD I KNOW??
TG: i dont
TG: i didnt
TG:
CG: ROSE WARNED ME ABOUT YOUR "CREATIVE PROCESS", BUT I DIDN'T LISTEN.
TG: wait what
CG: HOW YOU ALWAYS TRY TO MAKE EVERYTHING BAD ON PURPOSE, BECAUSE YOU THINK IT'S SO HI-FUCKING-LARIOUS.
CG: I SPENT *SO LONG* WRITING THIS SCRIPT!! I WANTED IT TO BE *GOOD*!! I'M *TRYING* TO MAKE IT GOOD! BUT YOU CAN'T REST UNTIL EVERY SINGLE FUCKING THING IN EXISTENCE BECOMES PART OF SOME ELABORATE, TORTUOUS, HUMAN JOKE THAT I DON'T EVEN *GET*!!
CG: SO YES, DAVE, I'M FUCKING DONE.
TG: but
TG: i
TG: thought we were having fun
TG: karkat
CG: YEAH. I *WAS*.
CG: AT FIRST.
TG: ...
CG: AND THEN I WAS TRYING TO. TRYING REALLY FUCKING HARD TO. I'VE BEEN TRYING FOR WHAT FEELS LIKE A FUCKING ETERNITY TO JUST LET IT GO, BE MATURE, WHAT THE FUCK EVER.
CG: BUT NOW I AM JUST SO SICK OF ALL OF THIS.
TG: sick of
TG: what
TG: the movie or
TG: me
TG: ?
CG: ...
CG: I'M NOT EVEN GOING TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION, WHAT THE FUCK.
CG: AT THE MOMENT THERE'S AN EXTREMELY HIGH CHANCE THAT I'M GOING TO SAY SOMETHING I'LL REGRET.
TG: oh so you are sick of me
TG: well good im glad we finally got that one out into the open
CG: I DIDN'T FUCKING SAY THAT!!
TG: what else am i supposed to take away from that statement i mean come on
CG: WHY IS EVERYTHING ALWAYS SO FUCKING BLACK AND WHITE WITH YOU?? CAN'T I JUST BE MAD AT YOU FOR HALF A DAY AND NOT HAVE IT BE TAKEN TO THE ABSOLUTE MOST LIFE-ALTERING EXTREME??
TG: wow i had to blink a couple times just now being like
TG: did i accidentally hit the capslock and change my text color there for a second
TG: because
TG: pot
TG: meet the fucking kettle
CG: ...
TG: its an expression
CG: OH, FOR
CG: YES, DAVE, I KNOW IT'S A FUCKING EXPRESSION.
TG: good
CG: UGH.
CG: LOOK.
TG: what
CG: LET'S JUST GET SOME BREAKFAST. MAYBE WE CAN GO HANG OUT IN CAN TOWN.
CG: JUST...TAKE A BREAK. FROM THE MOVIE. FOR A WHILE.
TG: fine
TG: ok
CG: FINE.

"Oh, for...you're not even up," Karkat says, peering in through the open door of Dave's room.

Dave looks up at him from underneath a mound of blankets, and slides his phone onto the corner of his desk. "Well, I was."

Karkat hesitates for a moment in the doorway, then marches inside and worms his way under the covers, tucking his head almost roughly under Dave's chin. "I'm sorry."

"Me too. Karkat...I'm sorry." Dave wraps his arms tightly around Karkat's back, his anger dissipating with every swell of Karkat's lungs.

"We never just talk anymore," Karkat says, sounding miserable, and Dave realizes that no, they don't. It's just been the movie this, the movie that, dialogue, the angle, the shot, and when exactly had he and Karkat's friendly banter and toothless insults turned so barbed and personal? Dave wants to kick himself for being the personal embodiment of that proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water.

"Fuck. Yeah. We should...just...talk," Dave says into Karkat's hair, and they fall into silence.

× × ×

They spend the rest of the day just sort of wandering, wandering to the common room for breakfast, wandering to Can Town to eat when the common room is full of Terezi and Vriska. The Mayor greets them, eager as usual, but it doesn't take long for the mood to sink, lower and lower, until they wordlessly decide to leave. They spend most of the day wandering through the hallways, like they used to, but the air between them is different, strangely charged with an almost palpable awkwardness, laced through and through with something Dave can't even find the right words to describe. He fights the urge to fill the silence with bullshit. That probably wouldn't go over well.

No. Definitely wouldn't.

It's even colder down here than it is in the inhabited parts of the meteor, and Dave can feel goosebumps rising on his arms. Karkat is walking just a little ahead of him, his hands in his pockets, his head down, and Dave feels his heart thump at the tense, narrow line of his shoulders, at the frame of his body underneath that baggy sweatshirt. Dave crosses his arms over his chest, trying to wipe his palms on the sides of his sleeves as discreetly as possible.

He lengthens his stride and reaches over, laying an arm over Karkat's shoulders. Karkat stiffens. Dave just barely catches the glint of Karkat's eye before Karkat is sighing and leaning into him, still tense. After a moment Karkat's arm goes abruptly around his waist, and Dave doesn't know how he's never worked up the courage to try something like this before. Fuck. They fit almost perfectly together.

"Hey," Dave says into Karkat's hair, near the base of one horn. "What are you thinking about?"

Karkat shrugs.

× × ×

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 12:45 --

CG: DAVE
TG: yeah
CG: I JUST WANTED TO SAY I WAS SORRY. AGAIN.
TG: yeah
TG: me too
TG: and uh
TG: maybe youre right
TG: maybe we should just stop filming i mean
CG: NO, NO, WE DON'T HAVE TO DO THAT
TG: maybe its for the
TG: oh
TG: really
CG: WHAT ELSE EXACTLY ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO??
CG: WE ONLY STARTED DRAGGING OUR ASSES ALL OVER THIS PROJECT BECAUSE WE WERE SHIT OUT OF OTHER ACTIVITIES.
TG: yeah but
TG: is it really worth it
TG: we can figure out something else to do
CG: NO, EARLIER, YOU WERE RIGHT.
CG: WE'RE OVER HALFWAY DONE.
CG: LET'S JUST...FINISH IT.
TG: ok
TG: but we can pull the plug on this at any time
TG: this movie signed the fuck out of a living will ordering us to do just that
TG: "if i, whatever this movie is going to be called, being of sound mind and whatever, ever blast totally out of the realm of good clean fun, just fucking yank that plug out of the wall like a stray eyebrow hair on a supermodel"
TG: is what it says
CG: <>
TG: <>
CG: CAN I COME TO YOUR ROOM
TG: yeah duh

The door to Dave's room slides open after a moment and Karkat pads in, feet and legs bare, the hem of his sweatshirt hanging down almost all the way past his boxers. He looks miserable and vulnerable and there's no way around it, Dave wants him, wants him so badly, and when Karkat climbs into bed with him he scoops him up into the tightest hug he can manage.

"Why won't you tell me what's bothering you," Karkat says into his clavicle, their legs tangling, skin to skin.

"I...want to," Dave all but whispers, the outlines of Karkat's body under his hands, warm and perfect in the dark. "I..." Feelings tangle inside him, choke him up, and none of the words he can think of come anywhere close to being good enough to describe the towering inferno inside him. He buries his face in Karkat's neck, lips against his skin. "I will. I promise. I will."

Karkat sighs to himself, and Dave doesn't let him go.

Chapter Text

A neon bolt of lightning
Hit me where I found my stride ×

× × ×

CG: OK, YEAH.
CG: AND. WE SHOULD DEFINITELY DO THE SCENE WHERE WE UNLOCK THE DOOR TO THE CAPTAIN'S QUARTERS FIRST.
TG: yeah i guess
TG: were gonna have to go back and forth between those two rooms like multiple times though
TG: its kind of a long way
CG: YEAH, I KNOW
CG: BUT I HATE DOING SCENES OUT OF ORDER.
CG: I KNOW THAT'S WHAT'S BEEN DONE FOR PRETTY MUCH EVERY MOVIE IN THE HISTORY OF EVERYTHING, BUT IT'S HARD TO KEEP THE ORDER OF SHIT IN MIND, YOU KNOW?
CG: SHOULD I BE ACTING 6 PERCENT MORE COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR PRESENCE OR 9 PERCENT?
TG: yeah i know what you mean
TG: maybe if we were real actors that shit wouldnt matter
CG: HA HA, YEAH.
CG: OR IF YOU WERE A REAL DIRECTOR.
TG: aw what
TG: dude
CG: DON'T CULL THE MESSAGE-BEARER.
TG: ill have you know that i am the only director in the motherfucking universe right now so you can point all complaints in the direction of paradox space dude
CG: YOU KNOW, I THINK I WILL.
CG: I'M DRAFTING A BIT OF CORRESPONDENCE AS WE SPEAK.
CG: HERE WE GO! TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
CG: I THINK THERE HAS BEEN SOME SORT OF TERRIBLE MISTAKE.
TG: haha omg
CG: I AM TRYING TO CREATE A WORK OF FINE ART, BUT THE ONE THING THE ONLY DIRECTOR IN EXISTENCE RIGHT NOW LACKS MORE THAN EXPERIENCE
CG: IS TASTE.
TG: holy shit lol
CG: I AM WORRIED ABOUT THE EFFECT THIS MIGHT HAVE ON FUTURE ITERATIONS OF OUR UNIVERSE.
CG: PLEASE ADVISE.
CG: SINCERELY, KARKAT VANTAS
TG: dear mr vantas
TG: as whatever sentient embodiment of existence itself im supposed to be pretending to be here
TG: i am very sorry for your less than ideal experience in the extremely important and essential department of amateur movie making
TG: unfortunately we have come to the decision that the evolution of film in the new universe is fated to begin with this particular quote unquote film
TG: if this film were to actually turn out good everyone would die
TG: and when i say everyone
TG: i mean *everyone*
TG: were talking catastrophic cross universe destruction
TG: maybe even total cataclysmic upheaval throughout the very fabric of existence itself
TG: do you want to be the cause of the end of all of time and space karkat
TG: well do you
TG: sincerely
TG: paradox space
CG: TO PARADOX SPACE:
CG: I JUST MIGHT.
CG: SINCERELY, KARKAT VANTAS
TG: hahaha omg no
CG: SO ANYWAY, EVEN THOUGH IT'S GOING TO BE REALLY ANNOYING TO HAVE TO TRAVEL BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THE SETS, I REALLY THINK WE SHOULD SHOOT THE SCENE IN THE CAPTAIN'S QUARTERS FIRST.
CG: IT'S KIND OF A TURNING POINT IN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OUR CHARACTERS.
CG: I THINK IT'LL BE EASIER FOR US TO KEEP THAT SHIT IN MIND THIS WAY.
TG: yeah thats cool
TG: its not like were on a budget or anything
TG: who cares if its gonna cause us way more walking
TG: im made of nothing but time dude
CG: YES. ALRIGHT.
TG: ok ok lets go im fuckin ready for this shit
TG: gonna hug you on camera like i never hugged you before
CG: OH MY GOD.

× × ×

"Dave, no! It was this way!" Karkat is pointing down a fork in the hallway. Dave squints down the hall. It looks...wholly unfamiliar.

But, to be fair, so does the other direction. "Are you sure? Because none of this," he makes a wide gesture at both options, "looks even remotely close to the right way."

Karkat lets out a frustrated snarl, grabbing fistfuls of his own hair. "I knew we should have gone left at the last fork!"

"Well, sorry I didn't instantly trust the sense of direction of someone who never actually used to leave their hive."

Karkat theatrically rolls his eyes. "Like you even spent some grand amount of time outside your apartment, Dave."

Dave feels a tiny hand close around the side of his pants leg and tug. He glances down at the Mayor, who's looking as worried as it's possible for him to. "Oh, man. Sorry, sorry, lil dude." He hoists the Mayor up and onto his shoulders. "Let's just go back. It's ok. It's ok, remember? Remember how we're made of time?"

Karkat lets out a long sigh, crossing his arms somewhat petulantly over his chest. "Fine, fine, you're right." He starts walking back the way they came, and Dave rushes to keep up. "We should have tried to keep the goddamn sets closer together."

"Dude, we're only doing this because of your 'artistic vision.' It's all you, man."

"Yeah, yeah, I fucking know, ok?" Karkat's shoulders hunch and his pace quickens.

× × ×

"Are you absolutely sure it's under there?"

"For the last time, yeah, I fucking saw it," Dave grinds out, half upside-down, wedged between two pieces of furniture, one arm stretched out as far as possible underneath some mysterious piece of lab equipment. There's not a very large gap at all, and the farther he reaches, the tighter the space that he's trying to shove his upper arm underneath becomes. He feels around blindly, but all he finds is what seems to be an uninterrupted expanse of empty floor.

"Let me look. Come on."

"No."

Karkat growls, legitimately growls, like some kind of absurd primordial beast. "Come on! I'll probably be able to fucking see it, your eyes aren't worth shit in the dark, not to even mention the fact that you're still wearing shades..."

"You sure did a good job there at not mentioning that fact, dude. And I fucking dropped it, I'm going to find it."

"Let's just alchemize another one, for chrissakes..."

"No! It took us long enough to find our way down here..."

The sound Karkat makes is somehow half whiny teenager, half animalistic snarl. "Fucking get up, Dave, I swear to god..."

"You swear to god what? If you're gonna make some kind of threat you better make good on it."

Karkat's growl dips sharply in pitch, and there's this almost subsonic low edge to the sound that makes Dave's eyes widen for a second before narrowing again in annoyance.

“Yeah, dude, just keep on growling at me like the neighborhood meth dealer's pet rottweiler. That's helping. That's helping a lot."

"I'm trying to help! You won't let me!"

"No, you're just trying to take over because you don't think I'm doing a good enough job."

"Yeah? And? How does it even make sense for you to even be doing this? I can see in the fucking dark!"

"Found it," Dave says, deadpan as possible, straightening, standing, holding up a small silver key between his finger and thumb. Karkat immediately snatches it from his hand, teeth bared, eyebrows sharply furrowed.

"I'm keeping this. You lost all your prop-carrying privileges."

Dave rolls his eyes. "Ooooh, noooo, I got fired from a job I never gave a shit about in the first place."

Karkat's upper lip twitches higher, the implied threat of it completely laughable, as always. He throws his hands in the air. "And here we have Dave Strider, always ready and willing to state the complete fucking obvious." He stomps off across the room towards the camera.

With a shock of guilt, Dave realizes that the Mayor is gone, probably long gone, from the room. It's been way too common of an occurrence lately to have some kind of petty inconvenience spiral sharply down into a massive, vindictive snarkfest. The Mayor tried to interfere more in the beginning, and Dave feels guilt drag sharply at his chest once again at the humiliating memory of it.

Karkat seems to be realizing the same thing. "Great. Just fucking great. I guess we're done for the day, thanks to your inability to hold basic objects."

Irritation burns in Dave's throat. "Yeah, 'cause I'm the one that turned all of this into a federal fucking issue." Karkat is stomping back over to him, now, his hair seeming to bristle, his face flushed.

"Like you even tried to keep this from turning into a fight."

Dave leans down closer to Karkat's level, hands on his hips, mouth curling into a sneer that some faraway, horrified part of his own mind hadn't even really thought he'd been capable of. "Maybe I wanted it to? Maybe this is the only activity I find even close to fucking interesting anymore?" Karkat's eyes are widening, alarmingly so. "Or maybe you have some kind of genetic fucking imperative to blow the tiniest little things out of proportion, who fucking knows." Dave shrugs and straightens, as purposefully nonchalant as he can possibly manage to be.

A steady growl has been building in Karkat's chest, and the pitch of it is setting Dave's teeth on edge. "You got us lost for two. Whole. Hours! In which fucking universe is that the 'tiniest little thing'? Please, enlighten me, so I can be personally responsible for its complete destruction!"

Dave snorts and rolls his eyes. "It wasn't two whole hours, jesus christ."

Karkat's face contorts in rage. He opens his mouth, shuts it, bares his teeth, and tries again. "You..." His fists are clenching and unclenching, seemingly on their own. "You. Are. Fucking..." He snarls in frustration, eyes absolutely wild, and Dave's heart is beating a million miles an hour even as his expression is as infuriatingly blank as he can make it. "You are driving me crazy," Karkat snarls, and before Dave can even process what is happening Karkat grabs Dave's face with both hands, roughly yanks him forward, and kisses him furiously on the mouth.

Blood rushes in Dave's ears like a fucking f-5 tornado. Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck...Electricity jolts through him, all heat and fire and mixed metaphors, and he grabs Karkat around the waist with both arms, bringing their bodies flush together like a fucking dream come true. Karkat is still growling, the force of it now vibrating straight through Dave's ribcage, and a desperate shiver ripples up his back. A strangled, undignified sound wrenches its way out of Dave's throat, and he kisses back as best he can, an unmitigated disaster of bitten lips and mismatched rhythm.

Karkat throws his arms around Dave's shoulders, and Dave doesn't even know what to do, because even now, even now that Karkat has his tongue halfway in his mouth and he's experiencing the heart-pounding firsthand reality of those carnivore teeth and his universe has been narrowed completely to the slick, feverish heat of that mouth, it's still not enough. He tightens his arms, groaning, frustrated. It's still not enough, it's not fair...

Karkat pulls back, abruptly, shoving at Dave's chest until Dave lets him go, and he backs away, slowly, his mouth dropping open, his eyes widening, horror and shock and guilt all vying for a place in his expression. It's like a glass of ice cold water's been dumped over Dave's head, and he opens and closes his mouth, trying desperately to find something to say.

"Karkat, uh..."

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't...you...I'm sorry," Karkat stammers out, and his expression just before he runs out of the room is the most terrible thing Dave has ever seen.

Chapter Text

The world was on fire
And no one could save me but you ×

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 3:58 --

TG: karkat please answer me

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is now an idle chum! --

TG: fuck
TG: fuck
TG: please
TG: i know youre in your block like
TG: i can fucking hear you typing in there
TG: i know youre reading this please just answer me
TG: karkat
TG: i told you id tell you what was bothering me
TG: im ready to ok
TG: though you might have some idea by now
TG: maybe just a little bit of an idea i dont know
TG: karkat why wont you talk to me i just
TG: need to talk to you
TG: please
TG: why are you so upset i dont understand
TG: unless
TG: oh my god
TG: you
TG: didnt like
TG: i
TG: fuck

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 4:36 --

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering grimAuxiliatrix [GA] at 4:38 --

TG: kanaya are you talking to karkat right now
GA: Please Dave This Is Not A Good Time
GA: I Will Talk To You Later

-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 4:39 --

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 4:39 --

TG: rose are you with kanaya right now
TT: Yes.
TG: is she like
TG: typing a whole lot
TT: I wouldn't exactly describe it as "a whole lot".
TT: Karkat seems to be doing most of the talking.
TT: If you don't mind me asking, exactly what is going on?
TT: Kanaya hasn't seemed inclined to give me more than one-word responses to any of my questions.
TG: i fucking knew he was talking to her
TG: fucking
TG: shit
TG: !!!
TT: Hmm. A triple set of exclamation points? It certainly does seem serious.
TG: fuck you rose fuck you right the hell off this meteor
TG: it IS serious
TT: I apologize.
TG: ...
TG: karkat uh
TG: kissed me
TT: ...
TT: I have to say, that is not the answer I expected to receive.
TT: If you don't mind me asking, why exactly is this a problem?
TT: Shouldn't I be congratulating you?
TG: he wont fucking talk to me
TG: he ran off and hid in his fucking block and wont come out
TG: im like a hundred percent sure that he regrets doing it
TG: i fucked up bad rose
TG: theres basically no way in hell that he couldnt tell that i uh
TG: really really liked it
TT: Ah.
TG: but if he somehow didnt pick up on that fact im also like a hundred percent sure that hed be beating himself up so bad about it right now
TG: thats why i *have* to talk to him
TG: except now hes locked in his room and talking to kanaya like a million words per minute and im losing my fucking mind out here
TT: I see.
TG: no rose goddammit you dont even GET it
TG: he and kanaya used to have a THING
TT: Wait. What?
TG: i mean they were never moirails but rose they could have been
TG: kanaya told me she wouldnt try anything but
TG: what if shes still pale for karkat and
TG: he
TG: fuck fuck FUCK
TT: Hold on. You still want to be moirails with Karkat?
TG: of COURSE i
TG: do
TG: ...
TT: Forgive me if I'm wrong, because my knowledge of quadrants is most likely inferior to yours, but moirails don't usually, well, kiss, do they?
TG: no not
TG: ...
TG: no
TT: So, hypothetically speaking, if you and Karkat were to decide to enter into a different quadrant, one where the participants did engage in the type of behavior you both seem to want to engage in, would it be a bad thing if he did decide to be moirails with someone else?
TG: YES it fucking would be a bad thing
TG: are you fucking kidding me hes MINE
TT: ...
TT: I...see.
TG: fuck i meant
TG: that hes my moirail i didnt
TG: oh god
TG: i dont
TG: ...
TT: I'll put it politely. The two of you really, really need to talk.
TG: yeah no shit
TG: and how about i put this politely too
TG: fuck off

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 4:51 --

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 4:55 --

TG: karkat please talk to me

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] is now an idle chum! --

TG: i am so sorry
TG: i fucked everything up
TG: i didnt
TG: i didnt want anything to change
TG: i didnt even mean for it to and now i dont know what to do karkat please

Dave throws his phone down onto the couch and buries his head in his hands. His fingers tighten in his own hair, tugging harder and harder, until his eyes sting. How could he have been so stupid? No, more than that, worse than that. Vindictive and selfish and stupid.

He flops over onto his side, curling up in Karkat's usual spot, regret burning sharply and unrelentingly behind his eyelids. Everything is so quiet, so silent and horrible, except for the frantic, sporadic bouts of typing coming from Karkat's room. The inexorable weight of everything, the yawning expanse of the meteor facility, darkness and metal and stone, of space, of speed, of words, presses down on him, and Dave scrunches his eyes shut against it, hands tightening in the fabric of his own sleeves.

What's going to happen to them? Dave hates the petulant, childish edge to that thought, but he can't help but worry and pick at it. How can they possibly make this work? Karkat's never going to be happy just with him, Dave realizes with a sick lurch of his stomach. How could he be so stupid? Karkat is a troll, and apparently none of them are completely satisfied unless they're in relationships with literally five other people. And none of those relationships are more important than others. They're all just...there. But Dave...

He tightens his arms around his own chest, curling farther into a miserable ball. The way things are right now, Dave doesn't think he could ever be happy without Karkat. Dave doesn't want to share. He hates the idea. Is that wrong?

Dave shoves himself to his feet and crosses the room to the door of Karkat's block. The metal is almost ice cold against his forehead, and he leans there for what seems like forever, trying to keep himself from shivering, half from nerves, half from cold.

"Karkat," he says, finally, aloud. His voice cracks, and he tries again. "Karkat..."

There's only silence from the other side of the door, and Dave shuts his eyes.

"I didn't want to tell you because I didn't want shit to change," Dave says, not even caring anymore how miserable he sounds. "But everything changed anyway, in a...bad way, and how can we even say we're moirails anymore? We haven't been acting like it. I haven't been acting like it. I love being moirails with you. I didn't want to stop, I don't...know...what to do."

There's a faint rustle inside Karkat's room, then dead silence, once again. At least Karkat's not typing. There's a chance that he's not wearing headphones. There's a chance that he's listening.

Dave leans against the doorframe and slides down to the floor, arms around his knees. "Please. Karkat. I miss you. I miss you so much. I don't even care anymore. I just want us to be able to talk like we used to. I know all of this is my fault, I tried not to...let it be a problem, I tried not to act like some dumb nerd in some alternate reality or something where you're captain of the football team, ok, that's an unlikely scenario, but you get the point, right? That I've got it bad? That I'm like constantly watching you from the bleachers and pining so hard that space is like, warping around me? But somehow you don't even know..."

Silence.

Dave lets his head thump back against the doorframe. "I miss you. Karkat...I miss you so much."

The door slides open so abruptly that Dave's heart leaps into his throat. Karkat is standing there, so...small, drawn in upon himself, expression pinched, eyes rimmed in red. Dave scrambles to his feet, and their eyes lock for one heart wrenching moment before Dave is pulling Karkat to his chest, Karkat's arms going around his waist, hands tightening in the back of his shirt.

They sit close on the couch, facing each other, wrapped together in a blanket. Dave's shades are tossed carelessly behind him on a cushion, and their hands are clasped. Karkat's eyelashes are wet. Dave squeezes his hands.

"I'm just such a useless troll," Karkat says, finally, letting his head fall sideways against the back of the couch, breaking eye contact to stare miserably at nothing.

Dave is stunned for a moment. "What do you mean?"

"This isn't...supposed to happen. It doesn't happen! How is it possible to flip from pale to black? Nobody does that." Karkat looks awful, listless, exhaustion dragging at him where tension usually spikes, dynamic and magnetic. "I'm defective, I'm pathetic, I'm..."

"Fucking quit it," Dave interrupts, as gently as he can. "Stop saying shit like that."

"I thought...that maybe, it was just her," Karkat says, voice wavering. "That now I finally had a quadrant filled and that was that, and maybe in the past I was just being a stupid wiggler, but I think it's actually just...me."

Dave squeezes Karkat's hands again. "What do you mean?"

"That I don't..." Karkat's eyes are fixed on the upholstery. "That my feelings aren't. Fuck!" Karkat seems to curl farther in upon himself, shoulders hunched. "That I never have feelings that fit in just one quadrant, OK?"

"Wait, what?" Dave's eyes widen, his eyebrows shooting up towards his hairline. "But...I thought..." He falls silent, everything he knows about trolls, about Karkat, rearranging itself in his mind. If there are humans that don't fit in with what's societally expected for relationships, why should trolls be any different...? "Oh."

"I always thought...that..." Karkat falters, and tries again. "I can't even fucking explain this. That quadrants were something you had to learn. That nobody 'really' feels this shit in ways that are so easy to...map out. And I wanted to get it right. I tried so fucking hard to learn..."

Something catches in Dave's chest. "But it is actually how they feel, right?"

"Yeah." Karkat's eyes finally flick back up to his, and they spend a long moment just looking, Karkat's eyes large and dark and questioning.

"I used to think the same kind of thing. That everyone liked both boys and girls but were way better than me at like, suppressing all the gay shit." Dave's can feel himself blushing, hotter and hotter, and he holds tightly to Karkat's hands, trying to keep his own from shaking. He's jittery all over. "But then, yeah. Recently. I realized. It's just me. I mean. Not 'just' me, but...Yeah."

Several expressions cross Karkat's face: understanding, surprise, disbelief. "So you..."

"Yeah."

"What...do we do?" Karkat asks, finally, and Dave is shocked at how small he sounds, how lost. Dave wants to do something. To hug him. To lean their foreheads together. To...kiss him, maybe. He sits, frozen in a trap of indecision.

"I don't know," Dave answers, finally. He doesn't move. "I don't give a shit about quadrants. I mean," he winces, "not for myself. In the way that doesn't sound like I'm bashing your culture."

The corner of Karkat's mouth crooks upwards, just a tiny bit.

"I think that, you should do what you want. I don't give a fuck about what other trolls would say about. About...us. I think...you...should just do what you want."

None of these words are coming out right, not even remotely, but Karkat is looking curiously at him, almost like it's for the first time, and Dave feels heat crawl its way back up his face.

"And I'll...do what I want."

"Yeah, and what's that?" Karkat asks, eyes narrowing.

"I, uh," Dave flounders for a moment. His face is burning. "It's. This. Anything. Uh..." Karkat is staring intently at him, and Dave's heart pounds. "You. I just. Like. You. A whole...a whole lot."

Karkat's eyebrows furrow and he frowns, a confused twist to his mouth.

"Yeah," Dave continues, and there's a humiliating, desperate edge to his voice. "Yeah. Just. You."

Those jet-black eyes widen. Karkat lets go of his hands, bringing both of his own up to frame Dave's face. Dave leans into them, into the warmth of them, his own hand moving up the side of Karkat's thigh to his hip, to his waist. Karkat's thumbs brush over his cheekbones, and, oh. Fuck. This is good.

Dave curls an arm around Karkat's back, hand resting between his shoulderblades, and hesitantly leans their foreheads together. Karkat winds his arms around Dave's neck, and Dave's heart is pounding. It's too warm under the blanket, now, but in such an incredible way that he'd rather die than take it off. "So...yeah. What happened, earlier?"

Karkat swallows, thickly, and he drops his head to Dave's shoulder. "I was feeling...black, for you. Really fucking black."

Warmth drops alarmingly fast down through Dave's stomach. "What about now?"

"Not so much."

"Pale?" Dave asks against the side of Karkat's neck.

"Yeah," Karkat answers, voice rough. "A lot of that."

"Anything...else?"

"I don't know." Karkat says, voice muffled in Dave's hood. "Maybe."

Dave lets out a breathless laugh. "Maybe?"

"Yeah," Karkat laughs into Dave's shoulder, and Dave squeezes him tighter, still a little jittery all over but fantastically, spectacularly giddy with relief.

"Yeah. Me too."

Chapter Text

I love you
But what are we going to do ×

× × ×

TG: i guess uh
TG: i dunno i was pretty little
TG: like five or six i think
TG: there was this other kid that lived in my building
TG: he was maybe a couple of years older than me idk
TG: i never even said hi to him or anything i just always used to watch him kick a soccer ball around the back lot from the laundry room window
TG: he always looked really good at it
TG: soccer i mean
TG: i never even tried to imagine what it would be like to actually talk to him
TG: that was like
TG: more than i could handle thinking about
TG: so he probably never even knew i existed
TG: but that was the first time i ever uh
TG: yknow
TG: had like
TG: a crush on someone
TG: fuck why is this so hard to talk about
CG: I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.
CG: DON'T WORRY.
CG: YOU...DON'T HAVE TO KEEP GOING, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO.
TG: no no
TG: its ok
TG: uh
TG: and i guess i didnt even know what to call any of those feelings
TG: i knew fuckall about all of this stuff
TG: i mean i knew men and women got married and shit but i didnt know why
TG: and i didnt know that it was all the same kind of thing
TG: that what people that kissed in movies were supposed to be feeling was on a similar wavelength to what was feeling about that kid i watched all the time from the goddamn window
TG: just like
TG: being really fucking glad that a certain person exists
TG: idk
CG: OH
CG: HMM
CG: IS THAT WHAT IT FEELS LIKE?
TG: yeah mostly i guess
TG: just wanting to like
TG: be up in someones business all the time
TG: because theres something about them that like
TG: means something to you
TG: on a level thats really hard to express in any other way
TG: than being up in their business all the time i mean
CG: HMM.
CG: ARE YOU SPEAKING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE HERE?
TG: of course i am karkat what do you think
CG: HA!
TG: what about you
TG: howd you find out that youre alien gay
CG: OH MY GOD.
CG: FUCK. I DON'T KNOW. THIS IS
CG: REALLY EMBARRASSING
TG: dude its cool if you dont want to talk about it
TG: but let me remind you that i spent a good chunk of my childhood being a completely socially incompetent creeper so
TG: yeah im not gonna care
CG: FINE. OK.
CG: IT WAS TROLL MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY.
CG: FUCK YOU, DAVE, FUCK YOU, I CAN HEAR YOU FUCKING LAUGHING IN THERE!
TG: im sorry im sorry
TG: its just that everyone already knows you have this huge fucking boner for matthew mcconaughey
TG: its not like this is some kind of carefully guarded secret dude
CG: OH MY GOD, NO. SHUT UP
CG: YEAH, I MEAN. OBVIOUSLY. I JUST
CG: ...
CG: USUALLY IF TROLLS HAVE A CRUSH ON AN ACTOR, IT'S ONLY FOR ONE QUADRANT. IF YOU FEEL FLUSHED FOR THEM YOU'RE NOT GOING TO GIVE THAT MUCH OF A SHIT ABOUT MOVIES WHERE THEY'RE PLAYING OUT A BLACK ROMANCE. OR A PALE ONE. OR AN ASHEN ONE. ETCETERA.
CG: OTHER TROLLS USED TO TALK ALL THE TIME ABOUT HOW "WRONG" IT FELT TO SEE ACTORS THEY FELT CERTAIN THINGS FOR IN DIFFERENT QUADRANTS ACTING OUT OTHER FORMS OF ROMANCE.
CG: SO I PLAYED ALONG. EVEN THOUGH I LIKED ALL OF HIS MOVIES.
CG: I REALLY, REALLY FUCKING LIKED ALL OF THEM.
TG: oh man
TG: karkat
TG: thats so fucking adorable
CG: WHAT? NO!
CG: ...
CG: IS IT?
TG: holy shit of course it is
TG: the adorablest
TG: i should probably tell you that im continuing to speak from personal experience here
TG: about wanting to be up in peoples business i mean
CG: OH.
CG: HUH.
CG: SO
CG: WHAT IS THAT LIKE EXACTLY?
CG: I THINK I NEED A BETTER DESCRIPTION.
CG: I THINK IT WOULD HELP ME BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR CULTURE.
CG: YOU KNOW. SOCIOLOGICALLY.
TG: oh sure
TG: at least this way ill be embarrassing myself for science
CG: COME ON, DAVE, TELL ME!
TG: ok ok
TG: only if you promise its for a good cause
TG: dont you go and take my heartfelt feelings and use them to construct a weapon of mass destruction
TG: or to set some kind of precedent for human experimentation
TG: that aint the kind of science im into you dig
CG: OH, NO, OF COURSE NOT.
CG: THE ONLY HUMAN EXPERIMENTATION THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IS GOING TO BE COMPLETELY ABOVEBOARD.
TG: oh
TG: wow
TG: fuck
CG: SO YOU WERE SAYING?
TG: shit shit
TG: right
TG: uh
TG: i sure was saying some things
TG: just laying some things out on the line
TG: like regular people do
TG: basically
TG: i have it so bad for you
CG: OH
CG: OK
CG: ...HOW DOES THAT FEEL
CG: EXACTLY
TG: its like im behind that laundry room window all over again
TG: not even remotely able to stop staring
TG: everything about you is so fucking good
TG: the way you look
TG: the way you move
TG: and like
TG: any time were not literally touching it feels almost like
TG: im wasting time
TG: like i only have one truly ordained task in life and its to constantly be in physical contact with you
TG: ...
TG: fuck
TG: that was
TG: fuck
TG: i shouldnt have said that oh fuck
TG: that so crossed the line into way too fucking desperate and clingy
TG: just forget i said that i am so fucking sorry
CG: NO
CG: NO, I
CG: I'M JUST.
CG: ...
CG: THANK YOU. FOR TELLING ME.
TG: youre uh
TG: welcome
TG: so
TG: in the name of sociology and all
TG: how are you feeling right now
CG: WARM.
TG: oh
TG: oh ok
TG: yeah me too
CG: I ALSO, UH. LIKE THE WAY YOU LOOK.
CG: I LIKE IT A LOT.
TG: oh really
CG: YEAH. I DO.
TG: hmmm
TG: i really like this conversation
TG: this is a really good conversation
TG: any particular things that you
TG: you know
TG: like best
CG: HMMM. HOW SHOULD I PHRASE THIS?
TG: oh shit
CG: YOUR HANDS. ARE...REALLY NICE.
TG: fuck
TG: oh fuck
TG: ok
TG: i can work with that
CG: WHAT ABOUT YOU? ANYTHING YOU LIKE? SPECIFICALLY?
TG: yes
TG: hell yes
TG: everything
TG: your face
TG: your shoulders
TG: your arms
TG: your eyes
TG: your fucking
TG: uh
TG: hahaha shut up i can hear you laughing
CG: JUST SAY IT, DAVE.
TG: no no no i cant
TG: i gotta maintain at least one partial iota of respectability
TG: i dont wanna jump the gun too fast here
TG: like im in an old west shootout and i only got one shot left
TG: dont wanna blow it before the final showdown if you get my drift
CG: SURE. I THINK SOMEHOW I "GET YOUR DRIFT".
CG: IT DOES ALWAYS SEEM SAFE TO JUST ASSUME THAT EVERYTHING YOU SAY IS SOME KIND OF VAST, CONVOLUTED INNUENDO.
TG: hahaha fuck
TG: you caught me
CG: YEAH, I DID.

Heat flames over Dave's face. He's sitting with his phone, reclining against the tall back of his chair, legs crossed on the top of his desk. His cape is balled up at the foot of his bed. There's a sharp knock at the door, and Dave's heart races. "Yeah?" His voice breaks.

"Can I come in?"

"Yeah of course," Dave calls back, and sits, frozen, as Karkat opens the door and steps inside. His head is ducked, but Dave can see the corner of a grin when he turns to smack the door switch. Karkat comes over and leans on the edge of the desk, the side of his thigh against Dave's calf.

"So."

"So. Hey." Dave forces his body into gear, and he tosses his phone onto the bed. Karkat is looking at him, looking at him, in a way that's making him excitable and nervous and uncomfortable in the most amazing way possible.

"So do you want to try this again or what?" Karkat's eyes slip to the side. His hand slides up Dave's shin, coming to a stop on his thigh, just above his knee.

"Yes. Yes please. There isn't anything I could possibly want more, actually, this is...oh..." Karkat is leaning forward, his hand leaving Dave's leg to cradle the back of his head, to pull him forward, to push their mouths together. Dave's hands tighten on the armrests of his chair, and somehow he manages to lift one, to grab a handful of Karkat's sleeve.

It's so different from before. It's slow, at first, tentative, as they work out a rhythm. Dave's pulse is hammering. Karkat's lips are so fucking soft. He's forgotten how to breathe.

Dave breaks away from the kiss first, panting against Karkat's neck. Karkat's arms slide around his shoulders. "Are you OK?" Karkat asks, straightening, hands still on Dave's shoulders, and Dave is suddenly conscious of how tense he his, how shaky his hands are.

"Yeah. Yeah. Sorry..." Dave forces himself to relax, dropping his feet back to the floor, and after a moment of hesitation, he pulls off his shades, leans forward, and wraps his arms tightly around Karkat's middle, burying his face in Karkat's stomach. "Sorry, fuck, this is just..."

"Just what?" Karkat asks, a smile in his voice, his fingers absently rubbing over the hairs at the nape of Dave's neck.

"Pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me."

"Oh, whatever," Karkat says, and the affection in his voice makes heat flame again over Dave's face. Karkat pulls away, and Dave watches him cross over to the bed and sink down onto it, eyes smiling. "Are you going to come over here, or what?"

Dave scrambles to his feet, and Karkat hooks an arm around his waist as soon as his ass meets the bed. Dave twists to face him, their thighs pressed tightly together, and oh. Wow. Karkat's hand settles at the crook of his waist, and something amazing flares in Dave's chest, bright and white-hot and incredible. Dave leans in and Karkat meets him halfway, their lips coming together, and wow, wow, this is actually OK, Dave is OK, more than OK, Karkat wants to do this with him so it's good that Dave wants to and...Dave laughs into the kiss, pressing closer, practically giddy.

They sit crosslegged across from each other on the bed for what feels like hours, just kissing, hands clasped tightly between them. Dave feels almost drunk, lightheaded, his thoughts sluggish in the most incredible way, but Karkat is there with him, kissing him, right now...

They pause, foreheads together, catching their breaths. Dave laughs and it comes out more like a giggle, dizzy, delirious. Karkat squeezes his hands and laughs too, and Dave kisses him, once, twice, grinning, flushed. Karkat lets go of his hands, wrapping his arms around Dave's neck, deepening the kiss, his tongue slick and hot over Dave's lower lip.

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 13:39 --

TG: guess whos now the undisputed motherfucking king of makeout city
TG: come on
TG: guess
TT: Absolutely not.

Chapter Text

It was the future reflected
It felt familiar but new ×

× × ×

In the flickering light from his husktop, Karkat's profile is the only thing really discernable from the rest of the dark room. He's chewing a little on his bottom lip, like he always does, and Dave wants to kiss him again so badly.

It's not like they haven't been spending an absurd amount of time during the last week kissing each other. It still seems so impossible that Karkat wants to do this, wants to as much as Dave does, and Dave still halfway feels like this is some sort of fluke and Karkat's going to get tired of this, get tired of him, but maybe...Dave shoves that thought aside. It's too impossible. Too good to be true.

Oh, shit. "What?" Karkat is looking up at him, eyebrows raised, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

"Nothing. Maybe. What?"

"Jesus, Dave, you can just ask," Karkat says, voice low, and warm, and sending a prickle of goosebumps all over Dave's skin.

"Ask for what?" Dave blurts out, and wants to kick himself. Karkat is smiling, all the way up to his eyes, and he reaches over, pulling Dave's hands into his lap, lacing their fingers together. Dave smiles back, and when Karkat leans over and kisses him on the mouth, he leans hungrily into it.

Karkat squeezes his hands and presses closer, pushing himself up on one knee, moving Dave's hands to his waist. Dave grabs on to the fabric of his sweatshirt, hands trembling. Karkat is just so warm, so warm and solid and wanting to kiss him, kiss him right now...he slides his arms fully around Karkat, pulls them tightly together, and Karkat lets out a surprised laugh, now half in Dave's lap. He pulls Dave's sunglasses off, tossing them onto the arm of the couch, and kisses him again, hands on either side of his face.

They haven't even talked about this, not really. Is Karkat worried about it? About what they are? He has to be. He's Karkat. But he seems so much more...relaxed. Now. Maybe...self-confident? Karkat tilts Dave's head back, tongue hot and slick against Dave's own and all of Dave's anxious thoughts fade in the haze of how good this feels.

Dave's phone buzzes in his pocket, once, twice, and three more times about fifteen seconds later. He ignores it, hands busy with the shape of Karkat's sides, his back, his hips. Karkat's husktop chimes with a new message, and another, and another, and another, until Karkat groans in frustration and breaks away from the kiss.

"What," he snaps at his computer, and pulls away completely when it chimes again. Dave shivers in the sudden absence of Karkat's body heat, frowns, and pulls out his phone.

-- arachnidsGrip [AG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 5:16 --

AG: If it's even possi8le for you losers to extric8 your own heads from your own nooks, I cre8d a veeeeeeeery important memo.
AG: Click on this: ****MANDATORY Str8gy Memo****
AG: Hey!!!!!!!!
AG: I mean it!
AG: 8e there or else!!!!!!!!

Karkat groans from the other end of the couch.

AG opened memo on board ****MANDATORY Str8gy Memo****.

AG: This has gone on long enough!
AG: We reach the new session in less than a sweep, and how prepared do you think we are?
AG: Any8ody?
TC: HoNk
AG banned TC from responding to memo.
AG: Any8ody 8esides him????????
TG: in the board name
TG: is that supposed to say strategy
TG: cause it reads like straightgee
AG: Things that don't matter the teeniest, tiniest iota?
AG: The name of this 8oard!!!!!!!!
AG: 8y all means keep derailing the important, adult discussion we're having here.
CG: OR WHAT? YOU'RE GOING TO BAN HIM TOO?
AG: If I have enough provoc8ion!
CG: OH! WHY DON'T YOU JUST SKIP THE FORMALITIES AND BAN EVERYONE??
CG: ISN'T THAT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT OUT OF THIS? FOR ALL OF US TO SIT LIKE GOOD LITTLE SOLDIERADICATORS AND STARE UP AT YOU WITH GANDERBULBS FULL OF BILLIONS OF FUCKING TWINKLING STARS WHILE YOU GO ON AND ON AND *ON* ABOUT RESPONSIBILITY AND HOW AMAZING YOU ARE?
TG: whoa karkat what the hell
CG: IF YOU ACTUALLY END UP SHARING ANY CONCRETE PLANS OR STRATEGIES WITH THE REST OF US, I WILL EAT MY FUCKING SHIRT. JUST WATCH ME.
TG: wow dude that went from zero to about a billion in two seconds flat
TG: bring it down man
AG: As "flattering" as your o8vious attempts at flirting are, Karkat, for the last time, I am not interested!
CG: SURE, VRISKA! ABSOLUTELY! JUST KEEP TELLING YOURSELF THAT MY FEELINGS CONSIST OF ANYTHING OTHER THAN COMPLETE AND TOTAL REVULSION! WHATEVER HELPS YOU SLEEP DURING THE DAY!
AG: And I am even less interested in 8eing auspisticized 8y a lousy alien, so step the fuck off, Strider!!!!!!!!
TG: whoa whoa
TG: hell the fuck no
CG: DON'T YOU TALK TO HIM LIKE THAT!!
TT: Hmm. What did I miss?
AG: N8thing!!!!!!!!
TG: stray accusations flying around left and right totally unchecked
TG: its a goddamn bloodbath in here
GA: Sounds Riveting
GC: BLOODB4TH? >:]
AG: Sh8t up! All of that is irrelevant!
AG: I'll st8 it again: we reach the new session in less than a sweep!
AG: Please tell me that you've all been sparring regularly, at least. You know, like we discussed in our last meeting?
GC: YOU KNOW 1T!
GA: Of Course
TT: Yes.
TG: wait what
TG: when was that a
TG: uh
AG: Aaaaaaaand we're w8ing for the last response to come in. I w8nder what it'll be????????
CG: ...NO! NO, VRISKA, NO I HAVE NOT BEEN "SPARRING REGULARLY", "LIKE WE DISCUSSED IN OUR LAST MEETING".
AG: Wonderful. Somehow, I'm not even surprised.
AG: No, actually, yes I am!
AG: 8y now I practically *expected* something like this from Strider, 8ut you, Karkat?
AG: You understand how imp8rtant this is, d8n't you?
AG: Wh8t have you even 8een d8ing????????
CG: I'M WORKING ON IT!!
AG: You just said you w8ren't!!!!!!!!
CG: I'M IN A FUCKING UNIQUE SITUATION HERE, VRISKA, LEAVE IT THE FUCK ALONE!!
AG: Wh8tever! What happened to you, anyway?
AG: A sweep ago you would've 8een 8usting your ass!
AG: Now you're n8thing 8ut p8thetic!!!!!!!!
TT: This, I think, is my cue to leave.
TT: Just let me know when there's anything constructive going on.
AG: W8! Rose!!!!!!!!
GA: I Believe It Is My Cue As Well
GA: This Conversation Has Entered Territory That Is Making Me Very Uncomfortable
GC: S3R1OUSLY >:/ WH4TS DON3 1S DON3 VR1SK4
GC: MOTH3RFUCK1NG CH1LL

Dave stares numbly at his phone, then clicks it off and shoves it back in his pocket. Karkat is typing furiously on the other end of the couch, and Dave shoves his shades back on and pulls his knees to his chest.

This is the worst.

He doesn't want to think about the future. He hates thinking about it. It's too awful. And was he really spacing out that badly during the last meeting? Karkat has to have remembered about the sparring. But he never brought it up, not once. And..."unique situation"? What the fuck is that even referring to? Their relationship? Or Dave's own...shit? He grits his teeth in annoyance and flops over, his head on the arm of the couch. He can handle this himself. He doesn't need someone protecting him. Why does Karkat even feel like...

He glances over at Karkat, who's still typing, upper lip twitching up, revealing fangs that Dave now knows from firsthand experience aren't really sharp, not at all.

What is Dave even doing? Running away, again? Letting Karkat interact with the others for him? Irritation twists in his throat. If he doesn't need protecting, why is he fucking...

CG: AT LEAST I'M NOT IN A PERPETUAL STATE OF PETULANT WIGGLERHOOD.
CG: I THOUGHT YOUR MOIRALLEGIANCE MIGHT CAUSE YOU TO BECOME EVEN THE TINIEST BIT SELF AWARE, BUT NO!
CG: NOBODY'S FEELINGS ARE WORTH *SHIT* IN YOUR GRAND FUCKING EQUATION OF ENDS JUSTIFYING MEANS!
AG: 8H! So you want the "ends" to 8e "everyone is dead"? 8ecause that's what's going to H8PPEN if we don't PR8PARE!!!!!!!!
TG: ok seriously
TG: say whatever you want vriska but this is going too fucking far
TG: memo closed
TG: everyone out
AG: 8h please!!!!!!!!
CG: b,z nhm; pvto,m;'n.h'n nho kbpfmtj ;hmn m; nhm;
AG: ...
TG: holy jesus karkats keyboard is fucking backwards or something
TG: the more you know
TG: fuck i was going to pretend to be him for a second
TG: but in a way that made you obviously know it was me
TG: im not an asshole
TG: so anyway
AG banned TG from responding to memo.

"OK, what the hell was that," Dave says, shutting Karkat's husktop and leaning down harder with one elbow from where he'd pushed Karkat over and sat on him. Karkat is growling, halfheartedly struggling, but his arms are pinned awkwardly underneath him and he can't really move.

"Vriska being an asshole," Karkat retorts, and finally goes limp, his one visible eye still gleaming out from under his hair. Dave takes the weight off his elbow.

"Uh, yeah, no, obviously, but no, I mean like," Dave starts, but Karkat takes his moment of distraction as an opportunity to shove himself upright and push Dave down onto the couch, his whole weight on his folded arms against Dave's chest. "Ow! No, but, you just seem like. Way too mad. At her. Like, unnecessarily mad."

"'Unnecessarily?' Fucking please."

Jealousy prickles at the back of Dave's mind, and he shoves it away as best he can. "You instigated like, all of that, dude. I saw it."

"So what. She interrupted us."

"Yeah..." Dave sighs. "I guess. But the odds of that happening are pretty fucking skewed, don't you think? Lately?" Dave can feel himself flushing.

Karkat glares off to the side. "Yeah, I guess."

I can't fight. What am I going to do? What are we going to do? Do you really have a hate thing for Vriska? What are we? "What are we...doing? Here?" Dave finally blurts out, and bites down on his lip.

Silence stretches out between them. "I don't...know," Karkat says, finally, eyes downcast, brows furrowed.

"I know what you said about you, and quadrants, but, are we still moirails? Moirails with, uh, benefits, or something? Is that something that happens with trolls? Or does wanting to kiss at all immediately shove you over into another quadrant? And then, do you have to stop talking about shit? I don't want to stop talking about shit, that's like, one of my favorite things to..." Words pour out in a wave of insecurity until Dave catches himself, snaps his mouth shut.

"I don't..." The furrow between Karkat's brows deepens. He hooks a finger under the bridge of Dave's sunglasses and tugs them off. "What do you think we are?" he asks, almost accusingly, into Dave's eyes.

Dave opens and closes his mouth. "I...don't know. We're just...us."

Karkat's expression softens a little. "What...if we were both humans? On...Earth?"

"I guess. We'd be...dating?" Dave laughs suddenly at the image, one out of a thousand 50s teen romances, of the two of them sharing one milkshake with two straws, sitting close at a drive-in, making out in the back of a boat of a Cadillac. "All that shit's cultural, I mean...Huh. Where's the line between what you call yourself for yourself and what you call yourself for other people?"

"I don't think it's any of their damn business," Karkat mutters, and Dave laughs. "Does it...bother you? That we're not...in a quadrant? Anymore?"

"I don't...know?" Dave thinks about it. He lets his head fall back completely against the couch. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't actually think I want to be in a quadrant with you. I don't think it's, uh," he hazards a glance back up at Karkat. "Enough. For me."

Karkat's eyes widen, and heat rushes up Dave's chest and over his face at his admission.

"So no. Sort of the opposite of that, actually. Uh."

They stare at each other for a few long seconds, until Karkat lunges forward, kissing Dave sloppily on the mouth until they're both breathless.

Chapter Text

I will let this monument
Represent a moment of my life ×

× × ×

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 12:31 --

TG: so
CG: SO?
CG: DID YOU FALL ASLEEP
TG: no sorry
TG: just thinking about shit
TG: i think i want to try sparring again
CG: ...
CG: ARE YOU SURE?
TG: fuck no
TG: but vriskas right
TG: right now im just a liability
CG: FUCK YOU, NO. ARE YOU KIDDING? YOU'RE *GOD TIER*. YOU'RE *IMMORTAL*. YOU HAVE POWERS THE REST OF US CAN'T EVEN FUCKING *COMPREHEND*.
CG: IF THERE'S ANYONE THAT'S A LIABILITY, IT'S ME.
CG: I CAN'T DO *SHIT*. "KNIGHT OF BLOOD"? I HAVE LESS OF AN IDEA ABOUT WHAT *THAT'S* SUPPOSED TO FUCKING MEAN THAN I HAVE COMPETENT LEADERSHIP SKILLS.
TG: sure yeah and what good are god powers even doing me
TG: i hate my aspect
TG: the idea of getting out my timetables again makes me want to throw myself straight back into the green sun
TG: im fucking serious
TG: times completely unforgiving just
TG: you cant fuck up
TG: ever
TG: you fuck up and theres your own corpse there on the floor like youre having a god damned out of body experience except youre still alive and totally responsible for the horrible bloody death of some other timeline you
TG: and who knows if its gonna be *you* there on the floor the next time around
TG: and if you were just this miniscule amount better with your own powers none of this shit would happen at all
TG: fuck
TG: FUCK
TG: huh i almost forgot why i dont talk about the fucking game
CG: I'M COMING OVER.
TG: no no its ok
TG: please
TG: let me just
TG: its easier this way
CG: ...
CG: YOU'RE SO FUCKING GOOD AT USING YOUR POWERS, THOUGH. I KNOW YOU ARE. WE ALL WATCHED YOUR SESSION.
TG: yeah but i wasnt good enough
CG: BUT IF YOU WERE, YOU WOULD'VE JUST GOTTEN DRAGGED ASS-FIRST INTO SOME DOOMED TIMELINE.
CG: THIS IS THE KIND OF SHIT I CONSTANTLY DWELL ON UNTIL MY THINK PAN STARTS OOZING OUT OF MY HEAR DUCTS.
CG: IF I SUCKED LESS, I'D BE DEAD.
TG: yeah
TG: yeah i know
TG: im just
TG: fuck
CG: I THINK SOMETIME WE SHOULD ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW.
CG: TALK ABOUT THE GAME.
TG: yeah
TG: yeah we should
TG: not now though
CG: OH, NO. FUCK THAT.
TG: haha
TG: but yeah i uh
TG: youre the only one i want to talk about the really bad shit with
TG: so uh yeah just wanted you to know that
CG: YEAH.
CG: YEAH. ME TOO.
TG: fuck
TG: i take back what i said about you not coming over
TG: is it ok that i really want to kiss you right now

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 12:47 --

TG: hahaha karkat holy shit

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 12:48 --

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 12:06 --

CG: HEY.
CG: I'VE BEEN GIVING IT A LOT OF THOUGHT.
CG: I MEAN, ABOUT WHAT I WOULD SAY ABOUT THE GAME.
TG: yeah me too
TG: i didnt really want to but i just kept thinking about it
TG: just kept prodding the fuck out of that festering ass wound
CG: YEAH.
CG: YEAH. FUCKING EXACTLY.
CG: AND IT'S LIKE, WHY DO I EVEN WANT TO GIVE IT THE SATISFACTION OF LETTING IT TAKE UP EVEN MORE OF MY WAKING THOUGHTS THAN IT ALREADY FUCKING DOES.
TG: seriously
TG: but i mean
TG: if i hadnt played the game id just be dead forever
TG: so its like
TG: yeah the game fucked me up real bad but so did a whole bunch of other shit in my life
TG: and if the alternative is total eternal oblivion i guess im just kind of stuck with it
TG: so in a way it feels like i dont have the right to be mad about it yknow
CG: YEAH. I THINK ABOUT THAT A *LOT*.
CG: AND I FINALLY DECIDED THAT I DON'T GIVE A BEHEMOTH'S FLAMING ASSHOLE.
CG: I DON'T OWE THE FUCKING GAME FOR KEEPING ME ALIVE. IT DOESN'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT ME, OR ANY OF US.
TG: yeah no fuck it im still mad
CG: HAHA! YEAH.
CG: THOUGH. I NEVER WOULD'VE MET YOU OTHERWISE.
TG: yeah no not in a million years
TG: and youre sort of
TG: really important to me so
CG: OH REALLY? HMM.
TG: fuck did you miss the first five trillion memos
TG: i should probably get you up to speed
TG: i kind of like you karkat
CG: OH, FUCK. I CAN'T BELIEVE I'VE BEEN SO BLIND.
CG: THE SIGNS WERE RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME BUT I JUST DIDN'T WANT TO LET MYSELF BELIEVE.
TG: oh fuck
TG: not again
TG: my lack of any kind of grasp on troll shit has caused me to completely misinterpret every one of your actions over the past two fucking years
TG: aliens man
TG: you think that when someone gives you a giant goddamn hickey it might mean something but who knows with aliens
CG: OH MY FUCKING GOD. I SAID I WAS SORRY LIKE A MILLION TIMES.
TG: hahaha fuck
CG: I LIKE HEARING YOU LAUGH.
TG: oh man oh no
TG: my laugh is godawful it sounds like a squeaky goddamn shopping cart wheel
TG: its this horrible sound that i cant stop myself from continuing to make because im laughing too hard
TG: and then it blossoms miraculously into this self fulfilling vehicle of complete humiliation
CG: SEE, NO, THAT'S WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT IT.
CG: THAT WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR SHIT, YOU *COMPLETELY* LOSE YOUR SHIT.
CG: IT'S PRETTY MUCH THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVER.
TG: oh man
TG: karkat
TG: how do you *do* this to me
CG: HA! WHAT AM I DOING TO YOU, EXACTLY? I THINK I DESERVE TO KNOW.
TG: yeah you p much uh
TG: liquefy my insides
TG: double my resting heart rate
TG: make my entire face catch on fire
TG: yknow
CG: OH, FUCK. THAT DOES SOUND SERIOUS.
TG: yeah shits terminal
CG: SO I WAS WONDERING
TG: yeah?
CG: DO YOU WANT TO SLEEP IN MY RECUPERACOON WITH ME?
CG: SOMETIME. NOT RIGHT NOW, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO, I MEAN.
CG: I JUST KIND OF WANT TO TRY IT.
CG: I ACTUALLY HAVE FOR A WHILE.
TG: oh whoa
TG: dude
TG: yeah im totally down for that
TG: if i even can i mean
TG: is there gonna be some kind of anatomical reason that i cant
TG: how does it even work
CG: I'LL SHOW YOU.
TG: yeah
TG: yeah ok

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 12:32 --

-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 12:27 --

TG: so im still serious about trying to spar again
TG: maybe tomorrow idk
TG: dont let me keep putting it off ok
CG: I GUESS.
CG: ...
CG: EXCEPT. I DON'T FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT.
CG: THE LAST TIME WE TRIED, YOU SORT OF. WENT AWAY.
CG: I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
CG: IT SCARED THE FUCK OUT OF ME. I WOULD'VE DONE ANYTHING TO BRING YOU BACK.
TG: fuck karkat
TG: im sorry
CG: WHAT THE FUCK DON'T APOLOGIZE TO ME
CG: I *KNOW* IT WAS WAY WORSE FOR YOU, DON'T EVEN ACT LIKE
CG: UGH.
TG: yeah it was
TG: really bad
TG: and i fucking hate this shit
TG: basically having to schedule a time when i know beforehand that im gonna be throwing myself into a fucked up mental state
TG: how do you even plan for that
CG: MAYBE WE CAN.
CG: MAYBE IT'LL GO BETTER IF WE PLAN FOR IT.
CG: WHAT DO YOU THINK CAUSES IT, EXACTLY?
CG: IS IT OK TO ASK THAT KIND OF SHIT?
TG: yeah uh
TG: yeah its ok just like
TG: warn me beforehand i guess
TG: but im ok with it now i think
TG: it hasnt happened in a while so its not as bad to think about idk
TG: but basically there are just like
TG: certain things that i see or feel or hear that uh
TG: idk if this happens to trolls but like
TG: have you ever had a song or a smell or something that reminds you of a part of your life so strongly that its like youre there for a second
CG: YEAH, YEAH, I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.
TG: ok
TG: well its exactly like that except that the things that i get reminded of are really
TG: bad
TG: and theres shit i actually feel like
TG: physically
TG: like the memory is encoded forever in every one of my cells like oh hey remember all that shit you dont want to think about well
TG: how about you feel weird phantom echoes of it on your body too
CG: FUCK, DAVE, I'M SORRY.
TG: and like
TG: is this normal
TG: i dont have a fucking clue
TG: if this happened to everyone all the time i feel like someone maybe would have mentioned it at some point
TG: but theres a lot of shit for humans that never gets mentioned ever so
TG: i dont fucking know
CG: I WONDER THAT ABOUT, YOU KNOW. NOT HAVING MY ROMANTIC FEELINGS SPLIT INTO QUADRANTS.
CG: AM I SERIOUSLY THE ONLY ONE? IT'S FUCKING RIDICULOUS TO THINK THAT IN THE *ENTIRETY* OF TROLL EXISTENCE, WHICH IS COUNTED IN *MILLIONS OF SWEEPS*, BY THE WAY, THAT I COULD LITERALLY BE THE ONLY ONE?
CG: IT'S FUCKING ABSURD.
CG: BUT NO ONE *EVER* TALKS ABOUT IT.
TG: maybe they do but you hadnt like
TG: learned how to look for it yet
CG: HUH. YEAH. MAYBE.
TG: you know who might possibly have helped us out with any of this
TG: actual fucking adults
CG: HA! I GUESS.
TG: yeah i know your stance on adults its cool
TG: it just wouldve been idk
TG: nice
TG: if i had someone that i could just like
TG: ugh never mind
TG: man i dunno if its sadder that i was "supposed" to have adults that cared about me in my life or that your whole society was set up so that you didnt
CG: UH. WHY AM I SUPPOSED TO GIVE A FUCK ABOUT ADULTS, AGAIN?
TG: yeah ok i guess its kind of different if you dont have actual parents and just get spawned from a giant pond of jizz or whatever
TG: though i dont really have parents either
TG: ok how the fuck do we have such similar backgrounds like what are the odds of that
TG: man
CG: FUCK, YES, I'VE THOUGHT ABOUT THAT BEFORE.
CG: I MEAN, COULD I EVEN BECOME SUCH GOOD FRIENDS WITH ANY OF THE OTHER HUMANS? OR ARE THEY GOING TO BE TOO ALIEN?
TG: yeah fuck maybe
TG: and no offence but your troll friends are definitely too alien
CG: HA!
CG: I GUESS I ALREADY KNOW THAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND ROSE, WHATSOEVER.
TG: ok rose isnt a good example
TG: like
TG: i probably know her better than anyone but its not thanks to shit shes ever actually told me
TG: you just kind of have to do everything the hard way with her idk
CG: YEAH. I TALK TO HER A LOT ON PESTERCHUM. ACTUALLY.
CG: AND I STILL *CANNOT* FUCKING TELL IF SHE HAS A PROBLEM WITH ME OR NOT.
TG: whoa what
TG: why the fuck would rose have a problem with you
CG: UH, WHY DO YOU FUCKING THINK?
CG: SHE'S ALWAYS SO
CG: UGH. SHE ALWAYS DOES SHIT LIKE APOLOGIZE FOR "ACCIDENTALLY" IMPLYING SOMETHING THAT'S LIKE. JUST A LITTLE BIT INSULTING. NOT EXTREMELY INSULTING, JUST INSULTING ENOUGH FOR PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY.
TG: man
TG: she does that kind of shit all the time
TG: you should call her out on it
CG: I FUCKING DID.
TG: hahaha fuck
TG: what happened
CG: I DON'T KNOW.
CG: I LEFT THE CONVERSATION COMPLETELY UNSATISFIED. SOMEHOW.
TG: man i didnt know you were talking to rose so much
TG: its kind of weirding me out for some reason
CG: UGH. SORRY I DIDN'T TELL YOU? I GUESS?
CG: I DIDN'T HAVE A REASON TO BRING IT UP BEFORE NOW.
TG: yeah ok
CG: ALSO EVERY CONVERSATION WITH HER IS FUCKING HUMILIATING, SOMEHOW, AND I HATE THINKING ABOUT THEM.
TG: ok ok i forgive you
CG: GOOD. THANKS.
TG: haha
CG: HM. DO YOU THINK ROSE MIGHT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR WHOLE BAD MEMORIES THING?
TG: fuck probably
TG: but im not going to tell her about it
TG: because i fucking hate all that armchair psychologist shit
TG: all thats going to happen is that shes just going to slot me in her head into some bullshit box whether she even means to or not
TG: and im sick of her telling me what i should be feeling about shit because shes not me and she doesnt have any kind of fucking idea what its like to be me and basically needs to fuck off
CG: OK. YEAH. NEVER MIND.
TG: hey look a sudden conversation change
CG: GOOD. OK.
TG: so
TG: i think i want to try sleeping in your recuperacoon with you again
CG: ARE YOU SURE
CG: BECAUSE
TG: fuck you yes i am
CG: IT WASN'T EXACTLY A RELAXING EXPERIENCE FOR ME EITHER. CAN WE TRY IT AGAIN LATER? I'LL SLEEP WITH YOU INSTEAD IF YOU WANT TO SLEEP TOGETHER.
TG: ugh fine
TG: ive just never tried to fuckin
TG: breathe with my whole head underwater
TG: doesnt matter that theres a snorkel mask thing
TG: my head says its cool dont worry you can breathe but my heart says fuck you no your face is actually all the way under some slime right now are you fucking kidding me
TG: why the fuck do you guys sleep in slime anyway
TG: is that based off some natural way you guys used to sleep early on in your evolution or does being around for millions of years make a species go weird
TG: because its not normal dude
CG: WHAT THE FUCK COULD BE MORE NORMAL ABOUT IT?
CG: WHAT'S NORMAL ABOUT SLEEPING ON TOP OF A BIG BLOCK OF FABRIC FULL OF SPRINGS?
CG: WHERE DID *THAT* COME FROM?
TG: dude you can make mattresses out of anything
TG: the kind with the springs was probably just invented by some dude
TG: but dont take my word for it i mean my mattress is right over here
TG: feel free to inspect it at your leisure
CG: OK, OK, FINE.
CG: DOUCHE.
TG: lol asshole

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG] at 13:28 --

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 13:28 --

Chapter Text

×

× × ×

"Yeah I'm fucking sure," Dave says, already pulling off his sunglasses and dropping them onto Karkat's desk, hauling off his cloak and tossing it over the chair. "I'm going to do it this time. I'm sure as fuck."

"You better be." Karkat pulls his shirt off over his head. "Because I'm tired as hell, and I'm not sleeping on your bed again. I really need a normal day of sleep for once."

"Yeah, yeah, I know, I know..." Dave sighs dramatically. "Beds don't fucking drown you, though!"

"You're not going to fucking drown. It doesn't fucking happen. To anyone. And, if we're talking about relative safety, is it even healthy for gravity to be acting on you half the time? I don't know! You don't know!" Karkat kicks off his shoes and thumbs open the fly of his pants. Dave averts his eyes as Karkat strips down to his underwear, and kind wants to kick himself. He's about to spend like eight hours in close, practically undressed quarters with Karkat. He needs to get a fucking grip.

"What if it's not healthy for gravity to act on you...wait. I mean, not healthy for gravity to not...uh..."

Karkat is climbing into his recuperacoon, and Dave rushes to undress, too. "Like that even matters, does drowning in a recuperacoon count as heroic? I don't think so."

"Just, maybe." Dave fights with the knot in one of his shoelaces. "And I'm still trying to figure out why all of you sleep in slime."

Karkat flops his arms over the edge of the recuperacoon and rests his chin on them. "Because it's fucking comfortable."

"Yeah, but..." Dave scrambles up the ladder. He sits awkwardly at the top for a second, arms crossed self-consciously over his chest, eyeing the slime. Karkat leans back against the opening of the recuperacoon, elbows hooked over the edge, like he's lounging in a hot tub. "Where did it come from?"

"I don't know, does it matter to you in your daily life where fucking beds come from?"

Dave gives another exaggerated sigh. "No, but..." The slime isn't cold at all. Not like it looks. It's not really warm, exactly, either, but a strange sort of neutral non-temperature that folds over Dave's feet and up his shins like it's not even there. That's one point for slime, he guesses. "Beds are like, obvious. You can lie down on anything and sleep. So why not make what you lie on as comfortable as possible? I just don't get where the whole. Slime. Thing, even comes from in the first place."

"You are such a fucking alien. Jesus."

"I'm not the one with a fucking slime pod, here!"

"Come on. We spend almost a sweep inside a cocoon before we pupate. We're obviously going to think it's comfortable."

Dave snorts, slapping a hand to his forehead. "That's pretty much the complete opposite of obvious, I have to tell you. So you actually remember being in a cocoon? And it was nice?"

"Yeah, I mean..." Karkat's face scrunches up. Dave lets out a quick, decisive breath and slides down all the way into the slime, mirroring Karkat's position at the opening. It feels warmer, now. Kind of nice. Does body temperature warm it up? "Everything before that was so large and confusing and...fucking terrifying? I can't really remember it that well. But I do remember that when I was in my cocoon it was so...quiet."

"OK, I guess that makes sense." Dave kicks his feet. The slime has such a strange consistency, not exactly wet, more like what Dave always imagined shitty 90s slime-in-a-can to feel like. He already feels completely weightless. It's kind of nice. Maybe he can get used to this.

He finds Karkat's bare calf under the slime and hooks his foot around it. Karkat smiles and reaches over, taking Dave's hand, lacing their fingers together. "Any last words?"

"Fuck you, and also, fuck you," Dave laughs. Karkat's been giving him that same shit-eating grin more and more lately, and he fucking loves it. He leans forward, pressing a soft kiss to the corner of that grin, and Karkat lets go of his hand, warm palms sliding up Dave's arms to his bare shoulders and up to his neck. Dave shivers, jittery from cold and nerves and Karkat's hands, and he leans into the kiss, trying to relax. "OK, let's do this," Dave says when they part for breath, foreheads touching.

Karkat kisses him one last time, and pulls away. "OK." He turns, pressing down on a small indentation on the top of the recuperacoon. A rectangular panel pops open and Karkat reaches inside, pulling out two identical breathing masks. They're made out of whatever purple alien plastic the whole recuperacoon is made of, tethered to the compartment they came out of by long breathing tubes, ribbed and flexible. Dave doesn't know if all recuperacoons come with two, or if Karkat made some kind of alchemical adjustment with him in mind. The second option is kind of nice. "I swear I won't be mad if you have to leave again."

"You say that now," Dave mutters, holding the mask in both hands. He presses it to his face and clips the straps behind his head. So far so good. The edges of the mask have a soft, gummy texture that, Dave guesses, keeps it completely airtight, from his forehead to his chin. He has no trouble breathing, so far. The air tastes and feels like meteor air. Everything's fine. It's just like sleeping in his own bed, where nothing whatsoever is going to keep him from breathing.

Karkat has his fastened, too, and Dave lets himself sink down up to his chin. OK. This is...going to be fine. Karkat finds his hands under the slime, squeezing them reassuringly, and they both go under.

Dave tries to keep his breathing as steady as possible, but his breaths are shallow, won't stop being shallow as soon as the slime goes over his ears. What the fuck. He knows he can breathe. Everything swims. Somehow in the darkness he can see his own pulse on the surface of his eyeballs. Breathe. Deeper.

Karkat's hands slide up his wrists, up his forearms. One curls around his bicep, the other presses reassuringly against the center of his chest. He forces his next breath to be as deep as he can make it, concentrating on filling his lungs, concentrating on making Karkat's hand rise with his chest. Karkat's thumb strokes encouragingly over his skin, and Dave takes another deep breath of completely normal, beautifully unexceptional meteor air.

Maybe he can actually get used to this, Dave thinks again, later, as sleep finally begins to tug at his mind. Karkat's arms are around his waist, their legs tangling together, completely weightless, completely warm.

× × ×

Dave wakes up in complete confusion. He's, he's...holy fuck. Floating? He flails out with one arm and the liquid around it seems to stiffen, to increase in density, until he can't move. As soon as he relaxes, though, the liquid releases him.

He pulls his hand back to his chest, oddly disturbed, blinking in the darkness. He and Karkat seem to have drifted apart during the night, so Dave reaches for him, slowly feeling around in the slime until he comes in contact with some mystery body part. Oh! Elbow. He runs his hand down over what he's pretty sure is the small of Karkat's back, yeah, OK. He wraps his arms around Karkat from behind and pulls them together, Karkat's head fitting perfectly under his chin. This is actually...really awesome. This way he can hold Karkat to his chest with both arms and nobody's limbs will fall asleep from getting pressed too long against the bed. Fine. Two points for slime.

When he wakes up again it's from Karkat shaking his shoulder. He swats weakly at Karkat, who grabs both of his hands and tugs at them. Wake up. Get up with me.

Fine, fine...Dave realizes with a little bit of panic that he's not actually sure anymore which way is up. He pulls away from Karkat's grip, feeling around until his hand breaks the surface, and immediately snatches it back under. It's fucking cold out there.

The oddest thing about the slime is that it doesn't actually stick to skin or hair. It's almost like stepping out of a big vat of silly putty that has the consistency of pudding. Not quite liquid, not quite solid. What was that, uh, non-Newtonian? It sticks like hell to fabric, though, as Dave had discovered the night before last, too, when his boxers were coated in a thin layer of green after he left Karkat's room. Nothing has changed this morning.

Karkat smiles up at him after they both climb down, looking so happy that Dave can't help but scoop him up into an enormous hug. "So there."

"So? You have to admit now that this is the superior sleeping arrangement," Karkat says, head on Dave's chest. Dave can feel his smile against his skin.

"It wasn't bad. Definitely weird. I dunno if it's cleared 'superior,' though. Might need a few more test runs."

Dave drops his boxers to the floor of the shower and kicks them around under the spray. Does slime wash out? It's not like he can't alchemize more pairs of boxers, probably billions more, if he wanted, but that shit just seems wasteful. He thinks guiltily of the first pair he wore in Karkat's recuperacoon that first disastrous night, which are still lying in a gross slimy pile in the corner of his bedroom. He should probably...clean that up. Today.

Today...

Guilt and dread swim in his gut. Yesterday he was supposed to start sparring again, but he didn't, same as the day before, and the day before that. He has to, today. He has to. A momentary twinge of annoyance at Karkat for not holding him to his promise spikes in his throat, but no, he can't fucking blame Karkat for this. All the blame lies with Dave, lies in his very own warped set of priorities and general cowardice.

Karkat swipes the curtain closed the next stall over and starts the water. Say something. Say something. Tell him.

"We have to try sparring again today," Dave hears himself say, finally. His voice comes out so weird and hollow and probably sounds terrified, and Dave wishes he'd just stayed quiet.

"Yeah, OK," Karkat answers after a long pause, and Dave wishes for the millionth time that he could just be normal, so that Karkat doesn't have to share the responsibility for him and his broken-ass brain. It's his problem. He should be able to fix it on his own. Right?

Dave shoves his head under the faucet, and near-scalding water pelts his face.

"Are you OK?" Karkat asks, after another long moment, his voice gruff and strange.

"No," Dave blurts out, squirting shampoo into his hand as angrily as he can manage. "No, never, negative, under no circumstances, definitely not, not on your life, nope."

"We don't have to do this. We can come up with something..."

"No, dude, you don't get it, that's half of why I'm not OK about this, I can't keep putting this shit off, I can't avoid it forever..."

"But what if you have to?" Karkat interrupts. "What if you find out that you can't fight? What then?"

The words hit Dave like a fucking sledgehammer.

"What if it isn't something you can just fucking ease back into? What if it hits you at the wrong moment later on and...and you..."

"I don't have a fucking choice! I never had a choice!"

Dave stares at the caulk between the tiles on the shower floor until his eyes sting. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell, I swear, loops over and over in his head but his lips stay in a tight line. His eyes are burning, now, hot as the water beating on his shoulders.

Karkat doesn't say anything else, and the two of them finish their showers in silence. Dave shuts off his own water the instant Karkat shuts off his, and catches him outside in the bathroom, towel around his waist.

There's still water on Karkat's back, along his shoulders, and he kisses back as hard as Dave kisses him.

Chapter Text

Can't believe
How strange it is to be anything at all ×

× × ×

"I'm sorry," Dave says into the kiss, voice wavering, and Karkat throws his arms around Dave's neck, leans his whole weight into Dave's body, pushing them both back a step. Dave grabs him around the waist with both arms, and the feel of Karkat's skin against his is amazing, incredible, he felt it all last night when they slept and now he can't get enough of it under his hands. Karkat's tongue is hot against his, and his palms glide over Karkat's back, over the cooling water droplets on his shoulder blades, over the bumps of his spine. Karkat groans, and heat strikes sharp and insistent in Dave's gut.

They break the kiss, holding each other tighter, bodies flush, chests to thighs. They stand motionless for several long moments, breathing, anticipation quickening their breaths, faster and faster, and feeling Karkat against him, being so affected by him, is...

Is.

Karkat moves first.

It didn't seem intentional at all, that first small press of his hips, of his thigh between Dave's legs. Dave lets out a shuddering breath, then he's dropping a long line of sloppy kisses all along Karkat's shoulder to the crook of his neck, Karkat's arms tightening around him, hips moving a second time, intentional and unmistakable.

"Fuck," Dave breathes as his own hips snap back, and Karkat backs him into the shower wall, straddling his thigh. Dave groans, his hands roaming urgently over Karkat's back.

"Dave," Karkat groans, weakly, desperately, into his neck, and...

Oh

× × ×

The two of them sip coffee in contented silence in the empty lab, hands clasped tightly together under the corner of the table. Dave is unable to stop sneaking glances at Karkat's face, and a little thrill of excitement goes through him every time. Karkat seems to be steadfastly avoiding his eyes, though the sweetest, shyest little smile has been tugging at the corners of his mouth ever since they left their rooms.

Some faraway part of Dave's mind thinks they should probably talk about what just happened, but right now it's so fucking amazing to just sit here in confidence. His mental map of what their relationship should mean is turning in his mind like the dial on a combination lock, parts rotating, slotting together, new, exhilarating, perfect. They share this secret, now, this wonderful, private feeling that no one else has any part of, can't have any part of. It's theirs.

As he watches Karkat sip his coffee, eyelashes dark against his cheeks, that little smile still turning up the corners of his mouth, Dave is so in love with him that he can hardly stand it.

Oh...

Dave's eyes widen underneath his shades.

He thinks it again, purposefully, deliberately. It's not the first time he's thought it, but this is the first time he's done anything but try to immediately bury the thought. This time he actually examines it, takes it out, brings it out into the light, turns it over and over. Defines it for himself. The more he thinks it the less foreign the word seems. More applicable. Less terrifyingly adult.

Dave squeezes Karkat's hand, and Karkat's eyes finally flick up to his, huge and dark. Dave knows he has this stupid half drunk smile on his face but he doesn't care, especially when Karkat's smile widens too, his bottom lip caught between his teeth. It's pretty much physically impossible to not kiss him right then, so Dave does, their legs tangled together under the table, hands still clasped tightly between their laps.

"Come on, man," Dave says between kisses, "You gonna...include me, in your train...of thought...?"

Karkat lets out this little snort-laugh against his mouth that makes Dave want to keep kissing him for pretty much the rest of forever. "Are you going...to include me, in yours?" The conversation comes to a standstill for a moment while Dave's mouth is full of both of their tongues, Karkat's other hand leaving the handle of his mug to thread itself into his hair.

"Yeah, if...you want." Fuck, Karkat's lips are soft. Dave laughs a little to himself, because shouldn't he be used to that by now? He isn't, though. There's still something so miraculous about it.

Karkat pulls away from his mouth, breathing hard, his eyes dark. "I can't stop thinking about. It. I mean. Earlier."

Heat blooms in Dave's stomach. "Me either," he says, a little breathless.

They both laugh, shaky and giddy, and kiss again, open mouthed and sloppy, Dave's hand twisting in the fabric of Karkat's sweatshirt, until the sound of the transportalizer filters in through the haze of his mind just a second too late.

They jerk apart, both staring, frozen, as Vriska appears in the lab, and what they were just doing must be painfully obvious from the way her eyes flick from Dave's messy hair to the way their legs and fingers are still intertwined under the table. The horrified silence only lasts for about half a second more before Karkat jumps up and starts yelling.

× × ×

"Dude, just..." Dave's been trying to get a word in edgewise ever since he physically had to drag Karkat out of the lab. His face is still burning with humiliation. He's pulling Karkat down the hallway by the hand, and Karkat hasn't stopped ranting for a second.

"And another thing! I can't believe her, acting like she knows anything about our fucking relationship, she hasn't figured shit out, 'figured it out' my ass..."

"Karkat."

"Like any of this has anything to do with her whatsoever..."

Vriska sure has been taking up a lot of their time this morning for someone who supposedly has nothing to do with anything whatsoever, Dave thinks, and the bitterness behind that thought stings. Dave stops abruptly, turns, and grabs Karkat by the shoulders. "Karkat!"

"What," Karkat snaps, sulky, eyes on the floor.

"You can seriously stop talking about this now. I was fucking there."

"But...she..."

"Shut. Up." Karkat's eyes widen, hurt, and Dave swallows, his mouth dry. That wasn't...he didn't mean for that to come out so much...like he meant it. He sighs.

Karkat's eyes are back on the floor, and he looks so small suddenly that Dave can't stand himself. He lifts a hand from Karkat's shoulder to his cheek, the soft roundness of it slotting perfectly into his palm. Karkat's eyes flick back up to his, mouth twisting.

"Look," Dave says, voice gentler, "Fuck. I'm sorry. I was having such a fucking amazing morning, and I kind of want to go back to that, you know?"

"Yeah, yeah." The corners of Karkat's mouth turn up, but the smile doesn't reach his eyes.

"And like. Yeah, obviously, Vriska's pretty much the worst, but you always seriously fly off the handle at her..."

Karkat's brows furrow sharply. "I thought you didn't want to talk about this anymore."

Dave sighs, dropping his hand from Karkat's cheek. "Yeah. Yeah, OK."

× × ×

They spend the next few hours in Can Town. Karkat hands cans up to the Mayor, who's perched on Dave's shoulders, to put the finishing touches on a trio of ridiculously tall skyscrapers. At this point the town doesn't have anything even remotely close to a consistent scale, and Dave finds that fact somewhat hilarious.

At least things have warmed back up between him and Karkat. Pretty quickly, actually. They keep sharing glances, little private smiles, and yeah, OK, that's nice. Dave's memory keeps giving him distracting little flashes, images, of Karkat panting in his arms, of bare skin, of the way Karkat was afterwards, boneless, shivering, woozy and blissed out. So radically different from the tight ball of tension he usually is.

Well, if that's what it takes, Dave thinks with a touch of hilarity, absently studying the line of Karkat's jaw, the slight curve of his throat. Karkat catches him looking and smiles, slowly, one eyebrow raised, and Dave smiles back, a little sheepish, his face hot.

Later on they head back to the lab for lunch, hands swinging between them, and Dave wonders what they should do after they eat. There was that idea he'd had ages ago, about making illustrated novelizations of movies that didn't make it onto the meteor. And it's been ages since Dave's written any music. He's finally starting to feel in the mood to do that again. But does he want to start today?

Today...

...Fuck.

This...is going to suck about five hundred metric tons of ass.

Wouldn't it be better to try to start sparring tomorrow, instead? When Karkat's not still half furious at Vriska, when Dave's had a better night of sleep, when it hasn't only been half a day since they...

Warmth glows in Dave's chest, and he sneaks another look at Karkat. Yeah. Actually. Everything is pretty much still amazing. What's the worst that could possibly happen? His mind plays some tricks on him? It's been a really fucking great day so far, despite that one fairly sizeable downturn. And like. When he remembers this day in the future, what is he going to remember more? The fact that he had the exact same reaction that he's had before, unpleasant but completely expected, to the exact same stimuli? Or the fact that he and Karkat actually fucking had sex this morning?

Fuck...

Wow.

Wow.

That was a phrase he'd been shying away from so far. But what they did counted, right? Dave barely has a grasp on what "counts" as sex between dudes, much less sex between humans and motherfucking aliens. All he knows is that he feels like they did, and he's pretty sure Karkat feels like that too. Not that he has any other previous experiences to compare it to. But...

You know what? Who even fucking cares. What, are they going to have to stand up in court and prove that what they did was "actually" sex to a jury of their peers before they can continue on with their relationship? What's between them is between them and nobody else. He gets to decide. They get to decide.

Dave stands a little straighter. Wow. It's almost like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders, one that he didn't even realize was there. He looks over at Karkat, loving the shape of his nose in profile, the curve of his cheek. They don't have to be anything they're not. They don't have to strive for some societally ordained Platonic ideal of a relationship, for either humans or trolls. All they have to do is be themselves, to try to understand themselves, and each other.

And maybe...that's the whole point?

Karkat looks back at him with such a genuine smile that Dave can't help but grab him around the waist, pull him close, bury his face in his shoulder. Karkat laughs and throws his arms around his back, and Dave realizes that he would do anything for Karkat, anything at all. Anything to keep him safe. Fight, with swords. With time. Die, if he has to, in a doomed timeline, or heroically, forever.

So yeah. Maybe it's the perfect day to try to spar again, after all.

Chapter Text

This unrest beats in my chest
Discordant limbs watch unimpressed ×

× × ×

"No, I'm good. The best. Do you hear that? That's the sound of all these fluffly fuckin' songbirds flying around my head singing 'Oh What A Beautiful Morning'." Dave solidifies his stance, his sword steady despite the hammering of his heart. They're in a large, mostly empty room just down the hall from their own rooms. Close to home. In case things get bad.

Karkat doesn't seem convinced, and yeah. Dave isn't really either. "Dave. I'm not going to just start strifing with you out of nowhere."

Dave takes a deep breath and lets it out. Echoes of the vibrations of metal against metal have been radiating up his arms ever since he first gripped the hilt of his sword between his hands, but, he keeps telling himself. It's not real, and it doesn't matter. It's just there. Just something that happens. No reason to freak out. "This is not even remotely close to being anything like 'out of nowhere', but OK."

Karkat drags a hand over his face. "Ugh. Fine. But can't we just, I don't know. Start small?"

The phantom numbness has crept up to his shoulders, now. "Yeah, I guess we can. Yeah."

They show each other their own sets of solo drills, and it's not...so bad. He hasn't done this in...almost two years, now, but the muscle memory is still there. Once he starts, it all comes rushing back: thrust. Block. Parry. Actually doing the drills, somehow, even though the numbness in his arms is still lingering like a bitch, is lessening his anxiety about the whole thing. The sword slices the air, light and effortless. He knows how to do this. He's good at this. He'd almost forgotten.

Karkat's drills are surprisingly similar in content, though definitely not in form. Dave watches, fascinated by the twin movement of Karkat's scythes in the air. Dual-wielding isn't something Dave has any concept of. It's actually...genuinely impressive, even if some of Karkat's moves shift a little into the territory of off-balance and clumsy. He's good at covering for it, though.

Without a sword in his hands the phantom sensations are fading. Good riddance. See? No big deal. "We should do this shit every morning," Dave says as he starts to do some cooldown stretches, excitement in his voice. Fuck. He used to be able to bend almost completely in half, to put both hands flat on the floor. He can still touch his toes, but there's a tightness in his hamstrings that never used to be there. Fuck. He probably should do this every morning.

"So everything's OK?" Karkat asks when he finishes, running his fingertips down the line of Dave's jaw.

"Yeah!" Dave says, rubbing his hands together, wishing that the last of the bullshit sensation there would just go ahead and go away already. "Yeah. You were right. We should just, like. Take it slow."

"OK," Karkat says, still looking worried, so Dave kisses him, on the lips, on the cheeks, on the nose, on the chin, until he's finally smiling, nervously laughing.

They shower for literally the third time that day, and when Dave is rinsing himself off, the rest of the residual adrenaline goes out like a light and leaves a sudden, sucking hole of anxiety behind it. He leans his head against the shower wall, trying to breathe normally past that all too familiar nervous flutter in his chest.

He's still got this. It's OK. Nothing's going to happen to him.

Except it is.

There's no question that he's going to have to fight. Lord English. Bec Noir. How can he be proud of one fucking day that basically boils down to "waving a sword around"? He's not going to be ready. How can he possibly be ready when the time comes?

He shuts off the water. Karkat's is still on the next stall over, so Dave numbly towel-dries his hair and pads off down the hall to his room to get dressed. He hears Karkat shut off his own water and leave the bathroom a few moments later.

Why had he insisted on trying this out, he thinks as he buttons and zips his fly. He's sure suddenly that he irreparably fucked up Karkat's day. Karkat didn't want to do this. Why had he been so pushy? Karkat hadn't been happy about it, not at all, and Dave hadn't even listened. What if Karkat's mad? He...has to be, even if it's just a little.

Shit.

Shit.

His lungs feel like they've shrunk about three sizes. He leaves his shades on the desk and pulls his cape on over his head, pulls up the hood, pulls the edges of it around his body like a blanket. He peers out the door of his room as soon as Karkat comes out of his, and they stare at each other for one long moment before Dave can't stand the nervous twist to Karkat's mouth anymore and rushes to hug him.

"Are you sure you're OK?" Karkat asks into his chest, and Dave runs his hands over and over the fabric of Karkat's sweatshirt.

"No. Are you?"

"No."

They both laugh a little, and Karkat's arms snake around his waist, holding him tight. They curl up together on the couch, Dave's legs over Karkat's lap, his face buried in the side of his neck. "I'm sorry I made you do that shit today."

Karkat's hand stills on his back. "The fuck? You're worried about me?"

"Yeah, duh, you didn't want to do this, but I made you anyway..."

"Wow, that priority? Is so low on my list that I need a fucking microscope to see it."

"Wait, what? Your lists get smaller as they go down?"

"Shut up. Fuck." They both laugh a little, holding each other tighter. "Seriously, though. I'm really worried about you. You've just been so fucking nervous." Karkat sighs, his hand threading into Dave's hair, cradling the back of his head. "Ever since that memo."

"I am? I mean, I have?" Dave thinks about it, and maybe. Maybe he has been.

"Yes," Karkat says, incredulously, his voice cracking in the middle.

They fall into silence for a little while, just touching, warm, and safe, and oh, this is exactly what he needed. Why don't they spend 24/7 like this, again?

"I wish we could just think of something. So you don't have to..." Karkat lets out a frustrated puff of a breath.

"Except I want to."

Karkat pulls back just a little, looking into his eyes, eyebrows sharply furrowed. "Yeah, I know you do, but..."

Dave kisses him on the cheek, on the corner of the mouth, then buries his face back in Karkat's shoulder. The fact that Karkat is worried about him, cares how he feels, notices things about his moods before even Dave does is suddenly too much, overwhelming and almost uncomfortable. What has he ever done to deserve that kind of attention? Karkat drops his hand to Dave's back, holding him tight, and Dave wants to tell him just how much it means, just how much nobody in his life has ever given a shit about how he feels, about who he is, about loneliness and isolation and fear saturating him down so far to the core that they feel like friends...

"I...You..." All those words push and shove each other at the back of his tongue, jumbled and messy and awful. None of them make it out. He takes a shaky breath. "Karkat..."

Karkat pats his back, softly, soothingly, rubs circles between his shoulderblades. "Hey. Hey. Shh. It's OK."

Dave realizes that he's tensed up almost completely. He tries to relax, telling each muscle in turn to cut that shit out. "I, uh. How do I explain this? It kind of felt. Good. I mean, it also sucked. But...it felt really good to do something I'm good at again, even if I also sort of hate it. Does that make sense?"

"Yeah, I guess."

Karkat still sounds really unsure, and Dave loves him like crazy.

× × ×

Dave guesses he's awake now.

He wishes Karkat were awake, too, but he's still asleep beside him on the bed. He has the covers pulled all the way over his head, his breaths slow and deep. Waking him up would actually involve moving though and fuck does Dave feel heavy. Sort of. Or is it more like the connection between his limbs and brain has been downgraded to the equivalent of a 56k modem?

He wishes Karkat would just wake up.

He just has to lift an arm. Just...lift an arm. That's all. Oh! Hey.

His arm is around Karkat's back, now, and it's really. Warm. Dave's not even sure exactly how he made that happen, but OK. And...Karkat's still dead asleep, but. It's probably OK.

O...K.

His eyelids droop, heavy again, and he nods off.

"Dave, Dave. Wake up."

His eyes are open now and Karkat's smiling down at him, crosslegged on the bed, hair messy, eyes bright. He should probably say something. Probably...

Karkat's eyebrows furrow in worry and Dave realizes he's probably just been expressionlessly staring back for who knows how long. "Hey," he hears himself say, as if from behind six inches of glass.

"Hey. Are you OK?"

"...Yeah. Yeah." Man. That was way too delayed of a response to come off as anything other than a complete lie.

"It's happening again. I knew...It's fucking...you're..." Karkat is looking devastated, trying so hard not to freak out, and somehow Dave manages to put a hand up to his face, watches his own thumb smooth over the line of Karkat's jaw.

"Sorry."

Karkat snorts. "What the fuck, don't apologize. Jesus." He leans into Dave's hand, eyebrows still drawn. "I should've tried to..."

"Nope."

"...Nope? Nope what?"

"I'm fine."

"In what universe would this count as fine?"

Dave drops his hand. "I don't feel...bad. Well. Sort of. Not...exactly. Just...I'm OK." Karkat is staring at him, confused, worried, expectant, and Dave doesn't know what to do, doesn't know how to explain that he's still here but it's like his mind's cocooned itself in about fifty blankets and curled up way at the back of his skull with its metaphorical mind hands clapped over its metaphorical mind ears. Well. That might have been a good way to explain it, actually, but the beginning of the thought is too far away now and he can't really remember how to get back to it. "I promise."

Karkat lets out a puff of a sigh and rubs a hand absently over Dave's chest, which is...nice. Dave closes his eyes and makes himself relax. If he thinks about anything outside the bed the...largeness of it...hurts, but right here, right now, his entire consciousness can fit comfortably in the warmth of Karkat's hand on his chest and...it's nice. Well. Maybe not nice. But good. Better. So much better.

They spend the day watching movies, Dave wrapped in blankets with his head on Karkat's chest, listening to the steady thrum of his heart. He's barely even following the movie, but it's nice to have on. This one's set like, a long time ago, and doesn't even clear the usual bar for amount of action usually seen in a romcom. It's pretty much just talking. Which, ordinarily, would be so unbelievably boring, and Dave's pretty sure he's fallen asleep within the first twenty minutes of this movie every time they've tried to watch it before. But this time it's nice. No loud sounds, no sharp edges.

"It doesn't matter what kind of tragic past this dude had, wasn't he still a complete dick to her in the beginning?" Dave says, half into Karkat's chest. Karkat squeezes his shoulders.

"It's such a classic example of quadrant vacillation. They're obviously drawn to each other from the start, if this were a troll movie they'd be together in the first act. Then the main conflict would be them flipping quadrants."

"Hmm, yeah." Dave shifts a little. Karkat's hip bone had been digging into his chest for a little longer than he wanted to continue to put up with. "Hey, here's a question, did trolls have sci-fi?"

"Sci-fi?"

"Science fiction."

"And somehow that makes even less sense."

"You know, like. Shit with...well, wait. You guys had spaceships in real life. Uh. Shit about technology you hadn't invented yet?"

Karkat scoffs. "What exactly would we need to invent?"

"I don't know! You tell me. I bet there's tons of stuff!" Dave realizes with a start that he feels better. So much better. His hand is resting next to his head on Karkat's chest, and it feels 100% like his own.

"Yeah, right. I doubt it," Karkat says, absolutely radiating smugness, and Dave pushes himself up onto his elbows, smiling down at him. Karkat looks surprised for a split second, then a genuine smile spreads over his face.

"Hey," Dave says, and maybe it isn't the most intelligent thing that's ever come out of his mouth but it makes Karkat's eyes light up and crinkle at the corners.

"Hey."

"Hey thanks for just...letting me lay on you like, all day."

"Oh." Karkat brushes a thumb over the line of Dave's jaw, eyes softening, half-lidded. "Sure." Dave leans down to kiss him, and Karkat eagerly responds, his fingers burying themselves in Dave's hair.

Yeah. OK.

He can still do this.

Chapter Text

And I never learned a lesson looking at my own reflection
But sometimes it seems useful
So I loosen my heart strings in high hopes of starting to find something truthful ×

× × ×

There are no stars in the Furthest Ring. The sky is mostly black, an endless expanse only broken up by distant clusters of dream bubbles. Dave hardly ever saw stars back on Earth, either. Maybe five or six on a particularly clear night, but for the most part they were continuously blotted out by the brownish reddish smear of escaped city light.

"This sucks, I...huh. It's not like I had a lot of plans back on Earth, but I sort of did? It was more like, I had completely unlimited future plans. I at least thought I was going to see the damn stars. Someday. Well. I dunno. I didn't actually think that much about stars."

"Mmhm." Karkat is half asleep against his shoulder despite the mug of coffee between his hands. Dave can't blame him. It's technically Dave's turn to be on watch. Karkat is just keeping him company.

"It's not like. A huge deal. It just seems kind of...cosmically sad. There was a lot of shit on my planet I never got to see. And maybe I wouldn't have ever...I mean, I still don't know if I even like, y'know. Traveling."

"My planet was a shithole and I'm glad I never left my house."

Dave laughs, and lets his head drop back against the wall they're sitting against. "Sorry, I didn't mean to like, wake you up." Karkat straightens up a little, wiping at the corner of his mouth.

"I wasn't asleep."

"Yeah, OK."

The meteor is hurtling full speed towards a gigantic cluster of dream bubbles. Dave can see it on the horizon, glowing blue and pearlescent. It's been months since they physically passed through any bubbles, more by chance than anything else. Rose says it's going to take them over half a year to just get through that one cluster up ahead. The middle of it is almost solid bubbles, all connected, which means months and months of constantly changing terrain and god knows how many of their dead friends.

"Hey." Karkat is looking up at him, a crease between his brows.

"Sorry, just. That." Dave points at the cluster on the horizon, and Karkat nods.

"I'm trying really fucking hard to not worry about that."

"Yeah, and it's not working."

Karkat lets out a frustrated breath and leans back against Dave's shoulder. "Vriska says she got some sort of 'top secret information' that the ghosts of our ancestors are in there."

It's the first Dave has heard about this. "What do you mean, like..."

"The ones that played the game first. The ones that scratched their session."

"Aren't you all just like, clones of each other? Is there going to be a Karkat-clone ghost in there?"

Karkat groans and drags a hand over his face. "I hate this. I hate that all that bullshit Terezi and Vriska and Eridan used to go on and on about is true and not some dumbfuck highblood fantasy." He takes an angry swig of coffee and sets his mug off to the side with a sharp tap. "And maybe my ancestor isn't even in there. But. Maybe he is."

Dave stares into the dream bubbles for a moment, Karkat tense against his shoulder. "Would that be like. Bad?"

"Obviously."

"What? No. What's obvious about it?" Dave doesn't like where this is going, not at all, and Karkat's silence is only contributing to his general sense of dread. "Dude."

"This fucking sucks." Karkat sounds so small, suddenly, and Dave sets down his coffee so he can pull Karkat's head to his chest.

"Yeah."

"It's just. There's no fucking chance that this is going to end in any way that doesn't make me want to explode into a million putrid chunks of concentrated humiliation." Karkat's voice is muffled, and Dave squeezes his shoulders. "I just can't stop comparing myself to some 'Karkat-clone ghost' that I don't even know for sure actually exists. I mean he's basically me so he has to be at least a little bit awful..."

"Hey," Dave tries to interject, but Karkat talks right over him.

"But what if he's not. What if he's actually competent and not a complete waste of space..."

"Karkat...jesus..."

"Just let me say this," Karkat says, burying his face completely in Dave's chest. "If he's redeemable it means it's possible for me to not suck. I'm just failing at it. If he's not, there's probably something fundamentally flawed in our basic genetic structure. Which I'm also responsible for, by the way, so it's my fault no matter what direction you're coming from..."

"Dude. You don't suck. I'm fucking serious."

Karkat falls into an awful silence.

"What, do you think I'm just trying to make you feel better?"

"No," Karkat shoots back.

"But?"

Karkat hesitates. "You just don't know. Yet."

The complete certainty in his voice is like a kick to the chest. Dave doesn't know what to do, or what to say, to make Karkat stop saying bad things about himself. And now he's starting to realize that even if he makes him stop saying them, what use is that really, when he's clearly still thinking them? Hoarding them inside like a horrible, infectious mass? The image makes Dave feel sick. "What if I'm not wrong, though? Or what if I actually like things about you that you don't like about yourself? Shit like this ain't so black and white."

"I guess."

Dave sighs. "I seriously doubt that. Jesus. I wouldn't even be capable of not liking you. That's seriously impossible."

Karkat lets out a tiny little snort of a laugh. "I guess."

"And that guess is correct as fuck."

"Mmn." Karkat buries his face in the crook of Dave's neck, snaking an arm around his waist under the blanket. Dave rubs a palm over his back in soothing circles, and the tension leaves Karkat's shoulders, little by little. I don't deserve this, Dave can practically hear him thinking.

"I like you a whole fucking lot." Dave drops a kiss on his hair, near the base of one horn. "And I'm just gonna keep saying that, dude. Don't worry."

But worry is all Dave can think about as Karkat nods off again against his chest. He knows he shouldn't be worrying, because what happens up ahead is going to be so far beyond anyone's control that the idea is almost ludicrous. What use is fucking worry against laws of nature and motherfucking Paradox Space?

And what's going to happen when they all meet back up with the others, assuming everything in this absurdly complex clusterfuck has gone to plan? Is he even going to know them anymore? And more importantly, perhaps, are they even going to know him? Insecurity begins to creep, hand over foot, up through Dave's mind. He used to be such a different person. The Dave they used to be friends with barely even exists anymore. What did they actually like about him? What if they only liked him for the front he's tried so hard to find himself behind?

And what about Karkat? That familiar paranoid feeling swims back up inside him. It seems impossible that John will understand, and that thought is lonely, unbearably lonely. Will Jade? She would understand, he thinks. But what if she's waiting for him?

What is he going to do?

Karkat twitches a little in his sleep, and Dave almost involuntarily squeezes his shoulders. It's going to be OK. He can talk to Karkat about it, when he wakes up. Maybe they can come up with something. He doesn't need to do anything alone. Not anymore.

Maybe...that's? What love is?

Dave's familiar with all the axioms. Hearts being connected. A union of souls. Becoming one instead of two. It all seems so cliche and cringeworthy but the more time he spends with Karkat the more he thinks he might understand the feeling. He's not even embarrassed about it, not exactly. Dave realizes with an almost helpless sort of joy that, yeah. This is exactly what he wants. He wants to do everything with Karkat. Face everything with Karkat. To spend so much time together that they finish each other's sentences, know each other's thoughts so intimately that Dave won't even be able to remember what it was like to be alone. Is that weird?

Well. If it is, they'll be able to deal with it together, Dave thinks, his nose in Karkat's hair.

"No way, man, that is so not fair, you got like, so much sleep! On me, by the way." Dave pretends to collapse against the wall of the landing, beating it dramatically with his fist. His shift as a lookout is over and they're heading downstairs. "How...is everything...so unfair..."

Karkat laughs and grabs a handful of his cape, tugging him forward. "I'm starving, which obviously overrides sleeping as a basic need. When was the last time anyone died from not sleeping? You die if you don't eat, Dave."

"You're not going to die, oh my god," Dave laughs. "And people die all the time from not sleeping! You know, from shit like, uh. Operating heavy machinery?"

"Uh huh. Heavy machinery? What heavy machinery?"

Dave pauses in his tracks to give Karkat a look over the top of his shades, then flicks his eyes down his own body and back up, waggling his eyebrows.

"Oh, no." Karkat's mouth twists, tries to repress a smile. "God fucking dammit. Do you want to survive the night or not?"

"Hey, emergency services, uh, yeah, can you, uh, send out an ambulance like, stat? I told Karkat one too many dick jokes and now my head's no longer attached to my body."

Karkat laughs loudly, slapping a hand over his eyes. "Dave..."

"I know, I know. You would never unattach my head from my body. Right?" He hooks an arm around Karkat's shoulders, squeezing him tight, dropping a kiss to his cheek, his jaw, behind his ear.

Karkat hums and leans into him. "That remains to be seen."

"Oh my god, Karkat, I can't believe you would...just..." Dave forgets where he's going with that sentence entirely as Karkat turns, looping his arms around Dave's neck, pulling him down into an openmouthed kiss.

"Sorry. Lately I've just been, hmm. Worrying about shit," Karkat says into his ear while they catch their breath.

"Me too." Dave's palms smooth over the curves of Karkat's back, his waist, his hips. "We could talk about it and make out at the same time."

Karkat's laugh is half nervous, half delighted. Dave sometimes wonders if he crosses the line sometimes with this quadrant-mixing shit, but it's so hilariously easy to fluster Karkat with it that it's pretty much impossible to stop. And fuck is it hot when Karkat gets caught off guard like this. Dave can practically see the IQ points evaporating out of his head in real time. "Talk about 'unfair'," Karkat finally manages, face red. "But yes. We...could. Do that." He clears his throat.

"Fuck yes." Dave scoops him up into an enormous hug. Karkat quivers with barely-repressed laughter, the toes of his shoes barely touching the floor.

Later they lie together in bed, limbs arranged in a practiced sprawl, hands exploring, lips locked. Karkat is lying half on top of him, chest vibrating with that low, satisfied clicking which Dave is pretty sure Karkat only does when he's feeling hella pale but what does he know? Either way there's nothing urgent about any of this, sleepy as both of them are. They break the kiss, breathing heavy, eyes locked.

"I just haven't decided what I wanna tell John and Jade about us, you know?" Dave says, voice a little hoarse. "I mean like. I don't want you to think that I wanna hide this shit? That's not, it, mm..."

Karkat kisses his lips, his chin, the underside of his jaw.

"There's just so much shit I'm scared they're gonna...start...assuming, you know? About me? Especially John, he's not really...I dunno. A lot can change in three years though I guess."

"Dave." Karkat is giving him that condescending look that would be annoying under different circumstances but right now is adorable as fuck. "You still have almost half a fucking sweep before you even have to deal with it. I think you'll figure something out."

"I could say the same thing about you and," Dave gestures broadly over Karkat's back. "Your shit. Just chill and you'll figure it out?"

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever." They smile at each other. Karkat looks so happy, eyes half-lidded, hair mussed. Sleepiness begins to sink over Dave like a blanket, and he hugs Karkat to him, letting his head fall to the side on the pillow.

Karkat holds him as he drifts deeper into sleep, still making that contented sound, perfect and peaceful and relaxed. Dave can feel the shape of his smile against his chest.

It's so warm.