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Jade, Dave, and Karkat, Act 5.

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Jade is used to going place to place, but usually she visits for a while. This time, she just needs time away. There’s something pent up inside her about Dave and Karkat, that she just can’t shake. She can’t calculate it away. Of course, she knows why she’s mad at Karkat right now, but normally she would just clap back, or call him out and move on. But this time something was calling her to get to the root of what’s aching her heart. It doesn’t take a lot of soul searching to discover that the thing in question is love, as inconvenient as it can be.

 

 

 

She sends a message, requesting to spend the night, and starts heading towards the Carapace Kingdom.

 

 

 

Roxy: yo callie, mind if jade comes over tonight?

 

Calliope: of coUrse! bUt i thoUght she was staying with dave and karkat… :U oh dear, did something bad happen?

 

Roxy: idk she didn’t rly-

 

 

 

They hear a knock at the door. It’s Jade. Calliope approaches and opens the door. Jade looks like someone who was on the verge of angry tears but stopped themself.

 

 

 

Calliope: oh, jade, are yoU alright? come on in…

 

Jade: thanks, callie :( hi roxy, sorry for barging in on you two, is it alright if i stay the night?

 

Roxy: yea man im cool with that! callie you up for a sleepover?

 

Calliope: oh yes! that soUnds fUn ^u^

 

Calliope: bUt it seems as if there’s something wrong?

 

Calliope: is everything alright jade?

 

Jade: no, not really…

 

Jade: karkat was being a dick to me, and i stormed off, but

 

Jade: i dont think thats it because if it was, i would have stormed off a long time ago and a lot more frequently :/

 

 

 

She sits down on their couch.

 

 

 

Jade: i dont want to be a bother, but is it alright if i vent?

 

Roxy: ofc jade…

 

 

 

Roxy sits down next to Jade, who currently has her head in her hands, seemingly exhausted. Roxy lays a hand on her knee.

 

 

 

Calliope: woUld yoU like me to get Us something to eat? 0u0

 

Roxy: ur the best callie <3

 

Calliope: ^u^

 

 

 

Jade relaxes. She sighs, lets her arms down, and whips her hair behind her, leaning back on the couch.

 

 

 

Roxy: why r u here jade

 

Roxy: whats goin on in that head of urs

 

Jade: im having

 

Jade: ugh

 

Jade: boy problems :/

 

Roxy: lol ive been there that’s 4 fuckin sure.

 

Jade: hehehe i thought you might be good to talk to since youre the most dave strider without being actual dave strider

 

Roxy: o shit what did he do

 

Jade: not much actually

 

Jade: im kinda madder at karkat right now?

 

Jade: youre just good to talk to in general hehehe

 

Roxy ok so what did THEY do?

 

Jade: i just feel..

 

Jade: well its wrong to say i feel out of place, because i feel really at home with them, they just have these huge walls up they refuse to take down, even for each other!! its frustrating…

 

Roxy: I feel that, I feel that.

 

Calliope: I broUght food!! ^u^

 

 

 

Calliope brings in a large plate with four smaller plates, two plates of spaghetti, assumedly for the humans, and two plates for Calliope, and stacked with meat, the other, candy.

 

 

 

Jade: ill save mine for later, im not really hungry right now…

 

Roxy: so, ur mad at karkat, wtf happened.

 

Jade: he was just being douchey about me being ‘promiscuous’ and shit…

 

Jade: i dont know if hes like… pitch flirting, or… if im just taking it wrong? like, if i want to be in that kind of relationship should I just… deal with it? that sounds shitty…

 

Calliope: now, typical cherUb caliginoUs relationships are very different from trolls, but most of them resUlted in death… i mention this becaUse the rUles of oUr cUltUres were pretty toxic, so yoU might find it fortUitous not to so closely follow such rUles…

 

Roxy: tbf she doesnt really… not from earth anyway

 

Roxy: look, jade, I grew up on an earth that had all kinds of troll culture jammed into it, and i have a pretty good intuition for when peeps b waxing pitch for each other

 

Roxy: I think what he said to you was just mean, and its super okay for you to feel that way…

 

Jade: :( yeah

 

Roxy: and look, i love those 2 dumbasses, but u don’t gotta just let them walk over u and shit

 

Roxy: ur not really one to let people walk on u tho so u know that

 

Roxy: im just sayin, idk karkat super well, but its obv he cares about his friends, hes just shitty at showing it

 

Roxy: so like

 

Roxy: u gotta tell him what he did was shitty and if he refuses to apologize, thats on him I guess?

 

Roxy: lol am I making sense?

 

Jade: yeah…

 

 

 

Jades eyes drift over to one of calliopes plates, the one with large rare steaks. Suddenly she’s very hungry.

 

 

 

Jade: hey callie, can I have one of your steaks?

 

Calliope: why yes 0u0 here yoU are

 

ZAP!! Suddenly, as John takes your hand, the two of you find yourselves in a light gold and purple room. In that room, along with the common Livingroom-Kitchen amenities, are three of Johns good friends, Jade, Roxy, and Calliope. Oh holy shit, the meat and candy!!

 

Jade: :0

Roxy: :0

Calliope: :U

John: woah, alright here we are!

John: haha, sorry if this is confusing, i’m just here to drop off our friend the reader into the past.

Calliope: oh dear, john if yoU are Using yoUr retcon abilities… well there mUst be something wrong!! what’s happened?

John: haha, no need to worry callie. i just needed to make some small edits for some dumb universe reasons I guess

John: or, i guess i needed to help this guy make edits? haha, whatever, its probably fine.

 

You notice Jade, as surprised as she is, begin to reach for Calliopes huge steak. Oh shit!! Jade no!! You tell Jade that for the sake of her health, as well as for the sake of the metaphor that this universe hinges on for some fucking reason that she really HAS to pace herself and get an even and healthy amount of both MEAT and CANDY. Like, it is so stupidly important. Ridiculously important.

 

Jade: oh!

Jade: um… sorry?

Jade: ill eat healthier i guess… um

Jade: im sorry but… who are you?

John: oh, this is my friend the reader! they are from your future! or i guess an alternate version of someone from a now a retconned version of your future? man, this shit is so dumb haha.

 

Roxy cocks his hip and looks at you quizzically.

 

Roxy: wait, y the fuck do they call u the reader?

Roxy: also, um

Roxy: his…?

John: oh, that’s a hard question, i guess they read a story that contained all the events of our adventures with sburb and stuff that surfaced in another dimension or something? i think it’s fucking complicated and i have no idea about any of the specifics.

 

You try and briefly explain that a white orb-head named Doc Scratch kidnapped you and forced you to read the comic while you were stranded on the moon of an alien planet, but there is pretty much no brief way of explaining any of that shit. Also, you think briefly about how you should conduct yourself with Roxy’s pronouns… Roxy doesn’t go by “he” at the moment, but also you know a version of them where making sure you were accurate about that was important… you suppose you will just check up on Roxy about it later? God you hope he realizes he’s trans soon. That would illuminate a lot of confusion for you, personally.

 

You suddenly remember what was happening in this scene. This was a very early one, so it has been quite a while, but… Jade is thinking about Dave and Karkat if you remember correctly? Yeah, Karkat said something douchey recently. She looks like she is in deep thought. She looks back and forth at the meat and the candy. You wonder if she is thinking about your advice? Maybe she’s going to use it as a metaphor for her feelings or something. Who fucking knows? She might just be thinking about how dumb and cute all her friends are. She thinks about that pretty often, so that isn’t a horrible guess.

 

John: okay, i should probably get out of here, haha.

John: ive got a timeline to get back to and all.

Roxy: oooo got any spoilers 4 me older john?

Calliope: no! no spoilers!

John: hehe, cuties. alright, i’m going to go now. take care, say hi to twenty two year old john for me!

Roxy: :0!!

Calliope: 0//////0

 

And with that, John zaps away. When he does, there is a small breeze, caused by the air flowing back into the empty space he left. It tussles a few loose napkins. You hope he makes it back to his timeline alright. You are certain Rose will help him out, she is rarely wrong about stuff like that.

 

Roxy: yea, rose is pretty good at that shit, i wouldn’t worry abt it lol

Calliope: very trUe 0u0

Calliope: by the by, woUld yoU like to stay for dinner? if yoU two don’t mind of coUrse.

Roxy: u good with reader stayin for some food?

Jade: i mean, i wasnt expecting to talk to anyone else today… but sure! theyre cute, so they can stay. hehehe

 

Oh! Oh man, you don’t want to stay for too long, or else you might accidentally fuck with some weird timeline butterfly effect shit! But at the same time, you are SO fucking hungry. That spaghetti looks really fucking good right now… You don’t want to be rude, but it appears that your pleading expression makes it more than obvious what you would like.

 

Roxy: im getting this little dude some mf spaghetti one sec

 

You thank Roxy. You take a moment to ponder how closely this instance of reality will follow to what you wrote in your fanfiction… God, you kind of hope not? Not that you don’t like what you wrote, but… You kind of went off the rails? That other version of you seemed to trust that you needed to change things…

 

Roxy returns with some food and you scarf that shit down. God, you haven’t had a good meal in so fucking long. Jade is picking at her food and eating small bites. You worry about her, but you’re sure she will figure it out. She’s a smart girl. You just wish you could do something to ensure that she will be in better spirits than she was in your writing… The morals of having written a reality into existence isn’t really something you’re equipped to think about right now, actually. You elect to save this train of thought for later.

 

You finish your food while the three gods banter about nothing in particular. The topics range from things they want to make to their favorite types of animal, but notably avoids talking about their problems. Now, it may just be that they really don’t want to talk about their problems right now, but on the off chance they are avoiding it because you are around, you decide you should probably head out. Who would want to vent to some rando who just magically teleported into your house? They would have to at LEAST teleport outside of their house for that to even be remotely acceptable. When you are done with your food, you thank your hosts for their hospitality, and tell them you will be on your way.

 

Calliope: oh, gone so soon? well, good lUck with yoUr qUest to fix whatever problem occUrred in yoUr timeline!

Roxy: see ya later man

Jade: bye!!!

Roxy: take care out there, its a big city

 

You tell them that you will be sure to take care of yourself, and see yourself out. Once you’re out of their Livingroom you find yourself at the top of a long downward spiral staircase. You begin to descend the tower, admiring the stained glass windows and carapacian architecture. Once you reach the throne room, you exit out onto the Carapace Kingdom streets. It’s late, and the streetlamps dimly illuminate the sidewalk.

 

You suddenly realize you are still fucking homeless. Oh, god dammit. You suppose you could go back and ask to stay, but you already said all your goodbyes, you’re sure it would be some sort of social misstep. But… you don’t really like the idea of being out alone in this big city at night… perhaps you could walk to a less densely populated part of town and find a place to take a nap... or maybe you could find someone to help you? You scan the horizon, and begin walking down the street. As you are doing that, you find what looks like some kind of bus stop? That seems like as good a place as any to stop for a moment.

 

You JUST woke up from a nap. You never really had a sense of time in the Felt Manor, but you’re are sure that your sleep schedule for Earth C is going to be a pain in the ass. You must not have napped for very long, because as you lay back on the bench next to the bus stop, you begin to feel your eyes weigh down, and you drift to sleep.

 

You are suddenly awoken by the sound of a hover vehicle. For a moment, you’re confused by your surroundings, then you remember what happened. God you are so fucking glad to be out of that hellhole… it’s still dark, so you didn’t sleep through the night. Why is a bus still out so late…? It’s a golden double-decker bus with no wheels. It just stopped and opened its doors, dispensing a staircase for you to climb up. Inside is a grizzled looking Dersite, piloting the craft with a complicated looking steering device. Welp, it sure beats laying out in the cold.

 

You enter the bus. The seats are black with gold stitching. You ask what the price for riding the bus is, fully prepared to attempt to woo this person into letting you go for free.

 

??: What? No, just take a seat. Are you not from around here?

 

You inform them that no, you are not from around here.

 

??: Huh. Well, I might as well let you know that while donations are appreciated, I don’t make people pay for midnight-4am trips. No one out this late has any reason to be driving, so might as well make shit easier for em, ey?

 

Oh! Well that is very kind of them to do! You take a seat. The bus is empty except for you two. They’re wearing a thick black trench coat, with a gray sweater underneath. They have a huge scar underneath their right eye. God, this guy looks like he got fucked up…

 

BD: The names Brooke Dammayer, but people just call me the Bus Driver.

 

Oh, alright. Sounds good you guess? He begins driving. You peer out the window and see many very fancy looking tall apartment buildings. There are towers, shops, and parks scattered everywhere. It honestly looks like a really nice place to live.

 

BD: So, where you headed?

 

Oh, um. You suppose just out of the city? You don’t really have anywhere to go.

 

BD: Hm. Fair enough. So, what do they call you?

 

Okay, apparently, it’s small talk time. You weren’t particularly prepared for this, but You suppose you will oblige since he is taking you somewhere for free. You tell him people call you The Reader. It sounds like a really fucking pretentiously avant-garde title when you say it out loud. You probably should have just told him your fucking name.

 

BD: Oh, a ‘the’ name? You must be rather important! Haven’t met someone who went by ‘the’ since my great grandfather.

 

You honestly didn’t know that made you special? You ask him who his grandfather was. Also… you didn’t know carapaces could have kids?

 

BD: Wha- Reader, it’s an adopted family line, you-

 

He stops the bus and slowly turns towards you. He’s squinting, like he is wracking his mind to fully understand what you just said to him.

 

BD: Do you not know where baby’s come from?

 

No, you do!! You swear you do!! You neglect to tell him that for his specific species, no, you in fact have no fucking idea where baby’s come from. He takes that answer and continues driving. It’s a bit quiet, so you quickly try to change the subject. You ask him who his great grandfather was again. You’re pretty sure you won’t know him, no matter how important he was.

 

BD: Heh, I like to keep a quiet life, so I don’t really go about tellin a lot of people. My grandfather was The Mayor.

 

Oh, holy shit, really!? That’s like, the one person he could have said that you could recognize! He must be rather old then…

 

BD: hehe, yeah, im getting on in years, but in reality, there should be a few more greats attached to ‘great grandfather’. Havin my 600th in a few months actually.

 

Oh wow, you had no idea carapaces lived that long…

 

BD: What? Aren’t you a carapacian?

 

You tell him, no, in fact, you are not. You have squishy skin and you bruise easily. Now that you think of it… you do kind of look like one. A lot. But despite that, you are totally a human. Totally. He side eyes you suspiciously for a moment before carrying on.

 

BD: Fair enough. I’m gonna take you to a safer part of the outskirts, until then, why not try and get some rest?

 

You take him up on that offer. You could really use some. Yeah, you are going to have a hell of a time affixing your sleep cycle to this planets schedule. You lean back and allow yourself to rest once more. The noise of the engine and the buzzing lights helps you lull off into sleep.

 

For a brief moment, you’re dreaming. You dream that you’re playing a game… playing… Sburb? Who are you playing it with? You don’t recognize the house you are in. As you exit the house into your land, everything feels… blurry. Like your eyes won’t let you focus on any of the details of this land. It is almost as if your eyes are split trying to see a million different images at once. Then, you begin to fly. Are you god tiered? You don’t recognize your clothes…

 

BD: Ey.

BD: Ey, kid.

BD: I wanna go home, wake the fuck up.

BD: Sigh.

BD: HEY KID, IT’S YOUR STOP!!

 

You wake up suddenly. Oh shit, it’s your stop. Welp, shelter has been nice while it lasted. There is still a few buildings here and there, but it is clear that this is no longer the big city. It’s still dark outside. What time is it?

 

BD: Oh good, you’re finally awake.

BD: It’s about 6AM.

BD: Sun’s probably gonna come up soon.

 

Huh. Okay. You thank Bus Driver for the ride. He tells you that it wasn’t a bother, he’s happy to help someone who needs it. You tell him to have a good day, and he does the same. Once you are dropped off, you look around you. To one side of you, there is the beginnings of what looks like a small carapacian town, with a post office and a grocery store nearby. On the other side of the road, there is a dense forest. On the horizon of the small town, there is one singular tall tower. At the base of the tower, you suddenly see the sun begin to rise. It hurts a little, but you almost forget to stop looking because of how tame it is in comparison to the Alternian sun.

 

You debate on which direction to go. The town may have more people who can fill you in on what the hell is going on, but at the same time, you still don’t have anywhere to go? No real goal to work towards… You begin walking down the road, on the border between this town and the forest.

 

As you walk down the trail, you ponder your goal. You sent yourself here, albeit a different version of yourself, so there must be a reason. Sure, there are some obvious ways that the story you crafted could be better, never mind the story you read… but what specifically are you supposed to do? Now it just seems like you are lost and alone on a planet where you don’t know anybody, instead of a planet where you have friends… Oh, and also this planet isn’t an actual hellscape for the most part. Like, sure, there had to be SOME way BD got his scar, but this planet is pretty peaceful all things considered. Oh, fuck you should have asked him how he got that scar! Fuck, you totally blew it. Well, you suppose if you ever meet him again you can ask.

 

As you are walking along the sidewalk, you notice how the grass pushes up through the increasingly unkempt concrete. You begin to realize that the forest to your right is getting more and more… tropical. ‘There’s no way,’ you think… but there is a way. Could this be the same jungle where you wrote in the cherub portal? As you continue walking down the path it keeps looking more and more like you imagined in your head while you were writing… Tall trees, early morning light poking through the canopy, vines connecting trees… This could be it, couldn’t it?

 

You veer right and sprint right into the jungle. You do consider for a moment that dangerous creatures absolutely do in fact live in this, but it only passes through your mind for a second before being overrun with the possibility that you could see your friends again. There it is, a shitty liberty. You must be getting closer. As you run, you begin to notice near some of the liberties are dig sites. They have been excavating theses liberties for quite some time now… When you happen upon an opening in the trees, you see the biggest hole yet. This is it. You think you must be dreaming, but that would be a really dumb way to guide a story. You descend down the dirt steps into the bottom of the hole. At the bottom, you find… nothing. Your heart sinks, but only for a moment when you remember… they must be digging to something? Otherwise, why would they be digging here? Well, you guess they could just dig random places without knowing if they will find anything, but you’re desperate. Desperate for a reason to be here, and desperate for your palls.

 

You begin scraping at the dirt. As you dig with your hands as fast as you can, dirt begins to get under your nails and sweat begins to bead at your forehead. You want to work quickly, as you could get in trouble if you get caught doing this, but at the same time you have no idea how long it will take. You are about to give up when you accidentally hit a finger against a rock and break your nail. Fuck, that shit hurts… wait… was it a rock? You begin dusting that area with your fingers. That’s metal. Not green metal, but silver. What is this? You begin digging with more purpose, you uncover this… thick sheet of metal… You uncover about 8 inches of it when you notice something else… Something that looks like a busted ass keyboard. Oh, shit. You’re going to need a shovel.

 

Now, you wouldn’t describe yourself as any sort of kleptomaniac, but you really, really want to fucking steal this. You want it so bad, in fact, you are absolutely sure that you want it more than whoever started digging this hole did. Come on, there has GOT to be a shovel around here somewhere. Why the fuck wouldn’t they leave their shovels here? What are they worried about, someone coming to steal shit? Why the fuck can’t you find a shovel?

 

You continue to look around, and you notice that in the opposite direction you came from, just beyond the trees, there is a Consort Village. Huh. The skyline doesn’t look much like what you imagined the Consort Kingdom would look like. You always envisioned that the Consort Kingdom had a lot of architecture reminiscent of the Sburban Lands that they came from… but in the distance you don’t see anything of the sort. Instead what you see is just regular… buildings… Oh, wait is this supposed to be Little LoWaS? Didn’t John live in a little town of salamanders? You wonder… You don’t want to intrude on the lives of the gods here too much until you know exactly what you are doing, but this has got to be a priority, right? Plus, if you can’t find John, maybe you could just steal a shovel from one of the salamanders here? Listen, if you are going to steal something anyway there is no reason not to just fucking steal a way to steal more shit.

 

You burst through the trees and bushes, forcing your way through the branches and leaves. You don’t sprint, as you don’t want to looks suspicious. This is a pretty dumb goal, since you just came out of the jungle into this random ass town with dirt all over you. The buildings around you look like large tubes made into huts. Coming and going from these buildings are little yellow salamander people, having conversations with who you assume are their families, and purchasing various goods from each other.

 

The whole scene is rather charming. These cute little guys don’t seem to have a care in the world, but they act with such purpose. That one has a little hat on. Is he going to work? What is his job? What will he do? You honestly have no idea why you are so fixated on these wonderful folks, but it may be because… You’re jealous? They have such an easy time just giving themselves something to do, with no need to really think about it. They are completely detached, with no need to introspect at all… Huh, maybe that’s why John lives around so fuckin many of them. Speaking of John…

 

There’s his house. It looks just like you remember it. You wonder if it would be bad form just to… walk up and knock. You’re sure he wouldn’t mind, he’s a nice guy like that. But what would you even say… ‘Oh, hi John, we were buds in another dimension! Want to come helps me pull an artifact out of the dirt so I can take it to the home I don’t have?’ Maybe this is kind of a dumb idea… but you don’t have any other ideas. You take a deep breath, and approach the house. You walk up the path, past the mailbox, and raise your hand to knock.

 

Salamander: OH MY GOD, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING!?

 

What the fuck? Oh, it’s some salamander kid. He’s really small and he has a tiny little baseball cap on. You would be more charmed if he didn’t just curse the hell out of you. You aren’t sure what to say. Do you… Ignore him? You just look at him, lost for what you’re supposed to do in this scenario.

 

Salamander: We’re you REALLY just about to knock on the door of the GOD of BREATH!?

 

You tell him, um, yeah. Are you not supposed to do that?

 

Salamander: WOOOOOOAAAAAH!!! Who ARE you? Do you know The Heir? Are you two FRIENDS!?

 

You kind of shuffle around awkwardly, looking at the door, then back at the salamander. You are really considering just ditching this conversation and knocking, but that seems like an incredibly rude thing to do. So, you meekly tell the kid, no, you aren’t really friends with him, but you do want to meet him.

 

Salamander: OH MY GOD THAT IS SO COOL!!!! I’VE ONLY SEEN HIM LIKE 27 TIMES AND IT CHANGED MY LIFE!!!!

 

Twenty-seven seems like a pretty large number for him to be as excited as he is. You briefly consider telling this kid that, but he seems very excited. Regardless of if they are Troll, Human, Carapace, or Salamander, kids being excited about stuff is cute, end of discussion. Wait, can carapaces be kids? You know they can be excited about stuff… god dammit, you REALLY should have questioned BD more. That was such an amazing opportunity to learn and you COMPLETELY squandered it. Although, you suppose this planet DOES have the internet. You could just look it up at a library or something. You wonder if this town has a library… You’re sure it does, what kind of town doesn’t have a library? A town without a library is like a cowboy without a-

 

Salamander: CAN I COME WITH YOU!?

 

Oh. Uh. God, you aren’t sure what to say. On one hand, this kid sure is excited, and you aren’t really important enough to say you deserve to meet John more than he does, but on the other hand, it seems like inviting yourself and some random kid into Johns life uninvited is a much worse social misstep than just inviting yourself. Plus, didn’t this kid just say he met John over twenty times? Thankfully, it looks like something is going to attempt to solve your awkward salamander problem.

 

A distinguished gentleman with circular glasses and a well-groomed mustache comes out of the house, and questions what you and the salamander are doing here. You do not respond.

 

Salamander: OH SHIT WRONG HOUSE SORRY FUCK

John: (here, come on inside!)

John: (hehehe.)

 

You do in fact realize that this is not some random distinguished gentleman, but John. He ushers you into the house. The air is stale, like he never remembers to open a window to get fresh air. Dust piles on the counters and shelves. The only thing in the living room that looks recently used is the couch. You think you remember that being where Dave and John had their ‘bro talk’ only a day ago. You ask John why he let you in.

 

John: oh, an older version of me used his retcon powers to tell me to look out for you, haha.

 

Ah, well that was very nice of him. You aren’t sure how you would have gotten out of that one without him, so thanks! You wonder out loud to John, what all did old John tell him about you? You hope only good things, you have no idea what kind of shit your fic-self got up to after you stopped writing about them. Shit could have gotten incredibly fucking stupid without you there to keep shit under wraps!!

 

John: not a whole lot, just that an alternate universe version of his pal would be in the area and I should look out for him.

John: i told him it was all good. i totally wasn’t expecting to have company over three times in two days though, haha.

 

Oh, well you hope you aren’t being intrusive! It's just that you are kind of homeless, and figuring out what the hell to do from here has been a pain in the ass.

 

John: oh man, i’m so sorry to hear about that!!

 

It’s no problem, you tell him, you’re used to it by now. The only hiccup is that the broken-down tower you used to use as shelter is on another planet. That planet also happens to be in another universe. Shit isn’t exactly turning up Reader today. But don’t worry, you can handle it!!

 

John: wow, that’s really rough. you can stick around here for a little while if you want though.

 

Part of you wants to assume he is offering his home to you for the night, but out of politeness you assume he is just referring to a bit of today. You tell him you do not want to be a bother, but you appreciate his offer. In fact, you may just take his offer! You ask if there is anywhere to wash off, you are so fucking dirty right now.

 

John: oh yeah, there’s a bathtub just around to corner over there.

 

Sweet!! You thank John and head off to the bathroom. There, you quickly wash off. The dirt doesn’t come off easy, but with enough scrubbing the job is done. You probably should have taken your hoodie off, but you DID want to wash it as well? It’s alright though, a wet hoodie isn’t anything a good rubbing with a towel can’t fix! You rub the hoodie for a good long while. It’s still kind of damp, but that’s okay, you will ask to use the washing machine later.

 

Damp and clean, you exit the bathroom and head to the living room where John sits on the couch. He doesn’t seem to really know what else to do when someone is over at his house other than just sit down and wait for conversations to happen. Well, luckily for him, you don’t know what to do other than force conversations, so you ask him what he has been up to.

 

John: oh, haha, well i have mostly been… idk, on the internet and re-watching movies. other than today and yesterday, where you are the third person to come and visit, haha.

 

You can’t tell whether he likes that people are visiting or not.

 

John: i mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to feel a little less lonely, but I guess i’m less used to it than i used to be?

 

Well, you have it on good authority his friends miss him, if that changes anything. He could always ask to go hang out with one or more of them!

 

John: yeah, i’m sure people do, haha. but i’m also pretty sure everyone’s got their own shit to do as well, so i don’t want to get in the way or anything!

 

Oh man, John is reminding you a lot of yourself right now, and it is REALLY bumming you out. You have got to get this dude to get out there and socialize with his friends ASAP. You declare to yourself that there will not be ONE MORE YEAR of this staying inside and not talking to/seeing anyone shit for John!! You are now dedicated to getting this guy to go see his friends!! But what angle to take it from… Hmmmm…

 

You ask him, what about Roxy? His eyes go a little wider.

 

John: what?

John: haha, what about roxy?

 

Roxy misses you. A lot actually!! You were JUST at her house, so you should know! In fact, Roxy and Callies house is the first place you ended up in Earth C! You think that Roxy would REALLY appreciate it if you went and visited! Or even if you hit them up to hang out somewhere!

 

John: wow… she told you that?

 

No, but you do know that and you were in fact just at his house, but you elect not to tell John. Yes! Roxy told you that exactly! This lie is sure to never have any repercussions.

 

John: well, i guess that’s good to know… but i’m actually kind of scared to go meet her now… what if she doesn’t like me as i am now?

 

But wasn’t John worried about that with Dave too? You think maybe John may be skewing his perception out of his favor. There’s no way to know until you try.

 

John is slouched on his couch. He looks around at the dusty steps behind him and takes a deep breath. Suddenly, a slight but very present smile appears on his face. He looks at you, closes his eyes, and takes another deep, deep breath. The breath of someone who is trying to convince themselves of doing something they had silently decided they would never do again.

 

John: yeah, you’re right.

John: you’re right!!

John: and you know what?

John: i’ll text her.

John: um…

John: do you mind if i do that tomorrow instead?

 

Oh, yeah, no problem! He doesn’t have to ask your permission; he is literally a god. You think he probably forgets that more often than he should. He still looks tired. He still looks like someone who hasn’t felt alive in quite some time. But there is a hope in his heart that wasn’t there a little while ago. A readiness to get out there and… maybe even fucking DO something, just to see what happens.

 

John: hey, reader, do you want…

John: a house?

 

Oh fuck yeah you want a house, is John kidding you!?

 

John: well, there are some open apartments in the carapacian capital if you wouldn’t mind living there?

 

You wouldn’t mind that at all!! You do ask John if… he would mind helping you move in?

 

John: oh, sure i guess. do you even have stuff?

 

You do in fact have stuff. You have one stuff, and it is currently a dozen feet into the jungle, 90% submerged under the ground.

 

John: haha, how the fuck did it get there?

 

Timeline shit, John, it’s always fucking timeline shit!!

 

John: i guess that makes sense?

John: wow, i thought maybe i grew out of just blindly trusting weird shit!

John: unfortunately, blindly trusting weird shit has only ever proven me right, so fuck it i guess. where’s your stuff again?

 

You lead him out of the house. He puts on his clever disguise, and you take him to the dig site. He takes note of the busted keyboard, and you request that he helps you dig it out. He briefly mentions not having a shovel before you remind him that he can control the wind. He uses the breeze to unbury this thing, and lo and behold. Four screens, a keyboard, lots of tubes, and a vague house shape. It’s a fucking command station!! John doesn’t know what that is.

 

You ask John if he can carry it, since you are incredibly frail and this thing is huge.

 

John: hahaha, what? don’t you have a fetch modus?

 

You sigh and tell John no; you don’t have a Fetch Modus. You aren’t quite up to date on all the latest fashion. This is an ironic statement, since it looks like John has been alchemizing the next size up of the same T-Shirt for years. John is being really nice right now though, so you won’t call him out on that. He Captchalogues it and you thank him profusely. He grabs you by the hand, and flies you through the jungles and over three or four carapacian towns, all the way back to the capital with those tall buildings, parks, and shops. He leads you to one of the towers and talks to a nice tealblood lady about getting You a room. You are so fucking excited. Your own fucking house!? Finally!! The two of you ascend the staircase and find your room. It is incredibly empty, but you at least have one thing to take up space, and you are sure you will acquire more. John places the command station, and dirt spreads onto the ground. You will have to figure out a way to fucking fix that thing. Again, you thank him.

 

John: no problem, i’m glad i could help!

John: but no offense, your one possession looks like a piece of shit!

 

You take a little offense. You like to think your hoodie is nice, but that might just be the sentimental value. John takes a couple looks around the apartment. It’s really nice, other than the dirt. He sighs.

 

John: hm…

John: i should get you some furniture, shouldn’t i?

 

You tell John he doesn’t need to worry about you! You have been living without a bed for… holy fuck a bed. Okay wait can he get a bed? Jesus you have missed having a bed. Fuck your life you need a bed more than anything.

 

John: alright, i’ll fly off and get that for you, one sec!

 

John opens a window and flied out. One of the walls of the apartment is all windows, giving you a very good view of some parks, as well as the towers that the Lalonde’s live in with their significant others.

 

You begin to ponder how you are going to decorate your home, and then a million other problems suddenly crash into your mind like a piano being dropped on Wile E. Coyote. You finally got off Alternia, but you aren’t home. Have you given up? Is it official? You feel like you just came to terms with Alternia being your new home. And now… it’s gone. You feel yourself begin to lose balance. You sit on the ground, and try to shift your mind from your problems. You grip Mallek’s hoodie. Okay, you have way too many problems for that to work. Try something else. Well, if you can’t not think about all the horrible things going on in your weird and fucked up life, why not try to think about different problems. Ones that are more recent. Ones that are closer. You just solved a big one, shelter. That’s nice. Go you. Honestly, it has been so long since you could ever consider some place your home that you should be a lot more excited about it than you currently feel. Okay, so what else? A fanfiction you wrote to vent is a real alternate reality. That’s pretty fucked up, huh? You think back to Jade. God, you hope she is okay. You kind of wish you stuck around with Roxy and Callie. He makes a mean bowl of spaghetti.

 

John comes back. Thank goodness. He has a bed. You thank him, and climb onto the large plain looking queen-sized mattress. You don’t think you are ready to fall asleep, but all that sprinting and digging really did a number on you. That number is exhaustion. You think you are going to take a little nap.

 

John: hehehe

John: alright buddy, sleep well!

John: man, you look really fucking rough.

John: take care.

John: i guess i’ll go um

John: sit at my house?

John: hmmm

 

He takes a good long look at Roxy and Callie’s tower.

 

John: i’ll hit her up tomorrow…

John: because if i don’t then i will have lied to this poor small… carapace?

John: this poor guy!

John: yeah, that wouldn’t be a good thing, i’m sure.

John: anyway, bye reader, have a good midday sleep!

 

A week has passed. It has been difficult reconditioning yourself to this new environment, but it has slowly become the new normal. You have a chair now. A whole week on this planet and all you have is a bed, a chair, and this huge hunk of metal you haven’t quite started reconstructing. Worse, despite talking to a few people, you haven’t quite made any friends. You haven’t really left the house, so maybe that’s why. Listen, back on Alternia you need to keep yourself safe, and now that you have a safe home, it’s really hard to convince yourself to leave. Not that you acted all that safely when you were on Alternia? Okay, maybe you are just making excuses for yourself. You look out the window. It’s a sunny day with a light wind. It’s about time you took a walk outside.

 

Saying you haven’t left the house at all is a bit of a stretch. You put your keys in your hoodie pocket. You have actually been doing a little job hunting to see if you can get some boonies for, oh you know, something other than a chair. You walk down the steps into the lobby. You’ve seen a few coffee shops that are looking for new employees, but you have a hard time selling your usefulness to yourself, so you haven’t bothered to try and clumsily convince your would-be boss that you deserve to, not only stick around, but get paid to do so.

 

The lobby is a deep, comforting purple, with golden accents, emitting light. The carpet, however, is a deep red. You nod at the Tealblood, who’s name you have learned is Teskar. You tried calling her “Tessy” once, and she wasn’t that into it. There’s a group of rowdy Humans and Carapaces gathering up some shared funds to pay for an apartment. You hope they aren’t going to move in above you. You exit into the streets of the city, and begin walking along a path.

 

The path leads to the large park that sits in between your apartment complex and the towers that the gods live in. You live rather close to them, but you don’t see them around a lot. This must be because you never leave the house, because the second you say that in your head you run into one of them. Oh, holy fuck you just literally walked face first into Rose Lalonde. Jesus, great first impression. You stumble over backwards. As you begin to gather yourself you begin apologizing. God damn are you really fucking this up so bad first try? You begin to lose confidence when you recall none of your friend gathering expertise was actually yours to begin with. To your surprise, Ms. Lalonde and her wife do not seem terribly upset with you. They don’t even seem bothered at all, actually.

 

Rose: Oh, hello there.

Kanaya: You Must Be The One John Told Us About

Kanaya: He Was Right About Your Appearance

 

Oh damn, you hope John wasn’t shit talking you.

 

Kanaya: You Are Just Peculiar Thats All

Kanaya: Not A Carapacian

 

Well at least it’s easy to figure out what you aren’t. You may be able to form some sort of identity based on process of elimination.

 

Rose: There’s no need to worry on that front. Welcome to the neighborhood, Reader.

 

You thank them. With that, they are off. The two of them follow along the pathway in the opposite direction you were going. You are about to continue down the brick road when you notice them. Three Gods sitting under a tree, having a picnic. OH FUCK NO. You begin sprinting over to a tree that is far enough away they probably wont notice you hiding behind it, and try to listen. It’s too windy, dammit. You lean over and peak around the tree. Okay, thank fuck, looks like there isn’t any meat or candy, other than a small portion meant for Callie. And, just as you suspected, it’s Callie, Roxy, and John. Well, you guess he wasn’t bullshitting when he said he would catch up with them sooner in this time line. You mean timeline.  

 

Roxy taps John on the shoulder. They are laughing… Callie looks distracted… are John and Roxy… Flirting? Oh shit, nice John! Okay you HAVE to get closer. There is a bush that’s about 10 feet out, but there’s no way you are getting that close without getting caught… You briefly consider respecting their privacy. Haha, yeah right. You sprint towards the bush and dive in.

 

You are nestled securely within the bush. Fuck yes. You listen in.

 

Roxy: o haha yeah…

Roxy: you kno janey, shes a little quirky :/

 

Oh fuck, what are they talking about? You wish you had context for any of this. Oh fuck a bus passes by. You don’t hear anything for a solid minute and a half.

 

John: i don’t really think about that stuff too much?

John: i mean i guess it’s kind of weird?

John: but it’s not like im uncomfortable like… how we are…

John: i guess it kind of snuck up on me!

 

Wait, what snuck up on you? Fuck, you jostle slightly to try and get your ears closer.

 

Roxy: i rly appreciate you talkin to me abt this stuff john

Roxy: yknow

Roxy: gotta communicate when ur tryin to figure out somethin like this

 

Waaaaaaait what the fuuuuuuck? What is happening? Are they dating already? Are they…. talking about the idea of dating? You need answers so bad god dammit!!

 

Calliope: that is very trUe… personally, i jUst feel-

Calliope: oh dear!

Calliope: who… who’s lower body is that?

Roxy: o shit is somebody stuck?

Calliope: look at that bUsh over there :U

Roxy: omg their whole ass is just out

 

Oh god dammit. Apparently only your head is hidden. You tear out of there, taking most of the bush with you. That’s fine, nothing wrong with some sticks and leaves to complete the look! You fucking gun it to your house.

 

Y’know, all things considered, this walk could have gone worse. You don’t check behind you, just in case they haven’t recognized you yet. Your getup is fairly distinct, but you would rather not risk it. A carapacian woman with a cradle looks at you like you are the weirdest thing she has seen all year. You mean, that’s fair, it’s only April. When you get to your apartment, you slow down and try to act natural, but you are panting heavily. You return to your room and faceplant onto your bed.

 

You slip into a pattern. The pattern is as follows: You wake up at 12 PM, you stay on your palmhusk until 3:30, Convince yourself to go get breakfast at around 4:13, try to convince yourself to do something or try to make some friends and then ultimately fail, returning to sitting at your bed at 5. You have been tinkering with your machine, but you can’t spend too much time on that without getting exhausted and bored.

 

You used to love making friends. Part of you still does, but… it feels like an impossible task these days. The worst part is, the people in your life now that you KNOW feel like… untouchable celebrities. Literal Gods can’t possibly have the time or the patience for someone like you. But they are the only ones on this planet you have any connection to…

 

You have considered going to a support group. You’ve done some research, but you aren’t sure which ones are most apt for what you are going through. Post-traumatic stress is one thing, but the experience of leaving your planet behind never to see it again is something fairly unique. You aren’t sure if it matters. You aren’t sure if you are making excuses or not.

 

Perhaps you should just treat people normally. You know the lore better than anyone, these people were just kids not to long ago… Perhaps putting these people on a pedestal is… selfish? You say this as they live in giant temple like towers. Well, John lives in a house. So do Dave and Karkat. But acting like they haven’t put themselves on pedestals is a little silly.

 

Days turn to weeks. This isn’t right. You don’t want to live like this. You want to take care of yourself. You want to buy a fucking fridge. You pull yourself out of bed. Okay, you’re doing this. You are going out. To buy a fridge? It’s as good an excuse as any. You peer out your window, over at the towers… Perhaps you just need to take the next step. The next action that will really help you connect with your fellow man… Perhaps the best way to find out things is to ask. You do the most daring thing a Homestuck Reader can do. You go outside.

 

Outside it’s a cold and windy day. You didn’t know Earth C could get windy. You didn’t know it was possible for there to be bad weather on this planet at all, really. You suppose good and bad weather is relative. The rain can be quite nice sometimes, and other times it can burn your skin and rot your flesh to the bone. You warm your hands in your hoodie pocket. You walk on the concrete path that goes through the park on the way to the two towers. You have no idea what you are going to say once you get there. You just feel like if you don’t now, you will never be able to convince yourself it’s a good idea.

 

You arrive. After knocking on the front door of Roxy and Callies tower, you wait. You pull your hood shut. After about a minute, the door is opened and you are ushered inside.

 

Roxy: omg hey!

Roxy: its u!

 

It’s you.

 

Roxy: where tha fuck u been? Heard john gave u a place near here then u kinda disappeared?

Roxy: cmon lets head upstairs

Roxy: getchu smth warm its shitty out there

 

Roxy leads you up the spiral staircase. They are wearing grey leggings with their iconic mutant cat tee-shirt. As the two of you ascend, you explain that, yes you still exist, and yes you are still neighbors. You have just been having a hard time convincing yourself that leaving the apartment is a worthwhile investment. Kind of hard to convince yourself to do anything when the foundation of what you thought your life was going to be got shifted so dramatically so many times in such a short period of time. Hm, maybe you are laying on your depression kind of thick. You don’t want Roxy to think you are fishing for pity, but at the same time, shit kinda sucks!

 

Roxy: i getchu

Roxy: john was feelin that shit pretty hard recently

Roxy: luckily hes been getting out of the house with callie and i every now and then :)

 

Oh, has he? You are so curious what her relationship status with Egbert is, but you don’t want to come off as nosey.

 

Roxy: its they nowadays

Roxy: lol

 

You will keep that in mind.

 

The two of you enter the living room. On the couch, you see Callie, as expected, but to your slight surprise, you also see John. John and Callie both look tired, the two of them wearing hoodies and pajamas. This is probably the most casual you have ever seen Callie dress! You aren’t quite sure if it’s late or if they were up late last night. Time has been getting away from you as of late. You are far too embarrassed to ask what time it is, so you just wave, and the two of them wave lazily back, John closes his eyes.

 

Calliope: oh hello there! it has been qUite some time now hasn’t it?

 

Yeah, it really has been. Seeing John here makes you wonder… How different is this timeline from the one you created? Are John and Callie going to start dating Roxy again? Have they already? And if this is the same… what else will be? And more importantly, to what extent can you effect it? To what extent can you change things, or are you just doomed to know just how horrible things can go?

 

That isn’t fair, is it? Bad things happen, don’t they? That’s just how life is. That changes, however, when there is an artificer. An author, who is responsible. If an author is responsible for the reality to create, what is that responsibility? To teach lessons, but be kind in the end, or to give that world realism? Or is it just to make a point? Why did you write anything at all?

 

Roxy: um

John: hey, are they alright?

Roxy: no idea hold up

Roxy: YO READER

Roxy: YOU GOOD???

 

Oh, fuck, how long have you been staring off into space like that? Dammit, this habit you’ve made of rambling metatextual internal monologues has got to stop. At the very least, you need to tone it down a bit. Why did you come here again? Oh yeah, talking to people. Fuck.

 

You tell Calliope and John that it is nice to see them again.

 

John: how has the new place been?

 

It’s been alright. You have just been staying in it a bit too long recently. Getting some of that not-from-this-reality blues. John and Roxy look at each other and grimace. Wait, is that a sore subject? Shit, are they from a different universe or something? Fuck, you don’t remember what happened in Homestuck, there was just so fucking much of it!

 

Roxy leads you to a chair and sits down. They look at you with an expression that fills your soul with emotion. Maybe filling is the wrong verb. It’s more like it sucks all the apathy away, leaving only the emotions you have been long neglecting. Sadness, kindness, understanding… none of this was portrayed on those armless sprites, at least not to this depth. This isn’t just a comic anymore, is it? at least it isn’t to you. You can’t just use your knowledge of Homestuck to meta-game your way into a friendship with these people. You want to focus on talking with these three. They probably understand you better then anyone else on this planet, but can you understand them?

 

You do talk to them, but you have a hard time focusing. They offer you food, and you take some. You small talk, discussing things around the carapace kingdom to do for fun, as well as recent Earth C developments. You want to bond with them, and maybe you will, but first you need to get some things figured out inside your spherical head. After a hearty meal and a minor panic attack at seeing John eye Callies bowl of candy, you say goodnight to the sburban survivors and head home.

 

On your way back home, you see Earth C. Obviously not all of Earth C. You see a park in a city in a kingdom on Earth C. The significant word is See. You actually see it. The amount of narrative fuckery in your life has made it hard to tell if you ever really are anywhere, or if you ever really exist. But right now, you can tell… You’re here. Not only are you here, but You are the person who is here. It’s You. The word “You” pervades your entire existence, but this sense of “You-ness” has eluded you until now. It feels amazing and incredibly out of place at the same time.

 

Perhaps things will be different this time, now that you aren’t the one in control. The one thing that is certain, is that this time You will be different. It starts with that machine. So you get to work.