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Like That Old Black Hole

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You didn’t really have a lot of rules on the meteor. It made sense. You’re all a bunch of barely functional teenagers raised to the status of gods and left to your own devices for several years. Not exactly the most conducive environment for law and order.

It wasn’t like there weren’t any rules though. You’re all fucking civilized after all, despite Karkat’s constant out loud wonderings on that fact. It was all simple shit to help keep things from turning into a complete disaster zone. Keep the majority of your filth to your designated area, attend the annual strategy meetings, if you break something alchemize a new one like a decent fucking person.

Stay away from the clown.

You tried not to question that one too much. You and Rose got a basic rundown of what happened before you both showed up in meteorland, and the gist of it was he went fucking insane (didn’t that happen to a bunch of you?) and killed a bunch of people (didn’t Vriska do that too?) so stay away. It made sense to you, and you weren’t exactly itching to go spend time with some creepy clown fucker anyway.

The whole thing became like a goddamn boogieman story you tell kids to get them to behave. Don’t go off too far into the meteor alone, or else the clown will get ya. It seemed a hell of a lot more likely than any kid’s scary story though. Like, the clown actually existed for one thing, and had a body count.

Really though, this was all shit you would’ve done without Vriska shoving it down your throat a million and one times. If anything you were kinda tempted to go see what the fuss was about just to have some sort of dumb rebellion, but that was fucking stupid.

So instead you stay to the lit and used parts of the meteor, trying to find any way you can to pass the three long years you’re stuck on this thing. Most of those ways turn out to involve hanging with Karkat. He’s a surprisingly cool dude, you didn’t expect to become friends with him like you did.

You aren’t too sure how long into the trip it is. A little past the first year mark according to everyone else. You all had the whole strategy meeting Vriska and Rose insisted on having and your brain hasn’t quite been working the way you want it to since. You considered talking to Karkat about it, because he’s a pretty easy guy to talk to, but you weren’t sure what it even was you wanted to say.

You just. Aren’t looking forward to reaching the new session. It ain’t a big deal, nothing to worry anyone else with.

You’re still left restless and sleepless and bored though and there ain’t shit you can figure out to stop it all.

When you start wandering the meteor during the time you’ve all designated for sleeping you aren’t thinking about much. You just figured it was a good way to let off some energy and not risk waking everyone else up with your own problems. You can deal with your own shit. You don’t pay attention to where you’re going, and you only regret that when everything starts looking the same and you aren’t sure how you’re supposed to actually get back.

This place ain’t endless though, not like the furthest ring it’s flying though. Sooner or later you’ll start back towards your little civilized corner.

Clown ghost stories aren’t close to the first thing to come to your head, even with the amount of times they’ve been told to you. You don’t think about them until you hear a pair of footsteps just the slightest bit out of sync with the echoes of your own.

You keep walking, don’t make any sort of note that you’ve noticed. You’ve gotten the feeling of being watched before, you’re pretty sure most of the time he goes away if you just leave him be.

He doesn’t. You spend over an hour walking around in what you can only assume are circles with the slightly off echo of your footsteps.

Stopping, you turn around and just lean against the wall, watching in the direction of the noise. At the very least, you’re pretty sure getting killed here wouldn’t be heroic or just, only insanely stupid.

There’s nothing for a long time. You’re almost about to just start walking again cause you’re bored and got no fucking patience when there’s quiet footsteps again, a shifting of shadows and a form peeking out from behind a corner.

You don’t say anything, just stare at him and try to remember the two or three conversations you had with the guy over a year ago now. It’s all pretty fuzzy, you try not to focus on everything that happened on that day much. You think he was funny, although he might’ve creeped you out a couple times as a kid. Even still, you wanna see what he’ll do, if he’s as fucking crazy as everyone says he is.

“Fuck you doing out here?”

The question is sudden and quiet and cracked, it surprises you more than you thought it would. You don’t let that show though, just shrugging like having a conversation with the freaky murder clown who lives in the shadows is a normal thing to do.

“Oh you know, just thought I’d stretch my legs. Get some goddamn exercise on this cold space rock, was going pretty well until it started going too well cause everything looks the fucking same and it’s impossible to know where the hell you’re actually going,” you say, and you can see his sneer at you in the dim light.

“Talky motherfucker,” he grumbles, and yeah it wasn’t you imagining it. It sounds like it’s almost painful for him to speak, all hoarse and quiet and broken. “Going the wrong way,” he adds, catching you off guard. Asking for directions wasn’t a thing you considered.

“Oh,” you say, almost at a loss for words. “Good to know?” A glint of light shows the way he rolls his eyes at that. There’s a long stretch of silence, and you’re not all that good at dealing with those. You used to be, fuck all you ever had before was silence when you weren’t the one talking, but ever since you got on this rock that skills seems to be slowly fading away. Pretty much everyone here can’t get enough of their own voice, not a lot of chances for quiet. You like it.

“Are you gonna try and kill me?” you ask, cause really that’s what you’ve been warned about this entire time. Psycho murder clown, stay away. His eyes widen and then narrow in a glare at you, and maybe it’s because he’s still so hidden away or the fact that he’s wearing what you’re pretty sure is face paint, but it’s really fucking hard to read him.

“You motherfucking wanting me to?” he asks back, all bitter and sarcastic.

“Nah, would really prefer if you didn’t do that actually,” you tell him. You’re pretty sure he rolls his eyes at you again. You’re being judged by an insane alien clown, and it stings a little.

“Get back to you and yours fucker,” he says after a moment, “before I decide and do what you’re all up and fearing I’ll do.” You can’t tell how serious the threat is, but before you can do anything he’s slipped back into shadows, a few quiet footsteps echoing around before silence takes hold again.

You don’t waste any time once he’s gone, following his advice and trying to head back to the main area of the meteor. You move in the opposite direction you were going before, and it still takes a while, you manage to get really fucking far out, but you eventually get back to recognizable territory.

When you finally get back to your room you pass out as soon as you hit the bed, fully intending to sleep all of this off and forget about the whole weird interaction completely.

Of course fucking nothing in your life can go the way you want or intend.

You don’t know why it’s sticking with you so much. He was real fucking creepy to actually see, maybe it’s just that. But it’s also… he wasn’t what you expected. He didn’t try to kill you, for one thing, even if he did kinda threaten it. That was only after you brought up murder, so you can’t really hold that against him.

There was something else though. Something you can’t quite place and it’s fucking bothering you.

So one ‘night’ when you drank way too much coffee and maybe a cup of some of that nasty ass wine Rose keeps hidden behind her bookshelf you figure what the hell. Karkat’s fucking finally getting some sleep for a change and you don’t wanna disturb him with your nagging, so instead you just go off for a walk. You’re not looking for him, but you’re not exactly going out of your way to avoid him either. It’s a fucking huge meteor, the chances of you running into him again randomly like that are slim to none, and that’s probably for the best.

After a couple of hours of walking the shitty coffee is starting to wear off and you might be getting a headache from the earlier combination. You start thinking that maybe this was a bad idea and you should head back.

Then you notice the nearly silent steps echoing down the mostly dark corridors and you guess this is still a bad idea but you’re probably not going to head back immediately.

Instead of wandering around pretending you don’t know he’s there for forever you just stop and wait for a moment to see if he’ll make the first move like last time. When he doesn’t after a few minutes you figure you’ve already made enough terrible decisions, what’s one more?

“I know you’re there man, how long you planning on keeping up this whole silent stalker role? Gotta say it’s a little weird,” you call out, loud enough that you know he can hear you. Another stretch of minutes pass before he’s suddenly leaning against the wall across from you in the time it takes you to blink. Jesus fuck, you aren’t quite able to keep yourself from flinching. You haven’t seen anyone move like that since, uh, since a while. It’s been a while.

“Idiot motherfucker best have damn good reasons for being all out and lose again,” he says, his voice not sounding any better than the last time you heard him. You guess you should be afraid or something, but now that he’s not moving and close enough to see in the sim light he doesn’t look all that scary. Ragged and angry but also like you could snap most of his bones with a well-placed kick.

“Nah, not really. Didn’t know I needed a reason to go walking around the hellhole of a rock I’m stuck on for the next two years. Figured exploring was my natural god given right as an America, manifest destiny and all that actually horrible stuff,” you ramble, still really curious at how he’ll react to you.

“Fucker don’t make a lick of sense,” he grumbles, and you think he actually sounds kinda confused and for some reason that’s fucking hilarious. You have no idea why you’re bothering with this asshole but this whole thing is funny.

Vriska made such a big deal about staying away and so far all you’ve seen is some grumpy douche easily confused by allusions to US history.

“Don’t worry about it,” you say, and now that you’re here and talking to him you suddenly realize that you have absolutely no fucking idea what the hell it is you’re doing. You think he notices too because after a moment he’s sighing all annoyed.

“There something you motherfucking want or what?” he asks and that is a very good question. You’re just kind of doing this on boredom and some sleep deprived whims. You’ve talked everyone else on this goddamned rock into the ground except for him, you can’t help but be curious.

“Kinda just wanted to see what your whole deal is I guess,” you say, which is pretty much the truth. You don’t understand this guy at all. You kind of thought you did, back when you knew next to nothing about him. “Gonna be honest, you’re not what I was expecting.” He scoffs at that, somehow managing to seem even more annoyed at you.

“Ain’t care enough to be sorry for disappointing, but if you’re really wanting some sorta holy ass murder rage I’m sure I can whip something up,” he snips at you, and it reminds you a bit of how Karkat was when you first met him. It’s a lot quieter and bitterer than Karkat’s loud indiscriminate yelling had been, but there’s still that same layer of defensiveness and sarcasm there.

“Hey man I said it was a surprise not a disappointment,” you tell him, still speaking easy and casual. It would annoy people when you do that, so you tend to do it even more because it’s funny. “I’m just confused here, like are you an enemy or not? Vriska acts like we’ll bring down some sorta fucking curse if we mention your name too many times or some shit.” He actually laughs at that, bitter and strained and even more cracked than his normal talking. You see him flinch slightly and you’re pretty sure it was actually painful for him.

“If that’s what y’all decided then that’s what I motherfucking am,” he says and that answer doesn’t sit right by you at all. You’re not the ones who can see the future and shit so maybe you should stay out of it but you can’t really see the good in alienating someone who could be on your side, especially considering the fact that not everyone currently in your party is super innocent.

“Get gone motherfucker, ain’t no one asked your prying self to get involved here,” he says, and before you can say anything he’s flashed out of sight again. It’s pretty fucking annoying, and you wanna argue but you’re also starting to crash hard so you head back to your room.

“What do you think about Gamzee?”

Karkat’s head snaps towards you at the sudden question. You’ve been thinking about that second meeting for a few days now and you don’t know what to do about it. Karkat and him used to be friends though, and you and Karkat are friends now. Good friends. You know he won’t immediately shut the topic down like everyone else here.

“What do you mean what do I think about Gamzee? What is there to think?” he asks, looking at you all suspicious like he knows you’re up to something. Maybe you are, you aren’t sure. You haven’t told anyone that you’ve actually talked to the guy, but you don’t feel like it’s actually that big of a deal.

“I dunno man, don’t you just think it’s weird and all? You two used to be friends right, what happened to that?” you ask. He huddles up on himself some, like he does when someone’s managed to hit a nerve.

“He went shitfuck insane and killed several of us, that’s what happened,” he grumbles and you should probably just take that as an answer but it doesn’t feel right.

“So did Vriska, that didn’t stop her and Terezi,” you say.

“That’s because Terezi’s a decent fucking moirail and can calm down her crazy highblood,” he snaps, angrier than you expected. He seems to notice your surprise and quickly calms down, curling a bit more into his defensive little ball.

“Look, when two seers and the person some jackass rewrote the rules of the universe to bring back to life tell you to do something, you don’t ask questions and just fucking do it. We just gotta follow their lead on this one,” he says and you really fucking hate the little bit of sadness and regret in his voice that he can’t quite hide because Karkat wears his heart on his sleeves.

The next time you’re sure Karkat’s asleep you start off, not even pretending this time that you’re not looking for Gamzee.

It still takes a couple hours, but this time he doesn’t seem to bother with the whole following gig. Instead one moment you’re alone in the darkness and the next there’s a clown glaring at you about ten feet down the hallway.

“The fuck’s a brother gotta do to get you to learn your motherfucking place?” he growls at you, clearly not happy and yeah you expected that.

“Not much probably, I was always pretty shit at school,” you tell him, leaning against the wall now that you’ve finally found him and don’t have to walk endlessly anymore.

“Never completed my motherfucking schoolfeeds either and don’t see me wandering into places all unwanted and uninvited like,” he says. His voice is still really bad. You wonder if he’s talked to anyone besides you in the fucking year and some you’ve been on this rock. You highly doubt it.

“Hey man, just figured you could use the company,” you say with a shrug.

“Go fuck yourself,” he snaps.

“Nah, it’s actually considerably harder for humans to do that than it is for you trolls,” you say. That was a fun conversation with Karkat. Sometimes the dude really needs to end his rants just a sentence sooner than he actually does.

“Sure you can figure it out,” he says, and even pissed as he is he isn’t trying to attack you or anything. The anger isn’t really threatening. It’s when you can’t tell how someone’s feeling that freaks you out.

“Probably, but that ain’t actually the issue right now. Look, this is probably a shitty idea but a future me hasn’t come to tell me to cut the crap yet so I’m taking that as an all clear,” you tell him. He still looks annoyed as fuck, even with the false smile painted on his face, but after a moment he sighs all resigned.

“Ain’t never understood that time shit, wasn’t the motherfucker of time,” he grumbles. You grin, glad you actually managed to find and go through the old couple of conversations you had with him.

“Nah, you were the bard of fuck I forgot, right?” you say and you swear he’s trying to hide amusement when he rolls his eyes at you.

“Rage brother, bard of motherfucking rage. Ain’t going forgetting that shit no more,” he says and when you look him over you gotta nod in agreement.

“Yeah, that sounds about right.”

It becomes a thing after that, you going out sometimes to talk to Gamzee. You haven’t told anyone about it, but you think that Karkat knows something up. You don’t know how he’d react to it all though, so you figure it’s best to keep it a secret for now.

It never takes you all that long to find Gamzee, and while you’re not all that cool with being watched it’s better than being watched and knowing nothing about the person doing the watching. You still don’t feel like you know that much about him, the conversations you two have aren’t actually the deepest or most personal ones in the world. It’s entertaining though, like you love Karkat and all but it’s nice to have someone to hang out with when he’s not around.

Er, well not like love but uh, ya know what you’re just gonna let that one go for now. That’s a whole other thing you’re not gonna get into.

“Look, I’m not saying you look like you haven’t eaten since you got on this rock, but seriously where do you get food from because it’s not like anyone ever sees you in the kitchen. Do you got like, a second secret kitchen somewhere in the far realms of the meteor? Does it have a better coffee machine?” you ask him. He scoffs and rolls his eyes at you and he does that a lot.

“Ain’t been seen doesn’t mean ain’t been used any,” he says, and his voice has gotten a lot better since you first heard him. It’s still scratchy and quiet and wavy, but it doesn’t seem like it hurts for him to speak anymore.

“Okay there are so many concerning things about that thing you just said, so fucking many. You seriously only eat when no one’s in the kitchen? Dude, someone is always in the kitchen no wonder you’re so fucking skinny,” you say, and you figure it’s probably not quite that bad. He’s gotta have a stash of food he’s taken somewhere so that he’s not just hovering around the kitchen 24/7 waiting for a chance to strike.

Still, you remember having a stash like that before. It’s not really all that fun. At the very least, you like being able to go to the kitchen whenever you want and getting food there.

“All humans as fucking blunt and shameless as you, or you special in that regard?” he asks, sounding more genuinely irritated than you expect. You also have no fucking idea what he’s talking about.

“Uh, I mean let’s be real here I’m probably pretty fucking special, but you think you could be a bit more specific?” you ask.

“Motherfucker I’ve seen how you two get on. Still don’t understand what it is you’re trying to do here but there’s gonna be problems if you’re not making your intentions with my best motherfucking friend clear and true,” he says, and well that clears up the question you had about him spying on you. It raises a lot of other questions thought because what? Before you can ask though he’s hunching in on himself, his face falling.

“Er, former best friend. Karkat. You better not go and hurt Karkat. Might be useless clown garbage but at least ain’t gonna sit by and let you hurt him,” he says, sounding all sad and angry at himself.

“Whoa man, I’m not gonna hurt Karkat that’s like the opposite of something I’d wanna do,” you say and this is starting to feel like it’s straying way too close to thinks you have been trying not to think about but you’re gonna try to keep ignoring that for now. “Still don’t got the slightest clue why you think I would hurt him thought.”

“Cause you’re a pale motherfucking harlot who apparently goes throwing his pity at anything that up and moves,” he says, and oh. Oh. Uh. Okay.

“Alright that one might actually be more of a human thing than like a specially me thing, at least according to Karkat. I swear that’s not a thing that’s happening here. Or with him, like we’ve talked about it and it’s cool he knows that’s just a thing how humans are and shit,” you try and explain to him and this is so fucking weird.

“Yeah, sure it is,” Gamzee says and he doesn’t sound like he believes you in the slightest.

“Yeah, it is,” you insist. He doesn’t seem to care any though, pushing himself up and starting away down the hall.

“Get back now, motherfuckers’ll start wondering if you disappear much longer,” he says, and you guess he has a point.

“Hey,” you call after him, and you think for a moment that he’s not gonna stop. He does though, and you figure you should probably just let it be but you’ve been there and you figure the least you can do is offer. “I get if you don’t wanna be around everyone else, but if like, I’m in the kitchen and you need to drop by, feel free,” you say.

It still sounds bitter and sad when he laughs. “Sure thing brother, I’ll get right on that,” he says.

He disappears after another moment, and you start heading back to where everyone else is on the meteor.

You really have no idea what the fuck it is you’re doing.