Clicking. Clicking. Clicking. John had been sitting at his computer endlessly clicking away and typing through websites and social media posts about things he didn’t particularly care about. Was there really anything better to do? Besides cooking meals he wouldn’t finish, staring at the television hoping something interesting would come on, or laying in bed staring at the ceiling, social media had definitely occupied most of his time.
He’d often find himself messaging his friends and just hoping one of them would respond. John would much rather hear about how fulfilling the lives of his friends were than face his own. In fact, John spent the vast majority of his time running away from his problems like that. He wouldn’t acknowledge his mental health issues, because that would be, in his eyes, admitting there was something wrong with him.
Though he ignored the grander issue of his depression, there was no running from the painfully abundant and obvious other problems in his life. Specifically at the moment, how crushingly lonely he often found himself nowadays. Sure, he keeps in touch with his friends, but he certainly doesn’t leave the house as frequently as he should, and the current loneliness he found plaguing him wasn’t that of someone who needed friendship. Rather, it was that of someone longing for a romantic experience.
John, in his 24 years alive, had never had a single official romantic partner. He had experienced something adjacent to romance with Roxy, and had complicated feelings at one point in his relationship with Vriska, but they never flourished.
No, despite his youthful insistence on his heterosexuality, John had never experienced anything he’d truly call romantic, except for with one person. Dave Strider. The two of them had considered each other “As close as bros can be” as Dave had put it. But John had thought about their many years of acquaintance with some improved hindsight. Many of their ‘ironic’ conversations likely had a lot less irony than they’d let on, or at least than John had let on. There was only so much two friends could flirt with each other before it began to transcend irony. John had romantic feelings for Dave a lot longer than he realized.
Karkat Vantas, on the other hand, had been a newer revelation. He had occasionally teased Karkat for being into him, reminding him he was “not a homosexual,” and smirking at how angry Karkat would get at the notion. He had always been joking of course, until something significant happened that had changed a lot for him.
Dave and Karkat started dating. It was a while before they officially considered each other as matesprits, but it did happen eventually. John tried not to care. His feelings for Dave were just sparks of a little childhood crush...right? But he didn’t just find himself jealous of Karkat, he was jealous of Dave too. His admission of these feelings to himself were postponed as much as possible, but it became hard to ignore when the three of them became roommates.
Due partly to frequent visits, and partly to Karkat and Dave worrying about the depressive squalor that John had found himself living in, that prompted them to offer. John had enthusiastically accepted the offer. Why wouldn’t he want to be roomies with two of his best friends?
“John?” He snapped up from his computer screen, looking towards the door to see Dave standing in the doorway. He wasn’t wearing his shades.
“What are you still doing up?”
“Oh, uh, just…” He glanced back to his computer screen. What was he still doing up? “Wait...is it 2 AM already?!” He minimized his browser and looked back at Dave.
“Dude...you gotta stop doing this.” He sighed walking over to John. Dave leaned over and put John’s computer in sleep mode. John couldn’t help staring at his bright red eyes. They were beautiful, and John’s deep blue eyes felt commonplace in comparison.
Dave snapped as he pointed towards the bed. “Sleep. Now.”
John sighed and sat on the bed.
“You don’t have to treat me like a kid.” John groaned.
“Maybe if you actually took care of yourself I wouldn’t.” Dave walked back to the doorway. “Get some rest, man.” He shut the door gently behind him.
John sighed as he leaned back. He pawed at his face and tossed his glasses onto his nightstand. He wanted to be tired. He wanted to fall asleep. But he found himself staring at his ceiling, feeling absolutely nothing.
“I swear to fuck, it’s like he couldn’t read a room to save his damn life!” Karkat shouted, causing John to jerk awake.
“I’m sure you told him as much?” Dave offered.
“I tried to! But Jade kept talking over me! Apparently it’s now rude to call a douche muffin, a douche muffin!” Karkat shouted. Dave laughed sweetly.
John smiled lightly before immediately grimacing. He felt his stomach complain to him for a moment before disregarding it in favor of analyzing the texture of the ceiling for the eightieth time. A futile activity, given his glasses lying on his nightstand just out of reach.
He found his daily dose of void much more preferable than half-heartedly eating a bowl of cereal while watching Dave and Karkat being quite possibly the most adorable couple in existence.
“I found John up at 2 AM.”
He jumped to attention.
“Again? What was his excuse this time?” Karkat’s tone would’ve been misread as annoyance to anyone who hadn’t known him.
“Lost track of time.”
“Did he end up going to sleep?”
“I got him to go to bed but I’m not sure if he got any sleep.”
The two of them paused.
Dave’s footsteps began approaching John’s room. He panicked and rolled over into a position akin to something sleep-adjacent.
His door slowly opened.
He didn’t answer, practically holding his breath to have to avoid another lecture on sleep.
“John, c’mon. I can tell you’re awake.”
He sighed and sat up.
“Do you...want some breakfast?” Dave offered.
“It’s fine I’ll just make something later.” He could barely make out Dave’s blurry silhouette in the doorframe.
“Unless you forget again.” Karkat’s head poked around Dave. “Dave might be asking but I’m not. Come eat.”
John sighed and rolled out of bed. His glasses somehow smudged in the three seconds he held them.
Karkat lingered in the doorway until John passed him.
“I made oatmeal. Want some?” Dave offered.
John simply nodded, groggily falling into a chair.
“Oh, Karkat, you wanna fill John in?” Dave mentioned, preparing another bowl of oatmeal.
“Oh, yeah. Dave and I are going over to Jake and Dirk’s place today. They said you could come too if you wanted.” Karkat placed a bowl in front of John before sitting down himself.
“Eh...I don’t know if today’s a good day...” John sighed.
“You sure? You haven’t been out in like...a while.” Dave sat beside Karkat.
Just then, John’s phone went off. He spotted a message from Rose.
TT: Sorry for the late reply. Yes, I’m available today.
“Yeah, sorry...I was waiting for Rose to confirm our plans for today.” John explained, knowing well he would’ve said that even if she’d turn him down.
“Well I’m glad you’re at least doing something today.” Dave smiled.
John considered backing out of his meeting Rose several times, even while he was on his way. Standing on the doorstep, he felt underdressed for her and Kanaya’s beautifully decorated hive.
He looked down at his loose-fitting hoodie, and questionably clean jeans. Perhaps that was reason enough to go back home.
He sighed and knocked on the door. Kanaya answered.
“Ah, John! Come in.” She greeted. “Rose is in our respite block. I’ll let her know you’re here.”
Kanaya disappeared around the corner, and John stood awkwardly in the entryway. Rose didn’t take long to appear.
“Hello John.” She said warmly. He felt a bit better seeing she was dressed casually as well.
“Hey Rose! Uh…” He looked down at his shoes. “Should I take…”
“I don’t mind, but Kanaya might.”
He nodded and slipped his shoes off.
The two of them sat down together in the living room, which John couldn’t help but notice had a woman’s touch times two.
“So, what did you want to discuss?” Rose asked.
“Right well...I was hoping you could give me some advice?”
Rose perked up. Of course the idea of someone finding her knowledgeable on anything would excite her.
“Of course. What’s troubling you?”
He hesitated. This was going to be a bit to explain.
“Uh...messy relationship advice I guess?”
“Oh? Have you decided to finally dip your toes in the dating scene?” Rose smirked, positioning herself in a way that almost seemed to flaunt her wedding ring.
“Well yeah but...there’s something else I needed to tell you first.” John tensed up a bit. “I’m...I think I’m...bi? Or at least...not as straight as I thought.”
Rose smiled. “Oh, good. I figured that out a while ago, I was just waiting for you to catch up.”
The two shared a laugh.
“So, who’s caught the eyes of the heir of breath?”
“Oh... right.” This was going to be even harder to explain than being bi. “It’s...well...this is the messy part I was talking about. Because, well…” He sighed heavily. “It’s...Dave...and... and Karkat.”
John looked up at Rose nervously, to find her concealing a smug look, with a notable lack of surprise.
“Oh? Are you hoping to fill a quadrant or two?” Kanaya asked, entering the room holding a basket of laundry.
“Well...that’s the messy bit. I don’t...have quadrant feelings for them, not really. I just…” He thought about how to phrase troll terminology the best he could. He could never figure out human romance, let alone quadrants. “I think I just have….flushed feelings...for both of them.”
Kanaya sat beside rose and nodded in understanding.
“That is messy. After all, the two of them are already in a committed flushed relationship.” Rose noted.
“I tried letting the feelings go away but...they didn’t. It’s just been getting worse and worse and I don’t know what to do. I’ve never felt like this and I don’t-“
“John.” Kanaya interjected. “Calm down. It’s alright. We’re going to help you through this, okay?” Kanaya’s maternal nature was apparent in her comforting words.
John sighed and nodded.
“How long have you had these feelings for?”
“Uhh...well I guess...a really long time, but I didn’t realize that’s what it was for a while, and then I tried to pretend that wasn’t it, and then realized it was, and tried to ignore it, and it just…”
Kanaya nodded. “So let’s put it this way. You had these emotions budding for years, until one day, they suddenly blossomed. You tried to ignore their existence, until more blossomed, at which point you tried to neglect these blossoms into simply fading away, which resulted in them growing out of control, and you aren’t sure what to do anymore?”
John stared in awe at her excellent phrasing. “Yeah...pretty much.”
“Neglecting them was definitely the issue here.” Rose started. “I think if you handled them properly from the start, this would be an easier situation, but now you’re going to have a harder time.”
“So what do I do?”
Kanaya and Rose glanced around each other, before Rose spoke. “You’re going to have to talk to Dave and Karkat. I can’t see you getting closure otherwise.”
And in that moment, John’s heart sank to the bottom of his chest.
John felt his heart beat faster than he could count. He likened what he was feeling to the many times he was face to face with death while playing SBURB. But this time, he faced social death instead of literal death.
He bounced his leg and chewed on his bottom lip, waiting for Dave and Karkat to come through the front door. They could be back any minute, or leave him in suspense for another hour. He wasn’t sure how long their errand would take.
He was prepared for them to ask him to move out, or to even never talk to him. He wasn’t sure he could take either of those options, but Rose had assured him that “They’re your friends and they’ll care about you no matter what.”
Just then, his phone went off.
GC: H3Y D1D YOU DO 1T Y3T?
It was no surprise Terezi was on his ass wanting an update immediately.
EB: they aren’t back yet! I told you i’d let you know how it went after!
GC: SORRY 1 W4S JUST CUR1OUS
GC: GOOD LUCK 3GB3RT >:]
He sighed and pocketed his phone. Having to sit alone with this conversation looming over his head was absolute misery. He wasn’t sure how long he could take it.
Just as the thought occurred to him, the door opened, Karkat was laughing about something and Dave was smiling sweetly.
“Woah, look who decided to drag himself out of bed!” Karkat teased when he noticed John sitting on the sofa.
“Heh, yeah.” John chuckled. “I was actually hoping…” Now or never. “I could maybe talk to you guys about something?”
Dave and Karkat exchanged a glance.
“Yeah, sure man. Of course.” Dave led and he and Karkat sat beside him.
“Right so…” His chest felt like it was on fire, and he hoped his face wasn’t as red as it felt. “This is kind of, I don’t want to, Rose said, I just-” The words refused to escape his mouth, and he tensed as Dave placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Take your time, dude.”
His eyes met Dave’s, able to subtly make out his thoughtful eyes behind his shades. He felt nauseous.
“Nevermind, it’s nothing, I have to go.” John sputtered as he dashed out of the room. He heard Karkat call after him, but he was already out the door.
EB: i didn't go through with it.
GC: WHY NOT?
EB: i got...scared i guess.
EB: i’m scared of losing them.
EB: i don’t wanna ruin what any of us have.
CG: OK4Y F1RST OF 4LL
CG: K4RK4T 1S 4 TOT4L B4BY 4ND WOULD COM3 CR4WL1NG B4CK 4FT3R TWO D4YS
EB: hahaha. yeah probably.
CG: HOW LONG H4V3 D4V3 4ND YOU B33N FR13NDS NOW?
EB: idk like...forever?
CG: YOU TH1NK H3’S GO1NG TO STOP T4LK1NG TO YOU B3C4US3 YOU H4V3 4 CRUSH ON H1M?
CG: YOU’V3 D13D W1TH 34CHOTH3R 4FT3R 4LL!
EB: oh yeah. i guess so
EB: but what if i get in the way of what him and karkat have together?
CG: US3 YOUR H34D 3GB3RT! W3 JUST W3NT OV3R K4RK4T B31NG 4 B1G B4BY!
EB: haha you know he’d be mad to hear you calling him a baby! :)
CG: Y34H BUT H3’S 4 B4BY SO H3 WOULDN’T B3 M4D FOR LONG
CG: 4NYW4Y GO B4CK 4ND T4LK TO TH3M
EB: you don’t think i already fucked it up by running off?
CG: OH NO YOU D3F1N1T3LY JUST M4D3 1T WORS3 TH4N 1T N33D3D TO B3
CG: BUT 1M SUR3 1T C4N ST1LL WORK OUT >:]
EB: you really think this is a good idea?
CG: ROS3 4ND K4N4Y4 4GR33D W1TH M3. TH4TS THR33 4G41NST ON3!
EB: alright alright!
EB: ill go back.
CG: OH 4ND YOU B3TT3R T3LL M3 HOW IT GO3S 4FT3R!
EB: yeah yeah.
“Oh, there you are.” John practically dropped his phone off the side of the building when he heard Dave’s voice. He might not have caught it without his wind powers.
“Oh, D-Dave!” John clutched his phone to his chest.
Dave hovered to sitting next to him, giving him a healthy amount of space.
“What’s going on with you, man? You’ve been acting all cagey for a while.” Dave asked genuinely. “You can tell me whatever it is. You know that, right?”
John hesitated, but didn’t refuse. He could almost feel Kanaya, Rose, and Terezi watching over him. He didn’t want to disappoint.
“I know.” He said finally. “I’m just scared.”
“Of losing you.” He surprised himself with how quickly he said that.
“John, you could kill a man and I wouldn’t stop being your friend. Come to think of it I think most of our friends have killed someone at some point.” They laughed.
“Yeah.” John kept the smile on his face. “Yeah, you’re right.” He still couldn’t make eye contact. He felt like maybe Karkat should be here too, but he felt more comfortable talking only to Dave instead of both of them.
“Dave I…” He looked towards Dave, but not at his eyes. “I have…” His breath quickened as he spoke. “I love you!” He spat. “I mean! I have a-I have feelings for-” He nervously buried himself in his hood.
Dave was quiet. He didn’t say anything, or even move.
Oh? What kind of answer was fucking oh? He had hoped for something a bit more substantial.
“That’s…” His expression remained stagnant as John’s wrestled between an anxious grimace and a hopeful sob.
“Karkat too!” He said suddenly, immediately wanting to punch himself. “Sorry! Sorry I shouldn’t have said that. I just forgot to say that earlier. I shouldn’t have said either.” He broke into a fit of laughter, and could feel tears forming in his eyes.
“Sorry, sorry. I’ll leave you be. Sorry.” John flew off, praying that, even though Dave could catch up to him in a split second, he simply wouldn’t