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About A Time I Failed

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Your head fucking hurts. It’s bright and cold and yeah, holy shame globes, does your head hurt. There’s something about the way your breath is catching in your throat fast and hard that’s making you think some major shit just went down-

Oh.

He killed you. Jack. Fuck, shit, maybe not Jack, maybe just some Carapacian that looked an awful lot like Jack. Terezi insisted Jack would betray you but there is no fucking way that the dude you who helped you execute Operation Regisurp followed you to Prospit and-

Oh, god, you’re dead.

Not this you, obviously. This you is still sitting on the metal floor of the lab, wishing you could remember what it felt like to sleep in sopor slime. It’s the other you that’s dead. Dream you. First time you managed to wake up all goddamn game and you immediately got yourself killed.

And then Prospit and all its gold burned away and there was nothing but these whispers, these screams, these horrifying-

Your body shivers instinctively, pulling you right the fuck out of that train of thought. You never want to think about those monsters again. You’ll never sleep again if that’s what it takes to stop it. If all Prospit dreamers see them now when they sleep, you’ll keep all of you awake. Indefinitely.

Your friends don’t seem to give an active shit that you’re awake, or that you passed out in the first place. You count them- you’ve got to, you’re their leader, you’re responsible for them- eleven. Twelve, counting you. Great, perfect. None of them got themselves killed while you were unconscious. You imagine it was hard for them.

Terezi is the closest to you, physically, chuckling at something on one of the computer monitors that you can’t quite make out. It’s hard even through the pounding in your skull not to wonder if she did that on purpose, staying near you like that. She likes you. Probably. Maybe. She liked you two weeks ago when she stuck her tongue into your mouth. Fuck, shouldn’t she have cared that you passed out though? Unless this is spades flirting she’s doing. Close enough to make sure no one kills her kismesis, detached enough to send you a big clear “fuck you”.

Kanaya disturbs you before you can dwell on it any further.

“Karkat. I hope my display with Tavros earlier did not cause any permanent damage for you. He seems remarkably pleased to have legs again.” She places a hand on your shoulder, eyebrow raised slightly as if threatening you to disagree. You glance over at Tavros stomping around like a complete jackass with his brand new robot legs and sigh.

“It would be great if you all could give me a heads up about any future dismemberments.” You tell her, a little more acid in your tone than necessary.

“Yes, I realized the circumstances were undesirable when you fainted.” She stops talking but keeps her hand on you.

“Prospit?” You ask.

“Yes, I was waiting for you to ask.” She responds.

“Does everyone know? I was the only one asleep. Fuck, how do I break it to everyone that their dream selves are dead?” You are in so fucking far above your head.

“I imagine it would be difficult to have a dream self die and not notice, awake or otherwise. I believe that your concern as leader now lies in the cause of all this death.” The corner of her lip perks up as she says ‘leader’. It leaves you bitter- after everything, even Kanaya won’t take you seriously?

“Right, of course, leave it to your incapacitated leader to figure everything out while you all fuck around on computers. Great. Someone get me Aradia so I can ask her just where the fuck she decided to bring all of us.” You’re shouting now, loud enough for Aradia to hear on her own, but the stupid robot just keeps her gaze plastered on her computer. Terezi takes the opportunity to acknowledge your existence.

“Alright Vantas, what do you know about the humans?” She grins at you, hand stretched over her monitor so you can’t see what’s going on.

“Humans?” You ask, irritated. She plays with you like this constantly, making up words just to piss you off.

“Aliens,” Kanaya begins to explain, earning one dramatic sigh from Terezi, “Aliens playing their own SGRUB session.”

“Is that where Aradia took us? Someone else’s session? What, we have to hijack it?” You’re asking a lot of questions for a guy supposed to be in charge.

Terezi and Kanaya exchange an uncomfortable glance.

“You should take a look for yourself, candy blood.” Terezi points towards a vacant computer. You love it when she reminds of your mutant blood. Brings back all those fond memories of fearing for your life. Ah, the good old days on Alternia.

There’s more important shit going down than your determinedly black flirting with your formerly red crush, though. Shit called humans. When you boot up the ratty computer your friends have left for you, there are four very distinct timelines laid out for you. Blue, purple, red, and green. You know enough about the game to know who their leader is at a quick glance. You spend half an hour leafing through his entire timeline- his entry into the game, the complete and utter failure he is at organizing his team, his incompetence in dealing with any of the political endeavors on Derse, and, maybe most importantly, the god-creature he allows his client player to prototype after he let their version of Jack Goddamn Noir get ahold of the Black Queen’s ring.

He is a fucking moron.

You hate him.

You hate him in a way that makes you sick. It’s different than you’ve ever hated Terezi, or Sollux, or yourself. You’re supposed to be finding a way to save your entire species from the brink of extinction, and instead you’ve found yourself in your very first kismesis love.

Just like in the movies.

“So what are we doing with them, Vantas?” Vriska jeers from across the room. She’s smirking at you, giving you a full view of her monitor where troll logs between her and this John Human are scattered across the screen. You’d be aggravated with her for talking to him without your consent if you hadn’t been hatching the same exact plan.

“Holy fuck, everyone listen up! I’m sure you’re all aware that we’re completely fucked by now. Denied our prize for winning the game, stranded in some alien session in a dying universe, all the Prospit dreamers are down to one life-“ You begin.

Sollux interrupts you: “Derse is gone too. Destroyed. We’re all going to die here. Also, I’m not going along with whatever your asinine plan ends up being. Just for the record.”

You continue, “Great, what a wonderful contribution from Mr. Captor. Thanks for helping out the rest of your team, pal. For the fucking rest of you- it doesn’t really seem like we have much of an out. We are utterly stranded on the most dismal asteroid in all of space time, and we’re probably going to die here. All we’ve got now is revenge. Get the fuck on your computers and destroy these humans. Make them pay for what they’ve taken from us.”

“But some of them seem nice!” Nepeta argues. She’s not exactly one to argue with you. You want to make sure she doesn’t try that shit again.

“Did I ask for your opinion of them, Leijon? Troll. Them. Make them wish they never messed with us. I want the leader, though. Leave the John Human to me.” You order, pointed look at Vriska. She’ll ignore you, you’re sure, but it’s something you can deal with later. Besides, it’s not as if you’re concerned that Serket is going to accidentally be nice. John deserves her wrath.

What annoys you more than the rest of these idiots is Terezi. She didn’t bother to turn around during your brilliant speech, instead cackling at her computer screen. You do your best to ignore it, pulling up a moment real late in John’s timeline to mess around with. You’re a goddamn word poet and the hate speech pours out of you easy. You swear you’re better at typing it than screaming out loud, if only for all the isolation of your adolescence. It takes you thirty seconds to smash out a vicious speech for this god awful human boy. You’re going to make him fear you.

Before you press “send” you’re distracted by Terezi’s laugh. It isn’t like you’re using to hearing it, all high pitched and calculating, like she’s the one pulling the strings of the humor. She’s just… she’s honest to god giggling. You exit out of your unsent conversation with John and scoot over to her computer.

She’s too busy laughing to effectively hide her screen from you. It’s filled with a wall of red. Red text, red timeline, red eyes.

The other human boy.

“You flirting with the enemy now?” You accuse.

“Fuck off, Karkat.” She manages to retort in between snorts, pushing at your face with her hands.

You do. You fuck off right on back to your computer and switch viewports to this red asshole. What was he? Hero of Time? If this alien douchebag thinks he can get your girl, he’s got another thing coming.

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]

CG: LISTEN UP HUMAN SWINE

CG: THIS IS YOUR GOD TALKING AND I’VE GOT A VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR YOU RE: YOU HITTING ON TEREZI PYROPE.

TG: bro what the shit are you talking about

TG: havent we hashed all this out already jesus christ

TG: oh damn unless youre fuckin past karkat

TG: man its so lame when you pull this time shenanigans shit

TG: hey im karkat here to confuse the living shit out of everyone i hold dear to me

TG: when am i from who knows your guess is as good as mine so good luck not accidentally spilling some future secrets to me

TG: i mean i wont spill future secrets obviously

TG: master of time here

TG: you fuck john right up though buddy

TG: anyway hey what the fuck do you want

CG: WHAT THE FUCK?

CG: HOW DARE YOU TALK TO YOUR GOD LIKE THIS!

CG: I CREATED YOU, HUMAN.

TG: oh my god

TG: yes

TG: hell fucking yes

TG: oh this had better be as good as you built it up to be dude

TG: this is the first time youre talking to me right

TG: ok there are three things i have got to tell you about humans before you continue bro

TG: the first thing is that youve gotta ask every human how big their dick is when you first talk to them

TG: its how we assess whos the leader ok

TG: im willing to forgive this huge oversight on your part but you gotta do it with john and rose and jade

CG: YOU ARE SO FULL OF SHIT.

TG: two

CG: NO STOP I AM LITERALLY BEGGING YOU TO SHUT THE FUCK UP.

CG: HOW CAN TEREZI FUCKING STAND TALKING TO YOU FOR SO LONG?

TG: yeah man i know you’re going through some shit right now

TG: so ill chill

TG: but ok just for the fuckin record going forward

TG: i wasnt hitting on tz

TG: obviously i know me saying this now doesnt do shit for your anxiety about it in the future but

TG: seriously i am so not about that

CG: I HATE MYSELF FOR ASKING THIS

CG: BECAUSE I AM OBVIOUSLY ABOUT TO START A SELF FUCKING FUFILLING PROPHECY

CG: BUT WE HAVE SPOKEN BEFORE FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE?

TG: oh shit my man

TG: have we ever

TG: you and i are best fucking bros

TG: basically lovers

CG: STOP

CG: NO NO NO

CG: I KNEW I SHOULDN’T HAVE ASKED HOLY FUCK DO NOT EVER BRING UP YOUR FUCKED UP INTERSPECIES ROMANCE AGAIN.

CG: IT’S BAD ENOUGH YOU AND TEREZI ARE CLEARLY GETTING IT ON.

CG: DO NOT PULL ME INTO THIS"

TG: hahahahaha

TG: right right

TG: so sorry to fuck with your quadrants karkat

CG: HOW THE HELL DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DELICATE ART OF QUADRANTS?

TG: trust me

TG: i wish i didnt know jack shit about them

TG: unfortunately i have spoken with you for more than thirty seconds so i am basically the human ambassador on quadrants at this point

CG: ALRIGHT, I WOULD LIKE TO STATE FOR THE RECORD THAT I OFFICIALLY HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOUR GODDAMN GARBAGE.

CG: YOU CAN MAKE FUN OF ME, YOU CAN FLIRT WITH TEREZI, YOU CAN BE A GENERALLY INSUFFERABLE PRICK

CG: BUT I DRAW THE FUCKING LINE AT MOCKING MY *ENTIRE* CULTURE.

CG: YOUR FUCKING SLANDER ABOUT QUADRANTS THAT YOU HAVE NO WAY OF COMPREHENDING IS DESPICABLE AND I SWEAR ON MY DEAD FUCKING LUSUS THAT I WILL MAKE YOU PAY.

TG: hahaha oh my god

TG: this is it this is everything ive ever wanted

TG: classic goddamn karkat pissed off about quadrants

TG: you cant make this up

TG: you can fuck me you can fuck my girlfriend but dont you dare insult my weird ass alien romance chart

TG: holy shit i cant wait to talk to you about this

TG: current you i mean

TG: my time you

TG: youre gonna be so goddamn embarrassed

CG: MY SINCERE APOLOGIES IF I HAVE A HARD TIME BELIEVING THAT I WOULD EVER SPEAK TO YOU AGAIN, NEVERMIND IN THE FAMILIAR WAY YOU'RE IMPLYING, AFTER THIS SHITSTORM OF A CONVERSATION.

TG: ok dickface this was fun but i think im done with the aggressive yelling

TG: didnt miss this shit thats for sure

TG: pretty sure i get back at your for it when you first start talking to me though

TG: prepare yourself for me being kind of an asshole

CG: OH HEAVENS ME HOW WILL I EVER GET THROUGH THAT?

CG: WAIT I’VE GOT IT! I DON’T HAVE TO.

CG: GOODBYE FOREVER DIRTBAG.

TG: wait shit dont block me

TG: im sorry im messing around with you ok

TG: i remember you saying you were going through some major shit the first time you talked to me

TG: its about jack isnt it

CG: WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW ABOUT JACK?

TG: im prolly fucking up some timeline shit telling you this but

TG: it wasnt your jack from your session

TG: he was ours

CG: YEAH I GATHERED THAT SCROLLING THROUGH YOUR SHITSCUM LEADER’S TIMELINE.

CG: IT IS NOT YOUR PLACE TO TRY TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT IT CUMDUMPSTER.

CG: I’VE GOT A QUESTION FOR YOU THOUGH

CG: HOW THE SHIT DID YOU LET THIS ALL HAPPEN?

TG: series of fuck ups on our part

TG: we prototyped some messed up stuff and overpowered the motherfucker

TG: he killed a lot of people

CG: HE KILLED ME

CG: AND I KNOW IT WAS YOUR FAULT.

CG: I KNOW IT WASN’T MY JACK.

CG: BUT HOW DID HE GET INTO OUR SESSION? WHAT THE FUCK POWERS DID YOU EVEN GIVE HIM?

TG: i dont think

TG: im supposed to tell you yet bro

TG: we work a lot of this shit out together later in your timeline

TG: i just know your jack meant a lot to you bro

TG: didnt want you to have to sit there thinking that he betrayed you or some shit

CG: GREAT THANK YOU SO MUCH

CG: ALL OF MY PROBLEMS HAVE SUDDENLY DISAPPEARED NOW THAT YOU’VE TOLD ME YOU’RE THE CAUSE OF THEM!

CG: WISH YOU COULD SEE HOW BIG MY SMILE IS!!!!!!

TG: ok so obviously youre just being a fuckin asshole right now

TG: i get it you dont know me yet and youre all jacked up about jack

TG: lmao pun am i right

TG: but yeah im not tryna stick around and get yelled at by douchebag karkat so

TG: good fuckin luck or whatever

TG: and maybe future you can remember to actually respond to me around this time god damn

CG: GOOD FUCKING RIDDANCE

carcinoGeneticist [CG] banned turntechGodhead [?TG]

You are fucking seething. You expected this guy to be a complete prick but, holy hell, did he exceed expectations. How dare this insolent little flesh bag talk to you as if he and his friends didn’t just utterly doom you? You were clearly wasting your time drudging through their leader’s entire timeline- your focus should be on this Dave asshole.

The way Terezi is still smiling at her computer screen- at him- does nothing but make you feel more righteous in your cause.

You scroll back far enough to see his haunting red eyes before his guardian understandingly hides them behind a disgusting pair of shades. The thought of eyes so similar to what yours are doomed to become has you feeling sick, skipping ahead a couple years. The fuck is the point of creeping on a grub, anyway?

Your stomach drops when you stop scrolling. This kid- Dave- can’t be more than a few sweeps old. His guardian has him up on the roof with a sword twice the size of his body poking, prodding, slashing. Dave’s got a black eye and a dozen gashes to match. You have to give the human kid credit, he’s doing his best to block the attacks. He’s not even too bad at dodging some of the slower ones. His guardian isn’t slow, though, isn’t even trying to be. You see it coming before Dave does, this swing from the adult’s sword headed straight for his neck. You barely have time to think the word “decapitation” before his guardian flips the sword sideways, forces the blunt side collide with Dave’s collarbone. It begins to welt before you have the chance to skip forward a few more months. You wonder if it broke the bone.

You hadn’t seen shit like that go down on John’s timeline. Fuck, even your lusus wasn’t as violent with you. Was this normal for humans?

It takes you twenty minutes to settle on another time frame to watch him from. Maybe you’re still shaken up from being killed on Prospit, from bearing witness to the horrorterrors, but the bits and pieces of his life you’re picking up on are fucking you up. Its always pitch black in Dave’s tiny apartment, and it’s covered in puppets and cameras and what you can only goddamn hope are packets of fake blood. You’ve read a dozen threatening notes left to Dave by his guardian. Threatening is the wrong word. They’re petrifying, laden with psychological terror. Shit you couldn’t think up. Shit you don’t think Vriska could think up. And they’re everywhere. Dave- fucking barely older than a grub Dave- just finds them and tosses them aside, laughs like they’re supposed to be funny. The further into his timeline you go, the more often the threats end up coming true. Dave will turn the corner to find a bloody puppet staring back at him. To get hit by his guardian’s sword. To stumble onto a computer screen playing the most vile puppet porn you’ve ever seen in your pathetic life.

You think it’s the porn that’s really getting to you. Maybe Dave is an anomaly for humans with all the sword fighting and shit and, yeah, that’s pretty messed up- but it isn’t like there weren’t trolls on Alternia in situations like that, too. Vriska. Feferi. Half of your conversations with Sollux were interrupted by him having to sooth his lusus. Gamzee’s lusus was around less than Dave’s seems to be (which, for the fucking record, seems only to be when the dude is trying to physically assault Dave). But yeah, no, the porn is messed up.

It isn’t like those hilarious television shows on Alternia where the little troll kid goes snooping in a closet and finds some pictures they aren’t supposed to, leading to a whole big episode of hijinks. Its… everywhere. Phallic puppets all over the house, pushing their way into Dave’s room, covered in liquids that you can’t even begin to describe. His guardian leaves his porn website up on all the electronics in the hive stem. Dave can’t not look at it. And, shit, the cameras. It was sickening enough when Dave was too young to realize he was being constantly monitored and uploaded onto the internet for presumably adult consumption. You’re further on his timeline now, though. Far enough in that he’s found the cameras and seen himself on the websites and laughed it off.

You don’t get how this is the same kid you just screamed at. You don’t get how he manages to be functional at all, locked in that hellhole. You know from personal fucking experience that being trapped in a single hive your entire life can fuck you up. At least your guardian wasn’t trying to kill you. Drive you insane. Systematically destroy you.

You’ve found yourself watching this one night on repeat. Dave must be four, five sweeps old but has been alone for days. You can tell he’s starving, filling himself up with water before bed. He doesn’t notice the note his guardian placed in the shower because he hasn’t showered in days, so he goes to bed feeling way too fucking safe. You watch him sleep for hours, over and over, wishing he got to stay like that- peaceful, dreaming, safe. He doesn’t, though. His guardian slips in around four in the morning, that puppet by his side. You swear you can hear it whispering, even from your computer screen. They watch him for as long as you do. You think there’s a camera in his guardian’s hand.

You try twenty three times, but you can’t force yourself to watch the collision when his guardian finally swings his sword against Dave’s sleeping body. You do make yourself watch Dave wash off the blood in the morning, after the resulting fight. You feel sick.

“I thought you wanted us to stop paying attention to Strider.” Terezi’s voice startles you. She’s close, just behind your shoulder. You can’t tell how long she’s been watching you watch him.

“How far back into his timeline have you gone?” You ask her, voice more ragged than you expected.

“I’ve just been talking him through playing the game. Jeez, Vantas. Stick up your waste chute much?” She smiles that big fake smile at you.

“Don’t fuck with him.” You tell her.

“Three hours ago your explicit command was to fuck with them.” She makes a good point.

You don’t think you can let them fuck with someone who’s already going through literal hell though.

“He’s mine. Mess with the girls, or the stupid leader. I don’t give a shit Terezi, just leave him to me.” You command.

Her eyes narrow as if she’s going to fight back, but then she flashes you that big awful grin again, “Whatever you say, leader.

You think you’d normally be more annoyed with her. Right now you’re distracted by the pit in your stomach that hasn’t left since you saw Dave’s guardian for the first time.

On your computer, Dave is still washing his wounds from the night before in the too-moldy sink. You wish you had it in you to skip past this, but something about the way he stares straight at the wall from behind his shades ignoring the red pooling in the drain reminds you way too much of the times you’d accidentally cut yourself with your sickle and spent hours trying to scrub away the mutant blood leaking out of your veins.

Except that this poor kid didn’t accidentally cut himself.

He got the shit beaten out of him.

In his sleep.

By his guardian.

Holy hell, you have to say something to him.

You skip forward half an hour, when he’s done wrapping his arms in gauze, when he’s sitting at his computer drawing pictures of nothing with the hand you know damn well he doesn’t use for writing.

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]

CG: HI STRIDER

CG: HOW ARE YOU?

CG: SHIT THAT’S A TERRIBLE QUESTION, YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY TERRIBLE, THAT’S WHY I’M FUCKING TALKING TO YOU

CG: BUT ASIDE FROM AWFUL

CG: SHIT

CG: I’M FUCKING THIS UP

TG: ok woah stranger danger

turntechGodhead [TG] blocked carcinoGeneticist [CG]

CG: GOD FUCKING BULGESHIT

Chapter Text

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]

CG: FUCK

CG: HI STRIDER

CG: HOW ARE YOU?

CG: SHIT THAT’S A TERRIBLE QUESTION, YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY TERRIBLE, THAT’S WHY I’M FUCKING TALKING TO YOU

CG: BUT ASIDE FROM AWFUL

CG: SHIT

CG: I’M FUCKING THIS UP

TG: ok woah stranger danger

turntechGodhead [TG] blocked carcinoGeneticist [CG]

CG: GOD FUCKING BULGESHIT

Your name is Dave Strider, and you are trying to pull your shit together. It is exactly eight twenty two in the morning. That means Rose is already in her cute little home school session, and John is currently eating a bowl of cereal on his way to the bus stop. You’re pretty sure Jade is asleep but, honestly, you still haven’t quite gotten ahold of her whole time distance thing. You’re sure it’ll click at some point.

Bottom line, this random ass dude hitting you up at sunrise isn’t one of your friends just fucking with you. You’d be more inclined to cut the guy some slack if you hadn’t spent forty five minutes this morning cleaning out a real deep gash on your arm. You’re exhausted, you’re starving, you want to sleep.

But there’s some creep on the internet that knows your name.

Hey, maybe SBAHJ is finally taking off, and you’ve got yourself your first stalker. Only one way to find out.

Besides, your passion is fucking with people.

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

TG: obviously im just messing around who gives a shit about stranger danger right

TG: especially when ive got this ninja ass bro to kick some pedo ass for me

TG: fuck up all my internet predators you feel

TG: who needs chris hansen when youve got a goddamn katana

TG: anyway what the fuck are you talking about

TG: is this john

TG: did you change your chumhandle again asshole

TG: wake up real early to get your chat on with your best bro

CG: FUCK NO SHUT YOUR WINDTRAP FOR A SECOND

CG: I’M

TG: okay youve been typing for awhile there

TG: you forget your name

CG: IF YOU COULD STOP INCESSANTLY TYPING FOR MORE THAN THIRTEEN SECONDS AT A TIME

CG: I AM ATTEMPTING TO EXPLAIN TO YOU HOW IN GRUB FUCKING HELL I KNOW ABOUT YOU

CG: BUT IN THE MIDST OF TYPING OUT AN EXPLANATION I CAME TO THE STARTLING REALIZATION THAT EVERYTHING I AM ABOUT TO SAY SOUNDS LIKE A BUNCH OF HORSESHIT

CG: AND ALSO THAT IT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE FOR ME TO EVEN BE THE ONE TO TRY TO COMFORT YOU HERE.

TG: comfort me

TG: sounds kinda gay

TG: what do i need comforting from anyway

TG: youre totally a sbahj fan arent you

TG: thinking youve seen something deep in the latest panel

TG: dont psychologically profile my art dude youre totally stifling my creative flow

CG: OKAY.

CG: HERE IT FUCKING GOES.

CG: THREE YEARS FROM NOW YOU ARE GOING TO PLAY A GAME THAT I HAVE ALREADY PLAYED.

TG: holy fuck this is some saw shit if ive ever seen it

TG: youre gonna kidnap me and murder the fuck out of me

TG: or make me murder myself

TG: who knows ive never actually seen saw ok but i know a reference when i see one

CG: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU RAMBLING ABOUT? SOME STUPID HUMAN MOVIE? JESUS SHIT I AM ATTEMPTING TO HAVE A REVELATORY CONVERSATION WITH YOU. STOP TALKING AND LISTEN TO YOUR GOD.

TG: wait god

TG: i get it were doing roleplay

TG: should i call you daddy

CG: WHATS A DADDY???

TG: i think

TG: my whole life has been building up for this moment

TG: to this very explanation

TG: wow and now im blowing it

TG: it was too much pressure bro

TG: i had the opportunity to armageddon this daddy meteor and save the planet but i fucked up my chance

CG: I AM GOING TO IGNORE ALL OF THE USELESS BITS OF YOUR LITTLE RANT THERE

CG: WHICH, FOR REFERENCE, WAS THE MAJORITY OF THE BULLSHIT YOU JUST SPENT TIME TYPING OUT

CG: AND USE THAT METEOR ANALOGY TO SEGUE INTO MY ACTUALLY IMPORTANT SHIT.

CG: THREE YEARS FROM NOW, YOU ARE GOING TO PLAY A GAME. IN THAT GAME, METEORS WILL DESTROY YOUR ENTIRE FUCKING PLANET.

TG: youre obviously trolling me but you arent very good at it

TG: i mean shit if youre tryna scare me you gotta at least come up with something believable

TG: you seem to be struggling let me help you out

TG: oh hi dave my name is carcinoGeneticist but plot twist im actually inside your house

TG: and also a puppet

TG: like if you told me that shit id be like oh damn

TG: spooky puppet from inside my house is trying to talk to me fuck

TG: time to call the fucking ghost busters

CG: I AM NOT FUCKING TROLLING YOU! THIS GAME LITERALLY DESTROYED MY PLANET! AND YOU FOUR PIECES OF SHIT PLAY YOUR SESSION TERRIBLY. SO TERRIBLY THAT IT SENDS YOUR BIG BAD BOSS TO OUR SESSION.

TG: so what youre saying is that youre an alien and youre mad at me

TG: lol dude this story is convoluted as fuck maybe you should simplify it edit that mother fucker down and try again tomorrow

TG: i already gave you a better trolling idea dude

TG: puppet from inside my own house

CG: I CAN’T SIMPLIFY THE GODDAMN TRUTH STRIDER.

CG: STOP INTERRUPTING ME SO I CAN MAKE MY FUCKING POINT.

TG: yeah my bad i do wanna see where this is goin

TG: brief question though

TG: how do you know my name

CG: IT’S A LONG STORY.

TG: uh huh

CG: I THINK THAT MY TEAMMATE TRANSPORTED US TO THE VEIL.

CG: WE’RE IN THIS LAB

CG: I CAN SEE YOU ON MY COMPUTER.

TG: woah okay so

TG: you just slipped up

TG: i know exactly who the fuck you are now

TG: some creep from bros porn sites

TG: shit i must have messed up our ip rerouting shit torrenting or something

TG: hes gonna be so pissed

CG: NO

CG: NO NO NO

CG: THAT IS NOT WHO I AM DAVE

CG: THAT’S WHAT I’M HERE TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT.

CG: I TOLD MY TEAMMATES TO TROLL YOU. ALL OF YOU, YOU AND JOHN AND THOSE TWO GIRLS. BUT WHEN I WAS WATCHING YOUR TIMELINE I FOUND ALL THIS MESSED UP SHIT AND I COULDN’T JUST STAND BY AND LET IT HAPPEN.

TG: wow ok pedo i guess this is actually stranger danger

TG: obviously you learned my friends names from creeping on my computer

TG: instead of watching the fucking puppets like youre supposed to

TG: i don’t give a shit if you mess with me

TG: obviously my bro is going to make sure you cant hurt us

TG: hes kind of cool as shit

TG: but you cant go making threats about my dumbass friends im not putting up with that

CG: SHUT UP SHUT UP!

CG: I’M DOING A SHITTY JOB EXPLAINING MYSELF HERE, OKAY?

CG: FIRST OF ALL YOUR “BRO” IS NOT COOL AS SHIT!

CG: HE BEAT THE LIVING HELL OUT OF YOU THIS MORNING.

CG: WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING!

CG: I HAVE SEEN SOME MESSED UP SHIT ON MY PLANET, OKAY? AND I GUARENTEE YOU THERE WAS SOME DISGUSTING VIOLENCE IN SGRUB. BUT THE SHIT HE DOES TO YOU

CG: I JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE YOU WERE OKAY

CG: I WANT TO HELP

CG: I WANT TO GET YOU AWAY FROM HIM

TG: is this where you tell me youre outside and invite me into your van

TG: you know i can use a sword too right

CG: STOP MAKING FUCKING JOKES!

CG: DO YOU SERIOUSLY NOT SEE HOW FUCKED UP YOUR GUARDIAN IS?

TG: ok this was fun for awhile

TG: but im not in the mood

TG: maybe try trolling me when im not so deadass tired from the coolest fucking duel youve ever seen

CG: THAT WASN’T A DUEL!

turntechGodhead [TG] blocked carcinoGeneticist [CG]

You’re having a weird morning. You’d try to sleep it off, but the throbbing of your arm won’t let you. Bro was right to do it. You shouldn’t have been so dead asleep. You’re lucky it was just bro. If it’d been someone there actually trying to kill you, you’d be dead. Thank shit bro keeps an eye out for you, makes sure you’re staying sharp as hell. Puts you in your place when he knows you’re fucking up getting too cozy in bed and shit.

You make your way out into the kitchen hoping he brought some fast food back with him. There’s nothing, at least not in plain sight, and you know better than to go creeping through the fridge or cabinets. You’ll have to shimmy down your fire escape later on when you’re sure he’s not watching and grab something off the dollar menu from the Chinese place across the street. You think you can scrounge up a dollar.

The hair on the back of your neck shoots up while your distracted thinking about food, emptiness in your stomach dropping into a cold pit. You can see his reflection in the window in front of you. Cal. Yup so bro is definitely still hanging around the apartment. By the time you spin around to confront the puppet, it’s been replaced by bro in the flesh.

“Oh shit. What’s up bro?” You ask, doing your best to swallow down your surprise.

“Thought you’d be more aware of your surroundings after this afternoon.” He tells you.

The growl of your stomach answers him.

Even through his shades you can sense his disdainful look when he says, “Get yourself something to eat, kid.”

He doesn’t offer you any money before he flashsteps out of the kitchen. It takes you half an hour of overturning cushions to come up with three dollars in quarters and dimes. You’re lucky bro dumps change out of his pockets every time he comes home, you don’t know how you’d eat if he didn’t. Not like they let ten year olds get jobs in Houston.

It’s too early in May for it to be so oppressively hot outside. The weather doesn’t usually push ninety until at least June, but here you are sweating your ass off walking down the block. You found enough money to opt for BBQ, and Hank across the counter greets you the way he always has, “Hi little lady, ribs again?” but recently he’s been tacking on, “Y’know, you’re getting old enough that the short hair ain’t gonna be cute for much longer”. You fail to tell him you’re a boy, just like bro always did when you were younger. You think about taking the long way home, around the block and across the park. The sun is nice, and it hasn’t been hot for enough consecutive days for the entire city to reek like garbage like it will later this summer. It’s close to rush hour, though, and its loud. The honking and screeching breaks get to you, make it impossible for you to be completely aware of your surroundings, overwhelm you. So you go home to your silent apartment where all you have to listen for is the sound of bro looking to strife.

Cal is sitting in front of the door when you get home. You eat your dinner with your bedroom door locked, knowing it won’t make much of a difference if the puppet is actually trying to mess with you. It’s quiet out there, for now, so you take the time to catch up with your new best bro.

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB]

TG: hey my man hows it hanging

EB: dave! thank god you’re messaging me, i had such a weird day!

TG: holy shit

TG: me too

TG: its like were cosmically linked or something

TG: did your day also end with you stuffing an entire rack of ribs in your mouth

EB: haha, nope. i think that’s just one of your weird southern quirks again.

TG: bro come on

TG: you cant tell me you dont appreciate a nice big pile of ribs

TG: fuckin melt in your mouth

EB: no way, but my story does involve food! there was a fire in the cafeteria at my school today!

EB: dad had to leave work to pick me up and everything.

EB: but he made me watch movies with him the rest of the afternoon.

EB: soooo annoying!

EB: finally get a day off when my wow guild is raiding and my dad wont even let me take advantage of it

EB: bluh bluh

TG: haha damn dad egbert again with his bullshit

TG: meanwhile my bro is fucking incredible

TG: left me a treasure hunt that culminated in these bone suckin ribs

EB: stop talking about the ribs god damn it!

EB: wait, weren’t you at school today too?

TG: nah man im homeschooled

TG: bro knows striders can only be taught by striders

TG: thats how i have time to learn all my sweet sword moves

EB: haha okaaay i have a hard time believing that they’re sweet.

EB: you still have yet to provide me with evidence of that.

EB: jeez, am i the only one that goes to public school?

TG: i mean rose is homeschooled for sure

EB: oh really?

EB: i’ve definitely never heard her talk about that before.

TG: lmao

EB: she actually made a huge blog post about it again last night, did you read it?

TG: ive been a little too busy to try to get involved in one of her fifty page rants

TG: please feel free to give me the highlights

EB: i actually don’t have time! my dad made me waste the entire day with him, so now i’ve got to finish this book report.

EB: i’ll talk to you tomorrow though?

TG: alright egbert

TG: bring me home an a+ so i can hang it on the fridge

ectoBiologist [EB] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG]

Talking to John always has you feeling lucky as shit to have bro around instead of some nosy intrusive parent. He doesn’t make you go to school, or complete normal homeschooling lessons like Rose’s mom does, or force you to spend weird amounts of bonding time with him. You just get to chill in your room and snoop through his coding books and shit. That and the sweet sword fighting, obviously.

You ate too fast. Your stomach is killing you. You should know better by now, not to stuff your face after days of no real meals, but you’ve got trouble controlling yourself when a juicy rack of ribs is laid out in front of you. You’re in dire need of a trip to the bathroom but you know that’ll require sneaking out of your room and down the hall without being noticed by bro. You aren’t looking forward to a strife when you feel so sick.

You’re pretty much a professional at opening your door unnoticed. You’ve got the hinges all greased up so they don’t squeak and know the exact pressure to place on your lock so it won’t make that jarring “click” that’ll alert bro to your presence. You’re worse at sneaking down the hall. The wood is old and creaks beneath your weight no matter where you step.

Despite your embarrassing attempt at sneaking, bro doesn’t stop you as you tip-toe down the hall. Guess you disappointed him too much during this morning’s strife for him to want much to do with you. You probably won’t see him again for a few days and when you do, you’re gonna have to show him you learned from today’s mistakes.

On your way back to your bedroom you can’t help but notice his porn site big and open on the TV. It’s not one of the camera angles you’re used to seeing, from his room, the kitchen, the bathroom. This one’s got your bed dead center. And, hell, you’re inside of it. Not on camera, not technically. You’re covered by your sheets, by puppets, but that wriggling lump underneath it all is definitely you. The clock by your bed in the frame reads 3:56AM. Must have been right before bro initiated your strife this morning.

You walk away, back into your bedroom. Beyond the door, on the TV still playing the puppet porn, you hear bro unsheathe his sword.

You’re not sure how this all makes you feel.

You lock your door and hop on Pesterchum.

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT]

TG: yo rose

TG: i have to tell you about this wild strife i had this morning

TG: you there

TG: rose

TG: rose

TG: ok anyway

TG: so i think my mid year resolution is to learn how to do a backwards flip off the wall while holding my katana

TG: i basically did it today

TG: minus the landing part

TG: but landing is totally the easiest part anyway right lol

TG: rose

TG: fucking hello

TG: why are you ignoring your coolest friend

tentacleTherapist [TT] is an idle chum

TG: god damn it

Full disclosure, you’re in the mood to talk to someone. Your arm is kind of torn to shreds, and your stomach hurts, and you’re alone (or maybe not alone) in this house full of puppets. You could go for a good laugh with your new internet pals. You guess John and Rose are both busy though. Guess there’s one more option. Your pulse picks up a little, you feel it in the wound in your arm.

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering gardenGnostic [GG]

TG: ms harley

TG: good morning

TG: or evening

TG: still have no idea where you live

GG: hello dave!!!!

TG: ok important question

TG: is this awake jade or asleep jade?

GG: i am flying and surrounded by gold if thats what youre asking!!!!

TG: ok go back to sleep dreamer girl

GG: i am pretty tired.....

GG: but id love to chat when i wake up coolkid

TG: yeah that checks out i would want to talk to me too

turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering gardenGnostic [GG]

Jade is cool and all, and is entirely the reason that you’re friends with John and Rose, but she is an absolute nightmare when she is sleeptyping to you. Or her robot is typing? Honestly, the rest of you still haven’t figured out how much of what Harley says is bullshit. You’ll talk to her when she’s awake and you can decipher more of what she’s saying.

Now you’re stuck wondering if bro’s stashed more webcams in your room. If that troll from the internet earlier is still watching you. Either there are other cameras, or this dude has majorly hacked your computer. Thankfully Google exists, so you get to spend an hour researching and installing the best firewall you can figure out on your own. If there are cameras, you’re sure you’ll stumble upon their location at some point. Or, like, will be able to deduce their location via angles on bro’s smuppet site. Whichever.

You’re struggling not to think about that weirdo. carcinoGeneticist. CG. The way he tried to tell you it was anything but cool and ironic to get your bro gets you to unwittingly partake in puppet porn.

Like, fuck, if Rose’s mom can be all boozy and John’s dad can get into weekly cake fights with him and Jade’s parent can be a literal dog, shit, can’t bro run a pornography company out of his own house?

You still feel weird about bro recording your literal sleeping body. For once, you’re glad he doesn’t seem to be home right now. You open up Pesterchum and stare at it for a good hour, thinking about unblocking that troll and giving him the most ironic annoying hell you can muster up. But your arm still throbs, and your eyelids are heavy. You set thirty alarms on your phone each half an hour apart to make sure you don’t fall into too deep of a sleep and get caught in REM by bro like last night, and hit the pillows hard. The sun still burning bright in the sky above you helps to keep you half awake.

Chapter Text

ectoBiologist [EB] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG]

EB: i know that i was complaining about summer ending a few days ago, but im kind of excited about the new school year!

EB: ive been a shut in only talking to you all summer, i’m excited to see my real life friends again :B

TG: ok first of all weve gotta put it on record that i am officially offended that im not real life

EB: i thought you were too cooooool to be real life.

TG: good point

TG: second of all

EB: there always has to be a second of all with you doesnt there?

TG: second of all

TG: what has you changing your tune buddy

TG: last weekend you were all up and planning on running away to my place so you could live out the sweet school free life with me

EB: something about the fall air and all these backpack commercials has me excited though!

EB: im already planning my first day outfit.

TG: dude we both know youre just gonna wear a ghostbusters shirt dont be such a chick about it

EB: haha shut up dude

EB: what would you know about first day of school politics anyway?

TG: im sure im really missing out

EB: well on that sarcastic note, i just came on to tell you that i wont be online until late tonight. Im going to get one of those fancy backpacks i keep seeing commercials for :B

EB: bye dave

EB: dont kill too many orcs without me

TG: i wouldnt dream of it bro

Ectobiologist [EB] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG]

Well, there go your plans for the evening. You stretch out your arms and pull your feet out from underneath your ass, sending a wave of pinpricks up your body. Bro’s been out for a few days again, giving you the opportunity to get real lazy sitting in your computer chair for hours on end. You’re feeling antsy tonight. You’ve decidedly failed to accomplish anything of value during this time- SBAHJ updates, mixing some of those tunes Jade and Rose sent you, attempting to become less shitty with your sword- and have instead opted for finally agreeing to play WoW with John. He was right, it is fun. Mostly. You’re a hell of a lot lower level than him and have to watch your cute undead chick die constantly, but it’s whatever. It feels pretty sweet to cheat the system by having him tag along on all your level four quests.  

You guess he isn’t gonna be able to play tonight, though. You’ll have to put off leveling up, playing isn’t so much fun without John tromping along ahead of you. Losing your plans for the evening isn’t helping you to feel less uneasy. Seems like you’re past the “holy shit I have the apartment to myself I can just chill and not worry about getting hit in the dick with a sword” part of bro being gone and have moved onto “oh hell he’s been gone for awhile, he could come back at any moment and I have been slacking off so damn much there’s no way I’ll be ready”. You have a feeling you won’t be sleeping much till he comes home.

You scroll through pesterchum for the fifth time since John left. Yup, he’s still gone. And, what a surprise, none of all your other two friends have been online in hours. You open up a microsoft paint document, then close it. You check pesterchum one more time. The pit in your gut screaming “turn around, he could be watching you” has done nothing but get larger. Shit. Seems like you’re going to have to pull yourself off your ass and put your fears to rest.

You unhook your legs from underneath you, the rush of blood sending pins and needles down to your toes. The sensation nearly makes you trip onto your desk as you reach for your sword. You catch yourself- you’re used to numbness in your legs when you’re fighting, from standing for longer than you should, from falling down stairs, from blood loss. Bro’s done a hell of a good job teaching you that if you can’t fight at your weakest, you can’t fight at all. If you weren’t so terrified of being punched, you’d wish he watched as you maintained your balance during that debacle. If he was capable of pride, he’d totally feel it for you now. Probably.

Or more likely, he’d give you that cold hard stare that means “why have you been on the computer so long little bro”.

You push your door out into the hallway as quickly as possible, hoping that if Bro really is home you’ll startle him enough to catch a glimpse of a flashstep. There’s nothing when you open the door, just the hum of the game he left paused on his xbox days ago. You glance at the screen- his character is facing the same direction, in the same spot, with the same HP, and same timestamp. If he’s been home it hasn’t been for long enough for him to have sat down to relax. You check the sink- still six smuppets inside, grinning at you. You’ve got a string of hairs you’ve laced across the doorknob to the bathroom that are still completely in place (thanks for the inspiration, That 70s Show), so he hasn’t been in there. You peek out on the roof, just for a second, just for long enough to see that he isn’t standing out there.

Okay. Still alone. The pit in your gut hasn’t changed much, knowing a surprise attack is inevitably in store for you later. If anything, your gut is feeling worse- all this snooping has made it almost impossible for you to ignore the growling in your stomach. You’ve gone through the dregs of the leftovers in your closet and ran out of couch change weeks ago. Guess it’s gonna be one of those jumping-into-the-local-fountain-for-change days. They aren’t so bad in the heart of summer, but it’s starting to get just a little too cool out for you to be pumped about getting soaking wet. No other choice though, right? You toss on your slightly-too-tight converse and a baggy T-Shirt and head out the door. It takes you fifteen minutes to get to the park, and another twenty of waiting for other people to leave the immediate area before you’re able to hop in the calf deep water and fish through the water for quarters.

Realistically, you should have thought out your shoe choice a little better. Your socks are still soggy on your way back from the dollar store, arms full of instant noodles and chips. You assume the trail of water that squishes out from beneath you with every step is what has your neighbors gawking at you when you enter the lobby. It gets a little sketchier when they follow you up the stairs, huffing along behind you, and absolutely incriminating when you hear the wife mutter “I told you I saw bruises on the backs of her legs! We have to say something, Mike!”.

You save her the trouble and whip around to face them, dropping your groceries.

“I’m a boy.” You tell them, stare them right in the face through your shades till their cheeks turn pink.

“Does your dad always make you buy the food, sweetheart?” The woman eventually asks you, expression all soft.

You look right past her and say to her husband, “Does your wife always stick her nose in other people’s business, pumpkin?”

They both shrink back for a moment, then come back at you with even more vigor.

“Listen, uh, son, we- we’ve just noticed your dad isn’t home much. And when he is… we live right below you. We hear the fighting. We just want to help you. You can tell us what’s happening.” The man responds, taking a step closer.

“Oh, yeah, I would love to confess to you how many martial arts movies we watch together. God damn and the way I take sword fighting lessons. He really is a shit brother, working two jobs after our parents died to support me and my interests. Get this shit- he even helps me practice sometimes. So I can be ready for my next belt exam. Better call the police.” Your voice is deadpan but the air is heavy with sarcasm.

“We see you coming home with food like this all on your own every week. There’s something going on up there, we know there is.” The wife chimes in again.

“Okay, if y’all could not rat on me to my Bro about sneaking all this junk food, that would be hella chill. Not trying to get grounded here.” You know it’s a lie, but they clearly don’t get your relationship with your brother. All you wanna do is go back inside and microwave some water for your instant noodles.

There’s a familiar breeze behind you, and the couple in front of you go pale. You know it’s bro before you feel the weight of his hand on your right shoulder matched by Cal’s on your left.

“You caught him sneaking out for snacks, huh?” Bro says. Your neighbors remain completely silent so bro continues, “I appreciate you keeping an eye on him, I’m sure you know how hard being a single parent can be. Little scamp here doesn’t even remember our parents.”

You are about eighty percent sure bro found you outside as an infant as a result of some bullshit you try not to think about, but yeah, sure. Shared parents.

“Can I keep the chips, bro?” You ask him, all innocent.

“If you share ‘em with me.” He ruffles your hair, ushers you up the stairs before him. From behind you, his whisper to these assholes echos in the stairwell, “Listen you creeps, my brother is a kid. I don’t know what you’ve been watching him for, but I will call the cops on you so fast if you don’t cut your pedophile shit out.”

He still manages to beat you into the apartment.

“That was some wild shit, huh?” You say to him, stomach in knots.

He stares, expression blank. You barely see his arm move before you feel a rush of wind coming towards your face. You don’t have time to step out of the way, only to close your eyes. Nothing makes contact with you. You peel your eyes open to see his sword, fully unsheathed, an inch from your nose.

“You aren’t fast enough. You’d die in ten seconds if you were in a real fight. Even those civilian dipshits noticed how weak and beat up you were. You’re fuckin’ eleven years old. You have to do better.” His voice is cold as he says it, arms steady still holding that sword right up to you.

And then he’s gone, and the sword is gone, but Cal has taken his place.

You’re expecting a fight, a chase, to be pummeled into the ground. Cal just sits there, grinning. His head turns to follow you as you walk back into your room.

You left your groceries in the stairwell.

Maybe you’ll get them tomorrow.

turntechGodhead [TG],/span> began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT]

TG: yo ive got a story for you rose

TG: you better be online today im tired of your shit

TT: Isn’t it a bit early in the afternoon for you to be pestering me? John is usually the man of your affections so early in the day.

TG: hes out with his dad

TG: public school shopping day

TT: If only you or I were able to experience the joys of back to school shopping.

TG: rose we both know your mom takes you shopping for your weird homeschool bullshit

TT: That isn’t shopping, Dave, it is an intricate game of passive aggression.

TT: ?

TT: Are you still there?

TG: yeah my bad

TG: i was trying to make that a dick joke but i couldnt figure one out

TT: Tragic.

TT: Are you chatting with me for a reason?

TT: Or can you just not stand a single day without annoying me.

TG: both

TG: actually though

TG: my fucking neighbors are apparently stalking the shit out of me

TG: counting all my bruises and shit

TT: Bruises?

TG: from my training get on board

TT: Right. The swords.

TG: how could you forget the swords

TT: Here comes the phallus joke…

TG: too obvious rose come on do you really think so poorly of my humor

TT: I am certain you do not want to hear my response.

TT: Shall we get back to the point?

TG: good call

TG: so my neighbors

TG: fuckin follow me up the stairs howie mendell style

TG: bro had to come down and tell them to back off like the cool motherfucker he is

TT: I believe that is the first time I have ever agreed with you regarding his cool factor.

TG:

TG: are we

TT: No.

TG: going to have to get into this again

TT: No.

TG: okay so here goes my list of cool shit bro does on a daily basis

tentacleTherapist [TT] has ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG]

TG: aw man i was just joking

TG: rose

TG: rose

TG: i know you love me

TG: god damn it

There is a thirty percent chance you should expend a little more effort trying not to piss off one of your only three friends but, yikes, she’s pretty much just as much of a nightmare as you are. She can’t just show you her wizard erotica in a momentary lapse of judgement and ditch you, right? Besides, she totally owes the hell out of you for never telling a soul about the dirty shit her characters get up to.

Your stomach starts growling again, this time accompanied by this wave of nausea that has you doubled over. You’ve got to go get that food. Bro knows that you’re up, knows you know he’s home, knows you want the food you dropped out in the stairwell. Sneaking wouldn’t be effective, so you open your door like a normal goddamn human. Correction: you try to open your door like a normal goddamn human. It just won’t open more than two inches. A pile of puppet ass blocks the way. You try the door again, harder, and then hip check it. Fuck. You literally cannot get out of your room. Unless you start digging through a pile of fucking smuppets.

Your stomach growls again.

You pretend you can’t feel that lump in your throat, and toss yourself back into your computer chair.

You wonder where the hidden cameras in your room are.

You wonder if he’s watching you.

carcingoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]

CG: ALRIGHT DIPSHIT.

CG: I ALREADY KNOW YOU AREN’T GOING TO TAKE MY ADVICE, BUT I WOULD BE A COMPLETE DOUCHEBAG IF I DIDN’T TRY TO WARN YOU.

TG: lmao hold the phone

TG: youre not a complete douchebag

TG: sure had me fooled

CG: FIRST OF ALL FUCK YOU.

CG: SECOND OF ALL, YOU HAVE TO GO TO HUMAN PUBLIC SCHOOL.

TG: ok what is it with strangers and the intimate details of my life today

CG: YOU KNOW I CAN SEE WHAT ROSE DOES IN HER HOMESCHOOL SITUATION TOO, RIGHT?

TG: right right youre an alien and watching human teens is like your version of the jersey shore got it

CG: I GUARANTEE THAT IS AN INACCURATE METAPHOR BUT FOR THE SAKE OF MY ARGUMENT I WILL LET IT SLIDE.

TG: oh gee thanks

CG: SHE ACTUALLY LEARNS AT SCHOOL, DAVE. HER LUSUS SITS DOWN WITH HER AND TEACHES HER MATH AND ROSE MAKES DIAGRAMS OF CELLULAR ANATOMY AND WRITE POEMS.

TG: sounds lame

CG: THAT IS NOT WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN SCHOOL THIS YEAR.

CG: I DON’T WANT YOU TO BE AT HOME WITH HIM.

CG: JUST GET THE FUCK OUT OF THIS HOUSE.

CG: HE IS GOING TO DO SOMETHING

CG: BAD

TG: unfortunately i am a little too bogged down by smuppet ass at the moment to give a shit about your delusions

TG: maybe try again tomorrow

CG: IT IS GOING TO GET WORSE DAVE.

TG: shit isnt even bad to begin with jesus dude

TG: maybe you are an alien and thats why youre so freaked out by a normal human household

CG: FUCK

CG: COULD YOU JUST STOP BEING A SARCASTIC ASS FOR TEN MINUTES AND LISTEN TO THE ONE FUCKING PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE WHO KNOWS WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU?

TG: mmm

TG: nah

TG: but please feel free to check out my latest comic

TG: note the donate button at the bottom of the page

TG: dave has his eye on a shovel to dig his way out of this smuppet pile

TG: sweetbroandhellajeff.jpg

CG: OIDHSGASOH;SODFHIASFJDORTYAOWEIHNSLDJKNA;SODI

CG: FUCK

CG: YOU KNOW WHAT ASSHOLE?

CG: FINE.

CG: BUT WHEN SOMETHING SHITTY HAPPENS TO YOU THREE WEEKS FROM NOW

CG: DON’T COME CRYING TO ME.

carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG]

Yeah, you can pretty much guarantee that won’t be happening.

Chapter Text

You don’t know why your eyes are so sore. It’s not like you didn’t spend hours on end staring at your husktop back on Alternia, but something about the computer screens in this lab have your retinas begging for mercy. Shit, maybe it’s just the content you’re forcing on them.
You have tried not internet stalking Dave. Really, honestly, you have. There are about one thousand more important things for you to be doing. Like, you know, saving your fucking friends from rotting to death on this meteor in the middle of the void. It isn’t like you aren’t trying to do that. You’re on this computer doing research, trying to pinpoint exactly how the humans fucked you over so that you can stop it, or fix it, or at the very least have some concrete evidence while you’re ripping them a new one.

It’s just, every time you’re scrolling through Dave’s timeline you see something fucked up. Too fucked up to ignore. Porn, pummelings, starvation. You’ve tried telling him to get the fuck out of there. It hasn’t gone so great. You’ve tried just focusing on the other three assholes. It’s not like John and Jade aren’t doing plenty of shit to keep your thinkpan angry and occupied. You, fuck, you just can’t stop thinking about him.

So, here you are, staring at another attempted conversation gone awry, hoping to hell that he can shovel his way out of that smuppet pile outside his bedroom before he goes insane.

God, maybe you’re insane. Why are you spending so much time trying to convince this human boy that his life is fucked up? Things weren’t so peachy for you on Alternia, what with the being a mutant and having to hide your blood color for fear of being culled, and you sure as shit never complained about it. Much. And weren’t some of your friends’ lusi just as messed up as Dave’s? Gamzee’s lusus was completely absent, and Vriska’s lusus had her literally murdering, and the two of them turned out-

Okay, maybe those aren’t the best examples.

Something about imagining a world where the dorkwad you see on your computer screen turns into a sopor addict juggalo or straight up crazy murder bitch has you feeling uneasy. He’s just some stupid kid trying to hide the severity of his situation from everyone he holds dear. That hits home kind of hard.

Fuck.

“Terezi. Terezi. Fuck, Pyrope, I know you can hear me, come over here.” If anyone is going to be able to sympathize with your current predicament, it’s Terezi. Her whole raised-blind-and-alone story is just as tragic as your mutant shit, and she’s got this weird affinity for Dave that annoys the piss out of you about as much as your obsession with Dave does.

“Can’t you see I’m busy Karkat? Doing the work of my dear precious leader?” She motions to her screen, where Dave is wearing a stupid green suit and chatting with her on a pair of absolutely obscene hybrid computer-glasses. You genuinely cannot decide what irks you more, his outfit or her talking to him.

“I thought I told you to leave him the fuck alone. I am dealing with him, Terezi.” She won’t listen, but it doesn’t mean you won’t argue.

“Sounds like you’ve been dealing with him an awful lot,” She pauses, grins, “He won’t shut about you, Karkat. It’s terrible.”

“When the fuck are you even talking with him?” It dawns on you that this motherfucker is probably talking shit about you behind your back. To Terezi. Great.

“During the game, dur, when else even matters?” She crosses her arms.

“When else even matters? That’s the grub sucking stupidest question I’ve ever heard! Maybe try all the times he’s getting-” You stop.

Fuck.

You should not be spilling his secrets. Not even to Terezi. Not if she hasn’t seen them for herself.

“Getting what, Karkat?” She’s bored with you. You can tell she’s bored with you and it’s infuriating. You want to have time to argue with her, good and proper, about something spades, something sexy, something that matters.

But you’re too distracted by the boy on your computer screen.

“Can you just lay the fuck off him?” You demand.

“No can do, Vantas.” She turns around, starts typing. You take two steps towards her, stop. Clench your fists. Go back to your computer. You don’t have time for her shit right now. You’ve got to save your species. You’ve got to stop the humans from fucking up your entire existence. You’ve got to get Dave out of his house before his guardian fucking murders him. Having Dave’s entire timeline laid out in front of you is doing exactly nothing to curb the anxiety inside you that you are about to see him get sliced in two by his own fucking lusus. If the moron isn’t going to listen to you, maybe he’ll listen to his friends. The friends you are supposed to be trolling, anyway. Two feather-beasts with one stone, right?

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling ectoBiologist [EB]
CG: HERE WE GO WINDBAG.
CG: I’M GOING TO BLAZE RIGHT PAST THE OBVIOUS PUN THERE AND GET TO THE MAIN EVENT.
CG: I AM SUPPOSED TO BE TROLLING YOU HARD.
CG: TELLING YOU ALL ABOUT HOW I AM YOUR GOD.
CG: ABOUT HOW YOU, PUNY HUMAN, HAVE COMMITTED THE GREATEST SACRILEGE IN THE HISTORY OF YOUR ENTIRE REALITY BY EFFECTIVELY TRAPPING YOUR CREATORS IN A VOID BEYOND ANY UNIVERSE.
CG: AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS CAN AND WILL BE SAID IN FUTURE CONVERSATIONS.
CG: BUT
CG: WE HAVE SOME MORE URGENT BUSINESS TO ATTEND TO.
EB: um, hi?
EB: should i know you?
EB: is this dave? did you change your chumhandle to something even dumber?
CG: FOR THE FUCKING RECORD, MY TROLLHANDLE IS INFINITELY SUPERIOR TO ANY OF YOUR UTTERLY RIDICULOUS NAMES.
CG: ESPECIALLY DAVE STRIDER’S.
EB: hmm i don’t know this sounds suspiciously like you dave :B
CG: SHUT UP.
CG: BUT ONLY FOR A MINUTE BECAUSE YOU AND I NEED TO HAVE A GOOD LONG TALK ABOUT NONE OTHER THAN DAVE FUCKING STRIDER.
EB: dude you are being especially unconvincing right now.
CG: BLAH BLAH, YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME, WHATEVER. MORE IMPORTANTLY: DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH OF A DOUCHENOZZLE DAVE’S LUSUS IS?
EB: lusus? Dave this is getting really weird, can you just cut it out so we can play WoW?
CG: PARENT IS THE WORD YOU USE. HIS EARTH HUMAN PARENT. I BELIEVE HE “AFFECTIONATELY” REFERS TO THE JACKWIPE AS BRO.
EB: uh, okay, this definitely isn’t dave. I’ve never heard him talk shit about his dork brother. Who are you?
CG: YOU WON’T BELIEVE ME WHEN I TELL YOU.
EB: that’s stupid.
CG: NO, I CAN LITERALLY SCROLL FIVE MINUTES INTO THE FUTURE AND WATCH YOU TYPE ALL ABOUT HOW YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME. I’D REALLY APPRECIATE IF WE COULD SKIP THIS INEVITABLE CIRCLE JERK.
EB: are you like one of dave’s friends from texas? I didn’t really think he had friends there. How’d you get my chumhandle?
CG: NO.
EB: i can’t talk to you if you won’t tell me who you are! This is totally unfair, you’ve got all this information about me.
CG: NO.
EB: okay, then, bye!
CG: ARGGGASDFH;AFHDI FINE FINE FINE
CG: MY NAME IS KARKAT VANTAS AND I AM A LITERAL ALIEN FROM A DIFFERENT PLANET.
CG: DUE TO A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, MY FRIENDS AND I CREATED YOUR SHITHOLE UNIVERSE. WE ARE NOW TRAPPED OUTSIDE OF IT BECAUSE, IN YOUR FUTURE, YOU MANAGE TO DESTROY YOUR PLANET AND MY UNIVERSE. SO CONGRATULATIONS ON THAT.
EB: wow you were completely right, that makes absolutely no sense.
EB: honestly i am more convinced now than ever that dave is in on this weird prank, that’s a story that only he could come up with.
CG: YOU OBVIOUSLY DON’T KNOW YOUR FRIEND VERY WELL. I HAVE EXPLAINED THIS IN DEPTH TO HIM ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS AND HE OH SO KINDLY EXPLAINED TO ME HOW THE INTIMATE DETAILS OF MY LIFE WERE A “BAD STORY”.
EB: ugh you’re that dick from WoW aren’t you? Who kept following us and killing dave last night?
CG: HOLY SHIT STOP
CG: I’M NOT PLAYING THIS GAME EGBERT
CG: YOU ARE A PIECE OF SHIT, WE HATE EACH OTHER, IT IS ALL VERY OBVIOUS AND CLICHE
CG: BUT FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK CAN WE FOCUS ON DAVE RIGHT NOW.
EB: focus on… how much of a douchebag his bro is? I mean, yeah, that’s pretty obvious.
CG: AND YOU’RE JUST OKAY WITH IT?
EB: i mean i don’t think anyone is really okay with a white guy rapper but it’s not like he’s hurting anyone.
CG: NOT HURTING ANYONE?
EB: uh, no?
CG: YOUR LUSUS DOESN’T BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF YOU LIKE DAVE’S DOES.
EB: what?
CG: HE SHOULD BE PROTECTING DAVE, FINDING HIM FOOD, INSTILLING A MORAL CODE IN HIM, NOT CUTTING HIM OPEN DOWN THE MIDDLE.
EB: okay this is getting really weird.
CG: *REALLY WEIRD*? THAT’S WHAT YOU THINK THE BLOOD OF YOUR “BEST BRO” IS? A LITTLE BIT PECULIAR?
EB: :(
ectoBiologist [EB] blocked carcinoGeneticist [CG]

 

Well, that plan failed spectacularly. Just like most of your plans! It shouldn’t have you feeling so surprised at this point. A good 100% of your plans end with you wishing you had never pupated. You are obviously the only idiot in the universe that gives a shit what Dave’s guardian us up to, and that makes you a fucking chump. A fucking chump who is probably totally misinterpreting alien culture and blowing shit way out of proportion.

You still can’t get the thought of his blood out of your head, dripping of his guardian’s sword while the man stands there stoic, disappointed, amused. The thought of it has acid rising up your protein chute. That image is permanently plastered into your sponge. You are going to get this single goddamn teen out of the hellscape he calls home if it kills you.

 

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began pestering gardenGnostic [GG]
CG: SINCE ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS APPEAR TO BE COMPLETELY OUT OF THEIR THINKPANS, IT SEEMS LIKE LUCKY YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE LEFT TO REASON WITH.
CG: WELL, BESIDES THE LALONDE GIRL.
CG: BUT I AM NOT TOUCHING THAT WITH A TEN FOOT FUCKING POKE STICK.
GG: um, hi??
GG: is this dave?
CG: FUCK
CG: I SWEAR ON THE GRAVE OF MY POOR, SWEET, DEARLY DEPARTED LUSUS THAT I WILL LAUNCH MYSELF INTO YOUR TINY SUN IF ONE MORE PERSON CONFUSES MY IDENTITY WITH THAT INSUFFERABLE PRICK TODAY.
GG: oh…
GG: so, you know dave?
GG: insufferable prick is a little harsh but he sure can get on peoples nerves sometimes :)
GG: dont tell him i said that though ;P
CG: SURE, LET’S GO WITH YES, I KNOW DAVE.
CG: AND I APPARENTLY AM ACQUAINTED WITH HIS PERSONAL PROBLEMS BETTER THAN THE REST OF YOU SHIT BLASTERS.
GG: so you know him from real life or something?
CG: HA! THAT’S HILARIOUS. A REAL NUB-JERKER.
CG: YOU THINK HE KNOWS PEOPLE IN REAL LIFE? FUCKING ABSURD!
GG: okay youre starting to make me a little uncomfortable :(
GG: who are you and how do you know dave?
CG: LISTEN.
CG: I WILL MAKE THIS EXTRAORDINARILY SIMPLE FOR YOU.
CG: IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO I AM, YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE ME ANYWAY.
CG: BOTTOM LINE IS, YOUR *FRIEND* DAVE IS IN SOME SERIOUS SHIT. FOR SOME UNGODLY REASON ALL OF YOU HUMANS THINK HIS GUARDIAN IS SOME IRONIC JOKE, BUT HE IS NOT. HE IS DANGEROUS, AND FOUL, AND PROBABLY A LITERAL DEMON.
CG: HE HURTS DAVE EVERY DAY
CG: AND IT IS GOING TO GET WORSE.
CG: YOU HAVE TO GET DAVE OUT OF HIS HIVE.
GG: this is not a funny joke!!
gardenGnostic [GG] blocked carcinoGeneticist [CG]
CG: I AM AWARE OF THAT!
CG: I AM CLEARLY THE ONLY FUCKING PERSON AWARE OF THAT!

 

Holy shit. This was stupid. This whole goddamn plan was ill crafted and asinine. Why the shit would you think that helping one of these aliens was a practical use of your time? The same aliens, mind you, that caused the destruction of your session. But here you are, hand feeding them the fodder it takes for them to become the incompetent morons that will eventually fuck you ov-

 

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]
TG: alright douchebag
TG: i have been all sorts of amicable up until now
TG: ive let you talk shit about me and my bro
TG: i let you freak john out
TG: i laughed about it even
TG: some of the shit you spew is pretty damn hilarious
TG: tonight wasnt fucking cool though
TG: you dont get to fuck around with jade
TG: i will hack you i will dox you i will show up out your house myself and beat the shit out of you
TG: do not mess with jade
CG: WAIT
CG: I KNOW YOU’RE GOING TO BLOCK ME JUST HOLD YOUR SHITTING HOOFBEASTS.
TG: what is this where you go off on some heartfelt apology
TG: confess to all your dirty secrets and rap with me about your dark past
CG: NO
CG: YES?
CG: I AM TRYING TO HELP YOU DIPSHIT.
TG: okay right i dont believe you
carcinoGeneticist [CG] blocked turntechGodhead [TG]
carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]
CG: HE SHOULDN’T HIT YOU DAVE.
carcinoGeneticist [CG] blocked turntechGodhead [TG]

 

You have a headache. You have a headache, and you need to find a way to convince Dave Strider that you are telling the truth.

Chapter Text

You should be happy that the calluses on your hands didn’t crack, that you aren’t sitting with your clothes on in the shower trying to pick the tatters of your shirt out of lacerations in your body. Honest to god, you should be ecstatic. You didn’t get hit tonight. You should feel joyful, you should feel thankful, you should feel goddamn proud of yourself for actually slicing bro with your sword.

You feel something else.

You feel vomit creeping up your esophagus, pressing its weight on your heart so hard it feels like it’ll stop beating.

You feel like you cheated.

You feel like it’s a trap.

You feel your hands fading out of existence, all static and heavy pulse.
No matter how hard you think back on it, you can’t figure out what you did right. You weren’t fighting good. You were barely even fighting okay. Every time bro would flashstep out of sight, you were too busy thinking of your last conversation with Jade to concentrate on finding him.

No, that’s bullshit. You weren’t thinking about your conversation with Jade. You were thinking about the troll you yelled at.

When bro went to swing his sword at you, all you could hear was the “ding” of Pesterchum, those obnoxious all caps letters spelling out “HE SHOULDN’T HIT YOU, DAVE”. He shouldn’t hit you, he shouldn’t hit you.

And you didn’t let him. Because he shouldn’t hit you. Because you didn’t want him to hit you. You didn’t want him to hit you.

Fuck.

So, okay. You’ve gotta pull yourself together, Dave. You’ve been sitting on your bed staring down the black monitor of your computer across the room for the past forty five minutes, and you know it’s getting pathetic.

Yeah, okay, you didn’t feel like getting shoved down a flight of stairs today. That’s just normal. Doesn’t mean that… that him shoving you is wrong. Your whole deal is that you aren’t supposed to be normal, right? You’re supposed to be this wicked sword fighter. If he doesn’t shove you, how are you supposed to learn? And now you’re pussying out, all not wanting to get hit and shit.

Fuck.

He shook your hand when you cut him open. Dropped his sword on the spot as soon as he felt the tip of your weapon slice into him. It freaked you out. You thought he was pissed, that his hand extended out in front of you was a trap. It’s not exactly like you were cutting at him lightly, holding back. If he weren’t so fast, you’d have killed him. Or something.

You were thinking that at the time. That you could have killed him. It had your hands all numb, your blood pumping too hard. And then he dropped his sword, and you held yours awkwardly in front of you, one handed, stumbling back. He stuck out his hand. You took it. You had a bro on bro handshake. Your first physical contact since… since, uh…

You can feel it now, that same tingling in your hands. Like they’re numb. Like they aren’t there at all. It travels to the pit of you, till you’re lying on your side digging your nails into your skin. You think you might be crying. You aren’t really sure. Crying isn’t exactly something that happens to you. Striders don’t cry. Least of all when they’ve won.

You didn’t realize he was wasted until he pulled you in for a hug. A big, sloppy, holds you for a little too long kind of deal. He reeked of tequila. Maybe a hint of lime. Made you realize that you weren’t getting better at fighting, that he was just giving up on you so hard that he had to show up to training wasted. You’re that much of a disappointment.

Fuck.

He told you he wanted to watch TV with you. Bro has never, not once in your life, asked you to participate in a bonding activity with him. When you were younger, he used to make you spin his turntables. Tell you to play video games with him. That was the thing, though. It was never an invitation before today.

You guess, maybe, it wasn’t really so much of an invitation today either. He went through the courtesy of asking, but he knows you wouldn’t have the guts to deny him. Not after you cut him. Not after you made him bleed. So you sat next to him on his futon, the pile of smuppets surrounding you pushing you right up against him.
Sitting on your bed, now, you wonder if that’s what family is supposed to do. Rose has sent you a dozen of her mother’s selfies, the two of their faces all smushed together. Three nights a week John tells you he fell asleep watching a movie with his dad and woke up in his bed hours later, all tucked in and shit.

But it felt sick sitting so close to your brother. You were hyper aware of his weight sinking into you. The hair on your arms bristled every time his breath would speed up, just waiting for him to catch you off guard and push you down. You didn’t want to get hit.

Hell, you didn’t want to get hit.

He gave you a beer. Two beers. You didn’t want the first one, felt sick during the second. He told you that you needed to relax. Even now, you don’t think he was wrong.

“All you do is try to be cool like me little man,” He told you, “Just chill the fuck out for once”.

He was probably giving you solid advice. Hours later, the tail end of the booze is what’s keeping you from completely flipping your shit. Thank heck for the shot of whiskey bro poured you after he…

After he.

Fuck.

You’ve got to do something else. You can’t sit here and not think about it anymore, halfway between drunk and an panic attack. You roll yourself out of bed, plant your feet as firmly on the floor as you can manage, and walk over to your computer.

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT]
TG: yo are you busy
TT: Hello Dave.
TT: How unusual for you to inquire about my prior engagements before launching into a tangent.
TT: I am currently attempting to avoid my mother’s most recent plot to ruin me.
TG: plot
TT: Nothing spectacular, just more of the usual.
TT: Although tonight she decided to get inebriated using the expensive vodka before she berated me with questions about my day.
TT: She usually uses bottom shelf liquor. I wonder what the special occasion is.
TT: But I’m sure your problems are more urgent. Jade informed me that you have a secret online admirer. I’m almost jealous, they sound like they are more capable of annoying you than I am.
TG: secret admirer
TG: you mean that troll that keeps bugging me and john and rose
TG: he hasnt talked to you
TG: i was under the impression he was stalking literally everyone i know
TT: I’m not sure if I feel honored or affronted.
TG: hes just some punk whatever
TT: So he isn’t what you’re here to talk to me about?
TG: i was just gonna show you a new song i mixed
TG: its not a big deal
TG: i mean its a big deal in that its the sickest beat youll hear all week
TG: go deal with your moms shit though ill send it to you tomorrow
turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering tentacleTherapst [TT]

Fuck.

You want to talk to Rose. About bro. About what he did. Or maybe about anything besides what he did. But you’re drunk. You’re drunk and her mother is an alcoholic, and fuck if you’re about to mess with your best friend’s psyche like that.

It’s just, this is not a John or Jade situation.

Fuck.

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]
TG: alright lets say for arguments sake that i believe the bullshit alien thing
TG: are you about to send me pictures of your alien junk dude because i have to say now is probably the worst time
CG: I SPENT THE BETTER PORTION OF THE PAST TWENTY FOUR HOURS CONVINCING MY TECHNOLOGICALLY APT FRIEND TO CONNECT A CAMERA TO THIS COMPUTER, MAKING YOU THE FIRST HUMAN IN HISTORY TO WITNESS THE GLORIOUS VISAGE OF YOUR CREATOR.
TG: i think we still need to do some work on that story still im a little lost
CG: [carcinoGeneticist attached a picture]
TG: why are your horns so much smaller than the dude behind you
TG: also why is he a clown
TG: is this some fucked up cult
CG: REALLY? THAT IS GENUINELY YOUR RESPONSE? YOU, THE FIRST HUMAN TO EVER LAY EYES ON AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL AND ALL YOU HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IS THE SIZE OF MY HORNS?
TG: wow i see i hit a chord there
TG: i didnt realize the horn thing was a complex
TG: but you know what they say about guys with small horns
TG: shit
TG: can we stop talking about dicks right now
CG: YOU SEEM TO BE THE ONE BRINGING THEM UP.
CG: ??
CG: ARE YOU STILL THERE?
TG: yeah
TG: so uh
TG: what was all that garbage about getting to look at my whole life you were talking about before
CG: [cargincoGeneticist attached a photo]
TG: hahaha dude you are a terrible photographer
TG: i was gonna let the first one go but jesus shit
TG: everyone knows you cant take pictures of electronics they turn out like shit
CG: SHUT THE FUCK UP CLOCKSHIT.
CG: IT IS CLEAR ENOUGH TO DEMONSTRATE MY POINT.
TG: right sure so what am i supposed to be looking at here
CG: YOUR TIMELINE.
CG: YOU CAN SEE MY CURSOR HOVERING ABOVE A POINT IN YOUR FUTURE.
TG: whats up with my sweet cape
CG: YOU’LL SEE LATER.
CG: A YEAR AND A HALF LATER TO BE SPECIFIC.
TG: im not totally convinced this isnt some fancy photoshop shit but youve obviously got someone helping you on the art front judging by your subpar photos
CG: BOTTOM LINE IS, I KNOW WHEN YOU’RE MESSAGING ME FROM. I KNOW WHAT JUST WENT DOWN.
TG: great glad that was broadcast to you
TG: so what the fuck happens now
TG: what does future dave do about this
TG: not like dave in a cape way in the future i mean future dave like ten minutes from now dave
TG: tomorrow dave
TG: the day after dave
TG: …
TG: dude where the fuck did you go
CG: I WAS CHECKING
CG: IT LOOKS LIKE YOU DO A LOT OF TALKING TO ME AND PLAYING THAT ASININE GAME WITH JOHN.
TG: thats it
CG: THAT’S IT.
TG: so i just
TG: im just fine with the way he touched me
TG: ten minutes from now im like oh hey bros hard penis was totally cool being all up on me i should play some wow
TG: thats how i feel about it
TG: regular
TG: normal
TG: run of the mill sexual
TG: sexual fucking
CG: ASSAULT IS THE WORD YOU ARE LOOKING FOR.
CG: AND NO DIPSHIT, YOU ARE NOT FINE WITH IT.
CG: BUT YOU DO HAVE A LOVELY MELTDOWN ABOUT YOUR LACK OF OTHER OPTIONS IN THREE, TWO...
TG: right yes all my other options
TG: go into the street and live there
TG: i hear trans kids have a great time in texas that should be fun
CG: SEE, HERE WE FUCKING GO.
TG: maybe i hitchhike to johns house
TG: yo mister egbert its me your new son you got a cute note to leave me
TG: or i could go to my relatives house
TG: just kidding
TG: bro acquired me in the most sketchy fucking way possible
TG: i wouldnt be surprised if there was some black albino couple in the middle of oklahoma looking for me right now
TG: all thinking how hard can it be to find our freakshow son
TG: jokes on them i live with someone who makes me sneak out to buy goddamn food theyll never see my ass again
TG: thats fucked up isnt it
TG: im actually asking dude
CG: YEAH.
CG: YEAH, IT IS FUCKED UP.
CG: YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO HIDE FOOD FROM YOUR GUARDIAN.
CG: EVEN ON ALTERNIA THE MOST VICIOUS LUSUS WOULD AT THE VERY LEAST ADVOCATE FOR THE PROCUREMENT OF NUTRIENTS.
TG: i wish you never told me man
TG: i wish you never told me it was fucked up for him to hit me
TG: dont talk to my friends about this
TG: please
CG: I CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO HELP YOU FROM HERE.
CG: TELLING THEM IS YOUR ONLY OPPORTUNITY TO GET AWAY FROM HIM.
CG: HELLO?
CG: DAVE?
turntechGodhead [TG] is an idle chum
CG: WHATEVER.
CG: HELL FUCKING KNOWS I’LL STILL BE SITTING IN FRONT OF THIS COMPUTER WHENEVER YOU DECIDE TO TALK TO ME AGAIN.

Right now, you’re not so sure you’ll be talking to anyone again. You want to be alone. The real kind of alone. The kind of alone you’ve never actually experienced, where bro is definitely 100% not lurking somewhere in your apartment waiting to hit you, or- or-

Fuck.

Your hands are not supposed to feel like this, all pins and needles and freezing. You can barely get down any air your chest is so tight. You pull at your binder, half-hearted. Feeling air on your chest has your stomach in flip flops. You’re gonna have to keep that shit locked down right now. And also always.

You don’t think you meant it when you told carcinoGeneticist that you wish he’d never brought this shit up with you.

carcinoGeneticist. Shit. You don’t know that little dude’s name.

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]
TG: so now that were best buds
TG: two fucking peas in a goddamn pod
TG: whats your name
CG: KARKAT.
CG: ARE YOU OKAY?
CG: I FEEL LIKE THE THING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU TODAY IS A THING WE SHOULD STILL BE TALKING ABOUT.
TG: or
TG: consider this
TG: i link you a bootleg copy of world of warcraft
TG: we make you the shittiest character we possibly can
TG: and we get our asses kicked by earth nerds
CG: FINE.
CG: BUT WE ARE GOING TO MAKE ME A KICKASS CHARACTER, AND HIS NAME IS GOING TO BE THE SIGNLESS.
TG: is this an oc of yours
TG: this sounds like a story i definitely dont want to hear
CG: WELL BUCKLE THE FUCK UP AND GET READY, BECAUSE I AM ABOUT TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE SINGLE GREATEST HERO IN ALTERNIAN HISTORY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chapter Text

carcinoGeneticist [TG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]

CG: HOW DO I FIX HIM?

CG: I AM AT A COMPLETE FUCKING LOSS, YOU HAVE TO TELL ME HOW TO FIX HIM.

TG: karkat i

TG: cant do this again

TG: we cant fix it we cant fix him hes fucking dead

CG: WHAT? WHO THE FUCK IS DEAD?

TG: jesus shit this isnt you you is it

TG: when are you messaging me from dumbass

CG: I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO BEGIN TO ANSWER THAT ASINE QUESTION. FROM MY PERSPECTIVE? YOURS? OR MAYBE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF OUR DYING UNIVERSES?

TG: normally i love your little rants but this is not a great time for me man

TG: can you not see that im in the middle of some major sburb shit right now

CG: DAVE I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

CG: PAST YOU WON’T TALK ABOUT IT. YOUR GUARDIAN JUST

CG: IT JUST HAPPENED A WEEK AGO, AND YOU WON’T FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT. I WATCHED YOU EAT FUCKING DINNER WITH HIM LAST NIGHT LIKE EVERYTHING WAS JUST ONE HUNDRED PERCENT NORMAL. YOUR BROTHER DOING…

CG: IT WASN’T OKAY AND YOU WON’T FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT.

TG: wow

TG: so we just started talking from your pov

TG: dude i

TG: i dont even know what to fucking say right now

CG: I AM WATCHING YOU FALL APART DAVE.

CG: AND THEN I SEE YOU GET BETTER IN THE FUTURE.

CG: I’M WATCHING IT ON MY SCREEN RIGHT THE FUCK NOW BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FIX THIS. TELL ME RIGHT NOW IMMEDIATELY WHAT I DO TO MAKE YOU BETTER.

TG: i liked it when you would draw with me

TG: and tell me stories about alternia

CG: HEARING ABOUT MY FUCKED UP GRUBHOOD GETS YOU OFF OR SOMETHING?

TG: yup

CG: DISGUSTING.

TG: alright well better go tend to past suffering dave

CG: WAIT

CG: DAVE

CG: WHO IS DEAD?

CG: DAVE?

TG: dude youre the one with the viewport of my entire timeline

CG: I AM ATTEMPTING TO RESPECT YOUR PRIVACY AND AGENCY.

TG: shit

TG: of fucking course you are you goddamn dweeb

TG: well then i guess sorry man

TG: knight of time here

TG: if i gave away future secrets id have to give my badge away

TG: but uh

TG: its gonna be fine dude

TG: past me is going to be fine and current me

TG: im gonna fix this

turntechGodhead [TG] stopped pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

 

Well fuck if that wasn’t the most unhelpful conversation you’ve had in three days. The assfuck did nothing but tell you to continue doing the same things you’ve been doing since Dave asked you for help. That, and let it slip that someone is dead.

You have the ability to see who. You know you do. All you have to do is scroll a little farther forward, over to when he’s entered the game. But you can’t. It feels like cheating somehow. The last thing you want is to be Dave’s Aradia, blabbering all this nonsense about the future like a shitty prophet. The last thing you need is to be snooping even further into Dave’s life. The kid has enough strangers watching him on camera.

You need a goddamn break.

Terezi is still at the computer across from you, still hammering away at her keyboard inevitably talking to goddtier Dave. Three days ago, she was the only one of your shithead friends you wanted to talk to. Looking at her now has your stomach turning. Not in the way it did during your… moment. When you kissed her. Not butterflies. You just feel sick, and sad, and angry. You don’t want her talking to him, playing games with him. Dave is too fragile for her shit.

Maybe you are, too. You, your entire team. If she and fucking Vriska would have just stopped fucking with each other, with everyone else-

Yeah, you’ve got to find someone to talk to before you drive yourself completely insane.

You spot Kanaya reading in the corner, just to the left of Sollux and Feferi’s uncomfortably public red flirting. She’s sitting on the floor, legs crossed, thick hair threatening to fall in front of her eyes. You manage to get down on her level, knees bumping against hers, before she notices you.

 

“You alright?” She smiles. Her finger traces a line in her book, keeping her place.

“Just wanted a break.” You tell her.

“I’ve been speaking with some of the humans, too. It seems like you’ve agreed to deviate from your initial revenge plan?” Her smile turns into a smirk, like she’s mocking you.

“They needed our help. They’re pathetic.” You defend yourself.

“You’ve seen what happens in their session, Karkat. I don’t know what you think you can do to change their fate, or ours for that matter.” Her stare is hard, final.

“I haven’t looked into what happens in their session. Terezi showed me the general gist of it, you saw that, but I haven’t been looking. I haven’t even seen them enter the game yet.” You tell her.

She closes her book, “Excuse me?”

You stare at her, mouth closed.

“Karkat, why? Wasn’t the whole point of this to… change something? To come to some greater understanding? To find a way to get us off this meteor?” Her eyes narrow.

“We both know I can’t change shit about their session. I know time is the complete opposite of your thing, but it’s fucking immutable. All that deviating would do is land us in some off shoot doomed timeline where we all fucking die anyway. The best I’ve got is helping him. Them. The humans.” You’re honestly not sure who you’re trying to convince. She’s right, after all. You’re supposed to be finding a way to save your teammates, not serving as some alien’s confidant.

“You’ve formed a bond with one of them too.” She states.

“No! But I saw what Terezi showed me. They program some unbelievably powerful sprites, lose the game, Jack Noir from their timeline messes everything up for all of us, and then static. I know I said we should be punishing them for their mistakes but-” You are silenced when Kanaya cuts you off.

“But how does vague ranting at a clearly inferior alien race help us fix things after the static.” She’s frowning.

“You think it’s a bad plan? Trying to help them?” You ask.

“Which one of them have you been speaking with?” She diverts.

“Dave.” You admit.

She lets out a snort, eyes still sad, “No, Karkat. I think it is a brilliant plan.”

“You are obviously upset about something.” You tell her.

“I think I’m going to spend some time elsewhere on the meteor. I’ve been training Eridan to use magic, you know.” She doesn’t have to wink for you to catch her malicious intent.

“Kanaya.” You say.

“What?” Her smile screams feigned innocence.

“You know what he’s like. I don’t need Eridan obsessed with power brandishing a fake wand around the lab.” You warn.

“I am utterly offended that you would think my wand would be fake.” Her face is deadpan.

“You’ve been talking to the humans too much.”

 

You stand up without warning and instinctively walk to check on the computer you’ve been using. The swelling in your chest when you see an incoming chat from Dave abruptly informs you that you’ve developed a subconscious habit. Weren’t you just telling yourself that you need a break from spending every ounce of energy left in your body trying to fix this alien’s problems? You click on the window anyway. Its incessant blinking can’t just go ignored.

 

turntechGodhead (TG) began pestering carcinoGeneticist (CG)

TG: so bad news john found out ive been helping an alien max out a shitty wow character and is jealous

TG: not that he actually believes youre an alien

TG: id send him those pictures of you but hes seen my photoshop skills so it wouldn’t help much

CG: WHEN YOU SAY YOUR PHOTOSHOP SKILLS, ARE YOU REFERRING TO THE HEINOUS COMIC STRIP YOU REFUSE TO CEASE SENDING ME?

TG: okay i get it it looks shitty

TG: but see this is how i know you didnt photoshop yourself as an alien you have no respect for art

TG: it takes time and genius to make sbahj

TG: anyway man

TG: have you been video spying on me today or what

CG: MY TODAY? YES. YOUR TODAY? NO.

TG: i am so hoping i never have to get all marty mcfly levels of comfortable with this time paradox shit like you are

TG: but before you inevitably start creeping on my day to day

TG: can you not

TG: just not today alright

CG: YOU SEEM TO BE UNDER THE FALSE IMPRESSION THAT I SPEND THE ENTIRETY OF MY TIME WATCHING YOU.

TG: dude our first ten conversations consisted of you listing my deepest darkest secrets

CG: OKAY SO MAYBE THAT WASN’T THE BEST TACTIC FOR SHOWING MY RESPECT FOR BOUNDARIES. THIS MAY SURPRISE YOU BUT MY PAST SELF MAKES A LOT OF SHITTY DECISIONS.

TG: im loving the way you take responsibility for your actions real classy

CG: HA HA VERY FUNNY

CG: I’M JUST TRYING TO SAY THAT I’M NOT LOOKING ANYMORE. UNLESS YOU SAY IT’S ALRIGHT.

CG: WHEN YOU START PLAYING THE GAME IT MIGHT BE MORE IMPORTANT FOR ME TO WATCH YOU THOUGH. I’M NOT GOING TO LET YOU GET YOURSELF KILLED JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE CAMERA SHY.

TG: yeah

TG: camera shy

TG: so about this game

TG: what exactly are we going to be fighting

TG: i feel like i should be preparing myself for dragons or some shit

CG: I DON’T KNOW.

TG: that answer is really helping me buy your i won the game and am your god story

CG: IT VARIES FROM GAME TO GAME JACKASS.

CG: I DON’T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU GUYS END UP WITH.

CG: SOMETHING WITH WINGS THAT IS ALSO A DOG IS ALL I REMEMBER.

TG: so we have to fight the shittiest furry oc of all time

TG: pretty sure everything ive done my entire life was leading up to that anyway so sure that checks out

CG: DAVE?

TG: yo

CG: WHY DON’T YOU WANT ME TO LOOK AT YOU TODAY?

TG: i just had a really awesome day you know

TG: definitely saw zero puppets

TG: was not conned into being on a porn site again

TG: didnt get the living shit beaten out of me

CG: FUCK.

CG: DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?

TG: nope

CG: DO YOU...

CG: UH

CG: I COULD TELL YOU ABOUT MY SESSION. IF THAT WOULD HELP.

TG: go for it

CG: ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS I DID WAS GET MY BEST FRIEND KILLED.

TG: holy shit

TG: weird way to start your cheer up dave rant

CG: NO IT ISN’T THAT BIG OF A DEAL, HE ENDED UP HAVING MORE LIVES THAN THE REST OF US ANYWAY. KILLING HIM RIGHT OFF THE BAT JUST PUT HIM ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD WITH THE REST OF US.

TG: is he mad though

CG: I’VE DONE WORSE THINGS THAN THAT DURING OUR FRIENDSHIP. AND IF I HADN’T LET HIM DIE, FEFERI WOULDN’T HAVE KISSED HIM. HE SHOULD BE THANKING ME.

TG: okay so im assuming feferi is some chick playing the game with you

CG: YES.

TG: so when i start the game ill like

TG: be able to meet rose and john and jade

CG: YOU’LL START OUT ALONE. YOU CAN GET TO OTHER PEOPLE’S PLANETS IF YOU GO THROUGH THE RIGHT GATES AT THE RIGHT TIME.

TG: ok bored ill just figure it out when it happens

TG: did you get to chill with people or what

CG: I WAS WITH GAMZEE FOR AWHILE. STUPID FUCKING CLOWN WOULD HAVE DIED WITHOUT ME, I FELT RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS JUNKIE ASS. AFTER THAT I WAS WITH TEREZI. AT FIRST IT WAS TO PREVENT HER FROM RUINING EVERYTHING BY GETTING INVOLVED WITH VRISKA AGAIN BUT

CG: I GUESS IT ESCALATED.

TG: is this where i get to hear about your alien girlfriend

CG: GIRLFRIEND? LIKE, FEMALE ROMANTIC PARTNER?

TG: is that a confirmation

TG: i wish i could fist bump you nice dude

CG: NO.

TG: what she dumped you

CG: THIS IS NOT WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT.

TG: oh shit she totally did

TG: thats rough buddy

TG: damn you think she left you for that vriska dude you were trying to keep her away from

CG: VRISKA IS A GIRL.

TG: okay so i dont want to jinx anything but i think we could flip this in your favor

CG: NO.

CG: NO NO NO.

CG: THIS IS STOPPING.

TG: come on like it isnt every mans dream to get in between two hot chicks

CG: I AM TAKING A SCREENSHOT OF THIS, SO THAT I CAN SEND IT TO YOU WHEN TEREZI AND VRISKA GET AROUND TO TALKING TO YOU. YOU COULDN’T POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND THE GRAVITY OF YOUR SUGGESTION UNTIL YOU HAVE THE PLEASURE OF BEING ON THE RECEIVING END OF THEIR BULLSHIT.

CG: AND I KNOW FOR A FUCKING FACT TEREZI HAS BEEN TYPING AWAY AT FUTURE YOU FOR THE PAST THREE DAYS SO GET FUCKING READY FOR THAT.

TG: alright cool well

TG: glad to know you have a crazy ex girlfriend bro

TG: hey karkat

CG: WHAT

TG: did you uh

TG: what happened to your parents when you started playing the game

CG: ALL OF OUR GUARDIANS WERE KILLED BEFORE WE STARTED PLAYING, AND WE ALL IDIOTICALLY CHOSE TO PROGRAM THEM INTO OUR KERNEL SPRITES.

TG: okay wow that actually really blows

TG: the them being dead thing i mean

CG: IT WAS HARDER FOR SOME OF US THAN IT WAS FOR OTHERS. MY LUSUS WAS ONE OF THE BETTER ONES, BUT MOST OF MY MEMORIES INVOLVE HIM REWARDING ME WITH CARCASSES AND LITERAL FECES. HE HAD BETTER, IF MORE CRYPTIC, COMMUNICATION SKILLS AS A SPRITE.

TG: but he wouldnt have come with you if you hadnt made him a sprite or whatever

CG: I DON’T KNOW.

CG: EVERYTHING ELSE IN MY HIVE CAME WITH ME. HE PROBABLY WOULD HAVE, TOO, IF HE’D BEEN ALIVE.

CG: WOULD YOU

CG: ARE YOU TRYING TO FIND A WAY TO MAKE SURE YOUR BROTHER DOESN’T FOLLOW YOU INTO THE MEDIUM?

TG: its whatever

TG: i doubt i could stop him from barging in anyway

TG: hopefully that means john and rose can keep their parents alive though

TG: maybe i can meet them

TG: join the egbert family or some shit

CG: THIS IS A LITTLE EMBARRASSING BUT DURING THE GAME I MET SOMEONE THAT I CAME TO LOOK UP TO.

CG: I GUESS I DON’T HAVE THE CULTURAL EXPERIENCE TO SAY I THOUGHT OF HIM LIKE A HUMAN PARENT FOR SURE BUT

CG: MY BOND WITH HIM WAS DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF MY LUSUS.

CG: HE STABBED ME A FEW TIMES, FOR STARTERS.

TG: okay dude i think seeing my bro has given you an inaccurate view of what parents are supposed to do

CG: THE STABBING WAS INCIDENTAL.

CG: WHEN SOLLUX DIED BECAUSE OF ME, HE HELD ME WHILE I CRIED. FUCK THAT IS EMBARRASSING.

CG: HE WAS ALSO THE FIRST PERSON TO EVER SEE MY BLOOD COLOR.

TG: as a result of the stabbing

CG: LIKE I SAID, INCIDENTAL.

CG: BUT WHEN HE SAW ME ALL FREAKED OUT ABOUT IT, HE CUT HIS HAND OPEN. LET ME SEE HIS BLOOD.

TG: so what happened to him

CG: WE ENDED UP EXILING HIM. I WASN’T THRILLED ABOUT THE PLAN, BUT IN RETROSPECT TRUSTING HIM WITH MORE POWER MAY HAVE BEEN DETRIMENTAL TO OUR WIN.

CG: I’D LIKE TO THINK THAT MY JACK WOULDN’T HAVE COMPLETELY FUCKED ME OVER, THOUGH.

TG: your jack

CG: THERE IS ONE IN EVERY SESSION.

CG: YOURS… IS THE ONE THAT FUCKS THINGS UP FOR YOUR ENTIRE SESSION. SO BADLY THAT HE SOMEHOW ENDED UP IN OUR SESSION, AND PREVENTED US FROM CLAIMING OUR REWARD.

CG: AND HE FUCKING KILLED ME.

TG: shit

CG: I WAS HONESTLY PRETTY DEVASTATED BEFORE I REALIZED IT WASN’T MY JACK.

TG: yeah man

TG: when bro

TG: when he fucking molested me

TG: i mean its not like he wasnt doing fucked up shit before that

TG: some of the things he did before that actually mess with me way more

TG: but thats when i realized that all of my vague memories of him feeding me as a baby and shit

TG: teaching me how to use his turntables

TG: it doesnt mean shit after everything awful he has done

TG: so yeah im glad it wasn’t your jack that killed you

CG: SOMETIMES I HOPE, BY SOME FUCKED UP MIRACLE OF THE UNIVERSE, I MEET HIM.

TG: my bro

TG: you hope you meet my bro

CG: I’D LIKE TO LOOK THAT PIECE OF SHIT DEAD IN THE EYES WHILE I HOLD THE FUCK OUT OF YOU. SHOW HIM WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE TO ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT SOMEONE.

TG: dude

TG: gay

CG: YOU KNOW WHAT, FUCK YOU.

CG: OH, SHIT, I HAVE TO GO.

TG: everything alright

TG: karkat

TG: karkat

TG: alright well

TG: thanks man

carcinoGeneticist [CG] is an idle troll

Chapter Text

You’ve been awake since the sun rose three hours ago, light dancing off the windows of the buildings across the street and landing in your bedroom. You’re laid out on your mattress facing the wall, shades on, phone placed neatly in front of you. Pesterchum is open, dimly displaying the “happy birthday” messages your friends oh-so-kindly sent to you at midnight ( your midnight; Rose must have stayed up way past her typically-ignored bedtime to message you in your timezone). You were awake till three in the morning, yourself, waiting for a message that still hasn’t come.

It’s not like you expect a literal alien to remember your birthday or anything. You’d be willing to place a bet that Karkat doesn’t even know what a birthday is. It’s just, you haven’t heard from him. The past two months he’s been hounding you everyday, and then he’s gone. Three full weeks of radio silence. Consistency was never his middle name, but you thought you were getting somewhere with the dude. Friendshipways.

That and the sheer volume of raps you’ve sent him in his absence is becoming embarrassing.

You don’t have much more time to dwell on it. You hear bro’s futon creak and footsteps heading towards the kitchen. You stuff your phone into the pocket of your new pajama pants (courtesy of Jade, happy fucking birthday Dave) and roll onto your back, left hand stretching down to graze the hilt of the sword stashed less-than-neatly under your bed.

You count the minutes it takes him to come into your room. Twenty-six. Twenty-six minutes you spend with your eyes clamped shut, listening to Bro bang around a door away from you. You open your eyes when you hear his hand on the doorknob, steady your grip on your sword. As expected, you get a faceful of Cal despite your greatest preparations, but instead of sharp metal gracing your skin there’s a plate of bacon and eggs resting on your chest. Cal, you find, has tucked himself into bed next to you. You kick the covers off your legs as Bro stalks into your room and plants himself at the edge of your bed. He picks up his fork and begins to eat, not once meeting your gaze. You balance your plate on your knees and swallow down food, throat tight.

You swear you don’t see Cal move the entire time you’re eating, but when you glance at him he’s covered in bacon grease. Bro reaches for you, snatches your plate out of your hand. You wince. He ignores your reaction and stashes the dirty dishes on your windowsill.

“Put some clothes on, kid. We’re going out.” He sits back down on the foot of your bed and begins carefully wiping down his puppet’s face, making it perfectly clear he doesn’t think he owes you the illusion of privacy. You struggle into your binder (the binder he bought you a year ago, you remind yourself) without taking your shirt off. There’s not much you can do about getting ass naked though, besides pull on a fresh pair of boxers as fast as you can. He hands you a hoodie before you even finish buttoning your fly.

You follow him out of the house, Cal slung over his shoulder like a toddler, a few blocks down the street. He pulls keys out of his pocket and unlocks a car you’ve never seen before. You whip out your phone and make a quick note of its make and model- a silver Buick Century. You’d like to remember what you’re riding around in in case it comes up on the news later tonight as a stolen vehicle.

Cal calls shotgun. You slip into the backseat and make an attempt at the janky seat belt before giving up. Bro has the windows down and the air rushing in from the highway stings. You check your phone. Your only notification is from Rose- a picture of the package you sent her for her birthday tomorrow. It arrived a day early, apparently. You hope she likes the refurbished gameboy color you fixed up for her.

Bro pulls into a parking lot you recognize. There’s a store in this plaza that sells synthesizer components. You trail after Bro into the store, Cal once again perched on his shoulder. The three of you get some strange looks from other customers, but the salesperson recognizes you and waves, laughs when Cal is the one to wave back.

Bro leans real close to you and murmurs, “I’m gonna be awhile, touch whatever you want”.

You don’t bother to watch where he’s going and turn your back to him immediately. Letting your guard down around him feels inherently wrong, but you know he and Cal can’t lay a damn finger on you in public.  

You spend your time messing around with a sequencer you’ve had your eye on for awhile. The one currently attached to your turntables is a creation you Frankensteined out of scraps of Bro’s old equipment. You’d love to mix tracks of your friends’ music with this actual functioning sequencer, especially that new bass track Jade sent you a few nights ago.

You glance at your phone again. No notifications. You offhandedly wonder if Karkat plays any instruments. You could see the drums being a good outlet for all his aggressive energy, but something has you associating him with flutes.

“Come on, we’re out,” Bro’s voice behind you makes you jump. He snorts once, annoyed, before continuing, “Don’t open this till we get home”. He shoves an unwrapped box into your hand- the sequencer you’ve been playing with for forty-five minutes.

“Shit. Thanks.” He unlocks the car, dips into the driver’s seat. You hop in the back and trace your fingertips along the edges of the box while your brother carts you off to your next destination.

You are unsurprised when he veers abruptly into an Applebee’s parking lot. He’s had their commercials playing on a fucked up, jagged loop for the past four days. Either that was a part of his ironic plot, or the promise of good family fun on repeat finally permeated his subconscious.

“Table for two?” The waiter greets you, doing their best not to let their gaze drift to Cal.

“Three. And make sure you add a kid’s menu for him.” You correct, pointing your thumb at the puppet.

The waiter visibly tenses, “Of course… right this way”.

You are seated at a table suspiciously close to the restrooms. Bro must know the looks y’all get- otherwise he wouldn’t bother using shades to cover up your mutant eye colors. You think he gets off on the rest of it, though. Being the sword brother with the weird albino kid and clown puppet. When you’re seated and your orders are placed, he focuses his gaze on you.

“So you spend all your time making those shitty comics on the computer, or do you have friends or something?” It sounds more like an interrogation than a question.

“My friends sent me those birthday packages we strifed on the roof over.” You remind him.

“What do you even talk to them about?” He says it like he doesn’t believe anyone could be genuinely interested in what you have to say.

“Mostly shitty movies. And they follow my websites.” You reply, honesty.

“They like video games?”

“John does. And Rose.”

“I hear the beta of a dope game is dropping sometime in the next year. Sburb. Y’ever hear about it?”

“Nope. Sounds dumb.” You lie. How the fuck has Bro heard of the game that, according to Karkat, literally ends the world? You have a hard time accepting this as a coincidence. Before you have much more time to dwell on it, the waiter drops off an AJ for you and a margarita for Bro.

He takes a sip of his drink and says across the table, “I’ll order us each a copy”.

You don’t hear what he says after. The smell of booze on his breath makes your stomach drop, your mouth go dry. He smelled like alcohol the night he let you cut him with a sword. You smelled like alcohol when he pulled you on top of him. You’d thought it was an innocent form of familial affection, at first. Uncomfortable, new, but affection. You’d even had the gall to think to yourself “fuck this troll on the internet, my brother loves me”.

You wonder if it had been that thought that fucked everything up, if it’s your fault for tempting fate. You’d felt it seconds later, something sinister between your legs. You and Rose have joked about boners enough to know one when you feel one, and fuck if Bro hadn’t pressed his against your clothed crotch. You thought about that as you felt him grow underneath you, all the times you’d laughed about dick, all the times Rose sent you the Wikipedia links to Freud and Oedipus Complex. You’d tried to remember what they said as Bro wrapped his arms around you. You’d had parts of them memorized a few months ago, to piss Rose off.

You remember that you sat up once, while Bro writhed beneath you. You’d taken one look at yourself, legs straddling him, Bro staring up at you through dark shades. You hadn’t fought when he guided you back down, pressing your stomachs together. You wonder if that means you’d liked it. He kept your legs spread, pushed wide open by his knees, and held you, thrusting, until he came. You could tell it was over by the way he jerked, by the hitch in his breath. It read exactly like an erotic story. You’d slid off of him and got in bed.

So, yeah, you totally miss anything he says to you at Applebee’s because he smells the same as the night he dry humped you. The night you let him dry hump you. You’re sure you ate food, your stomach feels full and sick on the car ride home. Bro drops you off in front of your building, drives off without handing you keys. You press every door bell in your building until someone buzzes you into the lobby, and use your old trusty bobbypin-in-the-lock trick to get your apartment door to open.

You’re alone in your apartment, in your bedroom, holding the sequencer bro bought for you. You go to put it down on your bed but decide the corner is a better place for now, until you’re feeling less foggy. You vaguely wonder if the shades you’re wearing make that detached feeling worse as you boot up your computer.

 

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

TG: sos dude

TG: its my birthday and youre still mia

TG: did all those world of warcraft times mean nothing to you

carcinoGeneticist [CG] is an idle chum

 

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT]

TG: yo

TG: thanks again for the gift i have never before been blessed with a short story starring myself

TT: Don’t the majority of your websites feature a thinly veiled self insert?

TG: while my work is a gift to the world it isnt a gift to myself

TT: I am going to take this as a thank you and move on with the conversation.

TT: Please feel free to tell me all about your outlandish Strider birthday celebrations.

TG: got some new equipment for my synth

TT: Oh, that reminds me, I need to send you a song I wrote on my violin. I wrote it intending to pair it with the song Jade sent us last week but I got a bit carried away.

TG: so i should expect some ominous chanting got it

TT: From what I hear, you and your brother should be exceptional at handling the demon my music coincidentally summons.

TG: can you stop bringing him up

TT: My apologies. Too many puppets for one day?

TT: Don’t tell me I’ve scared you off Dave, that wasn’t even that sick of a burn.

turntechGodhead [TG] is an idle chum

 

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

TG: dude

TG: fuck

TG: are you here or do i have to tell rose about some shit i really dont wanna tell rose about

TG: silence right got it thanks bro

turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

 

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT]

TG: so you remember that troll thats been messing with me and john and jade

TT: Which one?

TG: uh

TG: theres more than one

TT: Don’t you remember John having to change his screen name?

TG: oh shit

TG: yeah dude used to have a screen name that actually made sense

TG: who was the one who freaked him out

TG: it wasnt grey text guy right

TG: shit i bet it was hes a little bastard

TT: Teal.

TG: never talked to teal

TT: So, what about Grey Text Guy?

TG: karkat

TT: You’re on a first name basis now?

TG: hes not even the point of this story alright

TG: he just saw some shit going on with me and bro

TT: My psychoanalytic sense is tingling, should I whip out my DSM?

TT: You seem to have disappeared again.

TT: I know you dislike my innate ability to get your goat, but this seems dramatic. Even for you.

TT: Dave?

turntechGodhead [TG] is an idle chum

 

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]

CG: HOLY SHIT, I’VE BEEN GONE FOR TEN MINUTES WHAT THE BULGEFUCK IS THIS WALL OF RED TEXT?

TG: no offense bro but what the fuck do you mean ten minutes

TG: its been three weeks

CG: FUCK, I MUST HAVE LEFT MY VIEWPORT RUNNING WHILE I WALKED AWAY.

CG: GIVE ME A SECOND TO CATCH UP.

TG: make sure you read through all the raps

CG: I UNFORTUNATELY MADE THE MISTAKE OF DOING SO.

CG: TODAY IS YOUR WRIGGLING DAY.

TG: dude sometimes the alien shit is too much its called a birthday

CG: I’LL REFRAIN FROM WISHING YOU A HAPPY ONE AFTER THAT FINE EXAMPLE CULTURE BASHING.

TG: fair

TG: or maybe not fair man

TG: its my birthday youd think it could be about my culture

TG: when its the anniversary of you hatching out of an egg or whatever gross shit happens with aliens we can call it a wriggling day

CG: OH, LOOK, MORE INSULTS!

CG: HERE IS A PICTURE OF ME LOOKING SHOCKED

CG: O:B

TG: dude

TG: is that an emoji of you with a halo and buck teeth

TG: did you steal that from john

CG: NO, PAILBRAIN, YOU’RE LOOKING AT IT UPSIDE DOWN. THOSE ARE OBVIOUSLY MY HORNS.

TG: right they did look pretty nubby in those photos you sent me

CG: I’LL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT CIVILIZED PEOPLE ACTUALLY FIND NUBBY HORNS TO BE DESIRABLE.

TG: sorry to disappoint

CG: GO SUCK A BULGE, STRIDER.

TG: i thought we just established that was your thing bro

CG: I’M CHANGING THE SUBJECT BEFORE I HAVE TO BLOCK YOU

TG: gone for three weeks and now youre threatening to block me after two minutes

TG: is the honeymoon period already over

TG: i can bring back the romance karkat

TG: carry you bridal style over the threshold of our home

CG: ANYWAY

CG: DID YOU TALK TO ROSE?

TG: first of all im offended you dont want to hear the rest of my story

TG: but no

TG: chick keeps making psychology jokes before i spill my deepest darkest secrets

CG: ARE YOU SERIOUS?

CG: I WILL VERBALLY DESTROY THIS BITCH, YOU’RE TRYING TO AIR OUT YOUR SHIT, JOKES ARE COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE.

TG: in her defense i have never been serious in one single goddamn conversation with her before today

TG: and shes sent me about thirty apologetic messages while ive been talking to you

TG: id better go say something to her before she loses her shit

turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

 

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT]

TG: yo

TT: I spoke with Jade while you were gone.

TT: She is worried about your involvement with this troll.

TT: Last she heard, you were stopping him from harassing her. Several months ago. I believe all of us assumed you’d ceased contact with him after that.

TG: i said this isnt even about karkat

TG: did jade

TG: did she tell you the kind of stuff karkat was trying to tell her

TT: Yes.

TT: Dave, has what he said gotten to you?

TT: He’s just an internet troll. Probably some thirty five year old creep enamoured by your flawless hair.

TG: can you not flirt with me right now

TG: karkat isnt some internet creep

TG: or okay thats exactly what he is but

TG: rose

TG: does your mom

TG: does she cook for you

TT: Of course. Although on occasion she hits the bottle a bit too early in the evening and she gives me money for takeout.

TG: i have to hide my food in my closet

TT: I must admit, I also have a candy stash hidden under my bed.

TG: no

TG: my food

TG: all of my food

TG: i cant keep food in the kitchen

TG: bro gets rid of it

TG: if he sees me come into the house with food he takes it

TT: I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not following the joke here.

TG: its not a fucking joke rose

TG: bro legitimately doesnt feed me

TG: i straight up have to keep my food a secret from him

TG: have for years

TT: Dave if you’re being serious I have to tell someone.

TG: no

TG: listen rose i get that fixing people is your thing

TG: or knowing what to do or bossing everyone around or some shit

TG: but thats not whats supposed to happen here

TG: and karkat thinks

TG: i think

TG: karkat cant be the only one who knows alright

TG: this is the tip of the fucking iceberg

TG: the ego to the id that is my fucked up life

TG: can you hang without flipping out or no

TT: You know, my mom has some advanced technology down in her lab. I’m sure I could find something that allows me to ship food to you without it spoiling.

TG: what

TG: i know im emotionally compromised and shit but how the hell is that an answer to my question

TT: If your brother isn’t going to get food for you, I am.

TG: im not asking you to take care of me

TT: Okay.

TT: And I’m not saying that I am indefinitely comfortable allowing your brother to continue this behavior unchecked.

TG: what could you even do about it rose

TT: I don’t know. Which is why I am deferring to you, for the time being.

TT: I am, however, going to be sending you food hidden in some sort of knitting.

TT: He allows you to accept gifts, right?

TG: i have to fight him on the roof for them

TG: but i have to fight him on the roof anyway

TG: and thats only if hes home

TG: which im sure was fucked up when i was a little kid but his frequent trips to ominous locations that are almost definitely filled with puppets are now kind of a huge relief

TG: but in this really messed up way where i have no idea when hes coming back or even any concrete idea that hes for sure gone in the first place

TG: its kind of like this psychological torture game

TG: am i gonna get my ass beat in a surprise attack today or tomorrow or next week

TG: you never know until youre bleeding

TT: Dave.

TG: in his defense i dont bleed all that often

TG: only when i really mess up at defending myself

TG: usually its just blunt force trauma

TT: Dave.

TG: just your run of the mill bruises

TG: broken ribs

TG: broke my arm once when he pushed me down the stairs

TG: turned out to be a decent lesson on how to fall havent broken a limb on the stairs since then

TT: Dave, I have to ask, have you ever been taken to the hospital?

TG: for what

TG: im a pro at stitches and bro can set a broken bone

TG: besides if i went to the doctor every time i needed medical attention

TT: They’d call the police.

TG: is my shit really that bad

TT: Have you even told me half of it?

TG: no

TT: Then it is probably worse than “that bad”.

TT: You should tell someone else, Dave. Someone who isn’t eleven.

TG: im sorry am i messaging the right person

TG: because this cant possibly be rose i-am-the-most-insightful-and-mature-girl-in-the-galaxy lalonde

TG: and jesus youll be twelve tomorrow

TG: essentially a full adult

TT: You really want my genuine advice?

TG: i guess

TT: Kill him.

TG: wow

TG: so it turns out

TG: i really did not

TT: I had a feeling.

TG: can we just agree for the time being that you keep this shit between us

TG: people like jade and john dont need to be caught up in this shit

TT: I can agree to that, for now.

TG: alright talk to you later

TT: One more thing.

TT: Dave?

TG: what up

TT: I’m sorry.

TG: lmao

TG: for what

TT: That I didn’t see this until you told me. After everything you’ve ever said about your brother, I should have seen-

TT: I should have know.

TT: I’m sorry this is happening. I’m sorry I’m not closer to you. I’m sorry for the Freud jokes.

TT: I’m just sorry.

TG: uh

TG: its not that deep rose you can chill out

TG: ill talk to you tomorrow

TG: maybe ill work up the nerve to open this sequencer bro got for me mix some tunes for you

TG: peace

TT: Alright, Dave. Happy birthday, for what it’s worth.

turntech Godhead [TG] ceased pestering tentacleTherapist [TT]

 

turntachGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

TG: you ever find yourself sitting wondering what the fuck had you deciding to make some goddamn stupid life altering decision

TG: just staring into space while your brain screams back at you

TG: hey asshole you just changed everything

TG: life was going one way and you just went ahead and turned the goddamn wheel and now were all getting off this exit no one added to the itinerary

CG: I UNFORTUNATELY FIND MYSELF DRIVING THAT CAR VERY OFTEN YES

TG: you think its just you and me dude

TG: just two bros stuck in a cascade of poor decision after poor decision

TG: although i guess maybe the whole point is that me telling rose is the first good decision ive ever made

TG: in which case buy me a one way ticket on the bad decision express

TG: if this is what emotional growth feels like i dont want any part of it

TG: uh

TG: karkat

TG: not to be self centered but youve spent the better part of this year telling me i need to tell someone whats been going on with bro

TG: and now youre eerily quiet

CG: SORRY

CG: TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CONVERSATION WITH ROSE

TG: honestly i dont even think theres much to tell

TG: she actually shut the fuck up and just listened for once

TG: thought it would be harder to convince her that this wasnt another problem she needed to have deep and meaningful insight into but it wasnt

CG: MHM

TG: she said shed send me food which is chill of her

TG: of course its going to get ruined by bro pretty much instantly im sure but i appreciate the gesture

TG: and she said she wouldnt mention anything to john or jade

CG: OKAY

TG: i mean who knows if shell actually stick to that you know how rose is

TG: or i guess maybe you dont know how rose is

TG: do you even talk to rose

TG: do you talk to any of them outside of that one time you freaked john and jade the hell out and i had to come yell at you

TG: sorry about that retrospectively turns out you really did have my best interest in uh

TG: yo

TG: what the fuck karkat

CG: YEAH UH NO I DON’T TYPICALLY MAKE A HABIT OF TALKING TO YOUR PAINFULLY DULL FRIENDS

TG: are you busy or something man

TG: or

TG: okay i get it

TG: i told someone so now this shit isnt your problem anymore you can go back to your alien life alright alright

TG: well shit okay tell your alien bros hi for me or whatever

CG: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

TG: what do you mean what am i talking about

TG: id pay good fucking money for you to name one single other time in your life that youve been this quiet with me

TG: just makes sense youve accomplished your goal and now are going back to doing whatever the fuck it is aliens get up to

CG: SO YOUR AUTOMATIC ASSUMPTION IS THAT I AM ABANDONING YOU.

CG: I FEEL LIKE I’VE MADE IT PRETTY GODDAMN CLEAR THAT I

TG: that you

TG: …

CG: I AM INVESTED IN TALKING YOU THROUGH THE REMAINDER OF THIS YEAR, AND INTO YOUR GAME SESSION.

TG: right right so we can right the wrongs of my session and get you your big reward or whatever

CG: UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES I MIGHT HAVE MORE PATIENCE FOR YOUR INABILITY TO RECOGNIZE WHEN SOMEONE IS ATTEMPTING TO SHOW YOU THAT THEY CARE ABOUT YOU

CG: BUT I AM UP TO MY WASTE CHUTE IN PROBLEMS RIGHT NOW AND WOULD APPRECIATE IF WE COULD MOVE PAST THE DAVE SELF HATE PART OF THE CONVERSATION

TG: i thought you and your friends were just sitting at a bunch of computers like its goddamn tech class or some shit

TG: what could possibly be going on for you some alien myspace drama

CG: MY FRIEND JUST EXPLODED

TG: uh

TG: are we talking metaphorically here

CG: NO

CG: MY FRIEND, WHO WAS A GHOST FOR AWHILE, AND THEN A ROBOT, JUST EXPLODED, WHICH I CAN ONLY ASSUME MAKES HER ACTUALLY FUCKING DEAD.

CG: SHE WAS ALSO THE MATESPRITE OF MY BEST FRIEND BEFORE SHE WAS A GHOST OR A ROBOT.

CG: SO I FUCKING APOLOGIZE THAT MY ATTENTION IS NOT ONE FUCKING HUNDRED PERCENT ON YOU LIKE YOU’VE BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO.

TG: woah holy shit

TG: thats fucked up karkat

TG: are you

TG: uh

TG: do you need to go talk to your bro or something

CG: NO

CG: HE’S A FUCKING DOUCHEBAG

CG: WHO SEEMS TO BE HAVING A DATE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMN LAB WITH THE GODDAMN HEIRESS, ACTING LIKE HIS EX DIDN’T JUST DIE IN FRONT OF ALL OF US HALF AN HOUR AGO.

CG: I’D LIKE TO SAY I SHOULD GO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE BUT!

CG: EVERYONE! FUCKING! LEFT!

CG: NO ONE IS EVEN PRETENDING TO HUMOR MY ROLE AS LEADER AT THIS POINT. IT IS LAUGHABLE THAT I’M STILL TRYING. I SHOULDN’T BE WASTING MY BREATH ON THESE DUMBFUCKS, IF THEY WANT TO FUCK UP THEIR LIVES SO FUCKING BE IT. NEVERMIND WHAT KIND OF MONSTERS ARE INEVITABLY LURKING ON THE METEOR! LET’S WANDER OFF AND SEE JUST HOW MANY OF US CAN GET MURDERED.

CG: SO PLEASE

CG: CONTINUE TELLING ME ABOUT YOUR CONVERSATION WITH ROSE.

TG: nah

CG: GREAT! NOW YOU AREN’T LISTENING TO ME EITHER.

TG: i mean im sure itll come up its not like im the prince of being able to keep my mouth shut when i want to talk about something

TG: but man your friend just died

TG: i didnt realize how fucked shit was where you are bro

CG: IT ISN’T ALL THAT DIFFERENT FROM ALTERNIA.

TG: see theres something else i dont know jack shit about

CG: YOU WANT TO HEAR ABOUT ALTERNIA

TG: yeah man lets cut out the brief allusions to your life and really get into this shit

TG: what was your mom like

TG: what was her favorite color

TG: was she hot

CG: SHUT THE FUCK UP, I KNOW YOU KNOW I DIDN’T HAVE HUMAN PARENTS.

CG: BUT MY LUSUS

CG: REALLY LIKED THE COLOR RED.

TG: how sensual

carcinoGeneticist [CG] blocked turntechGodhead [TG]

TG: how are you going to block a bro on his birthday

Chapter Text

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]
TG: so if everything youve been saying is true
TG: todays a big day karkat
TG: the motherfuckin countdown to our mutual doom begins
TG: t minus 365 days until the end of the world or some shit
TG: also dont forget to say happy birthday to john hes real hurt youve been ignoring him the past couple weeks
CG: AS IF YOU ALL AREN’T AWARE THAT I AM ATTEMPTING TO NAVIGATE CONVERSATIONS WITH FOUR UTTER IDIOTS OVER THE COURSE OF A TWO YEAR TIME SPAN FOR YOU
TG: but its only been a couple hours for you ive heard this rant before karkat
CG: AND YET
TG: the complaining continues yeah ive heard this rant too
CG: FUCK YOU
CG: AND, YES, I WILL CONVEY MY JOY OVER JOHN EGBERT’S HATCHING TO HIM SOON.
TG: dope
TG: just got to look out for my best bro
TG: anyway how are things going in the lab
TG: did you manage to wrangle everyone back together
CG: NO
CG: ERIDAN PISSED OFF, KANAYA FOLLOWED HIM. I HAVE A SUSPICION THAT SHE’S ATTEMPTING TO TEACH HIM MAGIC, COURTESY OF ROSE’S INFLUENCE. I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE VRISKA IS AND, EVEN THOUGH I’D GIVE MY LEFT SHAME GLOBE TO NEVER SEE HER AGAIN, SHE CANNOT BE UP TO ANYTHING GOOD.
TG: kanayas the one who cut off someones legs right
CG: YES, TAVROS’, AND HE IS MISSING NOW TOO.
TG: shit dude
TG: is anyone listening to you
CG: TEREZI IS STILL HERE
TG: glad your girlfriend hasnt abandoned you
CG: SHE IS NOT MY MATESPRIT
CG: I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS ARGUMENT RIGHT NOW.
CG: I NEED TO GET OFF THIS FUCKING HUSKTOP AND ATTEMPT TO EXERCISE THE REMNANTS OF MY LEADERSHIP. IF WE ARE GOING TO GET OFF OF THIS METEOR, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER.
TG: so youll be gone for awhile alright
CG: I HOPE YOU’LL MANAGE TO KEEP YOURSELF TOGETHER WITHOUT ME.
TG: how will i ever cope
TG: if you come back and find me dead
TG: just know i died of a broken heart
CG: GOODBYE DAVE.
carcingoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [CG]

You minimize your trollian browser and shut your eyes. They sting, and the rods in your pupils take awhile to adjust, still reflecting the glow of the screen you are no longer looking at. You are still thinking about Dave, the red of his eyes, the red of his blood as it drips onto the floor. Your stomach lurches, images of your own blood clouding your vision.

You push yourself back in your chair roughly and stand, narrowing your sights on Terezi. She looks like you imagine you did a few moments ago, hunched over her computer, fingers hammering at the keyboard. Walking closer to her, you see her viewport still focused on Dave.

You feel a hand on your shoulder before you have a chance to walk over to her.

“Got some intel for you, KK,” Sollux tells you, voice low.
“Glad you could pull yourself away from Feferi long enough to let your leader in on it.”
“Shut up Karkat, as if your flirting with the humans is doing jack shit for us.”
“Did you come over here to tell me something or not? I don’t have time for our bullshit back and forth right now.” You cross your arms.
Sollux rolls his eyes and turns to walk back to his horn pile. You reach out your arm and grab him by the shoulder, catching yourself off guard as your mouth spits out, “Sollux, wait, I’m sorry”.
He raises his eyebrow, remains silent, so you continue, “Aradia,” You blurt out. You curse yourself internally for your utter lack of eloquence.
“Uh, yeah?” Sollux says.
“She hugged you right before she self fucking destructed. That’s so shitty,”
“Yeah, well, Mage of Doom,” He says, gesturing to himself.
“We haven’t talked about her since Vriska killed her,”
“Since I killed her, you mean.”
“You know that’s not-”
“It’s fine, KK. I said goodbye to her a long time ago. The robo-body Equius made for her was disgusting.”
You let your hand drop from his shoulder, avert your eyes.
“Karkat?” He asks. You look back up at him and he continues, “Your blood color.”
You feel yourself pale. You know your mutant blood is the worst kept secret in the universe at this point, but Terezi’s been the only one to actually comment on it, and you’ve half convinced yourself at this point that she’d only done that because candy red is some sort of kink for her.
“I know I could have told you. I know you wouldn’t have-”
Sollux interrupts you, “Alternia was fucked, KK. I don’t think I’d have sold you out, but, if it would have saved me from becoming a battery for the Condesce? If I was staring down a drone? A Subjuggulator?”
“I appreciate your confidence in our friendship,” You snap, but your lips curl into a smile, “I’m going to find us a way out of this, Sollux.”
“And I’m going to go enjoy the time I have left with Feferi, before we are inevitably hunted down and killed by Jack,” He says.

You stand in place as he hops up onto his horn pile, your fingers curled into fists to avoid rolling your eyes. It is infuriating how little faith he has in your leadership. Shit- your leadership. You walked away from your husktop to accomplish something. You scan the room attempting to concoct a plan of action. Vriska is among the missing. She is also, without a doubt, the most likely person to undermine you in a way that irrevocably fucks shit up. And you have exactly zero ability to control her.

You find yourself walking over to Terezi before you’ve thought it all the way through. She is undoubtedly the only person who has ever been able to get through to Vriska (with some notable failures that, really, you all learned from, right?). So you swallow down the insufferably confusing feelings you have about her and tap her on the shoulder. She looks shaken when she feels your knuckles tap her forearm, like she hadn’t been paying enough attention to smell you coming.

“Terezi, what’s-” You start to say.
And then you see it. On her husktop, in plain view, Dave Strider. Dead.
“What did you do? He’s not dead on my viewport, Terezi, so what the fuck did you?” You push her hand out of the way to scroll through the timeline yourself.
“He’s the timeplayer, it’s not him. Just a copy. A doomed Dave.” She explains. Her voice is off- shaking. And you see it. Scrolling back, you see the doomed him asleep on his questbed, being regarded with a cool disdain by the real future Dave. You watch future Dave leave. You watch doomed Dave die. A thousand Aradias- including the real one- died in your game, and none of it had you feeling more sick to your stomach than this.
“How did this happen? Dave wouldn’t make a mistake like this,” You say.
You aren’t sure if Terezi looks like she wants to cry or hit you as she says, “I needed to prove a point to him.”
“You had to kill him to prove a fucking point?” You say, voice raised.
“I want you to really hear what I’m about to say, Karkat: The only reason I’m not punching you right now is because he warned me you’d freak out about this,” She says, fangs bared.
“He what?”
“First thing Dave said to me when he saw his doomed self was ‘oh shit this is what karkats been talking about’. I didn’t like watching him die, either, Karkat. I’m not going to argue with you,” She says.
“Don’t fuck with him anymore,” You command. Her eyes narrow, “But you’re right, there’s no time for our pointless arguments. Vriska is missing, and I know she’s got to be up to something idiotic.”
“You came over here to talk to me about Vriska,” She says, monotone.
“I need you to figure out what she’s up to, and stop her. I need to get this meteor back under control. And, apparently, do damage control with Dave,” You roll your eyes.
Terezi looks at you with her saucer red eyes for a moment before breathing out through her nose, “Sure, Karkat.”

The way she walks away has you thinking that you messed something up in a pretty significant way. It has your insides boiling knowing that she’s upset with you when she’s the one who created a doomed Dave and watched him die. Terezi has always been out of her goddamn thinkpan, but you’ve always respected her choices before now. You admired half the shit she did with Vriska- it took guts, and it left her blind. But this- this left you with an awful taste in your mouth. You feel disgust. Disgust, and an aching need to drop your previous plans- everything about being a leader- to check on future Dave.

You stand in front of Terezi’s husktop fighting the urge to message him. You have duties as a leader, presumably. At this point you’re confident that you’ve lost control of your SGRUB session in a way that is irredeemable. You can’t change the human timeline- or the things you’ve done to change it are exactly what lead to the creation of this super Jack. Jack, who is going to arrive on the meteor and, save some sort of miracle, kill everyone. For all your talk, you know your leaderly efforts are futile. It doesn’t matter if these fools are wandering around, unsupervised, making mistakes all over this goddamn meteor. Sollux is right. You’re all going to die anyway.
You plop yourself down at Terezi’s now-abandoned husktop and log yourself in, viewport focused on future Dave.

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]
CG: DAVE
TG: did something happen
CG: YES, TO YOU.
TG: man i said i needed a minute
TG: not that i dont appreciate the concern
TG: i just
TG: man its dumb i know there wasnt even any blood or anything
TG: not like that first dead dave
TG: that one really fucked me up
TG: reminded me of i guess that dissociation shit rose was talking to me about that would happen with my bro on the roof and shit
TG: but even just seeing this pre dead sleeping doomed dave
CG: DAVE WAIT
TG: uh
CG: I THINK YOU THINK THIS IS CURRENT ME
CG: I MEAN, THIS IS CURRENT ME, FROM MY PERSPECTIVE
TG: aw man karkat how many times do we have to talk about this
TG: no out of order conversations man we cant be wild about this just imagine how out of control things can get
TG: sometimes i think youd be happy to just troll me backwards through my timeline goddamn
TG: just imagine how fucking stupid that would be
CG: I SAW WHAT TERZI DID TO YOU
TG: oh got it
TG: yeah you tell past me all about it
TG: gotta say it didnt prepare me for staring down my own sleeping body
TG: my best fuckin troll friend telling me i have to kill myself if i want to godtier
CG: TEREZI IS YOUR BEST TROLL FRIEND?
TG: dont worry past karkat youre real special to me
CG: DO YOU WANT ME TO SAY SOMETHING TO TEREZI
TG: haha
TG: past karkat is cute as hell jesus christ
TG: no ive got it man
TG: future you is on top of it too
CG: SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT. IF SHE KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING WITH YOU, SHE WOULDN’T HAVE ACTED LIKE SUCH A SHIT PISS.
TG: okay you and i both know that terezi is one hundred percent off her alien rocker
TG: id love to say her being as aware of my uh
TG: history
TG: would have prevented this but
TG: im pretty sure shed have pulled this shit no matter what pocket of reality were living in
CG: ARE YOU OKAY
TG: i told you future you is
TG: on top of me
TG: ive got to go deal with some shit karkat
CG: ALRIGHT
TG: hey
TG: be careful
CG: THAT IS PRETTY ABSURDLY OMINOUS DAVE.
TG: fuck man
TG: you know were out here trying not to spill future secrets
TG: im trying to slip something in all casual
TG: give a bro a heads up
TG: dont want you getting blindsided
TG: sideswiped
TG: hoodwinked
TG: dont want you good and bamboozled
CG: OH FOR FUCKS SAKE
CG: I’LL BE GODDAMN CAREFUL
CG: GOOD TO KNOW YOU NEVER BECOME LESS INSUFFERABLE
TG: you seem pretty keen to keep on suffering me
CG: GO DEAL WITH YOUR SHIT ASSWIPE
TG: dont forget to bitch about this whole thing to past me for the next goddamn year
TG: its super fun for me
carcinoGeneticist [CG] blocked turntechGodhead [TG]

You log yourself out of Terezi’s computer and stalk back to your own. You bring Dave’s timeline back onto your screen, narrowing down where on his timeline you left off as best you can. He’s sitting in his room with all the lights on. It took you awhile to figure out traditional Earth sleep patterns, but you’ve learned enough about them from watching John and Rose to know that Dave does a shit job at following them. It’s so late in the night the puny Earth sun will be rising soon. He has dark circles under his eyes. You wish you knew enough about his equipment to know what music he’s trying to make. He has noise cancelling headphones on, head bobbing, eyes closed as he presses a sequence of buttons. You wish you could hear what he’s making.

You remember that he often plays music with his headphones off, when its daytime. When his neighbors won’t complain. When he wants to drown out the sounds his brother is making from the other side of his wall. You scroll forward.
Dave doesn’t play music for the next couple of days. He spends his time glued to his computer, talking to John and Rose and Jade. He plays games online with John and talks to Rose for hours, walls of red and purple text. Jade sends him music that she’s made and he listens with headphones on. He smiles when it plays. It irritates you.
You keep scrolling.

It doesn’t escape you that you told yourself you wouldn't do this. Dave has enough people watching him. He’s already had to face you witnessing his abuse- he doesn’t need you invading his peaceful time. Is it peaceful, though, the way his leg shakes while he sits at his desk?

It reminds you of how you felt on Alternia. Hell, it reminds you of how you feel now. Your lusus always looked out for you, and you knew your friends were less concerned with blood castes and more preoccupied with resistance than most trolls. But your lusus was, at the end of the day, only a big stupid crab. And your friends were six sweeps old, far from you, and goddamn idiots. You woke up every night with a knot in your throat and sweaty palms. Any day a drone could come with a filial pail, and cull you. Any day a highblood could decide your neighborhood was worthy of destruction. You had to be ready to run, or fight, or die.

You weren’t entirely alone. Tavros was more than lucky to have lived as long as he did, especially given his rebellious ancestry. After Aradia died, you had confided in Gamzee that you were having trouble feeling bad about it- Rusts died, all the time. It would have been foolish to think that all of you would make it to adulthood alive, and Aradia was first on the list. Even Sollux, as powerful as he was, had to choose to be subservient to the Condesce or culled. But.

But you were the only mutant blood. Your friends lived in a fucked up system, and were treated with hatred and discrimination. You felt for them. But.

They could go outside. They went to coffee shops, and music venues. They met trolls of their own caste. They FLARPed, and visited each other, and went for long walks under the light of the moons.

You had to hide your blood indoors. Alone.

All Alternia was for you was isolation and fear.

And here, on your screen, was Dave Strider. You might not know jack shit about human social dynamics, but you know he’s in that goddamn hivestem feeling isolated. You know he wakes up with his palms sweating, waiting for his brother to attack him. You know he lives with a knot in throat. You know he has friends, you know he has you, you know one day he’ll have Terezi in some fucked up way. But.
Your internet friends never took away your isolation. Only the end of the world did that. You wonder if he looks forward to it. You had, when you thought it was a joke.
You’re not even sure you regret it.

There have been more times in your life than you can count where you wanted nothing more than to touch someone. You were obsessed with quadrant novels, with stories of trolls being able to share space and skin and air. This is why your kiss with Terezi had been so- so-

Desperate.

But never, not once in your life, have you wanted to touch someone as much as you want to touch Dave Strider as he sits at his desk with his legs shaking. You swallow, feeling the imaginary weight of him against your chest. It does something to your stomach, something you’d rather ignore. You wonder if his palms would be sweaty, now, if you held them in your own. You wonder if your touch could even his breath.

It doesn’t escape you that you should be feeling this way about Terezi. Terezi Pyrope, the girl of your teenage dreams. The way you’d kissed her had seemed like something you should probably do again. Back on Alternia (had it really only been three weeks ago?) you’d often thought about what it would be like to have her in your hive. Her voice lighting up your room, her weight evening out your sofa while you play games together. You’d never thought about the sweat on her palms.

It doesn’t escape you that you’ve just started a fight with her, about Dave. She’s so angry she’s stormed out of the lab, and you’re so angry you have no intention of going to find her. You try to swing it black in your head. This could all be a romantic dispute, an argument among rivals, a tension waiting to be resolved by a dramatic gesture or physical rendezvous. Only it doesn’t feel like tension, at least not the kind you want to alleviate by seeing her at all. What you want to do is sit here and continue to stare at Dave, ruminating about the way he makes you feel devastated and excited and curious.

Maybe you need to get out of your fucking head.

It doesn’t escape you that you’ve allowed months of Dave’s life to scroll by without saying a goddamn word to him. You’ve inserted yourself, unwanted, into his life as an integral figure of truth and security and you pissed off for months to pretend you have any semblance of control over the fools you call your friends and teammates.

He’s in a tank top on the screen in front of you. It must be hot there- summer, you guess, although you have a poor concept of seasons on Earth.

Your palms are sweaty as you go to talk to him.

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]
CG: TEREZI IS GOING TO DO SOMETHING FUCKED UP TO YOU
CG: I WASN’T GOING TO LET YOU KNOW, BUT YOUR FUTURE SELF TOLD ME THAT I DID
CG: FUTURE YOU IS AN ELUSIVE ASSWIPE, FOR THE RECORD.
TG: aw man
TG: what do i do to piss off your girlfriend
TG: think shes jealous of my hot bod

On your viewport, you see Dave look down at himself. It’s fucking impossible to get a complete read on his expression with those damn sunglasses on, but the corners of his lips lilt down enough for you to notice. You exit out of the viewport as quickly as you can. You curse at yourself as under your breath as you can manage. You shouldn’t have been looking at him in the first place- you’re making yourself into a goddamn liar.

CG: SHE IS NOT MY MATESPRITE.
CG: AND AFTER OUR ARGUMENT A FEW MINUTES AGO, I HIGHLY DOUBT THAT SHE EVER WILL BE.
TG: should i be comforting you
TG: ice cream and tissues style
CG: CONSIDERING MY IMMINENT DEMISE, I THINK I HAVE SOME BIGGER IRONS IN THE FIRE THAN TEEN ROMANCE DRAMA.
CG: ALTHOUGH YOU WOULDN’T KNOW IT LOOKING AT ALL MY FRIENDS.
TG: shit
TG: those troll fools are still messing around
TG: dont they know the world is ending
CG: TECHNICALLY OUR WORLD ALREADY ENDED
CG: TWICE, IF YOU COUNT THE NEW WORLD WE WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE ACCESS TO.
CG: I GUESS NOW WE’RE JUST TRYING TO SAVE YOURS.
TG: is that the plan now
CG: IT HAS TO BE. YOUR FAILED SESSION IS WHAT FUCKS US OVER. WE HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO ALTER WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU.
TG: wont that just make some offshoot timeline or some bullshit
TG: if youre out there on that meteor not having claimed your ultimate reward or whatever then didnt we already fail
CG: I DON’T FUCKING KNOW. TIME ISN’T MY THING. I WOULD *LOVE* TO ASK ARADIA FOR ADVICE BUT SHE WENT AHEAD AND EXPLODED.
TG: well according to you i am the time person
TG: which who knows what the fuck that means
TG: but obviously we dont win this goddamn game
TG: rose and i have been talking about this
TG: shes been reading though that guide that kanaya sent her that apparently she also writes in the future in classic circle jerk fashion
TG: since we obviously fail at the game she thinks its in our best interest to try to break it
CG: FUCKING EXCUSE ME
TG: i know it sounds like some rose bullshit at first
TG: it makes sense though man
TG: we have literally already failed in the future
TG: so we fuck it up on purpose to escape
TG: nope on out of this universe
TG: scoop yall up i guess
TG: we just dont know what happens after that
CG: YOU’LL HAVE TO MAKE A NEW UNIVERSE.
TG: uh
TG: explain that to me again
CG: ITS THE ENTIRE *POINT* OF THE GAME DAVE
CG: JADE WILL HAVE TO COLLECT THE FROGS
CG: AND SHE’LL HAVE TO DO IT RIGHT
CG: SHE CAN’T MISS A SINGLE FUCKING FROG DAVE
CG: THAT’S HOW I LET SHIT GET SO FUCKED
TG: right right the whole you gave our universe cancer thing
CG: YES, EXACTLY.
TG: so we have two goals collecting the frogs and breaking out of the game
TG: and once we get out we figure out how to find you
CG: WE’RE IN THE OUTER RING, I THINK.
CG: YOU AND ROSE ARE ON DERSE, IT SHOULDN’T BE TOO DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO GET TO US ONCE YOU’RE IN THE GAME. TECHNICALLY IF ONE OF YOU IS AWAKE NOW YOU COULD FLY OUT HERE FOR AWHILE AND STUMBLE UPON US.
CG: MAYBE
CG: IF I UNDERSTAND KANAYA’S THEORY ABOUT OUR LOCATION CORRECTLY
CG: WHICH I ALMOST ASSUREDLY DO NOT
TG: derse
CG: THE MOON THAT YOU ARE THE PRINCE OF DAVE
CG: THIS IS SERIOUS SHIT CAN YOU PLEASE PAY ATTENTION
TG: im just messin with you man i could never forget about being a prince
TG: besides weve got nine months before you say we enter
TG: and then i guess
TG: we meet
TG: get to get all up and personal with some aliens
TG: have some cross cultural fucking discourse
CG: GET MURDERED BY JACK NOIR, ALL OF US TOGETHER!
TG: always so cup half empty karkat god damn
TG: its simple we just have to kick his ass
CG: OF COURSE, WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?!
TG: some people just dont have my genius
TG: no need to feel bad
TG: ive got you bro
CG: HAVE I MENTIONED YET HOW INSUFFERABLE YOU ARE?
TG: once or twice
TG: hey shit
TG: i think bro just got home
TG: sorry to plot and run but ive got to go deal with this
turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]
CG: LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY ISSUES

You sit there for a few minutes. Disappointment sits in your gut, wishing he would come back online to talk to you, until you remember that you have access to his entire timeline. You skip forward a few days. Open up a chat.

Chapter Text

TT: It seems as if I have done something to make Jade upset with me, again.
TG: god damn it rose
TG: you know shes been sensitive could you lay off
TT: Her refusal to discuss her dreams with us is irritating.
TT: I understand that she was under the impression that she was the only one of us privy to future data, but the trolls have been feeding us information for years at this point.
TT: It is going to be difficult for us to find a way to destroy the game if she refuses to divorce herself from the naive notion that the clouds of Prospit are anything but a cruel facet of SBURB itself.
TG: youve got kanaya telling you way more than jades clouds do
TG: we dont need whatever bullshit happytown dreams jade is having
TG: just lay off
TT: That’s just it, though.
TT: Our intel from the trolls ends at this ominous rift.
TT: Jade could easily have information that comes from beyond that point, or events that take place beyond the four of us.
TG: i think shell come around at some point
TG: just give her some time to digest everything thats been going down
TT: You’re too soft with her.
TG: alright shots fired i guess
TG: is this gonna be a full roast should i sit down
TG: someone call comedy central
TT: Dave, please.
TT: I genuinely think that Jade is going to cause problems in our upcoming session.
TT: We have under a year to finish our preparations, and a very limited concept of how to escape the doom the trolls predict.
TG: i know rose alright
TG: ill talk to her
TT: You may want to give her several days to calm down from our chat.
TG: aww man rose
TG: we dont need problems between us all going into this
TG: hasnt karkat told you what a shitshow things are for them because they cant get themselves together
TT: No, he hasn’t. He hasn’t talked with me much, at all. You seem to be the only one currently privy to the inner musings of the leader of the trolls.
TG: brace yourself for him rose
TG: he can only be quiet for so long
TT: Something tells me I’m not going to have to worry too much about him. He seems to have his hands full with you.
TG: thats what she said
TT: That certainly is not your best “that’s what she said”, Dave.
TT: I’m disappointed.
TG: god damn
TG: you gotta forgive me rose im all on edge today
TT: Your brother is back?
TG: oh uh
TG: not yet
TG: just anticipating i guess
TT: My offer stands, Dave. I could ask my mother for help.
TG: shit hasnt been so bad recently dont worry about it
TG: anyway we should get back to the conversation we were trying to have last night
TT: Yes, of course, sorry I fell asleep.
TG: better get your sleep in now
TG: karkat says he didnt sleep for three weeks while they were playing the game
TT: For the record, Dave, humans would literally become insane if they were awake for that length of time. Hallucinations and everything. Please sleep.
TG: ill keep that in mind
TT: I’m reviewing the messages you sent while I was in bed.
TT: I’m hesitant to give an answer, but I think I preliminarily agree with you.
TG: ive talked it out with karkat a bunch
TT: I’m sure.
TT: It makes sense that one of the two of us would go in first. And, no offense Strider, but I think it would be unbelievably terrifying if you were my server player.
TG: you dont think im reliable
TG: consider me hurt rose
TG: thats the ultimate betrayal
TT: Aside from that, if Kanaya’s interpretations of our aspects are correct, it would make sense that you are in the game first experiencing the action and I am able to sit back for a few moments and observe.
TG: what are you again
TT: A Seer of Light.
TT: The concept of Light still eludes me, but I should be able to have some intrinsic understanding of the game or paths you’re able to take. Guiding you would make the most sense.
TG: do you think im gonna get to time travel
TT: Kanaya and Karkat have both implied that to be true.
TT: Another reason I believe I should be your server player. I may be the only one of us able to reign in your more reckless tendencies.
TG: reckless
TG: what
TG: how am i reckless
TT: So I’ll pull you in, Jade will pull me in, John will bring Jade in.
TG: and then i complete the bullshit circle and bring him in
TT: We still have work to do around what happens when we actually get into the session. Kanaya has been somewhat helpful in explaining the structure of the game to me, but it would be useful to get further insight into the specifics of our session. Kanaya won’t have time to scroll through all of our timelines in detail. You might want to ask Karkat what else he’s seen.
TG: uh karkat and i actually have a no looking into the future agreement
TT: Of course you do.
TG: i do know terezi does something shady at some point
TT: gallowsCalibrator?
TG: uh i think
TT: I’ve spoken with her briefly, and I am not surprised.
TT: Kanaya has made it clear that as we move closer to entering, more trolls speak with us.
TG: so we pull as much info from them as we can
TT: And use it to form our ultimate plan.
TG: ultimate plan as in final plan
TG: or ultimate plan as in Ultimate Plan™
TT: Hm.
TT: I think it depends on how dramatic I’m feeling.
TG: so always the Ultimate Plan™ got it
TT: Have I told you to go fuck yourself yet today?
TG: goddamn it rose karkat told us were related remember you cant be into that shit anymore
TT: Dave, we are both aware that if either one of us harbors a penchant for incestuously dubious self erotica, it’s you, right?
TG: you aint got proof
TT: Look at how much Karkat yells at himself. Is that not proof enough?
TG: uh whats karkat got to do with my kinks rose
TT: Really?
TG: oh i get it were making another ha ha dave is gay joke
TG: meanwhile youre the one actually out here hitting on that sweet troll babe
TT: I am, very much, hitting on her.
TG: uh
TG: what
TT: Dave, I’ve been flirting with her for the past six months. Are you genuinely telling me that it isn’t obvious?
TT: Oh, god, does she not know I’m hitting on her?
TG: i thought you were both pissing around
TG: damn rose
TG: get it
TG: i guess
TG: what are they always calling their troll junk
TT: I can send you some diagrams, if that would be helpful.
TG: ok well thats enough for today
TG: see ya rose
TT: Coward.
turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering tentacleTherapist [TT]

You lean back, the front legs of your desk chair lifting slightly off the ground. You take your shades off, just for the time it takes to reread the last few lines of your conversation with Rose. You reflect on your past few years with your ectosister. Your apparently gay ectosister. It’s not like you’re out here surprised to hear she likes the ladies- you’re the one who commented on her flirting in the first place.

It’s her comfort that’s throwing you off. She’s gay and talking about it, and hoping the girl she’s got a crush on is picking up on it. Your mind plays a make believe scene for you without your consent. Bro, in your room, reading the things Rose has said. Bro saying the words “faggot”, “dyke”. The hard steel of Bro’s sword as it hits you. The chill in Bro’s voice as he threatens to hurt Rose. You wonder if John and Jade would blame you if she got hurt. You imagine they would. You’ve refused all of their offers for help- if Bro gets out of control, it’s your fault.

You curse at yourself, your stomach in a knot. This isn’t even a flashback, it’s some dumbass anxiety flashforward into a future that may or may not actually exist. You wish, briefly, for the comforting words of Karkat to flash on your screen, until you really think about Karkat, and your stomach knots further, and your hands shake.

You delete your conversation with Rose, and then delete all your conversations with Rose. If Bro finds out she’s a huge lesbian, or whatever she is, it won’t be because you left evidence behind.

Your energy is too big to stay in his room. You’re almost positive Bro isn’t home yet, so you opens your door, pace the apartment. When walking doesn’t work you pop in a mindless video game (Tony Hawk, the ultimate time killer) and skate around a fake world until you feel numb.

When your heart isn’t beating so loud in your chest, you realize that you may have been overreacting. Bro is an asshole, but he isn’t going to hop on a plane and murder Rose because she’s a little bit gay. Bro was more than chill when you told him you were a boy, years ago. Encouraging, even. He won’t buy you food, but you’ve got binders and packers and hormone blockers coming out your ass. Not literally. Obviously.

That’s something you never really understood about him, his understanding of you being- you know. Not a girl, despite qualifying evidence. Maybe it’s what he always wanted, anyway. A little version of him. You must be disappointing him, you realize. You might be a boy, you might play at sword fighting, you might fuck around with turntables and computers and irony, but you come up short of being Bro every time. He knows it. You know it.

You’re not really into ruminating on your problems, though, you’re more about avoidance and forward movement. You get back on your computer. John has been messaging you. You think about what it would feel like to smile about it.

ectoBiologist [EB] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG]
EB: Dave!
EB: I bet Rose already told you, but she and Jade are fighting again.
EB: I don’t know what to do about the two of them.
EB: They used to get along so well, before...
EB: You know.
EB: All this “game” stuff.
TG: john you beautiful dumbfuck
TG: stop putting game in quotes
TG: this shit is real man
EB: I mean, yeah, duh, SBURB is a real game that’s coming out.
EB: But you know all this end of the world stuff sounds a little ridiculous right?
TG: god damn it john we cant keep arguing about this youre going to have to just get on board
TG: youve seen the trolls
EB: I’ve also seen some great photoshop in my life?
EB: And like, cosplay.
EB: I know we all love pranks but I’ve caught you all on this one!
TG: ok well lets put all that to the side for the next rest of our lives
TG: and have you humor me alright
TG: because rose and i need some intel from the trolls
EB: Oh jeez, what kind of intel?
TG: absolutely anything about the game you can get out of them
EB: That would be easier if the trolls weren’t so mean!
TG: oh christ who have you been talking to
EB: The teal one! She’s mostly funny, but she talks about my blood a little too much for me to feel good about it.
TG: oh thats just terezi
TG: karkat pissed her off so shes gone a little rogue
TG: but i hear that her heart is in the right place probably
EB: Isn’t she the one Karkat keeps warning you about?
TG: yeah he keeps saying some ominous shit about her
TG: but if something really bad were gonna go down hed be way more off the rails about it
TG: not sure if you know this but hes kind of dramatic
EB: i’m not sure if any of this makes me feel better.
EB: especially the stuff that vriska is saying about the rest of the trolls?
TG: i dont know a lot about vriska
TG: except that karkat once said hed give his left shame globe to never see her again
EB: really?
EB: she’s so much nicer than the other trolls i’ve talked to!
EB: well, once you get past the insults.
TG: lol
TG: yep that describes pretty much every single one of them ive talked to so far
TG: oh heads up one of them is a clown
TG: maybe you can introduce him to your dad
EB: noooooooo!!!!!!!!
EB: hey, dave?
TG: whats up
EB: rose is messaging me. alot.
EB: are you upset about something she told you?
TG: oh shit
TG: no
TG: just didnt want her sending me pictures of troll dick
TG: bulge* sorry how insensitive of me
EB: she is sending me a very long wall of text telling me exactly why she thinks you actually stopped talking to her before.
EB: it doesn’t make you sound very good.
EB: also, rose is a lesbian?
TG: well she hasnt said lesbian so lets not jump on the labels train before she does
TG: but shes got a hard on for a lady i feel like thats been pretty obvious for awhile now
EB: but she used to flirt with you!
TG: im every womans kryptonite john its not her fault
EB: should i send you a video to show you how hard I’m rolling my eyes or is this enough?
EB: but seriously…
EB: are you upset that she’s gay? she’s saying a lot of big and rude words, but she’s clearly worried.
TG: nah man i dont care
TG: besides have you talked to kanaya yet
TG: even if rose wasnt all obviously gay n shit id say those two were meant to be together
TG: not sure who else would be able to not only handle roses shit
TG: but be into it
EB: haha if that’s true i don’t know if i really want to talk to this kanaya person.
EB: handling a second rose sounds complicated.
EB: so, um, are you going to tell rose you aren’t mad at her? or do i have to do it.
TG: ive got it
TG: just tell her to give me a minute
EB: okay!
EB: i’m going to go finish some homework, i’ll talk to you later?
TG: sounds good man
ectoBiologist [EB] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG]

For some unfathomable reason, your conversations with your friends haven’t been helping your existential dread as of late. Probably something with the four of you imminently playing a game that ends the world, or your recent confession that your Bro is not actually a Chill Guy at all, or these classic teenage sexuality concerns. And now you’ve got to go and show Rose that you’re not homophobic, which you aren’t, and are totally supportive of her interspecies lesbian romance, which you are.

You wonder what Karkat thinks about interspecies romance. You bet it’d piss him off, the concept of his teammates utterly ignoring all of his instructions and plots to save their skin, all for the sake of hypothetical makeouts with humans. It would piss you off too, if you didn’t know for a fact that Rose was the most valuable asset to your team, romantic distractions or not.

You consider telling him about Rose and Kanaya’s escapades. He isn’t online, though, and upon further reflection you have no idea when Kanaya is romancing Rose from. No need to freak out Present Karkat about Future Kanaya’s actions. Plus respecting their privacy, or something.

You used to spend a mess of your time mixing together music samples your friends would send you, but none of them have been particularly into it recently. Rose has been so caught up in SBURB lore that she hasn’t picked up her violin in months. Jade has been distant from all of you, in general. You especially. You think she’s angry with you for being the one to take her control of the situation away. Okay, that’s not what you think, that’s what Rose thinks, but it doesn’t sound too far off base. Which is why she hasn’t been sending you any bass. John still sends you piano tracks, but you can only mess with them so long before getting bored.

So you’ve stepped up your art game.

Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff was getting updated on the daily for awhile there. You considered piloting a spin off, but you received feedback that you were being “problematic just for shock value” and tabled it. Rose might be annoying, but her literary critiquing hasn’t done you wrong yet. You tried to do her a solid and draw her a not completely shitty illustration of some of her writing that she does such a piss poor job of keeping secret. She feigned annoyance that you’ve pieced together enough of her original fiction to draw a climactic scene and, you’re sure, promptly printed out a copy and added it into her journal.

That little project had been a hell of a lot more fun for you than you’d anticipated. You started sketching more, to eat up the space where music used to be. You’re good at it when you’re actually trying. You’ve got sketches of your friends littering your room now. Most of them are John- he’s been the most willing to send you reference selfies.

You’re working on one of Karkat now. You’d put off drawing him. It felt voyeuristic or fetishizing or… something. It definitely felt something. Right now, shading the bags under his eyes, it feels like something.

Next to you, your computer dings. Speak of the fucking devil.

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG]
CG: A QUICK CONGRATULATIONS TO ME FOR BEING SUCH AN INCREDIBLE LEADER THAT EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF MY TEAM, SAVE FOR KANAYA, HAVE NOW OFFICIALLY FUCKED OFF TO PISS KNOWS WHERE ON THIS METEOR.
TG: piss knows where
TG: man thats a new one
TG: im trying to get a handle on what that could possibly mean
TG: either alien piss is fucking omniscient or your metaphors are taking a turn for the worse
CG: YES, DAVE, THAT’S WHAT I CAME HERE TO TALK ABOUT. MY OMNISCIENT ALIEN PISS.
CG: HAVE I THANKED YOU RECENTLY FOR BEING THE PARAGON OF FUCKING SUPPORTIVE FRIENDSHIP?
CG: NOW IF WE COULD KINDLY CIRCLE BACK TO MY ISSUES
CG: I WOULD LOVE TO BE THE FIRST TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR HUMAN SISTER AND GOD DAMN FUCKING KANAYA SEEM TO BE ENGAGING IN A THINK PAN BOGGLING ONLINE INTERSPECIES QUADRANT CONFUSED COURTSHIP
TG: thats a lot of adjectives karkat
TG: also uh not to be the bearer of bad news
TG: but i already know
TG: rose went and confessed her gay love for kanaya to me a couple hours ago
TG: and if rose is making a dramatic announcement you know shes serious about it
TG: or at least serious about entertaining the idea until she gets all existential
CG: YOU DO NOT SOUND AS CONCERNED ABOUT THIS AS I WAS ANTICIPATING
TG: were teens man
TG: teens are gonna get up to romance
TG: or so i hear
TG: arent you like alternias number one teen romance expert why am i having to explain this to you
CG: RELATIONSHIP DRAMA ABSOLUTELY DESTROYED MY SESSION DAVE
CG: WAY BEFORE SGRUB VRISKA AND TEREZI’S WILD VACILLATION GOT ONE OF MY FRIENDS KILLED
TG: woah vriska and terezi
TG: i thought terezi was like your girl
CG: THAT’S PRIVATE
CG: AND ALSO PRETTY CONCLUSIVELY OVER
CG: I’VE BEEN THINKING A LOT ABOUT HOW MY INSISTENCE ON BEING WITH HER WAS A COSMIC IMPOSSIBILITY FROM THE START
CG: AND, CLEARLY, A HINDRANCE TO OUR VERY SURVIVAL
TG: karkat youre my friend and all and im out here trying to be supportive
TG: but dont you think its a little self aggrandizing to think that your relationship doomed your entire species
CG: WE’RE FRIENDS?
TG: lets see we talk all the time
TG: tell each other our deepest darkest secrets
TG: are planning to simultaneously end and save the world together
TG: yeah id say that qualifies as friendship
TG: although i guess from your point of view weve really just been talking for a day or some shit so i guess maybe im coming on a little friendship strong
CG: NO, YOU AREN’T
CG: IT’S BEEN A LONG DAY
CG: LONG AND DUMB ENOUGH TO CONSIDER YOU A FRIEND
CG: AND FOR ME TO BE ADMITTING TO MYSELF THAT MY CRUSH ON TEREZI IS GOING NOWHERE AND PROBABLY NEVER SHOULD
TG: rough man
CG: NO. IT’S FOR THE BEST. I KEEP TRYING TO FIT HER INTO QUADRANTS SHE DOESN’T WANT TO BE IN, ALL AT THE SAME TIME. IT’S DESPERATE.
TG: sounds like you dont like quadrants
CG: YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT
CG: HOLY SHIT
CG: I HAVE TO GO
TG: shit
TG: try not to die karkat
carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG]

You keep the chat open for a few minutes, hoping he’ll come back online. You know he survives long enough to talk to you in the future, but his friends seem to be getting up to more ridiculous shit every time you talk. You give up on it, eventually. He’ll get back to you even if it’s months from now.

You toggle over your now-blank conversation history with Rose, figuring you’ve put it off long enough.

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT]
TG: hey rose
TT: You’re speaking with me again?
TG: i was never not speaking with you rose
TG: i just needed a second
TT: Glad to hear it. So sorry that my personal life has been so hard on you today.
TG: rose stop its not you and you know it
TT: Do I?
TG: i dont care that you like girls rose
TG: i dont even think i didnt know you liked girls before this you know
TG: it just
TG: i flipped out
TG: thinking about what would happen if bro found out
TT: I see.
TT: He can’t hurt me, Dave.
TG: yeah but
TG: he could hurt me
TG: and then i got to thinking
TG: maybe im exaggerating about how bad he is
TT: Dave, I can assure you, you are not.
TG: but the thing is
TG: okay here were go heres the thing
TG: the thing is that im trans
TG: and hes totally fucking chill with it
TG: im sitting here on hormone blockers in fuckin texas complaining because my bro isnt caring enough
TG: thats some dumbass shit rose
TT: I kind of figured, that you were trans.
TG: oh
TT: Not because you’re not masculine enough, or anything.
TG: no i get it
TG: i kinda figured you were gay too
TT: Yes.
TT: Regardless, your brother being vaguely supportive of your identity doesn’t mean that he isn’t neglectful in other ways, or that he doesn’t outright beat the shit out of you.
TG: yeah
TG: i dont know man
TG: sometimes i get the feeling that he knows about sburb
TG: about all the shit were about to go through
TG: maybe hes just training me
TG: trying to make sure i survive
TT: I get that feeling too, from my mother.
TT: But it isn’t an excuse to hurt you.
TT: We both know our troll friends grew up on an extremely hostile planet. They were literally and explicitly trained to be killers from birth. Their parents were glorified animals. And even they can see that what your bro is doing to you isn’t right.
TG: yeah
TG: so you really think your mom knows shit about sburb
TT: I have no proof, but yes.
TG: bro mentioned something to me months ago
TG: i think im going to snoop through his shit
TG: there has to be something in there and we need all the goddamn info we can get
TT: Maybe I will break into my mother’s lab, attempt the same.
TT: Maybe I will speak with her outright.
TG: does that mean her drinkings been better
TT: She’s been working on it.
TG: im glad rose
TT: Me too.
TT: Be careful going though your brother’s things.
TG: yeah
TG: bye rose
TG: look luck with kanaya
turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering tentacleTherapist [TT]

You push back in your chair and make your way back into bro’s room, taking deliberate steps. You don’t think about what he’ll do if he finds you in there, snooping. It doesn’t matter. Fact is, you know you make it out of this house alive because Karkat sees in you in the future playing Sburb. You need to know what Bro knows. You wiggle your fingers above his keyboard, a little drama just for you, and set to work on hacking into his private files.

Chapter Text

You don’t notice the incessant dinging of trollian, you aren’t thinking about Dave or the humans or SGRUB at all when you see the state Tavros is in. Tavros, panting, shaking, muddy tears streaming down his face. Tavros, clothes soaked, drenched, dripping in blood. Teal and cerulean. It smells. It smells like copper, like iron, like the dozens of dead trolls you’ve seen on Alternia. It takes Kanaya’s hand on your shoulder to steady you in the moment, to pull you back from the brink of a flashback.

“Tavros, what happened?” You say, your voice louder than you intended.

Tavros does not pull himself together. His words come out in jumbled waves, cut up by the rippling of his unsteady breath. You wish you knew where Gamzee was, wish Aradia were alive- they were the only two you know for sure could get Tavros under control. Them, and Vriska, but judging by the blood splattered across his face, Vriska wasn’t in any state to be calming anyone down.

But you’re their leader. You’ve gotten them through worse, through their lands, through their denizens, through the black king. You take the soothing into your own hands. You cross the room and place a hand on Tavros’ cheek, rubbing circles into it with your thumb. You swallow down the bile that rises in your stomach as you wipe away streaks of teal.

“You have to pull your shit together right now, Tavros. Tell me what happened,” You say, voice stern.

“Vriska was going to kill me,” Tavros chokes out.

“Of fucking course she was. Where’s Terezi?” You ask.

“She tried to stop Vriska,” Tavros says. His eyes don’t leave the ground. His hands don’t stop shaking.

“What happened?”

Tavros shakes his head.

“What fucking happened?”

“They’re two floors up. By the stairs. I don’t think- I don’t think they’re okay. They didn’t look okay,” Tavros tells you.

You take off immediately. You hear the clang of metal on the ground behind you, presumably Tavros dropping to his knees. You hear Kanaya calling out behind you, and then Sollux. You don’t stop. Somewhere on this goddamn meteor Terezi and Vriska have beat the living hell out of each other so badly that Tavros is soaked in their blood. You don’t have time for your friends to make you come up with a rational plan- you have to stop them.
You hardly need Tavros’ directions. You follow the scent of blood right to them.

God, there is so much blood.

You hadn’t often gotten the opportunity to see teal and cerulean blood on Alternia. The drones might have been theoretically indiscriminating, but you had lived in a low blood neighborhood, and everyone knew highbloods didn’t get killed at nearly the same rate. You wonder if that’s what has you feeling like this is all so fake- that bodies leaking rust and brown and yellow are the ones that remind you of death, that teal and cerulean have only ever played out on a television screen.

You wonder if later you’ll look back and wish you’d inspected Vriska first. Instead, you’ve got Terezi’s head cradled in your hands. You had thought pupils more important in assessing for signs of life, but everything in Terezi’s wide open burned out red eyes scream “death” in spite of their lack of pupil. She’s got holes bored into her, littering her torso. You remember having touched her in places that are nothing but leaking organs now.

You are distressed but you aren’t stupid. You unsheathe you sickles and hunker towards Vriska. You’re playing it cautious- if Terezi didn’t manage to finish her off, she’ll still be a threat. Maybe more so now than ever before, without the promise of Terezi tethering her even vaguely to morality.

But Terezi has done something more gruesome to Vriska than Vriska had done to her. It reminds you of shredded paper all covered in ink. Vriska wouldn’t be causing you problems anymore. There is no doubt in your mind that her death could have been judged as anything but Just.

You’re still standing in front of the bodies when Sollux approaches you from behind, his breath audibly ragged from running. There’s nothing for a few moments, and then Sollux’s hand on your arm. You’re pretty sure you’re supposed to feel something in this situation. Back when you’d first started SGRUB, you had lost control of your emotions when you’d watched Sollux die on your computer screen. Here, now, with Terezi and Vriska torn up in front of you, you can’t feel anything.

“Fuck,” Sollux begins, “They actually did it.”

“I don’t know why I’m surprised. This was fucking fate, wasn’t it? I’m such an idiot for not seeing this coming,” You say.

“Fate is fake, dumbfuck,” Sollux tells you.

“You literally hear the voices of the imminently deceased, how is that not fate?” You ask. You can’t take your eyes off Terezi, her bony bruised fingers still wrapped around her cane.

“Don’t think about it so hard,” Sollux says.

“Fuck, you hear the voices of the imminently deceased. You- did you know she was going to die?” You say.

“I’ve heard all our voices since we started talking with the humans. We’re all going to die on this meteor,” Sollux says.

“Fuck that. You just said fate was fake. If fate is fake, I can fix this,” You tell him.

“You can’t, but I know you’ll die trying.”

“Pun intended, I assume.”

“Obviously.”

“Fuck you.”

Sollux chooses not to respond, your gazes still weighted on the carnage in front of you.

“We have to do something about these bodies,” Sollux finally says.

“If you’re right about us all dying, we’ll need to find somewhere to store us all,” You laugh in spite of yourself at the image of discarded corpses littering the meteor, one by one.

“If we grab something to cover them, I can levitate them somewhere more private,” Sollux offers.
You spend half an hour scouring the meteor for something suitable before giving up and asking Kanaya for fabric. Kanaya who has always had complicated feelings for Vriska, who has been flirting with a human girl on the internet instead, who refuses to break down into tears when she learns that two of her friends have killed each other and instead insists on joining you and Sollux to move them.

Only, when you return to the scene of the crime, you find it eerily devoid of bodies. Terezi and Vriska are missing. Trails of their blood lead deeper into the dark of the meteor, the only indication that something- someone- dragged their corpses away. You cannot ignore the sweet, sticky scent of Faygo lingering in the air.

“I’m going to find them,” Kanaya announces, chainsaw in hand.

“They’re dead, Kan. Let them go,” Sollux says, voice low.

“Either something took Gamzee, too, or he has them. I’m either going to kill the thing that got them, or stop whatever he’s gotten involved in,” Kanaya declares. She’s trailing after the blood already.

“Make her stay, Karkat,” Sollux whispers.

You look at Sollux. He’s got a far away, dissociated look in his eyes. He’s listening to the voices, you realize. You know he must be hearing Kanaya’s right now. If you don’t stop her she’ll die. Sollux must be terrified right now if he’s trying to stop the death he is usually so resigned to.

“Kanaya, don’t. They’re dead. We need you here,” You order.

“You don’t steal bodies unless you’re doing something awful. I’m going to take care of this, Karkat,” Kanaya ignores you.

She’s gone into the shadows of the meteor before you can do much else to keep her.

“She’s going to die if I don’t go after her,” You say.

“Not yet,” Sollux tells you, “But sooner than the rest of us.”

“I should go after her,” You say.

Sollux’s eyes go wide, “No. Fuck no. The second you said that, your voice got louder in my head.”

“You don’t want me to die,” You say. If you hadn’t just watched Kanaya walk off on a suicide mission, if you hadn’t just held Terezi’s lifeless body in your arms, it might have come out as teasing.

“I should want to get back at you for letting me die the first time,” Sollux tells you.

“But you don’t.”

“Not right now.”

When you return to the lab, Feferi stands from her post next to Tavros to hug you both. You can only assume that all but the four of you have already died, or will sometime soon. You’ll ask Sollux for the details later. You need to take a few breaths first.

You shirk off the responsibility of socialization by sitting back down at your computer. You don’t know what else to do. You eye Terezi’s old computer, her trollian still open. It blinks with notifications she’ll never answer. You know, know, most of them are from Dave. Fucking hell. You have to tell Dave that Terezi is dead.

You opens up a chat with Dave vaguely in the frame of time where you’d left off, eight or ten months before Dave will enter the game. You leave your cursor blinking there, your body feeling cold.

Terezi talks to Dave the entire game. You’ve seen it on her screen, have gotten that impression from brief conversations you’ve had with future Dave. If you tell Dave now, you ruin all that for him. His entire friendship with Terezi will be tainted by the weight of knowing she dies. Your blood pusher stutters as you realize- you can’t tell present Dave. You’re going to have to lie to Dave. You’re going to have to lie to Dave for a very long fucking time.
But there is a Dave you can tell. That you have to tell. You slide yourself over to Terezi’s computer and don’t bother logging her off before responding to Dave’s thousand messages.

TG: terezi
TG: terezi
TG: yo tz come on
TG: you have a bro start a coup on derse and then leave him hanging
TG: im all sitting in my princely chambers waiting for you
GC: THIS IS KARKAT
TG: oh shit
GC: I HAVE TO TALK TO YOU
TG: dude message me from your own account
TG: i cant take you seriously in teal lmao
gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling turntechGodhead [TG]

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]
TG: so whats up
TG: and how did you manage to convince terezi to let you use her handle
CG: WHERE ARE YOU
CG: I HAVE TO TELL YOU SOMETHING
TG: oh shit your serious voice
TG: you know where i am we talked five minutes ago
TG: im chillin in my room on derse
TG: was about to get up to some super spy shenanigans
TG: plagiarize plan regisurp or whatever you called it
TG: you know this
TG: oh my god you dont know this
TG: youre past karkat arent you
TG: literally how many times do we have to talk about this
CG: SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO ME FOR A GODDAMN MINUTE
CG: I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU NEVER GET TIRED OF LOOKING AT A WALL OF YOUR OWN TEXT
TG: pot meet the kettle
CG: WHAT?
CG: UGH NEVERMIND
CG: YOU KNOW VRISKA?
TG: wow definitely past karkat if you dont know that i know vriska
TG: god what it would be like to go back to simpler pre vriska times
CG: DAVE I LITERALLY DO NOT HAVE THE EMOTIONAL STAMINA TO DEAL WITH YOUR BULLSHIT RIGHT NOW
TG: future you finds me endearing
CG: FUTURE ME HAS CLEARLY GONE ABSOLUTELY INSANE
CG: PROBABLY AS A RESULT OF THIS CONVERSATION
CG: I WAS GOING TO BE GENTLE ABOUT THIS BUT YOU OBVIOUSLY DO NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY FOR THAT
CG: SO HERE WE GO
CG: TEREZI IS DEAD
CG: VRISKA KILLED HER
TG: dude thats not funny
CG: IM NOT JOKING DAVE
CG: I AM COVERED IN HER BLOOD AS WE SPEAK
TG: months before i entered sburb you told me terezi killed vriska so unless theres some fucking time bullshit im unaware of
TG: oh fuck
TG: terezi died killing vriska
TG: months ago
TG: and you only told me about vriska
CG: UH
CG: YEAH I GUESS
CG: I HAVEN’T TALKED TO PAST YOU YET BUT SURE I GUESS THAT’S WHAT I’LL DO
TG: dude why the fuck didnt you tell me about terezi
CG: YOU HAVE A WHOLE FRIENDSHIP WITH HER
CG: I DIDN’T WANT TO RUIN IT
TG: thats
TG: exactly what i decided to do with john and vriska when you told me vriska died
TG: feels pretty shitty being on the other end of it
CG: I KNOW I’M AN ASSHOLE FOR LYING TO YOU FOR MONTHS
TG: yeah
TG: again
TG: i did the same thing to john
TG: shes really dead
TG: just gone
TG: what happened
TG: she wasnt talking to me even kind of linearly
TG: what was happening for her before she died
CG: IT WAS MY FAULT
CG: I SAW HER DOING THE COIN FLIP BULLSHIT WITH YOU AND GOT ANGRY WITH HER
CG: SHE LEFT THE LAB, STUMBLED ON VRISKA TRYING TO KILL TAVROS, AND I GUESS DECIDED TO TAKE JUSTICE INTO HER OWN HANDS. ALSO I THINK GAMZEE STOLE HER BODY.
TG: when i couldnt godtier
TG: so her last conversation with me was me being upset with her
TG: fuck
CG: SHE OBVIOUSLY KNOWS YOU FORGAVE HER
CG: SHE TALKED TO YOU LATER ON YOUR TIMELINE
TG: hey man
TG: not to be an asshole
TG: but im going to talk to present you about this
TG: future you from your perspective
CG: I’M SURE HE’S BEEN SWEATING ABOUT THIS SINCE HE’S BEEN ME
TG: yeah
turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

You look down at your fingers on the keyboard, teal still caked under your fingernails. You feel sick to your stomach. Terezi is dead. She’d made it through Alternia, through countless FLARP games that should have ended her. She’d manipulated highbloods out of money and power, had tricked drones into submission. She’d survived all of SGRUB without a scratch on her. All to die at the hands of her- her-

You don’t even know what Vriska had been to her.

Something more than you had ever been. Are ever going to be.

You shoot up from her computer abruptly, unwilling to continue to invade the space that used to be hers. You take a step towards your friends. You could go over to them, make fun of the way Sollux’s face is lit up yellow with blush from Feferi’s touch, give Tavros a comforting fist bump, make some sort of plan with them to find the rest of your surviving friends and get the hell off this meteor.

But Sollux is already hearing all your voices.

He’s right. You’re dead. You’re all as good as dead. You have been since Jack fucked up your session.

You might all be dying, but that doesn’t mean the humans have to.

You shrink off to a far corner of the lab and pull your husktop out from your sylladex. Future Dave made it very clear that you tell present Dave about Vriska, and you figure you’d rather get it out of the way now.

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG]
CG: DAVE
TG: youre back fast
CG: AM I?
TG: yeah only kept me on read for a month this time
CG: OH
CG: SORRY
TG: i know youre busy man whatever
TG: you seemed stressed out last time you logged off
TG: some messed up troll shit go down or something
CG: YEAH ACTUALLY
CG: VRISKA DIED
TG: oh
TG: fuck karkat
TG: she was the crazy one right
TG: man thats insensitive sorry she was still your friend
CG: BARELY
CG: SHE WAS FUCKING CRAZY
CG: TEREZI KILLED HER
TG: oh uh
TG: woah
CG: I WOULDN’T SAY ANYTHING TO TEREZI THOUGH. IT’S NOT A DECISION SHE MAKES UNTIL WAY LATER IN YOUR TIMELINE.
TG: right right dont wanna influence her
TG: does john know
TG: hes been talking to her
CG: I ASSUME SHE DIES LATER ON IN HIS TIMELINE TOO
CG: BUT I CAN’T PRETEND I’VE BEEN KEEPING CLOSE TRACK OF HER CONVERSATIONS
TG: we shouldnt tell him
TG: not until their last conversation
TG: itll just fuck with his ability to talk to her
TG: and i think shes gonna be one of the only things to help him come to terms with this sburb shit
TG: especially with me and rose distracted actually getting shit done
TG: and jade just
TG: distracted
TG: is that fucked up
CG: NO
CG: MAYBE
CG: BUT
CG: I WOULD DO THE SAME THING
TG: glad we can agree on some ethically dubious interactions with our friends
CG: I’M POSITIVE THAT ETHICALLY DUBIOUS DECISION MAKING IS JUST GOING TO SNOWBALL THE CLOSER WE GET TO THE GAME
TG: so are you uh
TG: chill about this
TG: i know vriska is crazy or whatever but isnt this like your second friend whos died
CG: TECHNICALLY WE ALL DIED ONCE DURING THE GAME
CG: BUT YEAH IN THE PAST HOUR OR SO WE’VE LOST SOME PEOPLE PERMANENTLY
CG: I DON’T HAVE TIME TO THINK ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW IF I WANT TO GET YOU DUMBSHITS THROUGH YOUR SESSION
TG: you sure dude
CG: DON’T WORRY, YOUR FUTURE SELF INFORMED ME THAT WE WILL TALK ABOUT ALL MY BULLSHIT AT LENGTH AT SOME POINT
TG: man what
TG: youre all up and talking to future me
TG: didnt we agree we were going linear only
TG: im supposed to be the one fucking around with time youve made it perfectly clear that you dont have the qualifications
CG: SUCK A BULGE
TG: i also thought wed come to a consensus about that being more in your wheelhouse
CG: THEN GO SUCK ON YOUR OWN HUMAN DICK
TG: would if i could man
TG: would if i could
CG: YOU REALLY ARE VILE AREN’T YOU?

There’s a tap on your shoulder. It makes you jump. Next to you, Sollux holds back a snicker. You grit your fangs. They all might be used to this, to in-person hangouts and casual physical contact, but it isn’t like that for you. You spent the first six sweeps of your life avoiding everyone, everything. A few weeks hasn’t changed that, and you wish, really, really wish, that your friends could understand that.

“What do you want?” You grunt.

“Chill out Vantas. This might sound like bullshit coming from me, but I know Terezi was… I thought I should check in on you,” Sollux says.

“Did Feferi put you up to this show of kindness?” You roll your eyes.

“Maybe partially. But fuck you, Karkat. I know we constantly try to outbullshit each other, but we’re all about to die,” Sollux says.

You consider arguing with him. You always argue with him. You’ve had to. Back on Alternia, if you’d gone along with what he’d said even once, things would have spiralled into in person hangouts and getting found out by drones and killed. You think he’s known that for a long time. For all the effort you’ve put in to keeping him at a distance for his own good, you’ve fucked up in your role as leader and are getting him killed anyway. Maybe it’s time to drop the act.

“Can we go somewhere else to talk?” You ask him.

“Oh. Uh, sure,” He agrees.

You turn back to your husktop, to say goodbye to Dave.

CG: AT THE RISK OF SOUNDING LIKE A COMPLETE ASSHOLE, I HAVE TO GO AGAIN. THINGS ARE KIND OF TENSE HERE. I’M PRETTY SURE I’LL BE BACK.
TG: pretty sure
TG: dude what is going on
CG: OKAY THAT WAS DRAMATIC, FUCK ME.
CG: I KNOW I’LL BE BACK BECAUSE WE BOTH KNOW WE TALK IN THE FUTURE. THERE’S JUST SOME DANGEROUS SHIT GOING ON HERE THAT HAS ME ON EDGE.
TG: try not to get yourself killed dude alright
CG: YEAH
TG: hey before you go
TG: do you happen to have a friend thats real good at hacking
TG: im still trying to get into my bros computer
CG: YEAH, I DO. HE’S NOT REALLY ONE TO COOPERATE WITH ASININE SCHEMES BUT I COULD PROBABLY GET HIM ON BOARD, CONSIDERING THE EMOTIONAL STATE OF EVERYONE ON THIS METEOR.
TG: dope
TG: good luck karkat
CG: YOU TOO
carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG]