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Blue Roses

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Curiosity; Jest, Bantering; Unexpected Meeting; Love at First Sight

Bucket o’ Bouquets was a growing business, that was certain. The main building was decent size, but the majority of the lot it was on was taken up by the greenhouses in the back. That was Jade’s domain, and Karkat knew better than to invade her territory. Besides, his domain was the front, and contrary to popular belief he was actually very good at dealing with customers, thank you very much. There was, after all, a big difference between not taking shit and just being a completely rude fucker.

Anyways, Karkat was grateful for the job. He had been out of state finishing up his degree in screenwriting with an art minor, but once he was done he had to come back home, which he was honestly fine with. He missed his family.

As of now he was quite happy working in floral arrangements, especially since Jade made sure he was paid well. The tip bucket was a nice touch as well, and they split up the contents each day. His current project was a wedding bouquet for a nervous bride. In order to reduce that worry, he made sure to add a few sprigs of lavender for soothing scent. He didn't mind doing weddings, but they sure could be boring flower-wise.

The bell over the door rang, and Karkat looked up to see a blond man storm in, and even with the aviators he could tell the other was pissed. The man came right to the counter and slapped a twenty down. “What can you make that passive aggressively says fuck you?”

Okay, that was a new request. Karkat blinked a couple of times before grinning, running a hand through thick brown-black hair. “I can help you with that.” He pulled out his notebook and clicked a pen. “Okay, so what you're going to want is scarlet geraniums for stupidity, foxglove for insincerity, Carolina syringa for disappointment, meadowsweet for uselessness, and orange lilies for hatred. Mind telling me who you're so pissed off at?”

The blond huffed. “I was visiting my bro for a week and I come home to find my entire bedroom absolutely covered in pictures of Nic Cage. As if that wasn't bad enough he gift wrapped everything in it! It's taking me all day to even get to my turntables!”

Karkat burst out laughing, shaking his head. “That sounds like something a friend of mine would do. He's obsessed with those movies. Thank god he's not a fan of Con Air anymore, there's only so many times you can rewatch it without wanting to choke him.”

The man’s eyebrows shot up. “John Egbert?”

Karkat’s rose as well. “Yeah. Small world, huh?”

“Tell me about it. The name’s Strider, Dave Strider.” The newly named Dave held out his hand with a smirk.

Karkat rolled his eyes but accepted the shake. “Karkat Vantas. If you give me your number I can call you when the bouquet’s ready.”

“Whoa, whoa, you're just demanding my number? That's not cool man, you gotta lead with flirting first before asking my number,” Dave teased. He ignored the startled squawk as he pulled a card out of his pocket, jotting something down on the back quickly. “That's my number and the club I work at, you should come check it out.”

Karkat accepted it and looked at it with a curiously raised eyebrow. “Timaeus Turned?”

“Bro owns it, he's just out of town long term for now.” Dave shrugged with a grin and took the twenty bucks back. “I'll be waiting for your call~” He gave a little wave as he sauntered out.

Karkat rolled his eyes and shook his head at how ridiculous the guy was, before looking at the business card again. It was black with red and orange lettering, and when he flipped it around he saw that the other had written what was apparently a pesterchum handle in red gel, with the words “hit me up” on it.

Thank god for his tan skin or else he'd be blushing like an idiot.


 

Around the corner Dave was leaning against the wall, hand to his rapidly beating heart and cheeks bright red. Fuck, that had been hard to stay so cool! Jade was right, the guy was absolutely adorable! And he kinda liked that Karkat was a couple of inches taller, and wow was he tan, like liquid caramel had just been poured into a human mold and it created a cute hunk, and those eyes were really expressive and were like an amber color, he had never seen eyes that shade before, he could get lost in them if he wasn't careful. Leave it to Egbert to give him the perfect reason to go into the store.

Dave suddenly groaned and hit his head on the wall lightly. How was he supposed to keep his cool around Karkat now?

Chapter Text

Anticipation; Early Friendship; Good Luck

Karkat flipped the card back and forth between his fingers, still puzzling over what to do. Jade had been a bit put out when she heard that Dave had come by (apparently she was friends with him), but was very excited when he told her about the flirting.

“He’s really a great guy,” she said, setting out a few newly painted buckets for an order to be filled. “Trust me, he tries to come across as suave and all kinds of cool, but he’s suuuuch a dork! I’ve known him since middle school, so believe you me when I say that he isn’t nearly as smooth as he tries to be.”

Karkat tilted his head curiously. “Did you two date or something?”

Jade laughed a little. “Yeah, for a year in high school. It didn’t work out, but we’re still best friends! We agreed to be each other’s wing person. I might have told him about this really cute new guy working in my shop who just moved back after being away for four years~” She laughed at the blush crossing his cheeks.

Damn meddling crazy girl. Karkat did think it was sweet though that she apparently thought he was a good choice for her best friend. It was always important to get a bestie’s approval, after all. He thought of Nepeta and Equius and snickered to himself. Those two were so overprotective of each other. Speaking of, wasn’t she supposed to be back home by now? He pulled his phone out and sent a quick text.

HEY NEPETA, YOU COMING HOME YET?

Karkat went back to poking at his lentil soup, still thinking about the card. Should he? Should he not? He couldn’t help but wonder, did Dave really want to get to know him, or was it just for a one night stand? There had been plenty of those for him, apparently in college he had been extremely desirable. It definitely had given him quite a secondary education. Hell, if sex was a minor he’d have gotten a 4.0 GPA. Screw it, he’d wait for Nepeta to come back.

Speak of the cat, there went his phone. He picked up on the second ring. “Hey, where are you?”

“I’m stuck in traffic, Karkitty!” Nepeta whined, and Karkat could hear the sound of sirens which made him sit up straight. “There was a three-car pileup so until it can be taken care of I’m going to be stuck. As soon as I get to an exit though I’m taking it though. Can you keep supper warm for me?”

“Yeah, I made lentil soup.”

“Ooh yum! So until traffic passes, wanna talk about our days? I’m gonna be stuck here for a half hour at least ,” she whined.

He chuckled a little bit. “I got to make my first fuck you bouquet today.”

“A what?”

“A bouquet of flowers meant as a fuck you to the recipient.”

“Nice! Who ordered it?”

“A guy named Dave Strider, apparently Jade’s best friends with him. He needed the bouquet for Egbert.”

“Huh, Dave sounds familiar. And oh jeez, what did he do now ?”

“Wallpaper his room with Nic Cage pictures and gift wrapped everything in the bedroom.” He grinned as Nepeta burst into giggles. “I know, typical John! So this Dave guy wanted a fuck you bouquet, which I explained to him of course.”

“Of course, Karkat, you are such a floriographer.”

“Damn right I am, who else helped with our parents’ wedding?”

“I know, remember how much Mom gushed over it? She was so happy that you were so intent on helping her and Dad with the perfect romantic wedding! I’m surprised you didn’t go into wedding planning.”

“I sort of am, with working on floral arrangements for weddings,” he pointed out with a nibble on some pita bread. “Honestly, I know I was a little shithead with no patience in high school, but I kind of mellowed out a little. Now I only want to partially strangle the customers.”

“Oh my god, bad Karkitty! Bad!” Nepeta laughed, which made him grin. He did love making her laugh, she had the cutest one. That was probably familial bias though. “Sooo, what else about this Dave guy? Come on, there’s definitely more!”

“Well he flirted a bit and gave me his card for the club he works at. Timaeus Turned?”

“Oh! Yeah, Terezi wants to take me there next week, she started working as one of those like, you know those dancers that go in the crowd in order to keep the spirits up and the beat flowing in the crowd? That sort of thing! She’s getting to be good friends with the DJ--wait, that’s why the name is familiar! Terezi told me about him!”

“Oh really~? You getting any headway on that ship, Miss Nepeta~?” He laughed at her startled squeak and sputter of denial. “Come on, Nep, you can’t hide anything from me like I can’t hide anything from you. You totally got a crush on her.”

A frustrated groan echoed from the other end of the line. “Okay okay, maybe a small one! And I’m working on it! Just...give me time, okay? It’s kind of really hard to actually get her to realize my flirting isn’t the play flirting we did before and that I actually mean it!”

“Hmm, you know what you can do?”

“What?”

Shalalala don’t be scared, you better be prepared, go on and kiss the girl~

“KARKAT OH MY GOD!”

Shalalala don’t stop now, don’t try to hide it now, you wanna kiss the girl! ” He laughed hard enough to clutch his stomach at her shocked exclamations including a rebuff and how dare he use one of her favorite movies against him! “Okay, okay, I’ll stop!”

“Hmph! If you want me to go after Terezi so badly, then what about you , mister? Sounds like you may have a little thing with Dave~”

Karkat suddenly felt his cheeks burn. “I dunno about that, but he did add his pesterchum handle on the back of his card with ‘hit me up’ on it. And Jade’s apparently trying to set me up with him, what’s up with that?”

“Well, you have been out of the dating scene since you came home!” Nepeta pointed out. “I know you wanted to take some time to adjust and stuff but it’s been almost a year! Even if he doesn’t actually wanna date, if Jade likes him then he’s gotta be a pretty good guy. So why not give it a chance?”

“Ehh...she did say he was a complete dork and not nearly as cool as he pretended,” he confessed with a chuckle. “And...yeah, okay, he was cute. Blond, almost as tall as me, lanky as all hell with freckles and paler than Sollux.”

“Whoa, I didn’t think anyone could be paler than him! Eyes?”

“He was wearing aviators.”

“Oh boo!”

“I know! Lame, trying to be a cool kid even when buying a fuck you bouquet.”

“You could always give him a fuck me bouquet.”

“Not-- Nepeta!

“Heeheeheehee!! Revenge is sweet Karkat~! Anyway, if he gave you his handle just shoot him a message! I bet he’d at least love to hear from you. I bet he’s sitting and staring at his phone or the computer all squirming in anticipation for you to send him a message!”

“Well...I’ll at least think a little more on it okay?”

“I guess that’s the best I can get. Oh, traffic’s finally moving! Save me some soup, love ya bro!”

“Love ya too, sis, drive carefully.” Karkat clicked his phone off and finished off his soup before putting the dishes in the dishwasher. Fuck doing them by hand, he did enough of that in his dorm back in college. They had a dishwasher and by god were they gonna use it!

Once that was done he settled in front of his laptop, the pesterchum icon hovering tauntingly in the taskbar. It took him another ten minutes to actually type in the handle and send a message.

- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] -

CG: HEY, THIS IS THE FLORIST FROM TODAY. YOU KNOW, THE ONE YOU ORDERED THE FUCK YOU BOUQUET FROM?
CG: I GOTTA SAY THAT’S ONE OF THE BEST DAMN ORDERS I’VE EVER HAD, I NEED TO ADVERTISE THOSE.
CG: THIS *IS* DAVE STRIDER RIGHT?

Dave was so not squealing into his penguin plush right now. He was just...cuddling it super close. To his face. Yeah that’s it. Penguins needed cuddles to grow big and strong after all.

He took a moment to compose himself in order to reply, even though he was vibrating in his chair he was so excited. If Rose saw him then he’d die of mortified embarrassment, but thankfully she wasn’t. Besides she’d totally try to overanalyze his pajamas. They were a gift from Jade of course he was gonna wear them, even with the doggy bone pattern all over them.

TG: sup
TG: youve reached the residence of local cool kid dave strider leave a message at the sick beats
CG: I HAVE IT ON GOOD DAMN AUTHORITY THAT YOU ARE NOT NEARLY AS FUCKING COOL OF A KID AS YOU WANT TO PORTRAY YOURSELF TO BE.
TG: goddammit did jade spill the beans
CG: MAYBE.
TG: shit now i gotta pick them all up
TG: got all these legumes just rolling all over the place and under chairs and tables
TG: the cats trying to play with them and you gotta grab them before they actually eat them cuz thats bad and you dont want sick cats
TG: only sick beats allowed in the strider household
CG: OH MY GOD DO YOU EVER SHUT UP?
TG: only if someone makes me
TG: you offering
CG: HELL NO.
CG: I DON’T GIVE KISSES BEFORE AT LEAST A DINNER.
TG: now thats an invitation if i ever heard one
CG: IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE.
TG: too late youre obligated now
TG: ill pick you up tomorrow at 5 when im out of work
TG: well my other work
CG: PUTTING THE PICK UP ON PAUSE, YOU HAVE TWO JOBS?
TG: hell yeah man i can only dj on weekends
TG: the rest of the week im tattooing at porrims palace its just down the street from you
CG: OH YEAH, THANKS FOR REMINDING ME I HAVE TO SCHEDULE A TOUCH UP WITH HER.
TG: you got ink hell yeah
TG: of what
CG: THAT’S FOR ME TO KNOW, AND FOR YOU TO FIND OUT. (:B
TG: ouch spurned
TG: challenge accepted

Karkat laughed softly. This may turn out to be a great idea after all!

Chapter Text

Gossip; Consolation, Hope; Longing for You

Dave was on cloud 9. No seriously, he wasn’t being metaphorical, his skateboard had Cloud 9 stenciled in pretty calligraphy courtesy of Rose. It was a deep red with the lettering in bright white, though he was almost positive that it was more lavender than white. Still one of his favorite Christmas gifts from her.

Though he was also pretty high on happy right now too. He had spent almost all night chatting with Karkat after that first response, only going to bed when he was literally yelled at to by the grumpy cutie. Of course, he hadn’t been able to get Karkat for dinner the next day--Roxy had gotten sick and he had to cover her shift as well. Luckily her appointments had just been touch ups and no hardcore tattooing. Each artist had their own style, and he would hate to mess up his cousin’s clients on her. But they did finally agree on Sunday morning brunch date. That was perfect since he worked Friday and Saturday nights at Timaeus Turned.

His thoughts wandered briefly to Dirk, who was in Houston handling some legal issues. Their older brother had kicked the bucket finally (shot? poisoned? who the hell knew) so Dirk was taking care of all that shit.

Good riddance, in Dave’s opinion.

He gave the sidewalk a few extra kicks to keep his speed up, coasting down to Terezi’s house. It was a big house painted bright teal, with an even bigger backyard. She said something about how the teal was a refreshingly tasty welcome every time she came home. He didn’t quite understand her synesthesia but hey, if it makes her happy.

Slowing down he kicked the board up into his arms and practically skipped up her walk. She never left the door locked--for one thing she had a very effective security system. Another reason was that she tended to forget it was locked and actually walk into the door.
“Hey ‘Rezi! You here--ack!!” Dave immediately was drowned in a pile of barking fluffy furry love bugs, and he started laughing as Berrybreath the Australian shepherd started licking his face. “Yeah yeah I missed you guys too! Let me up--let me up!” He was shoved up by Honeytongue, the golden retriever, who snuggled into his side. “Aww thanks pup, who’s a good boy~ you’re a good boy! And you’re a good girl!” he cooed to Pucefoot. The bloodhound gave a little boof as her tail wagged.

“Cool kid! You’re here early!” Terezi came walking down the hallway, cane in one hand and harness handle for Lemonsnout in the other. The yellow Labrador was as always extremely sedate and calm, his tail giving a couple of wags in recognition of Dave. Terezi gave a sharp whistle and the dogs quickly backed off, except for the albino Akita that sat on Dave’s lap, the man letting out a grunt. “I’m gonna guess that Pyralspite’s on your lap again?”

“Yep.” Dave chuckled as he scratched behind the dog’s ears. “I gotta say, for seven years old he’s looking really great! Your family’s been doing amazing with all these dogs. I still remember when you first got Pumpkinsnuffle last year.” He nodded to the Belgian Malinois, who was now contentedly chewing on an antler. “She was so skittish of people, and now she can’t stop trying to kiss me to death.”

Terezi cackled and hooked her cane in the little sheath she had on her back for it in order to scratch Berrybreath’s ears. “They’re good pups~” she cooed. “Honestly, the only reason I’d ever move out would be if I had enough room for Lemonsnout and Pyralspite! Plus it’s really hard to find someplace that’s, ya know, handicapped accessible.” She wrinkled her nose in displeasure. “I’ve looked with Mom already.”

“Aw man, sorry about that,” Dave said with a frown. “That’s gotta suck, don’t you get any privacy?”

“Well, it’s a lot easier since Tula moved in with Tuna! At this rate I’m just waiting for their wedding invite,” she joked, collapsing into a pile of pointy limbs next to him and grinned. “But what’s brought you here so early? We still have a couple of hours before we gotta get ready for work.”

“Come oooon, can’t I say I missed my favorite girl?”

“No.”

“Ouch, you wound me,” he deadpanned, hand to his heart. She simply snickered and gestured for him to talk. “Okay you got me, I gotta gossip. Break out the nail polish and hair curlers, it's getting full blown sleepover in here.” Dave flipped his sunglasses up since Terezi always left the house comfortably dark. “I met a guy.”

“No! Details!”

“His name is Karkat and--”

“Oh my god, him? No way, he and I were in high school together!” She cackled gleefully. “Ohh man this is gonna be good, I can give you all the dirt on him! How'd you two meet?”

Dave grinned happily. “He's working at Jade’s shop Bucket o’ Bouquets with arrangements and stuff. John pranked me so I went in asking for a fuck you bouquet to give to him. Turns out Karkat knows him.”

“That doesn't surprise me. Vriska told me that she had ranted about him once during that pen pal exchange and John wanted to talk to him too because he sounded like a funny guy,” she said with an eyeroll behind her glasses. “John’s weird like that. But anyway, not talking about him, we’re talking about our favorite shouty!”

Dave tilted his head in confusion. “Shouty?”

“He used to have problems with keeping his voice down so it was a joke that he was permanently shouty.”

“Oh. Well anyway I flirted with him some and gave him my number to call when the bouquet was ready along with my pesterchum, and we've been talking every night since. And Sunday I'm taking him out for brunch~” he added proudly.

Terezi politely clapped. “Impressive, cool kid! How badly did you flip your shit when he messaged you?”

“I'll have you know that I was the epitome of cool, thank you very much.”

“Dave, you're about as cool as John.”

"Ouch!! Seriously harsh man, what did I ever do to you?” He stuck his tongue out at her even though she couldn't really see it.

She simply snickered. “Okay, so I'll have pity on you and give you a few tidbits of info on him. One, he's a diehard romantic. If it weren't for the fact that Nicholas Sparks turned out to be such a disgusting piece of shit he'd still be worshipping those books. Two, be really careful if you decide to get him flowers. He knows the language by heart--that's why he's been doing so well with Jade. If you get him flowers with negative meanings he’ll start doubting your intentions.” Milky eyes gave him a hard stare over her glasses. “What are your intentions anyway?”

Dave was taken aback. “Just, uh, date? I haven't really thought that far ahead, but I'm definitely not just gonna hit it and quit it, no way man, if we got hella chemistry I'm going for the long haul, cue the wedding bells if we get that far--blech!” Pyralspite had effectively stopped the rambling with kisses.

Terezi hummed in approval. “Good. He's an ex but he's still one of my best friends. I don't want him hurt, even if you are one of my besties too.”

Dave was surprised. “You...do realize this means your two exes may start dating, right?”

She simply shrugged with a sharp grin. “If you're happy you're happy! Besides, I'm over you both now so no skin off my nose. I'm glad you’re actually thinking of it as a relationship though, he's had enough one night stands."

“Jesus I can see why. He's so hot oh my god ‘Rezi, he's got the most delicious looking tan ever, it's like liquid caramel just poured over him, and his hair is so thick I wanna run my hands through it and just play with it all day and God have you seen his smile?”

Terezi stared at him before letting out a low whistle. “You got it bad.” Dave whined, which only made her snicker. “It's cute~ I never thought I'd see you this lovesick!”

“Oh shut up. I saw you dyed your hair blond again, gonna throw in a new color?”

“Yeah, I got tired of the purple. Today we’re gonna go with red and green! Good thing you came early, I need your help with that.”

“Oh jeez, your mom’s gonna think we murdered someone again.”

“You'd think she'd know that we'd hide the evidence a lot better.”


 

Once freshly streaked, Terezi was examining her work clothes--really just dancing clothes, since her job was to keep the energy pumped. “Whatcha think tonight?”

“Green definitely. Go with that lime green top and those black short shorts, and the white sneakers you splattered with green paint. It'll really pop in the lights.”

“Aw yeah, green for the money!” Terezi giggled as she threw a pair of skinny pants at Dave. “Oh yeah, I invited my friend Nepeta to the club, you'll have to meet her! She's such a cutie!”

Dave caught them with a grin. “Sounds good, I'll make sure to pull all the stops when I'm mixing.” He found his favorite shirt, the one with red sleeves and the scratched record on the chest, and started getting dressed. “What's she like?”

“Short but super strong, she could bench me I think. She's also really sweet and kind and a huge animal lover. Small preference for cats but she just loves all animals, and even volunteers at the shelter when she can!” Terezi chirped as she pulled the halter top on. “Oh and she's Karkat’s stepsister.”

That got Dave’s attention. “Stepsister?”

“Yeah, his dad married her mom. Funny, she had a crush on him in middle school but when they became a family that kinda went out the window.” She wriggled into the shorts and gave her hair a few fluffs to make it poofy. “Now they're the corniest siblings you'll ever see.”

“Aww~” He laughed and tied his shoes, waiting for Terezi to do the same before offering an arm. “My lady~”

She teasingly tittered and accepted it. “So chivalrous~”

The two rode down to where the club was, only twenty minutes away--Dave on his board and Terezi on her skates. She followed behind him of course, trusting him to keep her from skating right into a pole. It did help that they had gone down the path so often that she had memorized the placement of everything.

Inside the club they separated for their jobs, Terezi heading for the dance floor and Dave going right for the DJ station. As soon as his hands touched the records he felt a sense of home settling into his core. Music was where he belonged, and once the club was open he was mixing away, falling into the usual trance that always kept him captivated and utterly out of tune with the rest of the world.

So focused was he on the music that he didn't notice the intense gaze of amber eyes on him.

Chapter Text

Love, Fame, Beautiful Eyes; First Emotions of Love; Happiness, Affection, Joy, Jealousy, Infidelity, Forgive and Forget

Dave made sure to remember what Terezi had said about Karkat and flowers when he went to meet the other man at the Gutsy Gumshoe for brunch. It had led to a lot of Googling to make sure he wasn’t going to say the wrong thing. Luckily Jade was quite happy to let him pick a small bouquet for his date--with plenty of eyebrow waggles and wink-nudge combos. He was able to put together a couple of pink roses with a few purple, along with one white rose. He double checked his phone to make sure it was the right colors. “Okay, friendship, grace, admiration, enchantment, and I’m hella worthy of him.” He paused and swallowed nervously. “I hope.”

He headed for the cafe/bakery with a nervous but excited skip to his step. He even made sure to wear his nicest red t-shirt with a leather jacket tossed over it and the skinny jeans that clung to his legs and ass perfectly. Just because he wasn’t going for a one night stand didn’t mean he couldn’t frame the goods just right for viewing. And since he was such good friends with John, he may be able to get a discount from his cousin!

Gods, he couldn’t wait to smell those fresh baked apple pies, they were probably the best things he had ever had the pleasure of sinking his teeth into. If apple pie was a person he might have married it.

...No, he didn’t have a fetish for apples, thank you very much.

He spotted Karkat sitting at a table outside, a mug in hand as he perused one of Jane’s menus. Dave had to take a moment to recover because he had forgotten just how damn gorgeous he was, especially in the early-autumn sunshine. It was apparently cool enough for Karkat to be wearing a dark sweater which did absolutely shit-all to hide the line of his shoulders. Clearing his throat he stopped in front of the table, startling Karkat mid-sip. “Uh, hey. So, got you these,” he finished, trying hard not to bite his lip out of nerves as he thrust the flowers out.

To his relief there was a faint flush on Karkat’s cheeks, but he did grin a bit as he accepted them. “Thanks. Though is this some kind of ironic shit, getting a florist flowers?”

“Nah, this is completely sincere, promise,” Dave said, putting a hand to his heart and holding the other up. “Scout’s honor.”

One thick black eyebrow quirked up. “Were you ever actually a scout?”

“Not even for a day.” Dave elegantly slumped into his chair as Karkat rolled his eyes. “You ever been here before?”

Karkat shook his head. “Haven’t really had the time. I only came back this May after I graduated, and after that was getting settled in with my sister, getting a job, that kind of thing. So I haven’t had much of a chance to actually explore what’s new around town. This is a nice place though, gotta say.”

Dave grinned and nodded. “Yep, John’s cousin Jane owns this place. She’s--”

“Waiting for you to stop gabbing and tell me your order, Mr. Strider.”

Said Strider seemed to light up as he turned toward the extremely curvy cutie his sister was pining for, lowering his shades to shoot her a wink. “Awww come on Jane, you love me~”

She gave a heavy sigh that dripped with amusement, as did her eyeroll. “Sure I do. The usual coffee and cream order?”

“Oh hell yeah, you know how much I love my apple coffee.” He pretended not to notice the incredulous stare he received from Karkat. “Got any recommendations for food-wise? Karkat’s never been here.”

Jane tapped her chin thoughtfully with her pen, a playful smile curling her lips. “Depends, is this a friend hangout or a date?”

“Why is that any of your business--”

“She’s teasing, Karkat, she doesn’t mean anything by it,” Dave quickly said, giving Karkat’s hand a pat. He couldn’t help but wonder just where Karkat was from considering how his skin managed to hide some of his blush. Lucky bastard, he always burned or freckled up. “And it’s, kinda, somewhere along the lines of leaning toward romance but could potentially turn into a no-homo situation depending on how things go--”

“I’m going to have to gag you in order to take you anywhere, aren’t I,” Karkat deadpanned. There was a playful glitter in his eyes however that made Dave swallow nervously and Jane raise her eyebrows with a grin. Karkat turned to Jane with a small shrug. “It’s more of a first date than anything else. What does that have to do with anything?” he asked curiously.

Jane giggled a bit and pulled her notepad out of her apron pocket. “Because for a first date there’s nothing better than strawberry and cream pancakes! I like the brunch take on it, it’s unique!”

Karkat nodded in agreement, shooting Dave a light smile that made the blond feel red start creeping along his neck. “I do too. Nice to have something... interesting for once.”

“SO how about those pancakes Jane they sound really good and maybe some bacon with it too or would sausage be better I mean you can never go wrong with bacon but for all I know Karkat’s got a preference do you prefer sausage it’s totally okay if you do even if bacon is the best and maybe we can get some aj on the side with the coffee--”

Karkat swiftly clamped a hand over Dave’s mouth, laughing at his motor mouth. “Okay, when you’re not going off the racetrack like a shitty driver with a tire blowout, you’re pretty cute,” he teased lightly. “I’m fine with bacon. I’ll try the pancakes too,” he told Jane.

She laughed while Dave simply gave a thumbs up. “Double order of pancakes, coming up~ have fun you two!” She shot Dave a saucy wink before she all but skipped off.

Once the tanned hand finally slipped away Dave cleared his throat, running a hand through his hair to try and bring his chill back. It wasn’t completely working. “S-so you like bacon?”

“Nah, I ordered it just to bust your ass,” Karkat snarked with a smirk over his coffee mug. “Yes, I like bacon. Not my favorite but it’s okay for breakfast. I don’t think talking about our breakfast preferences is what you want to do though.”

Dave managed a sheepish grin. “Not really. You said something about coming back in May. You finish college?”

“Mhm, finished my bachelor’s in screenwriting with a minor in art,” Karkat replied. “Hoping that I can get one finished and submitted to someone, but for now just working with Jade’s fine. Helps to have some cash saved up while I keep writing. You?”

“Bachelor’s in film studies actually,” the blond replied, feeling more relaxed. “But that’s really just because I wanna try and get some patrons to fund me doing my true passion.”

Karkat tilted his head to the side curiously. “And that is?”

Dave grinned. “Archaeology. I’ve always been into it since I was a little kid. So I actually went into a double major for both film and archaeology. I like making movies but I’m way more interested in going digging for bones or just finding new things for history. I even got to go abroad and do some excavating in Egypt!”

“Oh? That sounds cool!” Karkat leaned forward a bit with a curious smile. “Tell me more?”

Dave utterly lit up. He hadn’t been able to properly gush about his trip after Aradia had gone to Spain to work on the Cova Gran project. So he started talking about the City of the Dead, how it had grown and through the centuries and that there were dozens of fantastically preserved monuments from the 10th to 19th centuries in the ancient Muslim cemeteries. There were times when he faltered, but Karkat simply urged him on, asking questions for better understanding. It wasn’t until Jane tapped them both on the shoulders that they stopped and looked up at her in confusion. “Uh, yeah?”

She simply pointed to their plates now on the table. “Brunch is served, boys.”

“Oh, thanks.” Both Dave and Karkat flushed in sheepishness at having been so distracted they had lost track of time. The blond cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his head. “Uh, okay, didn’t mean to just blab about my own life. What about you? Anything interesting?”

Karkat hummed thoughtfully, spearing a strawberry and biting into it. “Nothing as interesting as excavation, but I’ve been to Turkey several times to visit my family.”

“Oh? You’re Turkish?”

“Mhm. Mom died a few years after I was born, so Dad was the only one taking care of me and my older brother Kankri for a long time. Luckily our aunt Myrosa really helped us out. Whenever we could swing it we’d take a trip to Istanbul to visit extended family,” Karkat explained, plucking a piece of bacon off his plate to nibble on. “Beautiful place, if you ever can you should visit it.”

Dave nodded with a small chuckle. “It’s on my list of places to travel. Has the unrest died down any though? My sisters and brother would freak if I went and got myself killed in a bloody civil war.”

Karkat laughed softly. “No, I get it. It looks like things are finally starting to get itself resolved though, which is good. Got an uncle in the government so he keeps us all in the loop. For the longest time it’s been a giant shitstorm wrapped up in a flaming basket heading down to hell on a river of oil.”

A low whistle left Dave’s lips. “Nice wordplay.”

“Thanks, came with the degree.”

“Heh, bet the loans make it worse.”

Karkat’s smile curled into a smirk. “Didn’t have any loans taken out. I won enough scholarships along with a few yearly grants to only need to pay a few grand per year.”

Dave blinked in surprise. “Damn. That’s real good. How’d you manage that?”

“Good grades and a fuckton of essays,” Karkat replied, chuckling. “By the way I think I’m in love with these pancakes.”

“I know right? Jane’s the best . She used to be the heiress to the Betty Crocker company but she said fuck that and set up her own place. John said she’s a lot happier now.”

“I bet. There’s nothing worse than being forced into a career you despise,” the brunet agreed with a wise nod. “Kinda glad that while I get my bearings I’m able to keep a job. I’m hoping to get a job as a screenwriter though. That’d be great.”

“Yeah, I hear ya. As much as I’d rather go back to the City of the Dead, I need to keep earning my keep.”

“How’d you even get into tattooing in the first place?”

“It was almost accidental actually,” Dave confessed with a laugh. “I just do art for fun and then Roxy convinced me to show Porrim my work, next thing I know I’m getting a tutorial on how to use a tattoo gun. It’s good for saving up money though. And I’m working at Dirk’s club until he can find a new DJ with the same sick beats as the two of us.”

“Oh, aren’t we full of ourselves,” Karkat teased with a quick lick along his thumb to catch a stray strand of syrup. He didn’t see Dave’s eyes follow the movement behind the aviators. “Is that why you keep those douchebag shades on?”

“Hey man, I gotta keep the cool kid shades on or else I’ll blind everyone with my beauty,” he teased, lowering them to flutter his eyelashes at Karkat. “But actually it’s just ‘cause my eyes are super sensitive,” he added as he pulled them off and blinked in the faded sunlight. “The cons of being albino. The shades are script too.”

Karkat leaned forward to get a better look at Dave’s eyes, his own amber ones wide with wonder. “Whoa...has anyone told you they’re beautiful?” A small smile played on his lips when Dave started to blush. “Well, they are. But if you need them put ‘em back on, I don’t need another blind date.”

“Lemme guess, Terezi?”

“Yep.”

“Shit, how did we even not talk until now if we have so many mutual acquaintances?”

“Dave, that is the best fucking question anyone’s ever asked.”


Once Dave got back to his apartment he immediately ran into his room and jumped on his bed, grabbing his penguin plush to press his face into as he fell into giddy giggles. It had been without a doubt the best first date he had ever been on! Karkat was adorable, clever, smart, snarky, and he was totally crushing on him. “Ahhhh he’s so cute~” he almost squealed. “Oh man, I hope we can go out again soon!”

At Karkat’s apartment the brunet was hiding his face in his own pillow as he laughed happily. He hadn’t had so much fun on a date in a long time! He felt like he was in high school with his first crush all over again. And those eyes, those gorgeous red eyes...they were going to stay in his head for a long time.

Chapter Text

Worth Beyond Beauty; I Can’t Live Without You; Sweet and Lovely, Innocence

“...kat.”

He likes me, he likes me not. He likes me, he likes me not. He likes me--

“Karkat!”

“Wha!” The brunet jumped a mile in the air and nearly lost the clippers, scrambling to catch them before they dropped again. “Sorry, Jade, what did you say?”

His ‘boss’ rolled her eyes and propped her hands on her hips. “I said I needed your help! You can hold off on pruning the display bushes, we have to close the shop down and make a delivery! Remember?”

“Oh, right.”

“Honestly, you’ve been so ditzy lately!” She shook her head and tossed her thick ponytail back over her shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’ll drive. That way you can fantasize more about Dave and his big strong arms holding you close while he whispers endearingly ironic words into your ear--” She ducked to avoid the deluge of clipped flowers that he threw at her, laughing. “Okay, okay, I’ll stop!”

Thank you.” Karkat could feel his cheeks burn as he followed Jade to the storage room, beginning to help her fill the van up with the arrangements. She had hit a little too close with that though. He had been a bit preoccupied with thinking of their last date--walking down the beach after a light dinner and holding hands properly for the first time. It had ended with cheek kisses and blushes and dorky grins. “Honestly, I think you’re more excited that he and I are starting to date than either of us.”

“Well, that’s because you’re both two of my best friends!” she chirped. “And if anything it means that I get to tease both of you~” she added with a snicker as Karkat turned redder. They had a system set up where Karkat would bring Jade the arrangements and she would organize them in the van. It allowed them to continue their chat. “So, when’s your next date?”

Karkat gave a half-shrug as he pushed another large bucket filled with flowers inside the van. “Not sure yet, but since the wedding season’s almost done it may calm down enough that I can take him someplace.” With a disgusted groan at how sweaty he already felt he yanked his hoodie off to reveal a tank underneath. “How many do we have to bring?”

“There’s still another four buckets to bring, and the arrangement buckets too!” Jade chirped. “I’ll get those, you keep grabbing the flowers. I'm thinking of hiring someone else for the shop, that way while we’re running deliveries we can keep it open. What do you think?”

“If you have the money for it I say go for it,” he replied, double checking the bucket of roses. “But then again you and your cousin are filthy fucking rich.”

“We’re not filthy rich! Just rich enough that we can sink plenty of money into our personal interests,” she shot back with a laugh. “Besides, I have no idea what Jake’s up to lately. Last I heard he was finishing his latest trip in Mexico exploring the Aztec temples there. He did say he was going to be coming home soon, dunno when though.”

“Has he considered getting a job as a travel guide? He’d be great at it I think, where hasn't he been by now?”

“Haha true! He did mention something about starting up some kind of robotics company maybe. He said a friend of his he met online has some great ideas and he may actually partner with him!”

“Holy shit, really? That's pretty fucking awesome. Has he met the friend in person?”

“Not yet, Jake’s always traveling and the guy was apparently taking over a business for a friend. I don't know all the details but hey, maybe this little venture will get him to stay at home for more than a month!”

Karkat laughed even as he shoved a fourth bucket of flowers inside the van. “Maybe! I've only met him a couple times and he seems alright.”

“He's also a huge dork.”

We’re huge dorks.”

“Touche!” Jade pushed the last box of hand painted buckets next to the flowers and dusted off her hands. “Is that everything?”

Karkat nodded as he examined a flower to make sure it hadn't been bent. “Yep. I’ll go double check that the shop’s closed, you warm up the van?”

Click.

“Yep! Sounds good!”

“Delete that picture right now!”

“No way, this is going on the shop page!” Jade danced away from an embarrassed Karkat's swipe and jumped into the van, locking it before he could grab the handle. She stuck her tongue out at him and laughed as his annoyed ranting was muffled. Her only response was to shoo him off while starting the van.

hey dave, think i should add this to the shop fb page?


 

Rose’s typing paused at the sudden choke and spittake from across the table, and she glanced up from her manuscript with an elegant eyebrow raised. “Is everything alright?”

“I'm dying Rose, dying from his fucking hotness,” her twin moaned dramatically. “I'm not going to survive!” He showed her the picture that Jade had been so kind as to send him. Karkat was leaning over examining deep red roses, one hand delicately cupping a bloom. The arm facing the camera had two doves in flight tattooed upon the shoulder with ribbon held in their beaks. They seemed a bit faded, Dave immediately remembering that he had mentioned getting a touch up with Porrim. It definitely looked like her work. And then there was just how toned the arms were, and how those jeans clung to his legs and showed off the damn finest booty Dave had ever been blessed to see, the slight sheen of sweat from work, the gentle focused expression on Karkat’s face…

Rose hummed in amusement. “I see what you mean. While I may not have the same attraction you hold for him, I can certainly agree that he is aesthetically pleasing.”

“So you get what I mean?”

“Oh yes. You're screwed, and hopefully in the best way possible.”

Dave stuck his tongue out at her before focusing on replying to Jade. Rose giggled and turned her attention back to the laptop.

TT: So you wouldn't be opposed to perhaps a cup of coffee this Thursday morning?
GA: Not Just Unopposed Miss Lalonde
GA: I Would Love To
GA: Is There Anyplace You Would Recommend
TT: There's the Gutsy Gumshoe on Prospit Avenue. They make a lovely omelet and have some amazing pastries as well.
GA: That Sounds Perfect

Rose glanced at Dave, noticed his preoccupation, and allowed a nervously giddy smile to cross her lips.


 

Karkat climbed into the van just as Jade received her reply. One eyebrow quirked up at the snicker that escaped her. “What?”

“My photography expert agrees with me that the picture is perfect for our page!”

“Oh god, did you send it to John?”

“Nope.” He breathed a sigh of relief. “Dave.”

And there went that. “What?!”

Jade practically cackled in glee at the sudden flush that appeared on Karkat’s face. “He says and I quote, how dare you send me that without a caution, contents extremely hot warning.” Karkat’s flush deepened as she continued. “He also said that there was no way he was the first person you dated in this area since you came back from college or else he'd eat his hat. Which I don't get, he doesn't even own any hats! How can he eat what he doesn't own? Oh, and then he added that if I do post it on the page then I may need to add a note that you're taken.” Jade shot him a sly smile. “Is that true~?”

Karkat worried at his bottom lip in thought, glancing out the window at the passing scenery. “Well...maybe. We haven't said anything, but we've been on three dates now. So, does that mean we’re official?”

“I’d say so!” Jade glanced at him before focusing on the road again. “Maybe you should ask him.”

“Ugh, I feel almost like a desperate tool to have to ask.” Karkat pulled his phone out and fiddled with it thoughtfully. “...He really wants to be my boyfriend?”

Jade gained a soft smile and she nodded. “Absolutely.”

Karkat looked at his phone before taking a deep breath. “Well, here goes fucking nothing.”

There was a calm pause before Jade started giggling. “He didn’t actually tell me that I should say that you’re taken. I just said that to get you to ask him.”

“What?!”


 

Karkat ‘'Adorabloodthirsty’ Vantas sent a relationship request to Dave ‘SnoopDoggityDiggity’ Strider.

The shriek and thud that came from the living room made Rose nearly drop her tea cup. “Dave, are you okay?”

“I HAVE A BOYFRIEND!!” Dave came running into the kitchen, sliding on his socks to a neat stop next to him in order to show her his phone excitedly. “Look! He sent me a relationship request!”

Rose patted his shoulder, smiling warmly and without the usual sarcasm. “I’m happy for you, Dave. Truly. Should I brace myself for even more gushing from you?”

“Duh.” Dave hopped up on the counter as he clicked accept with a ridiculous grin. “So come on, when am I going to get gushing from you about any girls?” When Rose hesitated and looked at her tea his smile started to slip. “Rose?”

“...Well...I have a coffee date this Thursday,” she said with a small hopeful grin. “With someone I met on a book forum.” She noticed Dave’s grin return and she giggled a bit. “Her name’s Kanaya, and we actually starting talking because we were arguing over a trashy vampire novel. I finally asked her out today, and we’re going to meet at Jane’s cafe.”

“Eyyy, I’m proud of ya sis! And you’re doing it safely too!” he teased with a nudge. “But in all seriousness, text me when you’re there and when the date’s over?”

“Of course.” She squeezed his hand and kissed his cheek. “Now, don’t you have a boyfriend to pester before work?”

“And don’t you have another overly complicated book to finish writing?”

“It’s not overly complicated, it’s--”

“Rose. It’s complicated as all fuck. Shakespeare would take one look at it and call it the most purple prose he ever saw, so fucking purple that Queen Elizabeth would be honored to have it on her shelf.”

“I take that as a compliment.”


 

TG: heeey sexy
TG: so i still think you can bench press me or at the least pick me up
CG: JUST BECAUSE I HAUL BUCKETS OF FLOWERS AND WATER TO WEDDINGS WHERE BRIDES ARE PANICKING BECAUSE THEY THINK THEIR FUCKING DAY IS RUINED BY ONE SIMPLE BLOSSOM BEING BENT OUT OF WHACK OR THAT THE SKY ISN’T BLUE ENOUGH OR THE GROOM WAS CAUGHT CHEATING WITH THE MAID OF HONOR DOESN’T MEAN I’M THAT STRONG.
TG: im gonna guess you had a bad day
CG: YES.
CG: JADE AND I HAD THREE WEDDINGS TO DELIVER TO. ALL OF THEM HAD BRIDEZILLAS.
CG: I’M FUCKING *EXHAUSTED*.
TG: shit man im sorry
TG: anything i can do
CG: WELL…
CG: I DO HAVE ONE IDEA.
CG: HOW ABOUT A MOVIE DATE?
TG: that sounds like a fan fucking tastic idea
TG: netflix and chill but not anything sexual or shit
TG: we just became bfs im not someone whos ready to jump anyones bones immediately
TG: not that your bones arent jumpable
TG: wait shit that came out wrong
CG: PFFTHAHAHA.
CG: I APPRECIATE THE COMPLIMENT ANYWAY.
CG: IT’S KINDA CUTE WHEN YOU PUT YOUR ENTIRE DAMN FOOT IN YOUR MOUTH.
CG: YOU REALLY ARE A MOTOR MOUTH HUH?
TG: i swear the number of times rose threatened to tape my mouth shut
TG: its not my fault i ramble man i just get all these thoughts and i have to let them out
TG: or else they just keep building and building until the dam starts to crack and breaks
TG: not even a kids finger can keep the words from spilling out
CG: LIKE THE BEANS?
TG: haha exactly
TG: so you wanna do the movies at my house or yours
CG: CAN I COME TO YOURS?
CG: MY DAD AND STEPMOM ARE HAVING A DATE NIGHT AND I DON’T THINK I WANT TO BE HOME FOR THAT.
TG: ew yeah no definitely not
TG: my place is 682 derse boulevard
TG: top floor suite 2
CG: SUITE?
CG: WHAT, DO YOU LIVE IN A PENTHOUSE?
TG: long story short my older sister roxy bought me and my twin condo suites
TG: and wouldnt take no for an answer
TG: if when you meet her youll understand why
CG: SO KIND OF LIKE JADE?
TG: haha yeah except roxy will hack my computer and reveal all my dirty laundry to rose
TG: i think thats the worst thing she could ever threaten
TG: but shes really cool youll like her
CG: OH. WELL, THAT’S PRETTY COOL. SO, WHEN SHOULD I COME OVER?
TG: be here in half an hour maybe
TG: gives me a bit of time to make sure everythings vacuumed and shit
TG: and stop at the store
CG: FOR WHAT?
TG: just a few things
TG: insert eyebrow wiggles here
CG: YOU FUCKING PERVERT. YOU’RE LUCKY YOU’RE CUTE.
TG: awww you think im cute
TG: that gives me all the warm fuzzies inside
CG: OH MY GOD, I’M ENDING THIS NOW.
TG: what babe no why
CG: WELL I’M NOT GOING TO TEXT AND DRIVE!
TG: oh
TG: okay yeah fair point
TG: so see you soon then
CG: YEAH, SEE YOU SOON.
TG: <3
CG: YOU’RE SUCH A DAMN NERD OH MY *GOD.*
TG: you love it
CG: MAYBE.
CG: <3

Chapter Text

Memories; Beware; Resolved to Win, Faith, Hope, Love

When Dave said he lived in a condo suite, he hadn’t specified which. Or to be more precise, Karkat hadn’t expected him to be in one of the most ritzy damn buildings in town. There was even a fucking bellhop, what the hell. Karkat gaped at the skyscraper for a bit before going inside, feeling ridiculously poor in comparison. The inside was...well. It dripped in glitz and glamour and made him feel shabby in simple jeans and jacket. He did however appreciate the way his trenchcoat swept out behind him dramatically along the wall mirrors.

He had made it inside the elevator and the doors were just closing when a hand grabbed one side. When they opened Karkat blinked twice. “Dave?”

“Karkat! Hey, perfect timing.” The blond held up a store bag with a grin. “I got popcorn.”

Karkat returned the grin and added a kiss to the cheek which was happily returned. “Awesome. But I got a bone to pick with you, mister ‘my sister bought a condo.’ I thought you meant a normal condo, not fucking Buckingham Palace!”

Dave grimaced. “Yeah...so my older sister is rich as all hell, she’s a bigtime computer programmer. Got on the government’s shit list in high school but then got a job and she just took off like NASA.”

Karkat couldn't help but laugh a bit. “Okay, so it was a gift from her and she's the kind of person you can't say no to basically.”

“Yep.”

“Sounds like my step mom. She's like, benevolently forceful. Thank god for her though, or else I'd have had to disown my older brother.”

Dave’s eyebrows furrowed. “What do you mean?”

“Oh he was a really weird like, he was an SJW in high school but not the good slash normal kind,” Karkat explained with a casual wave of his hand. “He almost did get disowned before he realized just how much he fucked up, situation was downright abysmal. But like, sibling wise there's Kankri, and Nepeta and Meulin are my stepsisters. You got any other siblings?”

Dave couldn't help the dry laugh as the elevator opened for them to head to his condo. “It’s...complicated. But yeah, there's Roxy, my twin Rose, and my older brother Dirk. Oh and there's my oldest brother who's dead now.”

Karkat spun his head around to look at Dave in shock, but the set of his jaw and the tight frown made him reconsider his words. “...So...Dirk is the one you started the club with?”

The blond’s shoulders relaxed and he nodded. “Yeah, there really aren't many clubs around here so he saw an opportunity and capitalised it. It helped that he had Roxy’s full support. Pretty sure she blackmailed a few investors,” he added, grinning at Karkat’s snort of amusement. “Dirk’s also really into engineering, robotics and shit. He’s looking into partnering with some guy who’s really interested and maybe getting a robotics business started. Roxy may be an amazing computer hacker but Dirk’s fucking insane when it comes to robotics. I think he’s actually on a breakthrough for true artificial intelligence!”

“Aww, you’re so proud of your family,” Karkat cooed. He drank in the sudden embarrassed flush from Dave with a grin. “It’s so sweet!”

“Oh shut up.” Flustered, Dave fumbled with the key for a moment before getting the door unlocked and opened. “Welcome to the home of sick beats, please leave your shoes and any awful music tastes at the door.”

“I’m keeping my eighties rock ballads, thank you very much,” Karkat teased as he slipped his shoes off as told. When he went to hang up his coat the umbrella stand confused him. “...Why are there two katanas in here?”

“Oh, nah, one’s an umbrella. The other is Dirk’s. He asked me to keep it while he was in Texas.”

After puzzling over that for a moment Karkat turned and followed Dave further into the condo, looking around curiously. It wasn’t nearly as over the top as the lobby, but the highly prominent watercolor portrait of apple juice was a bit much. Otherwise his walls, a pale blue shade, were covered in photographs. He recognized John, Jade, and a blonde woman that looked so much like Dave that it had to be his twin Rose posing with Dave at a fair, cotton candy and overpriced souvenirs included. “What did you do, have a professional follow you with a camera?”

“Naw, man, that’s all me.” Dave preened at the gobsmacked expression on Karkat’s face. “I turned an extra room into a darkroom. When I have time I develop film. Let me tell you, color film is a bitch to do with being all exactly on time and even half a second more will ruin the picture. I prefer b and w because of that.”

Karkat shook his head and turned back to look at the photos while the other tucked his sunglasses into his collar.. “Shit, Dave...it’s incredible. You mix music, you’re a tattoo artist, a photographer, what can’t you do?”

“Anything sporty,” was the instant reply. Karkat looked back and he saw Dave quickly absconding into what he presumed to be the kitchen. Ten bucks said he was hiding his embarrassment. He chuckled a bit and turned his attention back to the living room. It was surprisingly tasteful, with a gorgeous large TV on the wall and the matching black leather couch, loveseat, and two chairs facing it. He particularly liked the electric fireplace set up underneath the TV. “So, are we watching in here then?”

“Oh hell no, this is for parties or when I have movie nights with like 20 people.” The ding of a microwave starting rang out and Dave poked his head in. “I got some orange soda, root beer, Coke, Pepsi since John hates Coke like a plebeian, Mountain Dew, Sprite, aj, oj, sweet tea made proper and not shitty Lipton tea, vodka, whiskey, gin--uhh...was that too much?”

“Just a little,” Karkat said faintly. “Ok, just how much did you earn to afford that much drink?”

“Oh shit, nah, I didn’t buy all of it. Like the booze I just keep on hand as a just in case thing, and the other drinks are mostly left over here from either parties from earlier in the year or the last movie night a couple weeks ago,” Dave reassured him. “It was just me, John, Rose, and Jade. So, drink--oh shit!”

Karkat snickered and went into the kitchen as Dave rescued the popcorn before it could burn. It was nice and modern with chrome appliances, red marble countertops with an island, and pale wood cupboards. There were some paintings of what he guessed to be crows hanging on dark green walls, and to his amusement the fridge was covered in even more photographs. Only one door and half a side were still uncovered. “Your sister has good taste.”

“I just picked paint colors out. She and Dirk really helped me and Rose out with getting settled in after we graduated.” Dave poured the popcorn into a bowl and grinned at Karkat. “You can go in the fridge for a drink, it won’t bite.”

“Isn’t that your job?” Karkat teased. The sudden red face and sputtering made him laugh.

“Hey man, let’s get to the sixth date before we start doing any biting,” Dave quickly shot back in recovery. “Didn’t take you for a masochist, going to just file that under nifty things about my boyfriend.” Even with Karkat’s sudden blush Dave still shot him a giddy grin. He was clearly still riding high on having a boyfriend. “Grab me an aj babe?”

“You’re lucky you’re cute or else I’d say no,” Karkat snarked back. He still did so, and grabbed a Coke for himself. “So where are we having our movie night?”

Dave’s smile turned mischievous and he gestured for Karkat to follow him down the hall. At the end of the hallway he gestured into the room. “Behold, my media room!”

When Karkat looked in his jaw dropped. The TV was most likely 70 inches, with bookcases filled with movies of all genres on either side and another electric fireplace underneath. There were also video games and systems set up in a perfect order. In the back there were a set of turntables along with records tucked away and organized by name. In front of the TV was a red couch trimmed in gold. Somehow it fit the dark red room with blackout curtains. “Holy shithive maggots.”

Dave snorted. “Such a way with words,” he teased. “I'm gonna guess you like it?”

“Like it? It’s fucking fantastic is what it is! Though the gold on the couch is a little pretentious.”

“Hey don’t diss the couch, I got it at a yard sale for thirty bucks and outfitted it with new cushions and everything.” The blond put the bowl of popcorn down and looked at the movies. “So do you wanna watch something on Netflix or nah?”

Karkat shrugged as he gracefully plopped onto the couch. “Surprise me. But, nothing with weddings for a bit,” he added with a laugh. “I don't need any more crazy brides.”

Dave nodded and started scanning the shelves. “Action, drama, comedy, horror?”

“How about something that combines those genres? Like, I dunno, The Mummy?

Dave grinned and pulled the DVD off the shelf. “Works for me. It's one of my favorite movies. The second one is alright.” It took him a few minutes, but as soon as the movie was in the player and the TV was on he took his own place on the couch, bowl in between them. “And if you need to we can totally cuddle at the scary parts,” Dave added with a wink. “That goes for any movies, but especially The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.”

Karkat snickered and shook his head. “Sure, you can be my knight in shining shades,” he playfully snarked.

Dave threw a few pieces of popcorn at him with a laugh. “Screw you man, I need them so my eyes don't burn out from the sun!”

“Ack! Sneak attack!” Karkat tossed a few back, causing Dave to laugh even harder. The brunet was struck for a moment at just how gorgeous Dave was, especially when he laughed. His eyes would gain this sparkle that made his insides feel like goo, and they'd crinkle from the force of his smile. Luckily the menu for the movie came up and Dave started it before Karkat could say something and probably ruin the moment. He tucked his feet under him and relaxed into the incredibly comfortable cushions. He could already feel the tension leak out of his shoulders.

Halfway through the movie the popcorn was gone, and the space where the bowl had been seemed ridiculously wide. Karkat couldn't help but keep glancing at it. Should he move closer? Would that be too much? What if--

“Oh get over here.” Dave was pink even as he pulled Karkat closer with a grin. “You've been looking at the couch for five minutes now, if you wanna cuddle just say so.”

Karkat unceremoniously flopped against the blond, who merely laughed at the startled sound that escaped the brunet. “So, uh, you're okay with this?” he asked, adjusting so that he was leaning against him and not squashing him.

Dave simply wrapped an arm around him. “Cuddles are the shit. Now shoosh, a good part’s coming up.” Karkat chuckled but nodded, after a moment reaching up to hold the hand on his shoulders. Their fingers intertwining sent warmth through his chest. This was...perfect.

When the credits rolled Karkat looked up at Dave. “You know...I have tomorrow off. Wanna watch another?”

“What a coincidence, so do I. Maybe Jade and Porrim worked together,” Dave joked. He reluctantly untangled their hands so that he could get up and put the second movie in. “You know, as much as I love these movies, the terrible history always gets me.”

“Really? How so?”

“For one thing, Imhotep was a good guy, not a villain,” Dave started as he switched DVDs. “He was a scribe under King Djoser who became a god like a thousand years or two thousand after he died. He’s been called the true father of medicine,” he added as he returned to the couch. Karkat immediately tucked himself against his side, which made him grin even as he continued. “He's also considered to be the guy who designed the Step Pyramid, the first pyramid ever built. So not only do you have them making a guy who was pretty awesome a villain, but they even fucked up on what pharaoh he served! I mean, come on, you could just Google that shit! Though I guess back then they would've had to crack open a book but it’s not that hard to do that either, it would've taken maybe five minutes to--uh, Karkat?”

Karkat's eyes were shining in the light from the TV. “Dave. Shut the fuck up.” And then he kissed him.

He felt his entire face start to burn from the full blush that erupted. Once he got over the shock though he was kissing back with a hand on Karkat’s cheek. It was slow and sweet and had the faint taste of popcorn. When they separated Dave’s breath caught at the peaceful joy in Karkat’s eyes. “...we can keep doing this right? Don't have to stop? All aboard the smooch train?”

“You're such a fucking dork oh my god ,” Karkat laughed, hugging Dave. “Yeah, sure, all aboard the smooch train. Oh, and Dave?”

“Yeah?”

Karkat gave him a playful smirk. “Talk history to me.”

Dave threw his head back and laughed.


 

When Karkat jolted upright out of a deep sleep it took him a moment to register the unfamiliar room. That's right, the guest room. He had stayed up until almost 2 am just watching movies and sharing kisses with Dave, and by then he was too tired to drive according to his boyfriend. Luckily he was always prepared with a spare change of clothes and toiletries tucked away in the trunk of his car. After a road trip where Kankri had gotten them lost, he had decided to always keep emergency supplies on hand. So here he was, wide awake. But why?

“No! Don't…”

Karkat almost leaped out of bed at Dave’s cries and rushed into the master bedroom, making sure to avoid the clutter and laundry on the floor. Dave was curled in a tight ball, clutching his pillow with face scrunched up as if in pain. Little whimpers escaped and struck Karkat’s heart with the force of a truck. “Dave, sweetheart, wake up. It’s me, Karkat. You're safe at home.” It wasn't until he gave him a gentle shake of the shoulders that Dave shot up and out of bed, grabbing for a weapon that wasn't there. “Dave!”

There was a wild, unfocused look in Dave’s eyes, a fear of something, but when Karkat moved in front of him and grabbed his shoulders he flinched briefly before his eyes started to clear. “K...Karkat?”

“Yeah, I'm here. You had a bad nightmare, is all.” A small oof was knocked out of him by the force of the hug Dave initiated, which he of course returned just as tightly. “You're okay, Dave. I gotcha.”

“...sorry ‘bout that,” he replied, even if it was muffled by Karkat’s shoulder. Karkat just shushed him and held him tighter. Dave squeezed his eyes shut as he tried to keep his breathing calm. He was dead, he was never coming back, he was never gonna hurt him again. He had Rose, Roxy, Dirk, John, Jade, Terezi, and now Karkat. He was safe. He was safe. He was safe...wait a minute. He realized that his breathing was synched up with Karkat’s, and that it was in a pattern of in for four, hold for six, release for eight. “...you get anxiety too?”

“Yeah,” came the soft reply. “Did the breathing help?”

“...yeah. Can you, um...this may sound weird, and I totally get if you don't wanna, it may be too much for now since we only became official this morning but maybe--”

“Of course I'm gonna stay with you the rest of the night, you douchecanoe.” The lighthearted tease at the end shocked Dave into laughter, even as Karkat tugged him to bed. The two of them climbed in and were immediately in each other’s arms, Dave tucking his head against Karkat’s neck while the other kept stroking his hair. “Better?”

“Yeah...much, actually. Thanks. For everything.” Dave smiled softly at the gentle kiss to the top of his head. “G’night, Karkat…” Just before he fell back asleep he heard Karkat’s response.

Iyi geceler, cicegim.”

Chapter Text

Symbol of Love; Magic and Witchcraft; Loveliness, I’ll Pray For You

Dave woke up to an arm tossed over his head. That wouldn’t be so strange if it was his, but it definitely was too dark to be his own. And the light snoring was definitely not his, either. He shoved the arm off carefully, a jaw-cracking yawn nearly splitting his face. Ugh, he felt so fucking gross, his eyes all crushed and that awful fuzzy slipper feeling coating his teeth. And he had to take a piss.

Once he came back feeling half human he stopped in front of his bed. Karkat was on his side sprawled out, facing the empty spot where he had just been, hair even more ruffled than usual and one foot poking out from under the covers. He smiled a bit before it turned thoughtful. “...I should make it up to him,” he mused quietly.

Karkat eventually woke up to the smell of pancakes tickling his nose. It took him a bit, but he soon managed to drag himself out of the bed, into the bathroom, and then into the kitchen. Spotting his boyfriend at the counter he shuffled over to him and let his head drop on his shoulder. “What time is it?” he mumbled.

Dave chuckled and reached up with his free hand to play with the other’s hair. “Just about 10. Hungry?”

“Mhm.” Karkat lifted his head only to stare blankly at the places. “...You gotta be fucking kidding me.”

Dave started to snicker. “What?”

“...Is this more irony shit? If it is it’s too early for it.”

“It’s never too early for pancakes and sausage, babe.”

“These are dick pancakes.”

“That they are.”

“You’re fucking ridiculous.”

Dave laughed a bit but sobered when he turned to face the other. “I just...well, I know last night wasn’t exactly ideal with the whole nightmare horseshit, and I’m sorry if I scared you about it. But, thanks for staying with me,” he added, looking away with an expression almost of shame.

Karkat frowned a bit and took Dave’s hand in his. “You’re fine. It’s not a big deal, staying. You needed me. Like I said, I got anxiety too. I get it. If you ever need my help I’ll give it.”

Dave’s shoulders relaxed and he smiled a bit. “Thanks, Karkat. So, want some dick?”

“Wow, you sure know how to set the mood.” The brunet was still smiling though.


 

Dave hummed cheerfully as he checked his work station over. The inks were organized, needles set up, and everything was scrubbed and wiped clean. He had a few appointments and a couple of consultations, so it would be sufficiently busy and wouldn’t bore him out of his mind. “Let’s get this show on the road.”

Porrim poked her head into Dave’s room. “You all set? Your 10 o’clock is waiting.”

Dave gave the stunning owner of Tattoo Emporrium a two-fingered salute and a grin. “Send ‘em in.” Soon enough a nervous looking woman came in, and he simply snapped his gloves on. “I promise, even while pricking you I’m not gonna be a prick.”

After the second tattooing appointment Dave took the chance to stretch his legs and have lunch. Porrim was going over papers, so he sat on an empty space on her desk with his sandwich. “Sup, Porrim.”

“Bills, checks, the usual. You’d think the companies would utilize paperless billing more,” the Iranian groused. She tossed her waterfall of hair over her shoulder with a huff. “How’d your appointments go?”

“First one took a while since she was nervous as all fuck, but she was just getting a couple of birds on her shoulder.” Birds were his specialty, after all. “Second one was one of those dumb infinity symbols with live laugh love in it.”

“White suburban soccer mom?”

“Pinned it down in one. It didn't even have a chance to fight back before getting pinned to the mat and the ref counted down.”

Porrim’s eyes audibly rolled. “It’s good money, but I hate those tats. So unoriginal.”

“I know, right? At least the first lady wanted the birds for herself and her dad. He passed away sometime ago and they used to bird watch together.”

“Aw, that’s sweet. I like tattoos with meaning.”

“Oh, and what do all the swirls mean on you then, tentacle hentai?”

“Watch it, Strider, or I’ll dock your pay.” Porrim had a teasing gleam in her eye though. “And if you must know, it’s an abstract representation of me cutting off all ties to my home culture. None of the tattoos are connected, after all.”

Dave hummed thoughtfully and swallowed a bite. “Didn’t even think of that. So you’ll never go back?”

Porrim’s expression darkened. “Not until the morality police are abolished. Back in Iran we are forced not only to dress a certain way but also to follow Islam exactly the way they dictated. I’ve revoked both from my life, and I’m all the happier for it.”

“Huh...are you atheist?”

She shrugged and gave a noncommittal hand waggle. “Kinda. I’d lean more toward agnostic. Mother actually left the religion as well when she got into an argument with mine and Kanaya’s sperm donor over getting a job. He said it was unfitting for a woman to work,” she sneered.

Dave wrinkled his nose in disgust. “Ew. Is he dead?”

“Sadly, no. But let’s move onto something a bit happier.” Porrim set her papers aside and leaned her chin on folded hands, eyes glittering. “Has your sister told you about her date this week?”

Dave grinned and finished his sandwich. “She can’t stop switching up what she’s gonna wear. What about Kanaya?”

“She’s equally freaking out. Our sisters are going to be so mad at us for not telling them we’ve known all along.”

“Worth it.”


 

TG: so i said to the guy look man youre five states over the mason dixie line if you insist on getting that flag tattoo people are gonna see you as a racist asshole
CG: HOW'D HE RESPOND?
TG: he said i shit you not im not a racist my best friend is black
CG: HOLY SHIT.
TG: ikr thats what i said
TG: he got all pissed off and left but porrim said good riddance
TG: she said business is good enough that we dont need his money
CG: YEAH, SHE’S ALWAYS HAD A GOOD HEAD ON HER SHOULDERS. KANAYA TOOK AFTER AUNT MYROSA MORE THOUGH. I’M SURPRISED YOU HAVEN’T MET HER YET.
TG: i only started working there this summer and apparently shes been in new york city for the last two years on a fashion internship but shes coming home for a while
CG: OH YEAH, I FORGOT ABOUT THAT.
CG: SHE MENTIONED TO ME THAT SHE WAS LOOKING INTO STARTING HER OWN LINE SOON, AND SHE DOES HAVE A JOB LINED UP WITH A DESIGNER WHO WANTS TO HELP HER WITH THAT.
TG: oh shit man thats dope as fuck
TG: maybe she can make me a suit i need a new one
CG: A SUIT? WHAT FOR?
TG: you know complacency of the learned
TG: rose wrote that
TG: so she drags me to fancy author events so she doesnt have to suffer alone
TG: she nearly started a fistfight with jk rowling once
CG: NO SHIT? I LOVE THAT BOOK! I NEED TO ASK HER TO SIGN MY COPY NOW.
CG: ROWLING DESERVES A PUNCH THOUGH, SHE IS SO FUCKING IMPERIAL WITH HER WORLD EXPANSION. THREE SCHOOLS IN EUROPE BUT ONLY ONE IN AFRICA?! NOT TO MENTION THE WHOLE BULLSHIT WITH DUMBLEDORE BEING GAY AFTER THE FACT.
TG: fucking thank you someone else gets it
TG: if you have to say after the fact that a characters gay you done fucked up not to mention the fact that his love for goldilocks or whatever turned out to be evil or some shit
CG: GRINDELWALD, YOU NERD.
CG: IF YOU WANT A GOOD QUEER SERIES LOOK INTO THE FARADAY FILES, THE PROTAGONIST IS A BI GUY WHO’S PRETTY DEEP IN THE CLOSET AT FIRST.
CG: THE FIRST BOOK IS THE DEATHSNIFFER’S ASSISTANT, BY KATE MCINTYRE.
TG: oh man that sounds sweet already
TG: brb ordering now
CG: HAHA, HAPPY TO HELP.
CG: WHEN CAN I SEE YOU AGAIN?
TG: how about this friday
TG: the fairs in town so we can go and do all the romantic cliches
TG: i win you some stuffed animals we share funnel cake and kiss at the top of the ferris wheel before one of us faints from the height
TG: not me though
TG: im totes mcgotes chill
CG: ARE YOU REALLY? YOU’RE NOT DOING SOME MALE BULLSHIT POSTURING RIGHT?
TG: actually no
TG: in all seriousness i love heights and flying on planes
TG: being up high lets me clear my head ill even just chill on the building roof and do some kind of meditation thing
TG: its really helpful
CG: HUH. THAT’S INTERESTING.
TG: interesting how
CG: MOST PEOPLE HATE HEIGHTS. YOU’RE UNIQUE.
TG: ive heard fucked up before or even sick in the head but never unique
CG: DAVE, THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN MY LIFE ARE FUCKED UP IN A MYRIAD OF WAYS.
CG: IF ENJOYING HIGH PLACES IS ENOUGH TO BE SICK IN THE HEAD THEN I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT THAT MEANS FOR ME.
TG: what no man youre so cool
TG: seriously like you seem so well adjusted
CG: YOU CAN THANK MY THERAPIST FOR HELPING ME. I HAD SOME PRETTY BAD BULLYING AS A KID. HE BECAME A MEMBER OF MY FAMILY, REALLY, ESPECIALLY WHEN DAD STARTED DATING AGAIN. BUT THAT FUCKED KANKRI UP MORE THAN IT DID ME.
CG: HIS NAME’S CRAIG BUT I JUST CALL HIM CRABDAD.
TG: holy shit
TG: the names adorable
TG: but man thats some pretty heavy shit
CG: I DID KICK SOME ASSES THOUGH, SO IT WASN’T PERFECT.
TG: yeah that doesnt surprise me
TG: those big strong arms are perfect for swooning into i bet you couldve taken anyone
CG: OH MY GOD, STOP IT YOU RIDICULOUS COOLDOUCHE.
CG: NEPETA WON’T STOP GIGGLING AT ME DAMMIT.
CG: I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY.
TG: very <3
CG: DLAFH;SKLDA;JLKSDF
TG: wait im one of your important people


 

Rose flitted back and forth from her closet, to her vanity, to her phone on her nightstand, and back in a random pattern. It was one of the first times Dave had ever seen her so flustered. He cradled his steaming cup of coffee ever so delicately, even as the scent of mocha tried its hardest to wake him up. It was too fucking early for this. “Rose, I promise you, she’s gonna love whatever you wear.”

“She’s a fashion designer, Dave, she’s going to have a much more discerning eye than the average person.” She held up two skirts, one black and one lilac. “As little fashion sense as you have, I must ask your opinion.”

“I got impeccable fucking fashion, I’m just casual,” he mumbled through a yawn. “Go with the black skirt, and that light purple v-neck sweater. That way you can accessorize with that black choker, the one with the silver rose charm, and those hoop earrings you like.”

Rose nodded and tossed the purple skirt in the discard pile. “Yes, I believe you’re right.” With the outfit laid out on her bed she sat at her vanity and pulled her makeup out, before groaning and hiding her face in her hands. “What if I fuck this up, Dave?”

“Aw, Rosie…” He put the coffee down and sat down next to her with an arm around her shoulders. “Look, she’s going to adore you, even with your weird vampire bitey kinks. And you’re going to go on a bunch of dates with her, and get married and adopt a thousand kids to raise as an army hellbent on world domination, I know it.”

She snorted but smiled and leaned into the hug. “Thanks, Davie. You have such a way with words.”

“From the up and coming writer, that’s a compliment.” He kissed her cheek and gave her one last squeeze. “So I’m gonna go play with Jaspers while you get dressed. Oh, I’m taking this.”

Rose raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

Dave grinned as he pocketed the small tube. “What better way to embarrass your partner?” She simply laughed in response.


 

Rose found herself hesitating in front of the Gutsy Gumshoe’s door. For all of the airs she put on, she still had plenty of insecurities. What if Kanaya was no longer interested? What if she decided that she was boring or what if--

“Rosie!” A flurry of pink-streaked blonde hair all but tackled her. “I didn’t expect to see you!”

“Hi, Roxy.” She returned her sister’s embrace with a small smile. “What do I owe this unexpected pleasure?”

Roxy bounced back and wrapped her arm around that of her companion, a short slender woman in a dark green suit that fit her perfectly. “Meet Callie! She’s my new neighbor, so I’m showing her around town!”

The woman flushed softly but managed an elegant bow with an offered hand. “Pleased to meet you. Roxy’s told me so much about you!”

Rose chuckled, taking in the silver-white hair, startling green eyes, and thick London accent. “I’m sure she has,” she replied while shaking hands. “I hate to cut this short, but I’m meeting a friend for breakfast, so…”

“Oh! Of course, we’ll leave you be. Roxy, luv, you said you wanted to introduce me to your friend Jane, correct?”

“Oh yeah! See ya, Rosie! Have fun!” Roxy dragged her startled companion into the cafe, Rose having no choice but to follow. Kanaya had said she’d be the one with a green scarf...ah, there she was, in all her glory. Long red skirt, adorable short hair with one curl just leaning against her cheek, oh god she was so gay.

The brunette looked up when Rose stopped at the table, and the smile she gave nearly knocked the blonde off her feet. “You must be the illustrious Rose Lalonde,” she said, rising in order to shake her hand.

The other flushed in surprise but smiled softly. “If anyone is illustrious it’s you, Miss Maryam. Becoming a protege of Sir Scratch is no small feat.”

“Oh, you’ve been keeping track?” Kanaya managed to hide most of her flustered state even as she beamed. “I suppose you’re right, but I also have the luck to have been in the right place at the right time.”

“Please, I adore your Nighttime Wanderings designs! They were so dark and intriguing, and yet oddly uplifting at the same time. My favorite dress design is your Underwater Mysteries one.”

Kanaya grinned. “You shall not only be the first order, but I’ll even make sure to hand deliver it to you as well.”

“Oh, you don’t have to!” Rose exclaimed. “I just want to have some of your clothes in my closet.”

Kanaya’s eyes glittered mischievously as she teased, “Why, Rose, we haven’t even had a dinner date and you already want my clothes in your place?”

Rose let out a startled laugh with a blush. “Not what I meant, though I certainly wouldn’t be opposed if circumstances led there…~”

It was Kanaya’s turn to blush even as she giggled. “Oh my, I better make sure to be prepared for anything. Who knows if I’ll have to hide with you from a deadly vampire attack?”

“Ah yes, fear their sparkled wrath.” The two burst into giggles, confusing Jane who was waiting with a coffee refill.

Roxy sighed from her table in the corner, chin in both hands. “Rosie looks so happy~ I think that chick’ll be good for her.”

Callie smiled and nodded. “I agree! I must say, even though I haven’t met many people yet, I love this city already.”

“I’m glad! Just you wait, Callie, you’re gonna love it here!”


 

- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] -

TT: I’m home safe and sound.
TG: oh sweet youre not a catfish victim
TT: No, and you certainly know that better than anyone.
TG: okay usually i can figure out your weird idiosyncracies and comments but this ones got me stumped what do i know better than anyone
TT: You knew all along that Kanaya was Porrim’s sister.
TG: oh shit cats out of the bag
TT: The cat’s so far out of the bag that it’s already at the fish market, Dave.
TG: aw come on sis if i told you that youd be mad at me for ruining the mystery
TG: i know how much you love finding out shit and this is no exception
TT: I hate how right you are.
TG: lol love you too
TG: so
TG: spill
TG: was it as good as you hoped
TT: We have a dinner date next week. I think I’m in love already.

- cardinalGift [CG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] -

CG: I hear y9u have a 69yfriend n9w, c9ngratulati9ns.
CG: OH GOD NOT THE TALK.

Chapter Text

Caution, Encouragement; You’re Adorable; Sunshine in Your Smile

TT: Hey, bro, I’ll be coming home this weekend. Everything’s been settled, except for a few things with your inheritance but that’s all on you now.
TG: i told you bro i dont want his filthy cash burn it for all i care
TT: I’m just thinking that you’d be able to actually sponsor your own dig if you wanted. His will had some bullshit clauses that I challenged and was able to get rid of, so you can use it however you want.
TT: Hell, you could give it all to charity. Think of how pissed off he’d be if you donated it to an LGBTQ+ charity.
TT: It’s just...I want you to be happy, and the cash may let you do what *does* make you happy.
TG: i dunno man i just think id feel gross about it
TG: but ill think about it promise
TG: maybe ill start playing the stocks for real
TT: Hell yeah, invest that shit and make billions. I know a guy who can help out.
TG: sweet thanks
TG: whens your flight
TT: I’ll send you the information in a bit. Shouldn’t you be in bed?
TG: shouldnt you be sucking dick
TT: That’s tomorrow. And isn’t that your job?
TG: fuck rose told you didnt she
TG: i was waiting for you to get home before introducing karkat to everyone
TG: well except mom but idk when shes coming home
TT: Yeah, last I heard she was still overseas, France I think. I’m glad she’s enjoying herself, she deserves it. She always did want to go backpacking through Europe.
TG: ten bucks says she comes home married lol
TT: No bet.

Dave sighed as he let his phone drop on the pillow next to his head. Fuck. He wanted to eradicate Dain’s presence from his life, and had almost succeeded! But now he had to give him one last fuck you from beyond the grave with a ridiculous inheritance. Everything that could be sold had been, but now what? It was a ridiculous amount of money for anyone to have, let alone a tattoo artist/archaeology hopeful. On the one hand, he’d be happy to get rid of it all without a care. On the other, it could be hugely beneficial. And he’d be able to spoil his friends and family…

He sat up in bed, hands folded in front of his mouth and elbows leaning on bent knees. Dain had tried to keep him from the world outside, made him paranoid for a long time. And stealing him from his family when he was a baby? That shit was unforgivable. He wanted him dependent on him and him alone. The asshole had almost been successful, but thankfully he had been found. Now with him dead, he was free...but what should he do now?

- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] -

TG: hey you awake
TG: idk if your computers just on or if youre actually still up but i just need to talk or maybe ramble
CG: I’M HERE. WHAT’S UP?
TG: oh shit youre actually awake why
CG: INSOMNIA’S A BITCH. BUT WHAT DO YOU NEED TO TALK ABOUT? IS EVERYTHING OKAY?
TG: well
TG: ok well theres some background i gotta tell first before we get into the whole shebang
TG: so dirk and roxy are twins too and three years older than me and rose but our parents had this whole awful sordid history and long story short mom left our douche of a dad
TG: things happened and they slept together again before separating and thats how me and rose were made
TG: and then he found out that we were born and he went and kidnapped me
CG: HOLY FUCKING SHIT WHAT THE FUCK?!
TG: yeah so he “raised” me as his little bro until i was twelve when i met rose online
TG: next thing i know im meeting a whole bunch of people who say theyre my family and im being swept to new york while hes being arrested and shit
CG: DEAR GOD ALMIGHTY. ARE YOU OKAY?
TG: for the most part yeah it was over a decade ago
TG: its just that he died recently and its been on my mind especially since he left everything to me so surprise im now a millionaire but i dont know if i even want the money
TG: he used to make puppet porn and im almost positive i ended up featured in weird snuff shit or something
TG: therapys helped a shitton and i got drowned in love from my family
TG: i just dont know what to do with the cash
TG: you still there
TG: i didnt scare you away did i
TG: fuck i bet i did i probably ruined this whole thing im sorry
CG: NO, I’M HERE!
CG: SORRY, I HAD TO LET POUNCE INSIDE.
CG: BEFORE YOU ASK HE’S OUR CAT, POUNCE DE LEON. ALSO KNOWN AS THE POUNCELLOR. I CALL HIM PAIN IN THE ASS.
CG: YOU DIDN’T RUIN ANYTHING, I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE ANY TIME SOON. I’M JUST MAD THE FESTERING WASTE OF SPACE IS DEAD BECAUSE THAT MEANS I CAN’T KILL HIM MYSELF.
TG: heh you sound like dirk
TG: but yeah thats why i had that nightmare when you stayed the night
TG: and i still cant figure out what to do with everything it feels almost dirty and tainted
TG: i mean its not but it feels like it by sheer association alone
CG: IT SOUNDS TRICKY. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN THINKING ABOUT THIS?
TG: he died last month there were legal issues and shit to do so dirk went down to handle it as my legal representative
CG: HMMM.
TG: what
CG: YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST WAY TO USE IT?
CG: TAKE THAT MONEY, AND DO WHATEVER YOU FUCKING WANT WITH IT.
CG: THAT DISGUSTINGLY HEINOUS SHITSTAIN DID EVERYTHING IN HIS POWER TO KEEP YOU FROM HAPPINESS, SO USE WHAT HE LEFT YOU TO PURSUE THE MOST GLORIOUS JOY YOU CAN MUSTER.
CG: BE IT MOVIES, PARTIES, TRAVELING, WHATEVER! DON’T GIVE THE SNIVELING PATHETIC EXCUSE OF HUMANITY THE SATISFACTION OF CONTINUING TO MAKE YOU MISERABLE.
CG: BE HAPPY, THAT’S ALL YOU HAVE TO DO.
CG: ARE YOU THERE STILL?
TG: yeah man im still here
TG: sorry had some feels in my eye
TG: seriously though thank you karkat
TG: it really helped a lot
CG: ANY TIME, DAVE.
CG: GET SOME SLEEP, IT’S LATE.
TG: i should be saying that to you
CG: I’LL BE ASLEEP SHORTLY, I PROMISE.
CG: SWEET DREAMS. <3
TG: you too <3

- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] -

Dave sniffled a bit and wiped his eyes, curling up under the covers with a small smile. It still hurt, but he did feel a little lighter. Dain had hated Mom in the end, and the rest of his family. He liked the idea of spoiling them, but maybe save some of it for himself to use and some of it could be put into investments, and then go from there...donate to charity too...maybe go on vacation with Karkat...yeah. That sounded nice.


 

Dave tucked his phone away and knocked on the door to 69 Sanguine Boulevard. He could almost feel his wallet burning with the accepted influx of cash from Dain’s demise. Now he could finally upgrade his old car to something much nicer! But for now, he was going to spoil Karkat at the fair.

The door opened to reveal a man who looked almost exactly like Karkat, but with silver streaking the brown-black hair, laugh lines, and the scruff combined with glasses made him look like a rugged college professor. “Hello, you must be Dave,” Professor Hotstuff said with a smile. “I’m Karkat’s dad, Siglas.”

“I guess he’s mentioned me?” Dave asked with a smile as they shook hands. Siglas laughed and nodded, ushering him inside. The younger man looked around curiously, taking in the numerous pictures of children at different ages hanging on the wall. One particular group photo caught his eye. “Wow. That’s, uh, that’s one hell of a family photo.”

Siglas grinned as he looked at the summer picnic. “Yes, well, the four of us--Saelec, Myrosa, Disele, and myself--met when Myrosa and I came to New York.” He tapped on the adults in question: a slightly older woman that Dave recognized from Porrim’s pictures, a Korean man a little younger than Siglas wearing what looked like stupidly oversized 3D glasses that matched his sons’ equally silly sunglasses, and a black woman whose hair threatened to engulf Siglas and another woman as she hugged them. “Myrosa had left her husband in Iran before coming here and was pregnant with Kanaya. Cecelia and I had left Turkey due to violence in our town, and she was pregnant with Karkat. We met Saelec when he came to help us with all of our electricity and computer set up--he’s an electrician and our house had to be completely rewired. Disele met Cecelia at a birthing class. They were actually best friends before Cece passed.”

Dave’s eyebrows went high over his shades. “They were? But Disele, that’s your uh...new wife I guess would be the word?”

“I’m sure you’re judging me,” Siglas commented, though he was amused rather than annoyed. “But it wasn’t an instant thing, either. It took me until Karkat was ten to even start dating again, and that was about six years after she passed. After some spectacular failures at dating, Disele and I just...gravitated toward each other.”

“I called it, by the way.” Karkat trotted down the stairs and Dave was so glad his shades hid how he was staring at the other’s legs. Fuck, did Karkat paint those on? “We’ll probably be back after supper.”

“Oh, really? No lamb kebabs?”

“We’ll see,” Karkat laughed with a hug. “I’ll text and let you know, okay? Oh, and tell Nepeta when she gets home I need my boxers back, Pounce won’t let me into his hoard so I can grab them.”

“I’ll try to get them back too, but if not I’ll let her know. Have fun!” Siglas waited until the two were halfway down the walk before adding a cheeky, “Don’t forget to use protection!”

Karkat stumbled with a squawk and turned to yell at his dad, but he had already closed the door. He groaned and ran a hand down his pinking face. “Sorry for that. Fucking hell, Dad…”

Dave patted his shoulder soothingly even with his own pink cheeks. “It’s alright, man, parents live to embarrass us. I’m dreading the day you meet Mom, she’s gonna flip over how fucking cute you are.” He sneaked a kiss to Karkat’s now-red cheek before hurrying to the driver’s side. “Come on, babe, the fair awaits!”

“I’m coming!” A mildly flustered Karkat climbed into the car as well, even though he was trying and failing to hide his smile.

Dave gestured to the radio once they were on the road. “Passenger gets control of the radio, so long as it isn’t shitty autotune pop crap.”

Karkat snorted slightly. “Hey, some of it’s just fun. Ke$ha’s good.”

“For dancing and shit, yeah, but--aw, man, come the fuck on, I thought you were joking with eighties music!”

Karkat simply grinned as the intro music continued. “Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world! She took the midnight train going anywhere~

Wow, his voice was smooth. A nice alto tenor. Not to be outdone Dave shot him a look over his shades and a grin. “Just a city boy, born and raised in south Detroit! He took the midnight train going anywhere!”

“Ha, you do like it!”

“Hey, what can I say, Journey’s a classic!” Dave confessed between giggles. “It’s one band I can’t deny, now shut up so we can keep singing.”

Karkat laughed merrily, eyes bright in the midmorning sun. Once the words started back up the two sang together (Dave of course being over the top which only made Karkat crack up even more), and Karkat carefully rested his hand over Dave’s on the gear shift. To his pleasure he lifted his hand and entwined their fingers together. In between songs they bickered lightly over music--Karkat staunchly insisting that love songs were the fucking best, Dave scoffing at them for being corny as hell, but both agreeing that almost all were far too hetero. By the time they pulled into the fair’s parking lot--or what consisted as one for now when it was normally a field--Dave was finishing his rant on how boring pop music was, it was the same formula every time, 4/4 measures, 2 verses, a chorus, nothing new! Before climbing out Karkat leaned over to kiss Dave when he had taken a breath. “As brilliant and fascinating as this is, can we wait to continue it later?”

The kiss pulled Dave out of his musical focus and he nodded, eyes foggy with bliss for the briefest moments before he briskly pushed the shades back up. “Yeah, sure. But be prepared to sit through a full-blown lecture on how to create the sickest beats ever,” he added while climbing out. “Only way to shut me up’s if you pay me eight-k bucks.”

“Can I pay you in kisses instead, you meme-loving fucker?”

Dave grinned as his legs brought him in front of his boyfriend who was trying his hardest not to smile, leaning in to sneak a quick kiss. “1 down, 7,999 to go.” Karkat ducked his head with an almost shy smile, which broke into laughter when Dave started kissing across his cheeks. “Those don’t count!”

When Karkat looked up Dave was jogging backwards away with a shit-eating grin. “Oh, you cretinous obnoxious trickster!”

“Oh please, you--oh shit!” Dave had to scramble to keep himself from falling in his frantic attempt to turn around and run properly considering Karkat was about to tackle him. They made quite the sight as they ran into the fairgrounds. Dave ducked around a tent and when Karkat turned the corner he grabbed him. Momentum almost flung them both on the ground, but they managed to keep their footing. “Aw, babe, falling for me?”

“You’re so fucking corny,” Karkat snickered, hands resting on Dave’s biceps. “Come on, you dork, let’s walk around.”

“Please, the dorkiest person we know is John,” Dave quipped, taking Karkat’s hand as they started wandering.

“Mm, true.” The two of them took their time wandering around the various tents filled with different wares. They were fairly typical, some with different clothes that you’d normally find at any normal store, others with jewelry, a few with candles, one that was just the most ridiculous hats ever created (many selfies were taken during their exploration of that tent), and in another they were really interested in the homemade leather goods offered.

Even though they didn’t buy anything just yet, Dave made sure to take note of everything Karkat looked at that was more than a cursory glance. Still, he was curious. “You’re not buying anything?”

“Not now. Maybe when we come back through, but I only have so much cash. Gotta make sure I can eat,” he added, looking at the zodiac necklaces in one display.

Dave sidled over to look. “What’s your sign?”

“Cancer. My birthday’s July second, though it was supposed to be June twelfth.” Karkat straightened up to ease the crick in his back from bending over the table for so long. “Doctors messed up the whole due date shit. Yours?”

“Sagittarius, my birthday’s December 3rd. I’m a centaur, which is pretty cool.” Dave snickered. “And you’re crabby .”

“Oh my god, I’m done. Nope, we’re through.”

“Awww, baaaaabe~” Dave draped himself over Karkat’s back and was partially dragged as Karkat kept walking. “Please, you love me~”

Karkat was glad Dave couldn’t see his cheeks turn bright red at the sudden comment. “W-we’re not quite there yet.”

Dave flushed suddenly, but he still attempted to keep his super cool facade up. “So we’re on our way there?” His hopeful tone that leaked out betrayed his lack of cool.

Karkat chuckled and unlatched Dave’s hands from around him. “We’ll see. Wanna try some rigged games?”

“Sure, I’m gonna win you something. I have mean hand-eye coordination.” Karkat looked like he wanted to say something particularly crass but the presence of minors convinced him otherwise. Dave spotted a booth he knew well and tugged Karkat along. “Ok, with these there’s usually a trick. See the milk bottles stacked up?”

“Yeah?”

“Most people aim for the middle bottle in the bottom row, thinking that it’ll knock them all over. Thing is, they’re always filled with weight. I’ve done this enough times though that I know exactly how to knock this shit down. Now, watch and learn.” The blond sauntered up to the booth and paid for the three balls. Karkat simply stood off to the side, hands in pockets and an unimpressed look on his face. Dave paused for a moment and offered the ball to him. “Kiss for luck?”

“Oh my god, you nerd .” After a few insistent moments and a few eyebrow waggles the brunet gave in and dropped a swift peck before looking away with a grumpy, slightly embarrassed pout. Dave grinned, wound up, and threw.

THWACK!

The blur collided perfectly with a bottom bottle, sending it and two others down. The second threw took the last three down. Karkat’s jaw bounced off the ground as a smug Dave picked out an oversized plush crab from a stunned booth worker. “Told ya.”

“Holy shit.” Karkat accepted the crab after a few moments with a laugh. “That was pretty freaking impressive.”

Dave gave a ridiculous bow. “My pleasure, good sir. Where to next?”

Karkat looked around before grinning. “Let’s try that one.”

“Which one--oh no.”

“Oh, yes.”

“My arms are noodles!”

“If you can throw a ball you can lift a hammer!” It was the brunet’s turn to drag Dave to where a stupidly chiseled bulked-up man was enticing people to hit the bell for a prize. Dave however refused to try. Karkat simply shrugged and handed him the plush and his coat. The blond took the time to ogle his shoulders as he accepted the sledgehammer after paying. After settling into a proper stance and adjusting his grip, he swung.

DING!

“Congratulations! Pick your prize!”

“Not bad, not bad, but I bet bunny boy can do better!”

Karkat turned to face the speaker, eyebrows hitting his hairline as he picked out a ridiculous crow plush. “Didn’t expect to see you here, spiderbitch.”

“Same for you, shouty.” Even so, Vriska returned the casual fist bump Karkat offered. “And before you ask, John got the day off so we decided to make a date of it!”

“Hi Dave!” The man in question had no time to brace himself before being tacklehugged to the ground by a blue blur. There were plenty of snickers all around. “What’re you doing here?”

“What do ya mean, what’m I doin’ here? Can’t a guy enjoy a fair without any interrogation?” Dave drawled as John helped him up, fixing his glasses.

John snickered, his grin making his baby blues crinkle. “Yeah, but I didn’t know you knew Karkat!”

“Who do ya think helped me with the fuck you bouquet?” Dave snarked back.

John gasped and gripped his hoodie over his heart. “Karkat, I’m wounded! Why would you do such a terrible thing?”

“After that prank, you deserved it,” Karkat said primly with a smug grin. “Taking a break from being a courier bunny?”

“It’s TaskRabbit, thank you very much! And yeah, for the day. So yeah! What’re you two up to? Just hanging out? Ooooor is it something more~?” he teased, giving Karkat’s cheek a poke.

The flustered man smacked his hand away. “Oh my god, shut up John. And don’t you say anything either, spiderbitch!” he snapped to the cackling brunette.

Dave sidled over and flung his free arm around Karkat’s shoulders. “Yeah, we’re on a date too,” he said. The calm tone of his voice didn’t match the blush that was immediately painted over his cheeks. “We started dating a while back, didn’t you see the Facebook update?”

John had the decency to look sheepish. “I forgot my password.” Karkat facepalmed while Dave’s face immediately went deadpan, and Vriska just gave a helpless shrug as in he’s lucky he’s cute . “But still! I’m really glad for you two, you make a cute couple.”

“Whoa, bro, I love you man but you and I both know that Striders don’t do the cute thing. If anyone’s the cute person it’s Karkat here.”

“What’re you doing dragging me into this?!” Karkat fielded Dave away with the plush crow when he tried to swoop him into a hug with whines at how he was the cuter one. “Anyway, weren’t you gonna show off or something?”

“Yeah, come on John! Show us what you can do!” Vriska cheered with a shiny metal fist pump. The Brit leaned back against the fence as John went up with a bit more goading from Dave. She rolled her eye over to look at Karkat, her face softening a bit. “You look like you’re doing good though, Karkat. Things agreeing with you?”

The Turk nodded. “Yeah. Things are going pretty well. You look better than I last saw you, actually.”

“Heh, yeah, but honestly I gotta thank you for it. If you hadn’t recommended Craig to me, I’d be a fucking awful narcissistic psychopathic bitch who’d have probably died from doing stupid shit. Even getting my arm torn off wasn’t enough to stop me,” she added, looking down toward the ground. “And I never actually told you this, but...thanks. For everything.”

Karkat’s face softened, and he reached over to pat her good shoulder. “Hey, it wasn’t all your fault. You were in a shitty situation which caused you to develop some really bad shit in your head.”

“Yeah, but I could’ve done a lot better at controlling it. But instead I just went and embraced it like a goddamn idiot,” she countered. “Needed a good asskicking, let’s be real,” she added, snickering with him. “So, yeah. Thanks.”

“No problem.”

DING!

“Dude, you just fucking knocked the bell off.”

“Oh god I didn’t mean to do that!”


 

“Oh shit, Karkat, they’re doing fucking fireworks tonight!”

“Damn, they are? What for?”

“Celebrating the Fall Equinox, according to the sign.” Dave adjusted his ridiculous red top hat that he bought on a whim, which somehow managed to look both stupid and oddly endearing. “You know what that means, right?”

Karkat quirked an eyebrow. “What?”

“We have to go on the Ferris wheel,” he replied. “But before I do that, I’ll take the plushes to the car, ok?” He took both the crab and crow plush and placed a kiss to his cheek. “Be right back, babe.”

“You’re ridiculous.” The fond smile on his face told just how much he really did like the pet names that Dave kept coming up with. He was fine with waiting anyway. Except for the sudden devilish look that John was pinning to him now that Dave was gone. “What?”

“You guys are too freaking cute you know that?” John teased. He propped his chin in his hands, eyes sparkling eagerly. “Come oooooooon, spill the deets! How long have you been dating? What was the first date? Have you two kissed yet~?”

“There were 8 os there, I could hear them all,” Karkat snapped, his words lacking heat due to the fact that his cheeks held it all. “To answer your questions, you nosy bastard, we've been dating for a little over a month now, our first date was brunch at the Gutsy Gumshoe, and whether or not we kissed is none of your fucking beeswax.”

Vriska pouted and leaned in. “Oh please, shouty, there’s gotta be more! You’re a huge damn romantic, I bet you did something like dancing to the radio and dipping him.”

“No, nothing like that! It was just, well, a pretty good way of shutting him up,” he confessed. The coos from the other two had him throwing bits of kettle corn at them. “Shut your half-wit pieholes! It’s not meant to be cute.”

“Karkat, admit it, you’re pretty cute. No homo.” John blocked the kettle corn from both Karkat and Vriska this time, laughing. “Yeah, okay, I deserved that one!”

“You’re fucking terrible,” Karkat groused before he checked his phone. “Where the fuck did he go anyway?”

(“Oh, and these candles too.”

“Sir, are you sure about all this?”

“I have never been more sure about anything else, man. Except that aj is the shit.”)

John shrugged. “Probably got distracted by birds. If you two stay together you can totally get him like a pair of lovebirds!”

“John, don’t say if!” Vriska hissed. “Not cool!”

“Shit, sorry, didn’t mean to say you won’t last! Just that if you’re together a long time, you know?” John exclaimed with frantic motions of his hands. “Like, you’ll probably get married, have an apartment, definitely not gonna break up, no sir!”

“Go ahead, keep digging,” Karkat commented drily. “Let’s see how deep you go.” Vriska facepalmed.

John at least had the decency to look very sheepish. “I’ll stop. Oh! I did have something to ask actually! There's gonna be a battle of the bands thing hosted at the club Dave works at! We just need lead vocals, and you have a really great voice, so…?”

Karkat blinked a few times. “Wait, you want me to sing?”

Both John and Vriska nodded. “I'm drums, he's keyboard, and we got Jade on bass and Aradia for guitar and Sollux doing all the fancy synthesizer stuff!” the brunette said excitedly. “Terezi has to work and well, her voice is a bit too scratchy.”

“Point,” Karkat conceded thoughtfully. He tapped his fingers against the table a few times. “When do you need an answer by?”

“Next weekend,” John said. He clasped his hands and gave him a pout with his eyes wide and blue and even a few fake tears were at the corner of his eyes. “Pleeeeaaaase?”

“Oh my god get those away from me, those are nukes!” Karkat felt his willpower crumble, damn it why are all his friends cute and hot. “Fine, I'll help. But on one condition.”

Vriska raised an eyebrow. “Name it.”

“We don't tell Dave that I'm participating,” he said with a sly grin. “I want it to be a surprise.”

“Hell yeah.” John high fived him with an eager grin. “I'll add you to our group chat and we can start picking out songs!”

“What're you calling the group?” Vriska asked.

John beamed proudly. “National Treasure.”

Dave returned just in time to see Karkat and Vriska both toss handfuls of kettle corn at John’s face. One thin eyebrow slid upwards. “John, what'd you do?”

“Oh, nothing.” John offered an innocent smile. “Just a bit of foot in mouth syndrome, like a typical Strider.”

“Ouch, bro, you wound me. I can tell you right now I’ve gotten better.”

“He’s lying, don’t believe him,” John stage whispered, to which Karkat snorted in amusement. “The cool guy schtick is an act.”

“Oh, don’t I know it. He’s lucky he’s cute. What took you so long?”

“I decided to grab Rose some candles and incense on the way back.” Dave pulled something out from behind his back and dropped it on Karkat’s head. “And this.”

“What--holy shit, Dave !” Karkat pulled the leather newsboy hat off his head to look at it with wide eyes. “This thing cost like 50 bucks!”

Dave grinned and teased, “You told me to do what makes me happy with my new cash flow, and I like spoiling friends and family.”

Karkat blushed while John bawwed. “Hey, where’s my hat?”

“Right here.”

Vriska howled in hysterics at the oversized rabbit ears sticking up from the ridiculous purple hat’s brim. Karkat lost it so hard he almost fell off the table bench. John simply scoffed and pretend to flip a luxurious mane off his shoulder. “Whatever, you’re just jealous of my beauty.”

“Sure we are, bunny boy,” Vriska managed between cackles. “Come on, let’s go on a couple more rides! We’ll see you two later!”

“Yeah, let’s do another double date soon!”

The two males waved as Vriska dragged John off, and they shared a few moments of quiet as the sky continued to darken. After another beat Dave spoke. “So, wanna walk around some more?”

“Yeah, sure.” Their hands laced together automatically as they started to wander the grounds. The eagerness from before was gone, replaced with quiet enjoyment of each other’s presence. Every so often Karkat would reach up and fiddle with the hat’s brim. It made Dave smile every time.

Soon enough it was sufficiently dark enough that an announcement was made over aged crackling speakers that the fireworks would be starting soon. Dave grinned at Karkat with a playful eyebrow wiggle. “Ferris wheel?”

Karkat returned the grin. “Hell yes.”

“Hell fucking yes.” The two dashed off to the ride, Dave almost losing the top hat but managing to hold onto it. Thankfully they managed to get on a basket before it was cut off. It wasn’t until they were a little ways off the ground as others climbed on that Dave rather shyly nestled against Karkat.

Surprised yet pleased, Karkat wrapped an arm around Dave’s waist and gave him a little squeeze. “Having fun?”

“Duh. I’m with you, how could I not have fun?” he teased. “What about you?”

“Of fucking course. I didn't even know this place even had a fair.”

“Yeah, the city is pretty weird. You have the really super urban center where Dirk has the club, this small strip of suburbia around it, and then rural farms all around it. It's pretty crazy.” Dave shrugged a bit and grinned. “But hey, Dirk opened the first club since the city hit its building boom, so he's just been raking the dough in ever since.”

“Oh, well, aren’t we all rich and famous now,” Karkat snarked back. He was still smiling though as they both leaned back in their seats. “So, speaking of being rich now...what’re you gonna do?”

Dave shrugged a bit. “Dirk said he knows someone I can talk to, so I may start investing in some stocks. I probably could just stop working forever, but I don’t wanna do that. So I’m gonna start divvying it up, some set aside for my own bills and shit, some for spoiling you and our friends and family, and a shitton for charity. And my own dig,” he added with a proud grin. “I’m gonna ask Aradia for help contacting someone so I can excavate again. I’ve missed it!”

Karkat nodded in agreement, smiling. “That sounds fucking amazing. I’m glad you’re using that to be happy.”

The blond was about to speak when the Ferris wheel started to properly move, right when the fireworks began. His attention was immediately diverted and he grabbed Karkat’s arm excitedly. “Oh man, look! The colors are fucking amazing!”

They were, but Karkat wasn’t looking at the fireworks. He was focused on the bright relaxed smile on Dave’s face, the way the colors played across his face and the sparkling red eyes he could see from the side profile. “Yeah...amazing.”

Chapter Text

Accepting Change; I Love Your Music, You Satisfy Me; Treachery

- ghostyTrickster [GT] added carcinoGeneticist [CG] to group chat “we’re going to steal the declaration of independence” -

CG: REALLY? REALLY JOHN?
GT: don’t hate on the name, it’s awesome!
AG: John, I love you, but it’s laaaaaaaame.
TA: hey kk.
CG: HEY SOLLUX. WHAT’S UP?
TA: not much, ju2t doiing the u2ual. codiing for the ma22e2 and keepiing my2elf from kiilliing 2tupiid people iin cu2tomer 2erviice. you?
CG: THANKING ALL DEITIES EVER WORSHIPPED THAT WEDDING SEASON IS ALMOST DONE. DON’T TELL ME YOU USE THAT QUIRK AT WORK EVEN IF YOU DID REDUCE ALL THE TWO PUNS.
TA: eheh, man ii WII2H. iit’d pii22 off my a22hole bo22 2o much iit would be worth gettiing fiired for iit. but ii’m waiitiing on heariing back from a company before ii quit. fuck be2t buy.
AA: awww d0nt w0rry s0llux!! y0ull hear back s00n, theyd be idi0ts n0t t0 hire such an elite haxx0r! and hi karkat!
CG: OH HEY! HOW’S THAT EXCAVATION GOING?
AA: im alm0st d0ne actually f0r the seas0n! s0 ill be c0ming h0me f0r the h0lidays in tw0 weeks. itll be really nice t0 see every0ne again! and just in time t0 sp0il my fav0rite buzz b0y.
TA: ii have ONE BEE PHA2E and ii never liive iit down.
CG: NOPE. YOU HAVE TO LIVE WITH THAT SHAME FOREVER.
GT: is jade still at work karkat?
CG: YEAH, SHE WAS FINISHING UP A COUPLE MORE BUCKETS. AT LEAST WE’LL HAVE A LITTLE BREAK BEFORE THE HOLIDAY SEASON WHEN EVERYONE WANTS POINSETTIAS AND CHRISTMAS ROSES AND ALL THAT SHIT.
GT: okay, that’s no problem! we gotta figure out the right kind of sound we want for this contest.
CG: WHAT EVEN IS THE PRIZE?
AG: First prize is a year-long contract with Timaeus Turned to play there! Second prize is half a year. 8oth those and third prize are cash 8ut you know, first prize gets more and so on. 8ut it’s still gonna 8e fun!
AA: and y0u have a great v0ice t00 karkat! i think y0ud s0und great f0r hard r0ck s0ngs
TA: aa’2 got a poiint there. you have a 2trong kind of gravelly voiice and you’d be great for 2omethiing rough.
CG: I GUESS.
CG: AT LEAST IT’S PRETTY DEEP NOW. I’M GLAD FOR THAT AT LEAST.
CG: ANY IDEAS?
GT: bon jovi?
AG: We could do How Do I Live!
CG: NO!
AA: n0
TA: no.
AG: Wow 8k then!
GT: awwww i like that song!
CG: SAVE IT FOR YOUR WEDDING DANCE. LET’S THINK OF GENRE FIRST AND THEN GO FROM THERE.
TA: ii refu2e to do anythiing remotely liike taylor 2wiift.
AA: ew n0 shes b0ring
AA: we sh0uld d0 s0mething with s0me real 00mph! s0ngs with energy and real em0ti0ns!
GG: hey guys im here!!
AA: hey jade!
CG: GODDAMMIT I LEFT WORK TO GET AWAY FROM YOU.
GG: oh poo on you! :P
GG: so no ideas yet huh? i havent really come up with any myself but i dont think we should do anything like pop!
TA: yeah no that’2 not exactly the riight 2ound for the club.
CG: I WENT IN THERE ONCE TO CHECK IT OUT. SOMETIMES THEY PLAY POP SONGS BUT IT’S LIKE THE TOP FORTY SHIT ON THE RADIO AND STUFF. GOTTA CATER TO THE MASSES, I GUESS.
AG: MCR then?
AA: just hit the first g n0te and y0ull summ0n all the f0rmer em0s!
CG: EH, MAYBE.
GT: fall out boy?
GG: panic at the disco?
AG: Taking 8ack Sunday?
GG: paramore?
GT: blink 182?
TA: are we ju2t namiing emo-punk band2 now?
AA: what ab0ut pierce the veil 0r avenged sevenf0ld?
CG: ARADIA WHAT THE FUCK? I DIDN'T THINK YOU LISTENED TO SCREAMO.
AA: its g00d f0r w0rk0uts! 0u0
TA: and 2he had a pha2e. remember when 2he dyed her haiir liike the mo2t garii2h red?
AA: sh00sh!
GG: oooh i have pandora playing right now and its a mix of a few bands and lindsey stirlings shatter me just started playing! i like the singers voice i think her name is lizzy hale
AG: Oh yeah!!!!!!!! She has a 8and actually! H8lestorm is the 8om8!!!!!!!!
AA: 00h that c0uld w0rk really well!
TA: kk, can you 2iing tho2e 2ongs?
CG: MAYBE. LET ME LOOK UP THEIR MUSIC AND I’LL LET YOU KNOW. HOW LONG DO WE HAVE UNTIL THE BATTLE?
GT: it’s split up so that the first battles are on october twenty fourth, but the final battle is gonna be on october thirty first!
AA: hall0ween!! :D
AG: Aw hell yes!!!!!!!! We can go all out with spooky costumes and stuff!
GG: oh man that would be awesome! we could do maybe some kind of like classic halloween outfit theme! and sollux can be a zombee
AG: 8oooooooo!
GT: boooooooo!
TA: wow FUCK ii walked iinto that one.
AA: hahahaha 0h g0d thats great! high five!
GG: *high five*
AA: *high five*
CG: I AM SURROUNDED BY IDIOTS.
GG: oh shoosh! :p you love us
CG: I THINK I CAN SING THIS ACTUALLY. WHERE WOULD YOU GET THE SHEET MUSIC TO LEARN HOW THOUGH?
TA: hello?? eliite haxxor here. ii can get iit ea2ier than piickiing flower2.
TA: and ii mean wiildflower2 not what you and jd do.
GG: the recognitions appreciated!
CG: NOW, THE QUESTION IS, WHAT SONGS SHOULD WE WORK ON? I’M LISTENING TO A PLAYLIST AND I REALLY LIKE “AMEN.”
GG: oooh i like that one too! its a really good song
GT: i’m not really good with picking songs since i like really all of them! maybe you can just suggest songs and i can agree or disagree?
AG: Awwwwwwww, you can pick songs!
GT: well, how about daughters of darkness?
CG: I’M NOT A DAUGHTER OF ANYTHING, EGBERT.
GT: oh right, yeah, that wouldn’t work since you’re singing it and not lizzy hale.
AG: 8kay, yeah, we’ll just have you say yes or no.
GT: i told you i’m bad at this! D:
AA: 0h i kn0w! i am the fire! that 0ne really w0uld suit y0u!
TA: hey yeah, 2he’2 riight about that. iit’2 a good 2ong about beiing what you’re lookiing for.
CG: YEAH, I LIKE THAT ONE TOO. SO WE HAVE TWO SONGS NOW. I GOTTA SAY, I AM *REALLY* LOVING MS. HYDE, AND THIS ONE IS EASY TO ADJUST FOR MY PRONOUNS TOO.
AG: Hahahaha, we could do a thing with making the lights go out during that “put on the 8lindfold” part and then you can sneak up on Strider!
CG: OOOOH, THAT’S DEVIOUS.
CG: I LOVE IT.
CG: WAIT HE’S NOT JUDGING RIGHT?
GT: nope! he’s just hosting, he isn’t being a judge
GG: good because he isnt very good at being impartial when friends are involved haha!!
GG: so theres amen, i am the fire, and mz hyde, or mr hyde in this case ;D
GG: we should think of oooone more though! too bad we cant have rose playing violin or we could do shatter me lol
GT: man lindsey stirling is amazing at violin!
AG: I’d let her dance on me.
AA: hard same
TA: gaaaaaaaay
AA: s0llux we sc0pe 0ut h0t pe0ple t0gether, were b0th gay as hell
TA: haha ii know, ii’m ju2t giiviing you a hard tiime
AA: :P
CG: I JUST FINISHED LISTENING TO INNOCENCE, AND I REALLY WANT TO DO THIS SONG. I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT IT JUST...IT FEELS RIGHT, YOU KNOW?
GG: oooh man that ones pretty intense!!
AA: 0h i L0VE that s0ng! yes yes yes can we d0 this 0ne t00?
GT: definitely! we should figure out the lineup though. i’m thinking first one mr. hyde to really get their attention, second one innocence, third i am the fire and end the lineup with amen if we make it to the final round?
AG: I’m game!
CG: SOUNDS GOOD TO ME.
AA: yes!
TA: ii’ll get the sheet musiic to everyone toniight, hackiing now.
GG: cool~! now that the important stuff is out of the way i have new bec pictures!!
AA: i am always 0pen t0 pupper pictures
CG: IS HE UP A TREE AGAIN?
GG: not quite
GG: hes on a car this time
AG: 8h my g8d.
GT: you have the weirdest dog
TA: can ii get an amen?


 

“Alright, McClain, McClain...yep, you have a family account. What kind of bouquet are you looking for then?”

“It’s a birthday bouquet for my mom! It just has to make sure it shows affection, and…” The Latino man in front of him looked at the piece of paper he pulled out of his pocket. “Peach roses, they’re her favorite. You guys have peach roses?”

Karkat resisted the urge to roll his eyes but instead gave a pretty good fake smile. “Yeah, we can get pretty much any plants. Jade’s greenhouses are filled with some pretty crazy plants.”

“That’s awesome! But you know, the prettiest flower of them all is right in front of me~” He even winked with a grin.

The brunet was completely deadpan. “I have a boyfriend.”

The flirtatious air dissipated immediately as the other leaned forward with a happy grin. “Oh really? How’d you meet? Is he cute?”

“Holy shit, that’s a hell of a 180!”

“Hey, I respect anyone in a relationship, and honestly I’m just a hardcore romantic and I love hearing about people’s happiness. Oh! I’m Lance by the way!”

“...Karkat.” He couldn’t help but smile a bit at how cheerful Lance was as they shook hands. His high spirits were contagious. “And he came in asking for a fuck you bouquet because a friend of ours had pranked him, gave me his business card with both cell number and pesterchum handle. Then we just, hit it off.”

“Awww~ that's adorable,” Lance cooed. “I hope you two stay together. That bouquet sounds fantastic though, I may order one in the future for a friend slash rival of mine,” he added with a sneaky smirk.

Karkat snickered. “I told Jade they'd be a hit. But for now let's talk about the one for your mom, get that all settled.”

To Karkat’s surprise and pleasure, Lance was highly interested in floriography. His questions were intelligent and he had a strong eye for color. When asked he waved it off with a laugh. “I’m a fashion major, I have to know color and composition!”

In time the appropriate flowers were chosen and Karkat had the order set up. “The confirmation email has been automatically sent,” he commented, not looking up from the computer used for orders. “What’s the phone number?”

“555-420-2583.” He grinned at the raised eyebrow Karkat gave him. “I swear that’s what my phone company gave me.”

Karkat still had a dubious expression but he dutifully put the digits in. “We’ll give you a call to pick it up on the day of. Paying now or at pickup?”

“Now.”

The exchange was handled quickly, since Lance had other errands to run. Yet the door had just closed when Lance burst back in with a pale face. “What’s wrong?” Karkat demanded.

“My car! It’s been stolen!”


 

“Oh god oh god oh god oh god--”

“Lance, breathe. Jade’s got this.”

“My car was a gift from mi abuelo ! He and mi tio restored it for me! If I can’t get it back they’ll be so disappointed, not to mention my parents!”

Jade frowned as she watched the security feed. “Alright, I got the video up and starting just when you drove up. Oooh, that’s a nice car. ‘69 Camaro?”

Lance grinned a bit through his panic. “Yeah, abuelo had a guy sell him the car cheap because it needed so much work. He and tio Coran love that kind of thing!”

“Aha! Got something!” The three watched as someone in a hoodie with the hood pulled up expertly broke into the car with lockpicking tools, hotwired the car, and then drove away. Jade clicked her tongue, eyebrows furrowed and eyes blazing. “Damn! I am so sorry this happened, Lance. We’ll call the police and file a report, and we’ll get you a refund on the bouquet you just ordered.”

Lance’s jaw dropped. “That was expensive as hell! It’s not your fault!”

“She’s Scrooge McDuck rich as fuck,” Karkat said drily. “She can afford it.”

Jade stuck her tongue out at him briefly before turning back to Lance. “Think of it as my apology. It happened on my property, I feel responsible for it!”

“Oh, well, thanks--but it isn’t your fault! Just shitty bad luck, really,” Lance reassured her, running a hand through his hair. “I think my friends added GPS or something like that to my car actually.” He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Guess we should call the cops now?”


 

“Aw, shit, that must’ve been awful.”

Yeah, but turns out Lance has a friend on the force who can help. And he mentioned something about a pigeon?”

“Huh. Probably a nickname. Ugh, I hate waiting in airports. Dirk’s flight is delayed by another 20 minutes, what the fuck is that plane doing?”

“It’s raining, Dave, it’s probably causing issues with turbulence and shit.”

“True. Oh fuck, I think I see Jade! I’m gonna go say hi. Talk to you later, crabcakes!”

“Wait, what?!”

Dave hung up snickering. He loved coming up with weird and ridiculous nicknames to rile his boyfriend up. His eyes would go all sparky with annoyance and his fluffy hair would make him look like an angry cat with all his bristling. Ahhh he was so lucky~

“Dave, hi!”

“Hey, Jade.” He braced himself for the back-breaking hug that she always gave him, even picking him up with ease. He groaned a bit but hugged her back. “What’re you doing here?”

“Picking up Jake! He’s coming home for a while, his flight’s landing in 20 minutes!”

“No shit? Fuck, so’s Dirk’s! They gotta be on the same flight then, who woulda thought? Hey, you wanna grab something while we wait?”

“Oooh, mister millionaire treating poor small-business-owner me?” she teased, looping her arm around his.

“I’m being chivalrous, miss I have twenty science patents,” he snarked back. They quickly bought sugary drinks and pastries from Starbucks and sat at the gate exit, catching up. Jade was pleased with her newest rose hybrids, acquired from famous Japanese landscaper Shuichi Minamino. She was still upset however with the carjacking that had occurred earlier in the week, but Officer Shirogane reassured her that they would be able to recover the car. Something to do with pigeons?

TT: We just landed.

Dave checked his phone and grinned. “Dirk just landed. Hey, you should’ve brought flowers for your brother!” He didn’t mind the punch to his arm, even if it would leave a bruise.

Neither of them expected to see their brothers walk out of the gate holding hands and laughing. They stopped in front of their siblings in surprise, although Jake burst into a bright grin and let go of Dirk’s hand in order to scoop Jade up in a tight hug. Dave just raised an eyebrow toward his brother with a smirk. Dirk flushed hotly. “Don’t you say fucking anything.”

“Wait until Roxy hears~”

“You shut your goddamn mouth you brat. We just hit it off on the plane and since Jake’s sticking around indefinitely, we’re going to…” He shrugged with a small smile. “Give it a whirl.”

Dave’s shades dropped down his nose as his eyes widened. “Damn, already picking up on his words? How good was his dick?”

“Going by how hard he bit my shoulder, pretty damn good!” Jake called over with a laugh. Dirk flushed bright enough that his entire face and ears were red, Jade smacked Jake’s shoulder, and Dave choked on his drink.

...Only his brother would get a boyfriend and laid on a flight.

Chapter Text

Secrets; Compassion; Danger, Beware, Caution

Am I brave enough, am I strong enough, to follow the desire that burns from within? To push away my fear, to stand where I’m afraid, I am through with this, ‘cause I am more than this--I--promise to myself--a-lone and no one else, my flame is rising higher….I am the--

My anaconda don’t! My anaconda don’t! My anaconda--

“Fucking hell!” Karkat almost fell off his bed from the shock of interruption. Growling to himself he checked his phone. Of course. Why should he have expected anything different? “I swear, you’re a goddamn ass man,” he growled over the line.

Awwww, come on Karkat, you have the finest damn ass I have ever been blessed to see. And you left your phone unlocked, did you really expect me to not add a fun ringtone?

Karkat sighed heavily and rolled his eyes, even though he felt his lips fighting to curve upwards. “I thought John was the prankster of our friends.”

A low chuckle hit his ears. “Nah, the Strilondes can enjoy a good prank too. Roxy can be evil with hers! How’s everything, honeysuckle?

“Crabcakes wasn’t a good enough nickname?”

As crabby as you can be, fish puns didn’t seem right. You do a lot of flower shit though so I’m gonna bestow upon you a garden of nicknames.

“You fucking nerd oh my god,” laughed Karkat, running a hand over his face. “What’s up?”

Aradia messaged me saying that she was coming home next week, so I wanna throw her a welcome home party. Gonna need your help in decorating my place. I’ll throw in some kisses to sweeten the deal~

“Hmm, tempting, very tempting, Strider. But I think I’m going to need a little more incentive.”

I’ll have booze?

Karkat snorted a bit. “I’m good. Try again.”

How about you stay the night afterwards and I make breakfast again?

“Sure, but I’ll cook this time. One plate full of dick pancakes is enough.”

Hahaha, alright alright. Oh--crap, I got a call on the other line. Talk to you later?

“Of course. Night, Dave.”

Night, rosey-posey~

“NO.” Karkat hung up on Dave’s laughter and shook his head, falling back on his bed. It was one of those rare nights that he was home alone--his parents were at some kind of reception for Siglas’ teaching job at the nearby college, and Nepeta was spending the night at Equius’. Meulin and Kankri had moved out a few years ago as well.

The silence was eerie.

He sighed and sat up again, pulling his headphones back on and beginning the song from earlier over. For the most part he had the songs memorized, but the key was listening to instrumentals and knowing when to come in on which beats and such. There had been some worry about whether or not they would be able to mesh together with just a week of practice after Aradia returned, but apparently she had brought her guitar with her on the dig. Even if she couldn’t play it with a speaker, she could practice the fingerings and such.

Pouncellor jumped onto his lap with a needy meow, and he smiled softly as he started to stroke the cat. Even if he could be a needy whiny brat of a cat, the former stray was pretty nice to have on lonely nights. Again, the notes flowed over him and he quietly sang along. Until a sudden cramping feeling made him stop.

“Oh fuck.”

Yep. He wasn’t going into work the next day. Thank god Jade was so understanding.


 

- sharpshootingWinja [SW] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] -

SW: hey there! this is Karkat right?
CG: UH, YEAH? WHO’S THIS?
SW: it’s Lance! the guy whose car was stolen
CG: OH SHIT, HEY THERE. HOW’D YOU GET MY HANDLE?
SW: Jade
CG: OF COURSE.
SW: I wanted to let you know that I got my car back! my baby’s home again! :D
CG: THAT’S GREAT! DID THE POLICE FIND IT?
SW: kinda sorta. my friend’s a police officer so he helped out but technically it was another friend Pidge who did GPS tracking.
CG: SO YOU WEREN’T TALKING ABOUT A REAL PIGEON?
SW: LOL no
SW: she got her nickname ages ago from her older brother
SW: she’s like some kind of superhacker who works for the government while in college
SW: I think
SW: she’s never really went into detail saying things like it’s classified but I swear I saw her hacking into foreign government files once
CG: ALRIGHT, GOOD TO KNOW YOU HAVE SOMEONE TO COVER YOU IF YOU EVER HAVE TO FLEE THE COUNTRY.
SW: right? I mean with my friends you never know
SW: but yeah we found my car! turns out my ex gf and her friend hijacked it and were planning on selling it for scraps or something like that
SW: we stole it back and Pidge cleared their security cameras in a fake glitch loop so that they have no way of finding out who took it and it looks like the cameras screwed up
SW: we also may have wrecked some shit of theirs to make it look like vandals who saw an opportunity
CG: SHIT, THAT’S PRETTY HARDCORE.
CG: I’M IMPRESSED.
SW: thanks! I really didn’t do too much except drive and wreck shit though. Pidge and Hunk--my roommate and best friend since third grade--were the ones who did all the technical stuff, and Keith--rivalfriend--and Shiro--Officer Shirogane--were lookouts. And Allura and Matt--Shiro’s datemates--joined in for fun
CG: IF THAT’S THEIR IDEA OF FUN I’M AFRAID OF WHAT ISN’T FUN FOR THEM.
SW: THANK YOU my thoughts exactly! look, Matt and Allura and Shiro seem like perfect upstanding citizens but they’re thrillseeking nerds
SW: I think Allura’s trying to convince them to try having sex while bungee jumping
CG: WHAT.
SW: don’t ask me I’m not that crazy
CG: THAT JUST SOUNDS DANGEROUS.
SW: I’m waiting for them to be arrested by Shiro’s commanding officer for organizing an orgy in the station or something like that at this rate
CG: OKAY, REALLY NOT IN THE MOOD FOR SEX TALK RIGHT NOW, AS HILARIOUS AS THIS IS.
SW: you ok man?
CG: EH, JUST NOT FEELING THAT GOOD. I’M USED TO IT.
SW: chronic pain? D:
CG: HAHA, SORT OF. IT’LL PASS, JUST WISH THE RICE PACK WOULD LAST LONGER FOR CRAMPS.
SW: ooooh ok! where are the cramps? I got a ton of old wife remedies from family
CG: LOWER STOMACH.
SW: actual stomach cramps or menstrual cramps?
CG: COME AGAIN?
SW: it’s important to know which it is so that I can check which teas will be best! but peppermint is the best for nausea no matter what
CG: I KNOW THAT, MY SISTER IS A HUGE TEA FANATIC. I WAS SURPRISED YOU ASKED ABOUT MENSTRUAL CRAMPING.
SW: you never know if someone is trans or nonbinary or anything like that
SW: I mean I’m bi so I’m always making sure not to make assumptions on gender or sexuality
SW: man the number of people who thought I was a gross fuckboi just bc I like to flirt for fun!
CG: OH.
CG: YOU’RE A REALLY NICE GUY, LANCE.
CG: THANKS, BUT I ACTUALLY HAVE TEA FOR MENSTRUAL CRAMPS.
SW: ok cool
SW: if ya ever need anything just pester me ok? :3
SW: I like you and after all the help you and Jade gave with my car I wanna be friends!
CG: WELL, I’LL ADMIT THAT YOU’RE NOT AS BAD AS I THOUGHT YOU WERE AFTER THAT TERRIBLE PICK UP LINE.
SW: that was a *quality* picking up line
CG: SURE IT WAS.
CG: BUT ALRIGHT.
SW: sweet!
SW: hey are you in college by any chance?
CG: I ACTUALLY GRADUATED WITH MY BACHELOR’S THIS YEAR IN FILM STUDIES. YOU SAID SOMETHING ABOUT FASHION LAST WEEK?
SW: yep! sophomore at samwell uni, fashion major, also leader of some clubs!
SW: and I’m in a band
CG: OH?
SW: yep, vocals and guitarist! my friends and I are even trying out in this battle of the bands thing, so wish us luck!
CG: YOU’RE GOING TO BE GOING AGAINST MY FRIENDS TOO THEN. BLAME JOHN FOR THE NAME, IT’S NATIONAL TREASURE.
SW: Nic Cage fan?
CG: DEAR GOD HE’S OBSESSED.
CG: IF IT WAS ANYONE ELSE I’D THINK HE HAD A CRUSH ON HIM.
SW: lol
SW: well may the best band win! :D
CG: WHAT’S YOUR BAND NAME?
SW: Voltron!


“Sollux! Feferi!”

“Aradia!”

“AA!”

The two managed to catch the little spitfire of an archaeologist when she launched herself at them for tight hugs. She gave them both affectionate kisses (Sollux first) and a squeeze. “Oh, it’s so good to be back! Real seasons again!”

Feferi’s laugh bubbled over. “And the holidays are coming up too! Are you going to be staying long?”

“Yep! I’m off of the dig for a while, we have several artifacts we need to clean up and study so I’m going to be working at the museum for the time being.” Aradia bounced back so that she could grab her carry-on bag. “Is Equius with you guys?”

“Sadly, no, he got called into work. One of the riding teachers got sick so he’s covering,” Feferi explained with a pout that Aradia matched. “But!” Her deep brown eyes sparkled again as she grinned. “He said he’d come over tonight afterwards!”

“Oh good! Since it’s my return home, does this mean I get to be treated like a princess tonight?” Aradia teased with a mischievous look.

Sollux snorted a bit while they walked to baggage claim. “We all know the real princess is FF.”

“Not anymore! You know I don’t like being called such!”

“How about treasure of our hearts~?” Aradia asked. Even though Feferi’s skin made it hard to tell when she was embarrassed, the little wiggle of her nose and quick cough was enough to confirm. Aradia giggled and leaned up to sneak her a kiss. “It’s good to be home! I missed you so much!”

“We missed you too, AA,” Sollux replied with a warm smile. While the three of them waited for Aradia’s baggage she happily filled them in on all the interesting artifacts she had found, and the graves that they had been able to preserve. Her luggage was easy to find--it was the only one covered in bone stickers with city names on them.

Soon enough the conversation turned toward their attempt at making a band. “So, when are we going to get together to practice?” Aradia asked as she hopped in the back seat.

Sollux checked his phone briefly. “We were thinking this Thursday, it’s the only day everyone has off--JD said that the store’s doing a full system update so she’s closing it down for the day. And then Saturday is your welcome home party at Dave’s place.”

“I can’t wait to see everyone again! It’s been months, so this is going to be something of a vacation for me. And I’ll admit, one of the best things is absolutely the plumbing. I love indoor plumbing.”

The car jerked to a stop because of an errant driver sliding in front of them when they were trying to merge lanes. Feferi, the driver, growled. “Did you miss Boston driving too?”

“Eh, at least once we get to Samwell it’s going to be calmer.” Aradia leaned back in her chair with a small chuckle. “Isn’t it funny how we all just ended up living in the same general area and right near Samwell Uni?”

“I’m glad I was able to start there!” Feferi chirped. “I know Mom was all about me going right to Harvard, but it was so much better to go to Samwell first--especially since you two and Equius were there as well!”

Sollux chuckled a bit, holding onto the handle easily as Feferi expertly weaved out of one lane and into the next. “It’s a good place. Plus Uncle SG could give us the lowdown on which teachers to avoid and shit.”

“He was one of the best teachers too. Thinking of taking another of his courses for fun myself, actually.”

“I wish I could, but with the law and poli-sci courses that’s enough on my plate! I’m just so glad Cambridge isn’t too far from Boston. No way I was going to miss picking up my gillfrond!”

“Feferiiiii, you’re making me blush!” Aradia clapped her hands to her cheeks, laughing. “You’re lucky you’re so cute!”

“And she’s driving,” Sollux added drily.

“That too!”

Once they were finally able to get onto I-93 the conversation bounced between topics, from Feferi’s classes to Sollux’s plan on quitting in a spectacular fireworks show (not entirely sure how figurative the fireworks would be) to, eventually, friend-related gossip. “VK and JH are still together and being disgusting,” Sollux griped.

Aradia snickered a bit. “They work, somehow, even with their up and downs and occasional breakups. But they’re boring old news! I wanna know about Karkat and Dave!” Her eyes were sparkling as she leaned forward eagerly. “How long have they been dating now?”

“I think it’s going to be two months this Saturday actually,” Sollux explained. “I’ll let them tell you how they started though, it’s pretty fucking hilarious,” he added with a low chuckle. His eyes--one amber and one blue--looked over his glasses as he turned to look at Aradia. “And let me tell you, they’re so fucking head over heels together it’s almost worse than VK and JH.”

“No!”

“JD said she caught KK pruning and going he likes me he likes me not.”

That’s so gay.” Feferi’s sudden whisper made the other two burst into delighted laughter. “Ahhh I’m going to be teasing Karkrab so much this weekend! He’s going to hate me but worth it!”

“If he says he hates you I’ll beat him up, FF. And you know EQ would do the same if anyone hurt you.”

“Oh pft, it’s fine! Karkat has only ever truly hated a few people.” The memory of one former friend made them all go quiet for a few moments, before Feferi quickly brought them back to the present. “Anyway! Did you hear about Kanaya too? She’s got a gillfrond!”

“Ooh, I’ll have to congratulate her! Do we know her?”

“Dave’s sister, Rose.”

No.

“Yes!”

“I swear everyone’s queer as hell,” Sollux commented. “I think the only straight person is technically JH? I think?”

“He’s only really been interested in Vriska, so maybe he’s more demi?” Aradia pointed out thoughtfully. “But does it matter so long as he’s happy? Besides, I’m so glad Kanaya finally has a girlfriend! With all of her focus on fashion and studies she never took time to take care of herself when it came to dating.”

“Now if only NP and TZ would figure it out…”

“They still haven’t? I thought Karkat would’ve locked them in a closet by now.”

“NP won’t let him meddle, apparently. He’s still annoyed, he loves those romantic comedy shenanigans.”

“Booo, she needs to let him, otherwise those two are gonna be dancing around each other for years and then die alone and forlorn.”

“Aradia, have you been reading emo poetry again?”

“Edgar Allen Poe is not emo, thank you very much!”

Feferi soon enough pulled into the parking lot of Sollux’s apartment complex, easily taking the heaviest luggage to the front door. Sollux was left to grab the carry-on and a third bag, while Aradia cradled her guitar. It was one of the few things she insisted on taking to every expedition, because life was nothing without music. Since they all had keys to his apartment Feferi opened the door. “We’re home~!”

“Are you telling Sollux’s plushes--” Aradia gasped in delight and, after putting the guitar down, rushed to jump in her other partner’s arms. “Equius! They said you weren’t coming until late!”

“I was here preparing your welcome-home dinner,” the much taller man replied with a chuckle, hugging her back tightly yet carefully. He gently put her back down with a warm smile. “How was your flight?”

“Not bad, really. Food was decent, but it can’t compare to home cooking.” She inhaled deeply and beamed. “Is that lasagna I smell?”

“And a few other things.” Equius kissed her forehead before accepting the hug and kiss from Feferi. “Yes, yes, hello to you too.”

“Oh, you’re more enthusiastic to see Aradia and not me? I’m hurt!” Feferi pretended to swoon into Equius’ arms. Her long-suffering boyfriend simply caught her with a sigh, attempting and failing to hide his smile. She laughed after a moment and bounced back onto her feet, grabbing the bags with Aradia. “We’re going to start unpacking, let us know when dinner’s ready!”

“I have some great souvenirs for you guys too!”

The two men were left alone for a few seconds before they looked at each other. Sollux smirked. “Beer and making out?”

Equius returned it. “I suppose I could be persuaded.”


“Jesus fucking Christ , did you buy out the Halloween store or something?”

“Dude, if you’ve known Aradia for any amount of time, you would know that Halloween is her favorite time of the year.”

“Yeah but, is that a Zero the dog prop?”

“Press the nose! It barks!”

Karkat pressed the nose, and the little animatronic did in fact start barking. He laughed and set it up at the door for guests to admire. “Very cute.”

“Not as cute as you~” Dave grabbed Karkat’s hands and pulled him close to kiss him. While the brunet would normally have protested at the sudden burst of affection, since it was just the two of them he allowed himself to return it. There was a feeling of pure bliss that rushed through both of them as they returned to the kiss over and over.

They only stopped when Karkat breathlessly pulled away with a slight chuckle. “I know it’s been a week since we’ve seen each other, did you miss me that badly?”

Dave pouted and gave Karkat an obnoxiously wet kiss on the cheek. He gave him a cheeky grin at the disgusted groan. “Duh.” He took a moment to look around the terrifyingly decorated apartment. “I think we’re good.”

“It’s a good thing you asked me to come over early, otherwise we would never have gotten this finished beforehand.” He glanced at the clock. “And early too.”

Dave hummed a bit before pulling away, closing the curtains and dimming the lights so that the main lights were the red and orange fairy lights strewn about, along with a few candles and the electric fireplace lit. “That’s better.”

“Mm, not quite.” At Dave’s inquisitive look Karkat walked over and carefully pulled his sunglasses off. “Now it’s actually perfect.”

A quiet whine slipped out and Dave moved close enough to hide his face in Karkat’s shoulder. “I’m the cool kid, I’m supposed to be the smooth one putting the moves on you,” he pouted. His unrelenting boyfriend only laughed and gave him a hug. He sighed in exaggerated defeat. “You’re lucky you’re so cute, you know that?”

“I’m adorabloodthirsty, there’s a big difference.”

Dave made a little snrk sound and, feeling bold, gave Karkat a kiss where his jaw met his neck. At the sudden shiver he smirked and left another, and another, along his jawline until suddenly pulling away before kissing his lips. “I gotta check the stove!”

Karkat gaped at his back before chasing him into the kitchen. “You ass , you don’t just do that to a guy!”

“I can and I did.” Dave smirked over his shoulder, snatching the other in his arms. “Come on, like you’re not a damn tease?”

There was nothing in the stove or on it to check in the first place. Bastard. “You deserved that and you know it.”

“I did not deserve being forced to watch you lick that ice cream cone like that!”

Dave looked so scandalized that Karkat couldn’t stop laughing. He let his arms loop around the other’s neck with a sly smirk. “If that’s the case, then what’re you going to do about it?”

Oh-- oh. The implications were such that it set Dave’s cheeks ablaze, and he could feel the same heat crawling up his neck. Still, he managed to return the smirk with one of his own as his hands settled on the other’s hips. “I mean, we do still have a little less than an hour. I think that’s enough time to show you just what I’m going to do~” He knew that Karkat was allowing him to push him back towards the couch, but he was much too busy kissing him to really focus.

To his surprise he found himself landing on his ass on black leather, bouncing just a bit even as Karkat followed. A delightfully pleasant weight straddled his hips and he eagerly pulled him back down, nipping at the other’s lip. He responded with a soft groan that sent the best tingles down Dave’s back and to his toes.

Okay, maybe he wasn’t the one to show what he was going to do about Karkat being a tease. He was fine with letting Karkat take the lead though. His fingers ran through thick dark black-brown hair that was much softer than it looked. Karkat was just a little broader than Dave--he had never been able to keep weight on, years of malnutrition and a fast metabolism did that to a guy. Having him secure in his lap, holding him close as they barely separated for air, he was in fucking heaven--no, never mind, now he was, that was definitely a tongue in his mouth and that cinnamon shampoo Karkat used was intoxicating, he was fucking drowning in it, completely lost, put it on his gravestone that he was dead from make out session with the hottest boy in the world. The moan drawn from him was so sensual that he felt the hitch in Karkat’s chest.

The brunet slowly pulled away to look at him through thick lashes. Dave’s eyes were hazy and half closed with pleasure, his lips were starting to redden, and he could definitely start feeling something stirring underneath him. His heart squeezed in delicious pain. “You're beautiful…”

Dave flushed at the sudden compliment and shook his head a bit, cupping Karkat’s cheek. “You clearly don't look in the mirror often enough,” he murmured. Before he could respond he was pulled into an even deeper kiss than before, and oh that was it. The perfect fit of their lips. Suddenly it was Karkat whose senses were overwhelmed, with apple in his nose and silky blond strands and a firm hand cupping his jaw so gently he might have been glass. There was another pang in his chest when he realized just how hard he had fallen for the dorky cool kid who was doing some--

Okay, that was distracting, what was he saying again? The hand on his ass gave another appreciative squeeze and he groaned low in his throat, pressing himself fully against the other beneath him.

“Should I come back later? And would you like me to put a sock on the doorknob for you?”

Karkat and Dave both jerked apart from the kiss, seeing Rose stand there with a wide shit-eating grin. Next to her Kanaya was hiding her laughter behind a hand. She failed when Dave and Karkat turned near-identical shades of red. “I-I’m so sorry, Rose insisted on seeing if you needed help setting up,” she explained. Her grin was equally shit-eating. “Would you like us to come back when it’s closer to time?”

“A little fucking hard to do that, since the mood’s pretty much ruined,” Karkat snapped. He didn’t notice Dave turn even redder as he pulled away, nor did he see Dave scramble for a couch pillow after he stood up. “You really couldn’t have waited?”

Rose simply gestured toward the grandfather clock. “There’s only ten minutes before everyone else starts arriving.”

“...Oh.” Karkat awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck before looking at Dave, who was still sitting there with the pillow in his lap. “...why the hell do you have that pillow?”

“No reason just gotta go do something gonna put this elsewhere brb!” The blond dashed out of the room, pillow in hand.

Once he was out of earshot Rose cackled. “Oh, that was beautiful. I do so love torturing my favorite twin.”

Kanaya shook her head in adoring exasperation and looked towards Karkat. “I’m so glad that you’re so happy. But, does he know yet?”

The sudden question made Karkat frown, and he looked down at his socks--red and gray striped, appropriate for the decor. “Not yet. I’m going to tell him soon, I just...I’m afraid of ruining what we have.”

Rose’s demeanor changed from sadistic glee to concern. “Is everything alright, Karkat?”

“Yeah, it’s nothing bad. Just, um…” Karkat bit his lip and took a breath. “I’m trans.”

To his surprise Rose only blinked. “...Oh, wait, that’s what has you so concerned, right?” Behind her Kanaya rolled her eyes. “If that’s all, then you won’t have to worry. He won’t care about what’s in your pants or what isn’t, he will only want to make sure that he hasn’t upset you in any way. He’s really quite considerate about that. I suppose that’s one of his good qualities,” she sighed.

A weight seemed to drop off his shoulders and he gave her a relieved smile. “Thanks, Rose. Uh, I’m going to go check on him real quick.”

Kanaya waited until Karkat was out of earshot before looking towards her girlfriend. “You did a great job reassuring him. Thank you.”

Rose smiled and took her hand, kissing it gently. “He makes Davie happy. Happier than I have ever seen him. That’s all I can ask for.”

Kanaya batted her lashes in a coquettish manner. “Do I make you happy?”

“I’m wearing your Underwater Mysteries dress. I would have thought that was enough proof.”

“Perhaps I need another reminder.” She giggled as Rose gladly kissed her.

Down the hallway Karkat knocked on the bathroom door. “Dave? You ok?”

“Yeah, hang on--” He could hear the sink running for a moment and then Dave opened the door, droplets still clinging to bits of his hair and along the edge of his jaw. “Just had to calm down a moment.” He couldn’t help but glance ever so quickly at the other’s pants. “How’d you calm down so fast?”

The brunet swallowed thickly. “It’s, uh, there’s...there’s nothing really to calm down?”

Dave tilted his head to the side. “What, you mean that didn’t get you all hot and bothered?” Suddenly he grinned. “Does that mean we have to do it again ‘cuz I’d be down for that.”

“Nono, not what I mean--I mean, yeah, definitely have to do it again, but not right now--I mean…” Kakat breathed in deeply and let it out slowly. “I don’t actually have anything to calm down, because I don’t technically have a dick.”

“You don’t?”

“No, Dave. I’m...I’m trans.”

There was a moment as Dave processed the new information. Then he nodded. “Gotcha. So when we decide to start banging, we make sure to talk about the do’s and don’ts. Can I still grope your ass though? Oof!” He caught the sudden bundle of giddy laughing Vantas, finding himself smiling. “Aw, babe, were you worried I wouldn’t like you if you were trans?”

“Maybe a little,” he mumbled, hiding his face in the other’s neck.

“Oh, Karkat…” Dave hugged him tighter and kissed the side of his head. “Trust me, you’re stuck with me for hopefully forever. I mean, I’d like it to be forever, I know you never know what the future holds but I like to think that we got a good thing going, especially since we’ve already been dating for two months now so--” He was thankfully silenced by a kiss slightly marred by quiet chuckles.

After a sweet interval Karkat pulled away slowly. “Thank you, Dave.”

“You're welcome. Hey, do you have a binder or did you already get top surgery ‘cuz if you’re wearing a binder you're going to have to take it off if you've been wearing it all day, don't want your ribs breaking I like you whole.”

Karkat laughed again, leaning his forehead against Dave’s. “I had top surgery when I turned 18. You don't have to worry about anything.”

“Babe, you're my boyfriend. Of course I'm going to worry.”

“Who’s ready to party meowtherfuckers!?”

Karkat and Dave both burst into giggles at the high soprano of Nepeta. “We should get out there,” Dave muttered. Neither of them moved though. Their eyes were far more interesting than whatever party shenanigans were going to happen.

Suddenly Karkat pulled away enough that there was a little space between them, but there certainly wasn’t enough room for Jesus still. “We gotta stop stalling before Nepeta catches us and starts squealing, I have to put up with it enough at home.”

“Alright, babe. Hey, so can I make trans puns or would that be bad?”

“Depends on just how awful the pun itself is.”

More and more people trickled into the apartment, most people that Karkat knew and a few whom he didn’t. They were all here for Aradia though, and when she came last (as Sollux had insisted she do as guest of honor) they all shouted her a welcome home.

Aradia hid her mouth behind her hand, eyes crinkling upward as they watered. “Oh, it’s so good to be home! Thank you, everyone! But the biggest thank you to Dave, for organizing everything!” She gave him a kiss on the cheek, just enough to leave a bright dark red lipstick mark.

Dave simply grinned. “Anything for my favorite archaeologist!”

“And I have something for you!”

“Oh shit, really?” He took the little bag from her and looked in it. “No fucking way!”

“I remembered your last one broke!”

“This is sick! Thanks Aradia! Karkat, Karkat, help me put this on!”

Karkat accepted the chain with a raised eyebrow. “A skull?”

“Skulls are the best!”

“Exactly, Jake!” Dave looked back to Karkat. “It’s a crow skull. When I was a kid I used to find dead birds and preserve them in jars. It wasn’t until I moved in with Mom and everyone that I decided to try going into archaeology.”

Karkat shook his head with a smile as he helped hook the pendant around Dave’s neck. The cleaned skull gleamed in the low light from the protective clear coating on it. “Morbid, but you’re cute so you can get away with it.”

Aradia’s eyes glittered eagerly. “Okay, I’m home, so I need all the details! How did you two get together?” Most of the other party goers cheered for the story.

Dave groaned a bit. “I’m getting a drink. It’s almost embarrassing now.”

Karkat smirked, “What, the fuck you bouquets are a hit now thanks to you.”

“A what?”

“Okay, so you can thank John there--”

“Hello!”

“--because he pranked Dave while he was away. So Dave comes storming in pissed off like he was about to sic a murder of crows on someone, slaps a twenty on the counter and demands for flowers that mean fuck you.”

Tavros blinked a bit, scratching his cheek. “So, uhh...John is the reason why you two got together?”

“Nono, he was the damn catalyst though,” Dave said, coming back with a hard cider. “If it hadn’t been for that I think Jade was gonna set us up on a blind date though.”

Jade beamed unrepentantly from her spot on the couch. “You know I would have!”

“Anyway, so I get his order set up, and he gives me his card for the club which has his pesterchum handle on it too. I decided to message him just to see, and, well, here we are.”

“Being fucking gay as hell,” Dave added as he decided that Karkat’s lap would be the most comfortable. The little oof of surprise when he plopped made him grin. “But you know, I’m not the only one who’s got someone. Funniest shit was when Jade and I went to pick up our brothers from the airport.”

The two in question suddenly looked very awkward. Dirk coughed and Jake stammered, “I don’t know if she’d wanna know that, it’s really not that interesting! We just talked on the plane!”

Aradia’s attention zeroed in on him and she gave him a delighted dangerous grin. “Come on, Jake, tell!”

“If he won’t I will!” Jade declared over her brother’s strident objections. Dirk had a look on his face that he was just waiting for decapitation as the situation continued to go pear shaped. “So Jake’s been talking to someone a lot online to try and make a company--the family money won’t last forever so he wants to make some big famous company but I think he just wants his ass to be famous.”

“It’s a very nice ass,” Dirk muttered. He grinned at the elbow to his side as Jake sputtered and turned red.

Jade ignored the exchange and continued. “So he’s telling me all about this guy he’s infatuated with, how he’s one of the smartest guys he knows but also does a lot more than just robotics and is really philosophical and thoughtful, and he thinks he’s interested but isn’t sure and you know, being dramatic. And then he comes home from a trip to the Mayan temples and who do we see him holding hands with coming off the plane but Dirk!”

Dave laughed and nodded, “Turns out it was Dirk he was talking to online all this time! So at least I don’t have to hear him mooning over this really hot guy that he spends literally hours talking to all the time. Oh, and they totally fucked on the plane.”

Everyone burst into laughter even as Dirk squawked and Jake hid his face in his hands. Roxy triumphantly crowed, “I knew it! No wonder you’ve been so chill, the stick in your ass was replaced by his dick!”

“Roxanne Phryne Lalonde, I am going to kill you!”

“Nooo, Janey, Callie, save me!”

Aradia was laughing so hard she had to wipe tears from her eyes. “Oh gods, that’s even better than the fuck you bouquet! Oh hey, Nico, you should send those flowers to Percy sometime!”

The black-haired young man in an aviator jacket in the corner watching everyone snickered. “Maybe next time he pisses me off. But Annabeth’s been keeping him in line, so he’s safe for now.”

At that point everyone started drifting into smaller groups, Aradia bouncing from place to place as she tried to catch up with her friends. Being a polyglot, she was switching between so many languages that it could make a single-language speaker’s head spin. At one point she was speaking a mixture of Italian and Spanish with Nico and Tavros easily responding in kind.

Someone (Dirk) changed the music about an hour in, the harsh guitars suddenly cutting off and the brassy overtones of swing jazz rang out. Aradia squealed in glee and ran to Sollux. “Come on, let’s dance!”

“Wait, AA--oh fuck, fine.”

Terezi grabbed Nepeta and pulled her onto the makeshift dance floor that Dave had set up with a cackle. “Come on kitten, boogie with me!”

Karkat was content to watch from the couch along the wall, sipping a drink and feeling a pleasant buzz. He had no plans on driving since Dave had told him in no uncertain terms that if he didn’t stay the night he would be utterly destroyed. But he also didn’t want to get too drunk. He noticed that Roxy was sticking to Sprite or something like that while chatting with Callie, and that the Italian guy, Nico, had also been dragged onto the dance floor by a sunny-smiling blond. He couldn’t help but wonder as he looked around the room, how in the hell did Aradia even meet so many people? There were definitely a few more people he didn’t recognize around the room.

“Heeeeey, buttercup~” Dave draped his arms around Karkat’s shoulders, leaning over the armrest. “You havin’ fun?”

Karkat leaned against his boyfriend with a chuckle. “Yeah, just people watching. You?”

“Lots, but missin’ ya,” he drawled, Texas twang starting to grow more pronounced after two hard ciders and an appletini. “I noticed y’were all alone and figured, I should fix that. Wanna dance?”

“Hmm…” Karkat made the mistake of turning to look at Dave and was struck by the sparkling red eyes staring him down. There was the faintest flush across his cheeks and he had a near-blinding smile. Karkat’s heart flipped at least four times and there were definitely butterflies in his stomach again. “S-sure.”

“Yes!” Dave took Karkat’s drink and put it on the little side table, grabbing his hands and pulling him over. To his surprise and pleasure, the blond took the lead in the dancing. “You ever dance?”

“Kinda, with Nepeta since it was for Mom and Dad’s wedding.” He yelped a bit when he was spun out and then back. “Whoa, shit, when did you learn to dance?”

“Mom signed us all up for dance lessons as a family bonding thing, it was fun!” he laughed, expertly guiding Karkat through a few basic steps. “And then in college Aradia and I were in the swing dancing club together! It’s all about timing and keeping the beat with your steps!” He suddenly spun them both together and dipped Karkat, who let out a startled laugh. “Whatcha think, buttercup?”

“I think you’re tipsy,” he exclaimed. The grin on his face and the light in his eyes made Dave’s breath catch in his throat even as he pulled him back up on his two feet. “But we should go dancing in the future! This is actually fun!” A bell rang through the trumpets of jazz and Karkat tilted his head to the side. “Was that the doorbell?”

“I dunno, who else could be here?”

“No idea, I’ll go check.” Karkat pulled away from Dave and went to the door, but right when he was about to open it Dave pressed himself against his back and kissed his neck. “D-Dave, stop,” he laughed, squirming a bit from the kisses.

“Nah~ you’re cute when you’re giggly.”

Karkat flushed but couldn’t hide his grin as he opened the door. “Will you shut the fuck up you goddamn dork--”

"Hey there, motherfucker. What’s all been happening?"

Karkat's mood was suddenly dropped into the Arctic Sea. Slowly, he looked from a confused Dave to the man in front of him. A knot began to make itself known in his gut and tighten. Behind him, the hubbub of chatter and laughter had slowly gone silent. "G...Gamzee."

Chapter Text

Immortality, Fidelity, Everlasting Friendship; Sorrowful Memories, I Can’t Forget You; Believe Me, Declaration of Love

“What the ever living fuck are you doing here?”

Dave squinted at the slouching man in front of them. There was definitely some kind of aroma around him, smelled like weed. His hair had a weird sheen and the general air around him was unkempt hobo. “How the hell did you even find my place? I don’t even know you.”

Said man in question waved it off like it was no big deal. “Nah, it’s alright. Heard the ramsis had all up and motherfuckin’ come back from digging up corpses and that shit. Figured I’d stop in and say welcome back.”

Dave straightened up, pulling away somewhat from Karkat. He still kept an arm around his waist though, he could feel how Karkat was completely stiff. His face had gone a bit pale too at seeing this strung-out asshole. “Doesn’t still answer the question.”

Gamzee’s eyes flickered from the almost possessive hold back to Dave’s face. “Went over to Tavbro’s place to chill, he wasn’t there, went to use his laptop and what do I see but his pesterchum open. Saw the info and figured, hey, ramsis is here so might as well get my motherfucking welcome home all on the wicked up.”

Tavros wheeled himself over to behind Dave and Karkat, a look of chagrin on his face. “Gamzee, look, how about we both go back? It, uh, it might not be a good idea to stay,” he added, eyes flicking back and forth from Gamzee to Karkat and back.

Gamzee just frowned, tilting his head to the side. “Aw, why the motherfuck not bro? It’s not like there’s any wicked bad blood anymore, right?”

Get out.

The sudden hiss startled Dave into looking at Karkat. The brunet’s fists were tight enough that his knuckles were growing paler by the second, and there was a look of such fury and hatred that it scared him for a moment. But underneath all that was definitely fear. It set the blond on edge and he looked back at Gamzee suspiciously. “Look, I don’t know who you are, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to stay.”

“Come on, that was fucking years ago, and I’m actually not doing too bad.”

That was enough for Karkat to snap, “You fucking reek of that shitty ass skunkweed, you look like you haven’t bathed in a week, and after all you did you think you can just waltz back in like nothing happened?!

Aradia suddenly pushed her way to the door, pushing Karkat and Dave back into the apartment. “Tavros and I’ll take care of it,” she said firmly. “Take a breather, we’ll be fine.” She closed the door behind herself and Tavros, Gamzee’s indigo stare burning into Dave’s skin before the door clicked shut.

Before Dave could do anything Nepeta was there, grabbing Karkat and pulling him out of the hallway through the side door that leads away from the main room to a cloakroom (yeah the apartment was that stupidly ritzy) and most likely out the other door. It was perfect since it opened to a small guest bedroom that he kept in case anyone had to sleep any hangovers off or if the weather was too bad. The blond looked back to where the other party-goers were waiting for him, many with emotions playing across their faces ranging from concern to worry to rage. “Uh, sorry about that guys. But hey, I see Janey bringing out some of her famous grub so how about y’all get that in ya before John eats it all?”

“Hey!”

The party slowly began to restore its positive atmosphere but Dave wasn’t concerned with that. He slipped through the tiny passage leading to his kitchen and from there to where the extra rooms were. Stopping in front of the guest bedroom he knocked softly. “Karkat? You ok?”

There was a moment of hesitation (thirty-six seconds but who’s counting) before Nepeta opened the door. Her eyes were almost like green fire with how much they were blazing. “He wants you in here, but do not press him. Let him tell it at his pace. If you hurt him, I hurt you.”

“Kittycat, it’s fine…”

Nepeta’s eyes softened and she looked back over her shoulder. Dave could see Karkat sitting on the bed with his hands in his hair, looking up tiredly. “You sure, shelly?”

Oh, he was so going to treasure that memory of their pet names. That was fucking adorable. But that wasn’t important, the important thing was that Karkat suddenly looked so delicate and fragile that he found himself pushing past Nepeta and sitting next to him, pulling Karkat against him and stroking his hair softly. Karkat didn’t fight it, but leaned his weight against him and wrapped his arms around the other with a shaky sigh. Glancing up, Dave saw Nepeta give him an approving nod before she left them alone.

He totally owed her.

After a few moments of quiet, with music a little more mellow floating through the walls from the main room, he hummed a bit. “Should I like, start singing lullabies or shit?”

It managed to draw a weak chuckle from Karkat and he shook his head. “No, I just...I didn’t expect him to show up. Last I knew he...he was in jail. Didn’t know he got out.”

What.

“I mean, he got in trouble again right when he got out of juvie so back in he went, except it was into the general population I guess,” Karkat rambled, not noticing how wide Dave’s eyes had gone or the way his arm had tightened around his waist. “But I mean, I’m not surprised honestly, he’s always had drug troubles so him showing up high like that, that’s pretty fucking typical, and Kurloz finally put his damn foot down and told him unless he cleaned his act up he wasn’t coming home so of course Tavros takes him in and tries to help him, he’s too goddamn fucking nice for his own good--”

Karkat . Babe, slow down. I really don’t know what’s going on, and if it’s hurting you I really hate not knowing.” Even though his cheeks turned pink Dave kept his gaze focused on how his boyfriend seemed to curl inward, seeking out his comfort. After a pause he pressed a soft kiss to the top of his head. “Talk to me? Please?”

Karkat took a slow, shaky breath, releasing it in a soft whoosh. “...Gamzee and I...we dated for a while. It was fine, for a while. It was, nice, I guess. Lot of relaxing, he was usually high on weed but it wasn’t really a big deal. And, uh...then he got into harder drugs. LSD and shit. Had to keep chasing that high,” he added with a sharp humorless laugh. “He, just, he started to change. Kept sneaking out to raves and that shit, I went with him a couple times but, way too much. He kept getting mood swings, like, he’d get so furious and then switch out of it.”

He wrapped his arms around himself and clutched at the sleeves of his shirt. “A few times he threw shit at me but I was always really good at dodging, and then he’d snap out of it and promise not to do it again...but…there was a breaking point.”

“Get away from my brother!”

“Nepeta, no, don’t!”

A quick vigorous shake of his head snapped him out of ruminating too much on that memory. “He probably would have killed me and Nepeta if Equius didn’t show up and kick his ass enough to stop him. At that point the cops came, he was arrested, and that was it. Tavros still talks to him and shit--childhood friends, I don’t think he can give up on him. So, yeah. Really shitty fucking ex ended up showing up at your place. Sorry.”

“What? Karkat, it’s not your fault.” Dave tipped Karkat’s chin up so that they could have direct eye contact. “You didn’t tell him jack shit. You got out of an abusive fucking relationship, and you can trust me on knowing just what is and isn’t abuse.” Karkat’s lips twitched a bit upwards and Dave forged on. “Just tell me if that asshole comes near you again and I’ll make sure he regrets it.”

That got a laugh out of Karkat as he uncurled enough to hug Dave tightly. “You, Nepeta, Kanaya, Terezi, Jade…” He blinked at that. “Wow, only guy in my defense squad.”

“Hey, gotta be your knight in shining armor, after all.” He grinned when Karkat snorted and laughed more. “Good thing you’re staying the night too, since I can make sure that if he comes back to the complex Aaron kicks him out.”

Karkat thought back to the doorman, a mostly-silent older man who dressed solely in caution-tape yellow and black, and he was almost positive that he was always packing heat. “Yeah, I think he can handle Gamzee. First time I met him I thought my heart was gonna jump right out of my chest.”

Dave snorted a bit. “Yeah, but he’s really chill when you get to know him. Hey, you think you’re up to going back to the party?”

The brunet nodded and pulled away so that he could properly look Dave in the eye. “Yeah, don’t wanna throw a soaking wet towel on anything.”

“Nah, you’re fine. Hell, we could just stay here and if I put a sock on the door--” He got a pillow to the face. “Or not!” he laughed, throwing the pillow back at his blushing and sputtering boyfriend. “Come on, let’s see if we can get a few more dances in.”

Nobody batted an eye when the two rejoined the party, but Aradia threw herself at Karkat to hug him tightly. “Gods, I’m so sorry that happened! Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Aradia, thanks. What happened?”

“Tavros took him home, he told me to tell you that he’s so sorry that Gamzee did that, and he didn’t think he’d show up at his place and that he feels awful.” Even though she was shorter than Karkat by several inches she pulled him down so that she could look him in the eye, her hands on his cheeks. “You sure you’re alright?”

Karkat smiled softly and reached up to give her hands a light squeeze. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll tell Tavros not to blame himself too, we both know he’s going to do that. He can be the biggest asshole to himself, and I thought I was bad!” They both laughed and she hugged him again, tight enough that he yelped when his back cracked.

Aradia pulled away and gave him a relieved smile. “So, back to fun times?”

“Yeah, besides, you haven’t told me about your dig yet. And who’s that guy you were talking to with Tavros earlier? Nico?”

“Oh! I need to introduce you to him and his boyfriend!”

Dave waved with a laugh as his boyfriend got unceremoniously dragged away. But first, he had someone to talk to. And where was she...aha!

Nepeta was sitting on one of the loveseats with Terezi, fiddling with the little stirring straw with her drink as Terezi kept running her fingers through the unruly mop of red hair. She looked up at Dave’s approach and raised an eyebrow. “Is he alright?”

Dave nodded and sat on the armrest next to Terezi. “Yeah, he’s better now. He told me about everything. Well, I don’t think everything, but what he could tell me.” When he took a closer look at Nepeta, he noticed a few things that he hadn’t before--the raised scars along her arms that were pale against the deep brown of her skin. “Did the fucker do that to you?”

“Huh? Oh!” She realized where he was looking and laughed a little. “No, actually, these are from the shelter I work at! Some of the animals can get purrticularly riled up.” She grinned as Terezi groaned good-naturedly. “But no, he didn’t use anything sharp. Had a few broken ribs and a concussion though. Took me months to convince Karkitty that it wasn’t his fault.”

“Yeah, shouty blames himself way too much for things out of his control,” Terezi chirped. “Takes us to kick his ass out of those slumps half the time!” She high fived Nepeta.

Dave gave them both a grin. “Well, thanks for that. Guess it’s my job to work on that too, huh.”

“Yes it is, Mister Strider!” Nepeta suddenly turned serious, her bright green eyes gleaming with a protective flame. “And if you hurt Karkat in any way, I will not hesitate to take you out.”

Terezi let out a low whistle. “No cat puns, she’s serious.”

Dave held up a solemn hand with the other pressed over his heart. “I’d rather let myself be skewered by two winged-dog-people with swords than hurt him.” He looked over to where Karkat was laughing at something the blond with Nico had said, while Nico looked like he was hoping the ground would swallow him up and save him from some kind of embarrassment. Without his sunglasses on, Nepeta and Terezi were able to see his expression soften to a mix of adoration and near-reverence. “I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I hurt him…”

Nepeta had to press her hands over her mouth to stifle the squeal and Terezi’s grin threaten to split her face in half. “Well, well, well, cool kid~ someone’s in love~”

Dave suddenly turned bright red and he sputtered, “I-I-I dunno about that! We’ve only been together for two months!”

“I have to be the wedding planner,” Nepeta demanded. “Karkat and I have an agreement that we help plan each other’s wedding so clearly I’m the best choice!”

“Does this mean I get to be best woman for you?” Terezi teased. She could smell just how red Dave’s face was growing and she laughed, leaning against Nepeta who was laughing just as hard.

Spotting an opportunity Dave shot back, “Well, what about you two? I better be the DJ for your wedding!”

Terezi’s laugh was suddenly cut off by a bout of startled coughing. “W-w-what?!”

“Come on, ‘rezi, you two lovebirds are so obvious~” Clearly Dave felt relieved by directing the attention away from himself. Terezi’s cheeks were pink and Nepeta was blushing so hard it could actually be seen even with both the low lighting and her skin. “Look at you two canoodling on the loveseat, it can only get even more gay if you started kissing.”

“We’re not canoodling! We’re just chilling, and stuff! I mean, best friends can cuddle and hold hands and pet each other’s hair, right?”

“Yeah, but do best friends doodle their names in notebooks trying to decide whose last name works better?” The sudden silence and the way both women avoided looking at each other made him pause. “...Oh shit, both of you?”

“I just think Nepeta Pyrope would be as cute as Terezi Leijon!” Nepeta blurted out. She refused to look at Terezi, who had turned to her with a slightly open mouth and eyes wide behind her red glasses. “But, you know, it’s just a really silly fantasy, not like anything wo--mmph!”

Dave blinked in surprise at Terezi kissing the daylights out of Nepeta. “...Okay, I’m...gonna go now…” He slinked away and ended up next to Dirk against the wall. “...I managed to accidentally get two of my friends together.”

The ginger nodded and offered a fist bump. “Nice.” Dirk, for once not wearing his sunglasses due to it being too dark in the apartment, glanced at Dave. “So, little bro, you happy?”

It was a loaded question, one that Dave was able to analyze and understand every nuance underlying it. He simply smiled and nodded, eyes drawn again to Karkat. “Happier than I’ve been in a long time.”

Dirk’s smile was all softness and tenderness. “I’m glad.”

There was a sudden crow of victory from Karkat. “I won the fucking pool!”

“Karkat did you bet on my love life?!


Once everyone had left, the apartment was cleaned up, and leftovers packaged, Dave found himself in bed, watching the man next to him sleep. The nice thing was that Karkat didn’t snore, so that wasn’t what kept him awake. It was what Terezi had said earlier.

“Well, well, well, cool kid~ someone’s in love~”

Was he? They had already been on several dates, and even though they hadn’t jumped each other’s bones yet there weirdly wasn’t any sort of rush to do so. Maybe it was because of how Karkat had been nervous about coming out to him. Maybe it was because they were both hoping for something more out of their relationship. Maybe…

Maybe Terezi was right.

A soft sigh escaped Karkat and he nuzzled into his pillow more, making Dave smile. He ran his fingers through Karkat’s hair and pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. “I think I am in love with you...I just hope you feel the same.”

When Dave snuggled under the covers and closed his eyes he felt a warm arm encircle his waist and the gentle press of a forehead against his back. “I think I am too…”

Chapter Text

Surprise; Music; Fascination, Desire

Jade groaned and rubbed her temples as she looked over her accounts. It was getting harder and harder to keep up with everything as the flower shop kept expanding! She and Karkat were running themselves ragged trying to keep up with the sudden rush of orders. There was some kind of teacher appreciation week going on in the local public school system and someone had been generous enough to buy bouquets for every single teacher. The problem was that it was going to clean out one of the greenhouses.

It really didn’t help her any that when Karkat wasn’t busy with orders or customers he was mooning over Dave! She was happy that two of her best friends were together, but damn if it didn’t make things a little more difficult for her! He wasn’t even the usual grumpy gus!

Clearly, she needed help. So she put up a position on a few online job boards as well as in the local newspaper, hoping to get a few people who could at the very least know the difference between a rose and a carnation, or a daffodil and a snapdragon. The ones who had answered and she had interviewed already, well, they just didn’t cut it.

And then they walked in the shop.

A wickedly funky asymmetrical skirt hung over skinny jeans, a trenchcoat with 80s style puffed up shoulders swayed with each step, and their hair was messily chopped at their chin and dyed a blinding array of neon green and orange. Similar to Dave, they wore aviators, but they tended to slide down their nose to show off one green and one copper-orange eye. Once they walked in the door they gave Karkat a catlike grin. “Sup. Heard yall needed someone who knows plants?”

Karkat looked up from his latest screenwriting project (which if examined closely the characters bore strong resemblance to himself and Dave). “Yeah, you looking to apply?”

“Abso-fucking-lutely.” They stopped and grimaced a bit. “I shouldn’t swear if I wanna give a good impression, huh.”

Karkat waved it off. “I swear all the damn time, you’re fine.” He pulled out an application packet--just a couple of pages, Jade was pretty informal--and offered it to them along with a pen. “Fill this out and I’ll give it to Jade, and she’ll get back to you.”

They took the packet and nodded. “Thanks dude! Or dudette, or gender-neutral dude--which pronouns do you go by?”

Blink. “He/him.”

“Sweet. I go by they/them. I’m Dannei, Dannei Streijon.”

“Karkat Vantas.” They shook hands and Karkat leaned in a bit. “You don’t seem too bad so I’m gonna give you a word of advice, if you already know about flowers you’ll be hired.”

Dannei’s grin was bright. “Fuck yeah, man, I love gardening! I got a ton of perennials I take care of, I love annuals too but man they can be so much work! And I have a little small garden that’s plants especially for animals! I just have to make sure I keep an eye on the catnip or else all the strays get in!”

Karkat laughed at that and nodded, “Oh yeah, I can already tell you’re going to get along with Jade just fine.”

He wasn’t wrong. What he didn’t know was that when Dannei walked in for the interview the next day Jade’s heart did an acrobatic pirouette at the smile they gave her. “Hello, I’m Dannei Streijon, here for the--oh my goddess are those the new hybrid roses?! The ones that Shuichi Minamino cultivated?! I’ve been on his waiting list for months, how did you get them already!?”

That settled it. “Oh thank god you know your flowers, you’re hired!”

“Wait what.”

From the front desk Karkat snickered, going over the orders on the computer. Oh yeah, Dannei was sure to make things easier for Jade.

Not.

Jade was so surprised as to be completely blindsided by the vivacious person that was Dannei Streijon. Not only did the new hire have a surprising knowledge of plants, but they were bubbly, musical, and an avid lover of all animals. The first day consisted of Jade giving Dannei a tour of the greenhouses, then the shed where she spent a majority of her time painting the various buckets used for bouquets. At 6 Jade shook hands with Dannei with a grin. “What I’ll do is get all the necessary paperwork for you to sign tomorrow and you’ll be an official legal employee!”

“Aw man, I’m so stoked fur this!” Dannei squeaked in surprise and covered their mouth with a hand, flushing pink. “Sorry, sometimes I make cat and bird puns.”

Behind Jade she heard Karkat’s head hit the front desk with a muffled groan. She simply giggled and waved it off. “Puns are great! Make them however long you want!”

Dannei perked back up. “Great! Thank you so much for this.” Impulsively they grabbed Jade’s hand and gave her knuckles a light peck before releasing it and speedwalking away. “I’ll see you tomorrow!”

Jade could only wave, feeling her face get warmer and warmer. “...Oh god I’m screwed.” She ignored the snickers behind her.


“I regret everything.”

“Oh hush, Karcrab, you gotta wear this! It’s stage makeup, it’s to make sure your gorgeous face is seen all the way in the back and not just the front. Besides, it makes you look dangerous and mysterious.”

Karkat felt his eye twitch as Feferi smoothed the foundation carefully down past his eye and over his cheekbones. “So why didn’t you want to go into cosmetology again?”

“I can do more good in law and politics than in makeup!” she chirped. Keeping his head still she added contour to define his cheekbones, and then expertly added sharp black eyeliner. A few more finishing touches, and then she closed up her palette. “Done! I had a feeling you’d need my help, since you never did learn how to use makeup.”

Karkat wrinkled his nose and stuck out his tongue. “Why would I? I hated all that frou-frou shit as a kid.”

“Too bad, eyeliner and mascara really makes your eyes pop! I bet a certain someone would love it~”

“Go help Jade you goddamn fish fanatic!” The temporary makeup artist hurried off with a laugh and Karkat looked back at his reflection in the mirror. His hair was even messier than usual and Aradia had thrown him a clingy black t-shirt with his Zodiac symbol in bright red painted on, a few lines artfully dripping down to look like blood. When she quipped that it was a pun on his street being named Sanguine, he had only groaned in defeat. Still, it did look weirdly good with the skinny grey jeans, the leather jacket he grabbed, and the spiked choker Aradia had insisted he wear with it. If he hadn’t seen it in Hot Topic he would have thought it was a dog collar, why did it even need that D ring to begin with?

Whatever. The more he looked in the mirror, the more he had to agree with Feferi. He did look good with the makeup. The way she had added the reddish-brown eyeshadow had given his eyes an almost hooded expression, and the eyeliner only made them seem sharp and dangerous. Damn it, he was going to have to thank her. At least she didn’t insist on lipstick.

Ugh, he couldn’t just sit there. If he was left to his own devices he would just overthink himself into a horribly heinous self-doubting frenzy that would put even Tavros to shame.  He moved from the bedroom to the main living area, where the others were hanging out waiting for Feferi to finish with Jade. Equius and Vriska had offered to drive them all to the club in order to save gas. When he walked in Sollux let out a wolf whistle. “Damn, KK, you clean up real good.”

“Oh shut up,” he grumbled without heat as he flopped artlessly into a chair. “Feferi’s taking care of Jade now, since she was looking at the foundation like it was another language she couldn’t read.”

Vriska giggled from her place leaning against John, looking right at home with ripped jeans and thick braids along with blue lipstick and outrageously pointy jewelry. “This is gonna be soooooooo fun! You know, even if we don’t win first place, I’d be happy!” She blinked when everyone took a double take at her. “What? I’m in this for the singing and shit, not the winning this time! Besides, it gives me a chance to ogle my favorite bunny in punk clothes~”

John blushed and coughed a bit even as Sollux and Karkat looked at each other pretending to gag. The Vietnamese man was in clothing that could have been mistaken for prep if not for the rips in the knees, military boots, and messily done bow-tie. His eyeliner had been painstakingly done by Vriska and the wings could kill a man. “I mean, I could maybe wear these again if you want?” he offered, tugging on his fingerless gloves and fiddling with the suspenders. Seeing the look that she gave him, that was clearly the right answer.

Aradia, looking like a much classier version of Hot Topic fashion, simply grinned. The dark red lipstick gave her smile a risque undertone. “You’re finally getting less competitive, huh Vriska?”

“I can still kick your ass in volleyball, Megido,” she shot back with a laugh. “Just because we’re friends doesn’t mean I’ll take it easy against you!”

“You better not, it would make it easier than it already is to take you down.”

Before they could keep bantering Jade came bouncing out, broomstick skirt flouncing and looking very bohemian punk. Her thick hair had been pulled up into a bun but there were pieces that couldn’t stay neatly in the elastics. The bits sticking out made it look playfully messy rather than hopeless. “Okay, we’re ready!”

Karkat gave her a grin and waggled his eyebrows. “You’re actually wearing more than just lip gloss? Trying to look good for someone~?” He blocked the throw pillow she threw at her with a laugh.

Huffing, Jade strode to the door. “I’m half tempted to just leave you here.”

“Jade no, we need him!” John yelped, scrambling after her. The others followed, with Aradia locking up the apartment behind her. Their instruments were either already at the club or in Equius’ truck so it was quick work getting everyone organized into the two vehicles. Karkat sent Dave a text.

-carcinoGeneticist [CG] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG]-

CG: I MAY SWING BY THE CLUB TO WATCH THE BATTLE.

He received an immediate response.

TG: oh shit dude really thatd be sweet
TG: you gonna be in the crowd bc i can get you vip seats

Karkat smirked.

CG: DON’T WORRY, I’LL FIND YOU. YOU’RE PRETTY HARD TO MISS.
TG: its bc of my good looks isnt it
CG: I WAS THINKING MORE YOUR VOICE SINCE YOU NEVER SHUT UP.
TG: ouch babe why
TG: im hurt
CG: NO YOU’RE NOT.
TG: youre not gonna kiss my ego better
CG: ONLY IF YOU BEHAVE.
TG: what if i dont wanna behave
CG: NO MOVIE NIGHT FOR TWO WEEKS.
TG: okay thats not even fair look at me im pouting
-turntechGodhead sent carcinoGeneticist img1221.png-
CG: OKAY FINE YOU HAVE A CUTE POUT. GO WORK, I’LL SEE YOU LATER <3
TG: hahaha ok ok oh shit dirks looking for me love yooouuuuu >3
TG: <3****
CG: LOL YOU FUCKING DORK.
TG: shut up you love me
CG: YEAH I DO.

The response of a keyboard smash made him grin even as he stored his phone back in his pocket. He was trying to keep relatively quiet in order to save his voice for the night. Although now that he thought about it...

-carcinoGeneticist [CG] began pestering sharpshootingWinja [SW]-

CG: EARTH TO SPACE CADET, YOU ALIVE?
SW: wow really? i tell you all about how much I love space and now i’m a space cadet.
CG: ARE YOU REALLY SURPRISED?
SW: lol no
SW: whats up?
CG: ARE YOU AT THE CLUB YET?
SW: yep! Pidgey’s doing her thing with Matt and they’re doing techno shit. it’s a little over my head i’ll admit, i’m not that great at science
SW: wish i was though or else i would’ve gone and become an astronaut but honestly physics is what did me in
SW: i was great at biology and chemistry go figure
SW: i’ll just wait until they start colonizing mars ;)
SW: you almost here?
CG: JESUS CHRIST ON A STICK YOU RAMBLE JUST AS MUCH AS MY BOYFRIEND.
CG: BUT YEAH WE’RE ALMOST THERE, PROBABLY FIVE MORE MINUTES.
SW: eyyyy i get to introduce you to everyone other than shiro! you already met him, he’s the awesome cop from before aka daddy material
CG: DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE.
SW: YOU CAN’T TELL ME HE ISN’T
CG: I AM NOT SAYING A DAMN WORD ABOUT WHETHER SOMEONE IS OR ISN’T “DADDY” MATERIAL THIS ISN’T THAT DATING SIM!
SW: you totally fucking wooed Mat didn’t you
CG: NO COMMENT.
CG: ...YOU WOOED CRAIG SINCE HE LOOKS LIKE OFFICER SHIROGANE.
SW: only after i wooed robert and damien!
SW: the punk cryptid and the emo vampire
SW: i couldn’t choose which one so i flipped a coin
CG: I’M KINKSHAMING.
SW: wow rude
CG: WE’RE PULLING IN SO I’LL TALK TO YOU INSIDE.
SW: later!
SW: daddy
CG: YOU SHUT YOUR HALFWIT PIEHOLE.

Karkat shoved his phone in his jacket pocket and climbed out of Feferi’s car, helping with bringing some of the heavier equipment inside. He made sure to avoid the front where he heard Dave chattering to some patrons. He couldn’t wait to see the look on his face--

“Karkat!”

“Oof!” He stumbled a bit from the exuberant hug that Lance gave him. “You’re lucky I put the speaker down already, get off!” He dusted himself off as Jade gave Lance a backbreaking hug that lifted him off the floor. “Quick introductions, you already know Jade, that’s Aradia, Vriska, dweeb--”

“Hey!”

“Sorry, I mean John, Sollux, Feferi, and Equius.”

Lance quickly shook hands with everyone before waving his friends over. “Guys, over here! This is Karkat and Jade, they’re the ones who helped with the camera work when Blue got stolen! You guys already met Shiro, then there’s Hunk, I guess Keith--”

“Thanks, I feel special.”

“--Allura...and where’s Pidge and Matt?”

“Matt’s removing the glitter cannons from the drums,” Hunk deadpanned with an eyeroll. “Pidge is now pouting in the corner.”

“That’s so gay.”

“Word.” Lance and Jade fistbumped.

As amusing as glitter cannons sounded, Karkat was looking at the shirt under Keith’s crop jacket. “Is that Nessie?”

Keith raised an eyebrow. “You believe?”

He shrugged. “If Equius could get not just a girlfriend but two other datemates, I’ll believe anything now.” Said Egyptian, helping Aradia make sure the instruments were set up correctly, looked quite offended. Aradia quickly papped him. Karkat continued, “Do you only believe in Nessie or cryptids in general?”

“All cryptids are real. I mean, Mothman is absolutely real, my dad saw him once.”

“Oh really? Huh. My dad claims he saw to filiko teras when he visited Cyprus. It’s like Nessie, the name translates to the friendly monster. He was doing research on to filiko teras and other folklore for a paper he’s writing.”

“A paper? Is he a journalist?”

“Nope, he’s a professor at Samwell University. Professor Siglas Vantas.”

Keith’s eyes lit up at the answer. “He’s one of my favorite professors. He even started the Cryptid Club at Samwell.”

A tiny person popped up from apparent nowhere with glasses glinting malevolently. “I heard cryptids.”

“That’s you, Pidge. Pidge, this is Karkat. His dad’s Professor Siglas!”

The Turk ran a hand over his face in exasperation even as Pidge giggled. “Great, my dad has a reputation for cryptids. Just what we needed.” He spotted a shock of silver-white hair and he blinked a couple times to make sure he wasn’t seeing Dave in the low light. No, that was...another albino asshole? “What the fuck, are there other albino people here?”

The lanky figure turned and looked over at him with a grin and twinkling blue eyes. “Am I albino or am I just freakishly pale with dyed hair? No one knows~”

“Jack, stop teasing.” A brunet gave him a little hip check while passing, wires in hand. "Go help Meri with tuning the guitars, you have one of the best ears. Oh hey Pidge!"

"Hiccup!" The tiny girl bounced over and gave the foot-taller man a tight hug around the waist. "Didn't know you were gonna be here too!"

'Hiccup' chuckled and returned the hug with one arm. "Yeah, I got roped in too. Toothless is walking around so don't be surprised if you see a giant black cat." He spooked a bit when a man with the same copper-blond colored hair as Pidge popped up next to him with an arm around his shoulder. The biggest difference was that it was past his shoulders and in a ponytail. "Hey, Matt."

"Hey, Pleasured Moan."

"Ha! That's what I said!" The silver-haired man abandoned his redhead compatriot to run over and high five Matt. Hiccup groaned while Pidge snickered at his misery.  "Face it, Hic, you're stuck with that nickname thanks to that impressive Viking growth spurt you had!"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever Frosty, get back to tuning before Meri rips your head off."

"Oh shit good point."

"Little ears!" Matt yelped, covering Hiccup's to his surprise instead of Pidge's. "He's only 5!"

Shiro laughed heartily when he saw Hiccup's chagrined expression. "Leap year baby? Don't worry, he says that I'm only 6 too!"

"Oh, great, I'm not the only one then," Hiccup commented dryly.

The lighthearted atmosphere broke when their host Dirk walked backstage with a few handclaps. His glasses--an ironic gift from Dave that he still treasured--were pushed up against his bangs since the light wasn't that bad. "Alright, everyone, the battle's going to start in half an hour, curtains are going to stay closed so that you can finish setting up any special accommodations. There's water cases and food set up in the back room to the left so that you don't get dehydrated or anything as well, I don't care how great a singer you are, you are not going to faint on stage while I'm in charge. One of my employees is going to be on standby to make sure you guys have everything you need. Hey Dannei, you're on!"

"Caw caw meowtherfuckers!"

Jade turned an impressive red at seeing her new employee. It was no surprise though, considering Dannei was rocking a crop top under the trench coat that showed off a well-defined six-pack. Instead of skinny jeans it was a pair of shorts ending just above mid-thigh and her knee-high Converse shoes glowed with neon ultraviolet markings in the dark. "Oh jeez."

Karkat waved a hand in front of her face. "You need some water now?" She shoved him away with a growl. He laughed and waved at Dannei. "Hey, you moonlighting?"

"Karkat!" They bounced over with a bright grin. "I work the club now and then, yeah. I did have a day job working the fryers at the local Mickey D's but some bitch compurrlained about my hair and my manager said I had to dye it normal, I said no, and then I got fired. That's why I was so happy when I saw the ad for the flower shop!" They then noticed Jade and turned pink in the low light. "Oh, wow, you look fucking fantastic."

She giggled and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, looking away and biting her lip even as she smiled. "Thank you!"

Karkat tilted his head to look at the ceiling, wishing he wasn't surrounded by so many damn oblivious pining lovers. He felt like he was in a shitty roncom fanfiction. The pining between Nepeta and Terezi had been bad enough, and now Jade and Dannei?

Shit, this would actually be great fodder for romantic comedy screenplays. Maybe even break some ground in queer romances that didn't end in death or any kind of angst other than typical couple shenanigans.

Coming back to himself, he let himself fade into the shadows and just watch. He noticed that the guy from earlier, Jack, was joking with a few people and making some kind of lewd joke judging by the grin and the eyebrow waggle he gave the redhead he was helping. She let out a little snort of laughter and smacked him on the shoulder. Others he didn't recognize darted around to make sure their equipment was prepared, some were doing vocal exercises, and there was a tension in the air that made the atmosphere crackle in excitement. He smiled as he slipped away to grab a water bottle. This was going to be fun.


Dave kept checking his phone in between song mixes. The last message he had gotten from Karkat had said that he was on his way to the club, and he still hadn't found him. But to be fair, it was a bit (read: super) crowded. "Oh, where is he?"

"Looking for someone?"

"Dirk!" He turned to his older brother with a slightly nervous smile. "Hey, uh, well Karkat said he was coming by, so I was hoping to see him."

"Ah." The ginger nodded. "Well, he may just not be able to say anything. We're on in five, better find Terezi. I'm getting our judges set up."

Dave saluted him with two fingers and ran off, not noticing the tiny smirk that his brother had. Rather, he was drawn to the vibrant teal and red that his co-host was decked out in. The blond gave him a sharp grin. "Hey cool kid~ you ready for this? I know I am!"

"Yeah but I was hoping Karkat was gonna be here."

Terezi frowned and tapped her cheek. "Coulda sworn I smelled his candy apple ass earlier! But I could be wrong, it happens once every four point one three years and I'm about due."

"No, you, wrong? I need to see it to believe it."

"I do too, except I can't. Because I'm blind, idiot!" She cackled as she shoved him playfully, ignoring his squawk of faux outrage. "Come on, we gotta take our places!"

They hovered on the edge of the stage, waiting for the music to cut. As soon as the song ended they walked out. "Sup, look at all yall tonight. Yall having a good time?" Dave had a tiny smirk at the corner of his mouth when the crowd answered with a gleeful roar of approval. "Alright alright, looks like they're ready for tonight's festivities, don'tcha think Rezi?"

"Hmmmm I dunno cool kid..." She grinned as the crowd got louder. "Well, we gotta introduce the judges first before we can start fighting, right?"

"Right you are, my partner in legalities! So, first judge, yall know him as owner of this fantabulous establishment, I know him as the asshole who made it snow in my room using packing peanuts, a blender, and the house's electrical system, here he is, Roderick 'Dirk' Lauren Strider!"

Dirk to his credit was blank-faced as the crowd applauded and laughed, only speaking when the applause had died. "He lies, it's just Dirk. Thanks, David Elizabeth. Right, so, my job as a judge is the technical shit, since I've been studying and mixing music for over half my life now. So I listen and catch any mistakes in notes, rhythms, if you're on time or if you're dragging like Grandma Egbert's underpants." There was a horrified squawk from the curtains as Terezi cackled hard enough to almost fall over. Dirk continued, "I'm gonna be fair though, like shit I'm not gonna be some fucking hardass high school teacher who gets off on abusing the small amount of power he has, this is for fun. So we're just gonna have fun with this."

Dave gave a few claps of his own once Dirk made it clear he was done. "Alright, thanks Dirk. By the way, guys, he's taken so that flat ass is no longer on the market."

"I am going to put a severed horse's head in your bed."

"Aw man, don't do anything to Maple Hoof, Rose'll have your head," Dave shot back just as smoothly. "Okay, next judge is--...Dirk, where'd he go?" Dirk just shrugged. Dave sighed. "Alright, we'll introduce our final judge since the drama king ran off to who knows where. See, we held a contest on who could name off the most pop songs when played two-second clips. Somehow this crazy guy got all 200 right! Here tonight from Samwell University, please give a warm welcome to Eric 'Bitty' Bittle!"

The petite blond stood up and gave a quick wave before sitting back down. "Hi everyone! Oh bless my soul, I'm so excited to be here!" His accent was far thicker than Dave's, consonants dripping off of words like honey. "Well, I dunno if any yall know, but I'm a junior at Samwell, and I play forward on the men's hockey team. I'm uh, not entirely sure what my role is, but if a song sounds right or not I'll know it faster'n a hot knife cuts through butter! Specially since these are cover songs playing, I'll know if it's good or not. Er, I also bake? Yeah, that's about it!"

Terezi giggled. "And that's our second judge! Our third one--seriously, where is he? I'll have to give him a light drubbing if he doesn't get here soon!" She made sure to gesture with her cane for added emphasis.

"I'm here~!" A brightly smiling Russian burst from offstage and hurried to his seat amidst screams of recognition and delight. His smile didn't wilt even as Dirk gave him a withering look from behind his shades. Bitty looked about ready to faint. The Russian simply gestured at Dave. "I don't think I need any announcement?"

"Pst, coolkid, who is this douche again?" Terezi stage-whispered.

The Russian pouted.

Dave sighed. "Oh, just Viktor Nikiforov." Again, screams of glee filled the air. "Yep, everyone else knows him, I mean he's a figure skating champion who's got the sappiest fucking relationship I've ever seen, and I'm dating one of the biggest romantics who ever existed. He loves romcoms! Unironically! And his nose gets all scrunched up when he's really focused and--"

Terezi quickly covered his mouth before he could go on a fullblown rant dedicated to Karkat. "Anyway! Viktor, how about you tell us what you're judging on?"

Viktor grinned. "Presentation, of course! It isn't enough to sound good, no, you have to have flair! The--oh, what is the word--it's the one with pizza but not? Oh whatever, the action, the excitement! It has to look good, or else it'll just fall flat! Like me on a bad practice day! I've taken music lessons and theater, so I know what separates a bronze medal act from a gold medal act! I should know, I married the greatest act of all~" He blew a kiss to the crowd where he knew his husband was. A chorus of awws filled the air. "I also know Dirk from working with him on music for some routines I've done."

"I blew him away," Dirk deadpanned.

The crowd roared with laughter as Viktor waved frantically. "There was no blowing going on in any way!" he refuted, only spurring on the laughter. "I promise! I only do any blowing with one man whatsoever!" Poor Yuuri could be seen hiding his face in his arms at the bar.

Dave cleared his throat once the laughter started dying down. "Alright, that's our judges! Now that we're all ready, let's let yall how this works! First, band comes out and plays their first song. Then the judges give their advice and feedback and all that shit. Once everyone's done, the judges will talk and pick the next round!"

"And then we do it one more time for the night to really get the blood pumping!" Terezi added. "And that's when we'll find out the semifinalists! So get ready, for the ultimate fight to the death!"

"Metaphorical."

"Let the Battle of--

"--the Bands begin!"


As time ticked on, Karkat bit at his thumbnail lightly. He was never one to have stage fright, but this was different. Dave was out there, and he'd hear him sing for the first time. He found himself pacing and fretting as he kept nibbling at the nail, not enough to actually sever it, just going through the motions to try and ease his nerves. Jade was too busy flirting with Dannei to notice. He did however stop to listen to the group calling themselves the Coastal Voyagers. The white-haired guy, Jack, had strong vocals and incredible stage presence. But he also noticed the yearning look that Hiccup kept giving him from the keyboard. Ouch.

So keep the lights down low
Keep the lights down low to see
Oh, I see a glimmer, glimmer...

Glimmer of us

Looking around at those backstage, he noticed that Jade was leaning closer to Dannei, who was leaning back with an extremely flustered look. Hah. She could be like a dog with a bone (her furry tendencies notwithstanding). He almost felt bad for them. But suddenly Jade had turned pink in the low light as Dannei waggled their eyebrows at her. Hah! Good, someone else who could give as good as she did. This was going to make the shop days so much more entertaining.

He glanced up from his contemplation as Coastal Voyagers came offstage. He shot Hiccup a sympathetic smile, and the brunet flushed a bit as he hurried away. Karkat made a note to get his chumhandle. It seemed like he needed someone beyond his usual scope of friends.

"Hey!" The sudden hand on his shoulder made him jolt in surprise. He looked up to see Lance grinning down at him with a glitter in his eyes. They looked indigo in the low light of backstage. "We're on after another two bands, gonna root for us?"

"Eh." Karkat smirked and shrugged. "We'll see."

"Oh, you wound me!" Lance pretended to stagger back with a hand pressed to his chest. "Shot through the heart, and you're too blame!"

"That's the whitest fucking thing I've heard all day," Karkat deadpanned. It made Lance snort and hide his chortles behind his hand. "Not that Bon Jovi isn't good, but damn do white people love him."

"To be fair, he's still damn good looking," Lance pointed out with a quick eyebrow waggle.

Karkat gave him a disgusted look. "Do you ever not think with the junk in your pants? No, don't answer that, I already know the answer is never," he added as Lance snickered. "You better get ready, I see that guy in the red jacket glaring at you."

"Dammit, can't the mullet leave me alone?" He groaned and hurried over to where Keith was impatiently waiting. But even as they bickered quietly, Karkat's ever observant eyes noticed how close they were together as they went over music sheets, the casual way Lance gave Keith a hair tie and how he didn't even look as he took it to tie his hair out of the way.

His suspicions only strengthened as Voltron eventually took the stage. He stood next to Matt and Allura, the two of them focusing heavily on the drummer. He took a quick glance at them. "Lance mentioned some kind of threeway with you and Shiro?"

Matt grinned and swiped a bit of hair out of his face. "Yep. Triad. Shiro and I've known each other since we were kids, and then when Allura met we immediately bonded."

"I don't know why, Matt is, how would Lance put it? A giant meme lord," Allura added with an affectionate smile. "And Shiro is terrible with the dad jokes. But I wouldn't have it any other way."

"Plus, look at how that shirt clings to him."

"God, those arms."

"I'm looking more at his back and shoulders, can you say unf?"

"No," Karkat replied with an eyeroll. But while those two were so focused on their partner, he did notice the looks and quick smiles that Keith and Lance kept sending each other as the frontmen of the group.

You were my last young renegade heartache
It only took one night
Caught in the eye of a hurricane, darling
We had to say goodbye

Wow. If he caught onto any more pining couples he'd have to get Nepeta so that they could gush together.

Voltron was just finishing the song when John clapped a hand onto Karkat's shoulder. "Pst, come on, the others wanna do a quick runthrough of the first verse in a back room," he whispered. Karkat nodded and followed, glancing over his shoulder back toward where he knew Dave was waiting to come back onstage. He hoped that he wouldn't be too upset at not being told.


"...So in general, I'd say 7 out of 10."

"Are you mad? They had fog machines as part of their performance! That definitely adds points for panache!"

"They had a great presence, sure, but they did flub a few lines. Still, not the worst! Definitely a contender!"

"And that's Liquor of Evil everyone, give it up for them!" Dave applauded the group as they exited stage left. "Hey, 'Rezi, who's next?"

The technicolor girl clicked her tongue as she consulted an imaginary list. "Well, cool kid, this group's planning on making themselves known around the country, and being everyone's treasure!"

"Egbert named them didn't he."

"Yep."

"I have to get him another fuck you bouquet, don't I."

"Probably."

"By the way, you can get one at Bucket o' Bouquets, owned by the fabulous Jade Harley! They're great for when you want to passive aggressively tell someone just how much you loathe them!"

"Stop advertising Dave! We got a declaration to steal! Everyone, give it up for National Treasure~!" Her grin was particularly pointy as she and Dave hurried to their spots next to the judges' table. Dave gave her a slightly confused look as the lights dimmed but she just gave him his water bottle. The lights made everything that much hotter. And just like Pidge, Sollux was connected to the lighting through his synthesizer. The low lighting made seeing the band somewhat difficult for him (sunglasses in dark areas not recommended for not-cool people), but he could pinpoint the red gleam of Aradia's electric and the lime sparkle of Jade's bass. And then the singer opened their, his, mouth.

In the daylight,
I'm your sweetheart,
Your goody-two-shoes prude is a work of art
But you don't know me,
And soon you won't forget,
Bad as can be, yeah you know I'm not so innocent

Dave's mouth went dry as he drank in the sight of Karkat in front of the mic, skinny jeans tucked into knee-high leather boots, leather jacket showing the line of his shoulders, and that fucking smirk that he had when he noticed his boyfriend zero in on him. If anything it made his voice drop into an even deeper growl that made something hot drip down Dave's spine and curl in the pit of his stomach. He swallowed thickly. Eighties tunes was one thing, but this? This was on a whole other level of singing and he was so glad for the chair he was already sitting on lest he lose any support in his knees and collapse into gelatinous limb sludge.

Hah, Vriska owed Terezi eight bucks now.

Karkat, on the other hand, was absofuckinglutely delighted with the reaction he could see Dave having. Subtle, he was not. He was gripping that water bottle tight enough to make it start to crinkle, his leg had started bouncing, and he was worrying at his lip. He had a feeling that the blond's eyes were huge behind those sunglasses. He wondered, just what kind of expressions could he get if they were gone and the two were alone? The thought was enough to make him put even more energy into the song, grinning widely when Sollux cut the lights at the brief instrumental. With nothing in the way on stage, there was nothing stopping him.

Put on the blindfold, there's no way to be sure
Which one you'll get to know!

"It's me, Karkat, I swear~"

A full body shudder went through Dave at the sensual whisper. The mic caught it perfectly at the same time, and then suddenly Karkat was back in place like he had never given Dave the vapors. Terezi was kind enough to give him another water bottle since he had to chug his to try and collect himself. It was failing spectacularly. Dirk was just managing to keep his calm facade in place, but on the inside he was laughing hysterically at just how red his little brother had turned, so bad it was even visible in the low lights. Said little brother made a quick escape to backstage while he could.

With the last line of the song the crowd roared and Viktor stood up to wildly applaud. Bitty was busy fanning himself with pink ears and a wide smile. As inscrutable as Dirk seemed, there was a tiny smile at the corner of his mouth which indicated his approval. The applause pulled Karkat out of whatever music-induced state he had been in, and he blinked while his ears turned red.

Aradia pulled Sollux up long enough to make him bow but then he had slipped back into the background. Vriska had come out from behind the drums to tackle John, the two shooting devil horns in the air. Jade pulled both Karkat and Aradia into a hug, the girls beaming and the boy inwardly freaking out at just what he had done. He couldn't see Dave which did make his shoulders slump the smallest bit. Viktor's voice however pulled his attention back, along with everyone else's.

"Bravi, bravi! Oh, that was spectacular, truly spectacular! One of the best performances tonight, there are so many talented people here, it's been absolutely lovely! And you, you have style, passion, flair!" he added with enthusiastic hand flourishes. "It was raw and powerful and cut to the core! Who was in charge of special effects?"

"No, AA, don't--" Against protestations Sollux was again pulled to the front by Aradia. He looked hilariously stiff and robotic now that he was in the spotlight.

"Your name, good sir?"

"Sollux."

"You work the lights and other parts as if you're integrated with them! It's fantastic, simply breathtaking! Without you, the others wouldn't have the same impact. Excellent excellent job!"

"Thanks bye."

"He doesn't like being the center of attention," Aradia explained to the puzzled Russian with a giggle. "He'd rather work behind the scenes." She noticed Pidge high five Sollux offstage and the two begin talking, most likely about tech. Awww, he made a friend! She was so proud!

After Viktor had expressed more praise for everyone it was Bitty's turn. "Now, yall were really on point, though there were a few changes from the original. But, I'm all for making songs fit yourself! Heck, I'll do little changes to make songs less heterosexual!"

"Word." Dirk offered Bitty a fist bump. He returned it with mild confusion.

"Er, anyway. Loved it, you really made it your own while keeping the original spirit of the song! That's hard to do, not many could do that. Great job!"

Dirk cleared his throat to draw attention. "John, you gotta listen more to the bass and keep in time. You sped up for two measures and then dragged a bit near the end. Jade, perfect bass playing, you were on point even with your own little additions, rad as fuck. Aradia, don't be afraid to use your voice. Background vocals are just as important. You missed four notes but honestly almost nobody can tell unless you got hyperawareness like me. Your shit was fucking fly as hell otherwise. Keep at it.

"Vriska, lay off on the drums some. Enthusiasm is great but sheesh, if you're not careful you'll override everyone else. No one likes pure drums except bongos. Why bongos, I have no fucking idea. It's a goddamned mystery. Karkat, when the fuck could you sing?"

The others laughed as Karkat blushed a bit more with a shrug. "Eh, you get dragged to enough karaoke..."

"And he sings in the shower!" Terezi chirped from her seat next to Dirk with a cackle.

Dirk simply nodded. "You're good. Bet with a little more practice you could even think of going pro one day. Just don't overdo the vocals, losing them is awful. I'd give you guys a 9 out of 10."

"What?! Please, they get full points for presentation alone!"

"I dunno, I think he's pretty on point with 9 out of 10, Viktor. Lord knows they got almost everything perfect!"

"Hmph, we'll have to discuss it more."

Terezi jumped on stage while Viktor, Dirk, and Bitty began to quietly bicker over the points. "Well, that was National Treasure, and the last of the first round! We're gonna be taking a break for drinks and everything so that those three can figure out who's next! Shoutout to our sponsor Skaianet Systems for helping us with this awesome venture. For the top tech, blah blah blah, you know how the usual sponsor crap goes, hehehe! See you soon!" The curtains closed on the stage and the DJ playlist began to fill the space left behind.

Karkat quickly slipped away from everyone else in order to catch his breath away from the backstage. His destination changed however when a hand grabbed his and pulled him into a small room--nope, that was a closet and that was definitely Dave Strider kissing him breathless. He broke it with a faint gasp. "Holy fuck what was that for--"

"You are such a goddamn tease," Dave purred. His hand went into Karkat's hair, which drove shivers down the other's spine. "I think it's my turn to pay you back."


John looked down the hallway, scratching the back of his head. "Karkat? Where are you? It's almost time for the results, Dannei says we got five minutes!" He jumped when Karkat stumbled out of a closet and desperately tried to fix his clothes. "There you are! What were you doing in there?"

"Just, stuff," Karkat replied, attempting to tame his hair--a hopeless endeavor, he soon realized.

Dave sauntered out with a wide grin and a hickey poking out from under his shirt collar. "I'm stuff."

John quickly realized that Karkat had at least two under his shirt, and he gave them both a deadpan look. "Really? Right in front of my salad?" Dave just guffawed while Karkat squawked weak denials. John grinned and gestured behind him toward the stage. "Come on, we gotta get back!"


Karkat stared up at the ceiling, feeling somewhat dazed after everything that had happened. Somehow, National Treasure had gotten not only to the second round but had passed to the final round. So had the Coastal Voyagers and Voltron. His list of Chums had now grown by a dozen or so, and he already had been spammed a bit with memes (not that he wasn't used to it). Everyone else had stayed to celebrate with drinks, but he had decided to celebrate elsewhere. The come-hither look that Dave had given him when no one else was looking was impossible to resist. And now here he was, exhausted, a little sore, very naked, and not so much delighted, or joyful, but a quieter happiness...

Contentment.

Looking at the blond next to him, sprawled out and snoring, he hid a chuckle and stretched before he tucked himself against Dave. He wrapped an arm around his waist with a soft kiss to the back of his neck. It got a pleased murmur from Dave, which had Karkat smiling and nuzzling him slightly. "Seni seviyorum, Dave."

Chapter Text

Children and Family, Welcoming, Courage and Strength

Coffee, Siglas mused to himself, was truly the nectar of the gods.

If there was one thing the professor could appreciate, it was a proper cup of coffee made with fresh ground beans and a little bit of cream and sugar. He had no need of those strange orders teens would get from Starbucks with more ingredients than his great-grandmother's recipe book. He was a simple man, who--

Pfffthahahahaaa who was he kidding, Siglas Vantas wasn't a simple man at all. He glanced down at the ink trailing up both wrists and grinned to himself. He loved when he saw students off campus. They always took another look because they had such a hard time connecting the proper well dressed professor with the guy at the market picking up meats with tattoos covering his arms. It was, he'd admit, the funniest shit to see. If they saw the scars beneath them, he wondered if they’d have conniptions.

He focused on the crab crawling up his forearm and frowned. Ah crap, it was fading already? He was going to get hell from Porrim for not seeing her for his last touchup.

Meh. That was a problem for Future Siglas to worry about. For now he had his coffee, his paper with the daily crossword, and he wasn’t entirely sure if he wanted a full breakfast meal, something light like toast, or if he was just going to do the lazy thing and give himself a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. He was distracted from his ultimate choice of a toasted bagel by the sound of the door quietly opening and closing. Ah. There was his son. He grinned to himself and silently sat back down at the table, the toaster quietly cooking.

Karkat was slipping past the kitchen door when he spoke up. “Good morning, Karkat.” His smile was hidden behind his mug while Karkat all but shrieked and nearly fell on his ass in shock. When the mug left his face he had schooled his expression into morning pleasantness. “There’s plenty of coffee. Have you eaten?”

Karkat attempted to fix his hair while sheepishly entering the kitchen--a futile task as always. “I did, but I can have a cup. I thought you'd still be in bed.”

“I finished grading papers early last night so I actually was able to get to bed at a decent time,” Siglas replied. He kept his focus on the crossword rather than linger on the bruises peeking out from under his son's shirt. No need to call attention to them. The toaster popping his bagel had him out of his seat to add butter and jelly. “How was your night though? Nepeta didn't come home last night either, she stayed with Terezi.”

There was an awkward throat-clearing from next to him. “Uh, it went really well. We passed both rounds and we're playing next week too.”

“Excellent! Great job!” Siglas beamed at Karkat, who gave a hesitant smile in return. “Any thoughts on what you'll play?”

“Well we did have two songs in mind but we were debating on switching it up. We actually have a really good sound and we're all quick studies. Wouldn't be too hard,” he replied as he added cream into his own coffee. It made Siglas smile. Karkat was most like him, while Kankri had more of their mother's traits. Even down to the way they took their coffee.

“Don't overdo it, son. Wouldn't want you to strain your voice.”

“I won't.”

They finished their preparations in silence, amicable for Siglas and awkward for Karkat. As they sat down at the table he looked down at the crossword puzzle thoughtfully. Now was when he waited. His sons had very different ways of handling when there was something on their minds. Kankri, it only took a few carefully pointed questions to get him to talk. But Karkat was just as stubborn as his father. And considering how Karkat was fiddling with his spoon and drumming his thumb in his usual 6-2 pattern, there was definitely something heavy as iron on his mind.

Siglas thoughtfully ate half of his bagel as he pencilled in answers. The drumming was slow at first, but by the time he took a considering bite of the other half it had sped up to a vivid vivace . Oh my, there was definitely something bothering him. “Hmm...nine across, five-letter word for pandemonium.”

“I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!”

“Ah. Chaos.” Siglas looks up from the paper to see Karkat with his face pressed against the grain of the table. Here it was. And as always, he would be patient.

It actually only took a few more minutes for Karkat to speak, switching from English to their mother tongue. “I think I'm in love with Dave.” It came out in a rush, muffled slightly by the wood.

Awwww! Siglas hid his excitement with a soft hum, eyes scanning his crossword again. “And...is there shame in that?” he asked mildly.

“Fuck no, of course not!” Karkat groaned as he sat back up, cushioning his chin in his palm. His speech switched back from Turkish to English now that he had gotten the heaviest part off his chest. “I'm just...I'm worried, okay? We've only been dating for almost three months now, isn't that a little fast? What if it's just the damn post sex hormones making me think that?” It took 6.12 seconds for him to realize what he said before he turned red. “Fuck, you know what I mean.”

Siglas simply smiled. “That's easy to distinguish, in my experience. If there's a significant amount of time post-intimacy, and you still feel the same way, then it's most likely a rational emotional response and not hormonally prompted. As for whether or not it's too fast...well.” The images of Cecilia and Disele popped into his mind and his smile grew, tender and sweet. “Love is funny like that. It can take years, or mere moments.”

Karkat was thoughtful for a bit. “...I definitely still feel that way. So...it's okay I feel like that now, after three months?”

“Absolutely,” Siglas reassured him, reaching over to give his hand a fatherly squeeze. “You're so much like me, you know. I only knew your anne for a month before I decided I was going to marry her.”

“Haha, I'm not sure about marriage yet. But Dave...he makes me happy. He makes me feel safe, and like I can be myself around him. I...actually told him about me and Gamzee.” Siglas gave him another squeeze, which was returned. “I didn't go into full detail, but enough that he knows. And he didn't say anything except offer to sic his building's doorman on him.”

“He sounds like a good man.”

“He is, baba . One of the best I've known. Even if he can be an insufferable prick sometimes,” he added with a fond grin.

The older man laughed. “As long as he treats you right and makes you happy, I'm happy.” He glanced at Karkat's neck and his smile turned into a grin. “And I think he makes you very happy~” He laughed at Karkat's embarrassed yelp and the quick covering of his neck. “Should I get you some coverup before Disele comes home tonight?”

Karkat blanched. “Oh god that's all I need, Mom and Nepeta asking questions?”

“Don't forget that this Thursday is family dinner night so Meulin and Kankri are coming over!” Siglas chirped. “And now I know what to put in your stocking this year!”

“Dad I swear to all the gods if you put condoms in I'm disowning you! We haven't even done that yet--aw fuck.” Karkat hid his face in his arms with a groan.

Siglas just patted his shoulder. “The important thing is that you're safe, you know. He's clean, right?”

“Ugh, yes! We just weren't ready for...that.” Karkat's ears were turning red and his cheeks were noticeably pink. “I can't believe you can say that so casually !”

“Exposure therapy. And besides that, I know that talking about these things is still uncomfortable for you, but I really do appreciate the effort you're putting in towards communication with me on sensitive subjects like these.”

“Stupid overly understanding dad.” Even as he said it though, Karkat was smiling.


- cardinalGift [CG] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] -

CG: What time will we 6e having dinner?
CG: SIX THIRTY. DAD’S GOING OVERBOARD.
CG: 9h n9. Is it that 6ad?
CG: HE’S MAKING A MEZZE FEAST.
CG: Y9u weren’t kidding when y9u said 9ver6oard!
CG: MOM COULDN’T GET HIM TO NOT GO FULL MEZZE. HE’S REALLY EXCITED TO HAVE US ALL HOME, WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU AND MEULIN WERE BOTH HERE?
CG: G99d question. I had my summer internship and 9nly came h9me f9r a 6it when it was 9ur 6irthdays. When was the last time Meulin came h9me?
CG: NOT SURE, I THINK THE SAME TIME.
CG: 9h dear, we really need t9 c9me d9wn f9r dinner m9re 9ften, d9n’t we?
CG: YOU THINK?
CG: I pr9mise t9 c9me visit m9re 9ften. I d9 miss every9ne. H9w are things 9n y9ur end th9ugh? Particularly with y9ur 69yfriend, Dave right
CG: IF HE EVER SAW YOUR QUIRK HE'D LOSE IT LAUGHING. HE CAN BE AN IMMATURE ASSHOLE, AND HE DOESN'T KNOW WHEN TO SHUT THE FUCK UP SOMETIMES, AND GOES FULL FOOT IN MOUTH MODE LIKE HE CAN'T WAIT TO DEEPTHROAT THAT FUCKER.
CG: 9ne, language, tw9, I did N9T need that imagery, must y9u 6e s9 crude?
CG: YES.
CG: Ugh.
CG: BUT...HE'S ALSO SWEET AND CONSIDERATE. HE LISTENS, AND WE CAN BE THE STUPIDEST GODDAMN PEOPLE IN THE WORLD TOGETHER. HELL WHEN I HAVE MY RANTING FREAKOUTS HE DOESN'T JUDGE OR ANY SHIT LIKE THAT.
CG: I CAN BE MYSELF WITH HIM, AND HIM WITH ME.
CG: I h9pe I get t9 meet him then. He s9unds like a g99d man, especially if he treats y9u s9 well.
CG: I have t9 admit, I was...w9rried.
CG: YOU WERE?
CG: 9f c9urse I was!
CG: Karkat, I haven't 6een the 6est 6r9ther, and there is n9thing I can d9 t9 make up f9r s9me 9f the things I had said in the past. 6ut I want t9 d9 6etter, and I want t9 6e the 6r9ther y9u deserve. I’ve 6een trying t9 6e 9nel, and I can 9nly h9pe that I’m d9ing s9mething right ever since. Even if it’s just small things here and there. And after everything with Gamzee, I was...n9t s9 much w9rried as, well...scared.
CG: Sh99t, did I trigger y9u?
CG: NO, I'M ALRIGHT. I'M MORE SURPRISED THAN ANYTHING ELSE.
CG: YOU APOLOGIZED FOR WHAT YOU DID BEFORE AND I FORGAVE YOU A LONG TIME AGO. YOU WERE A RAGING FESTERING SHITHEAD, SURE, BUT YOU'RE NOT ANYMORE. YOU'VE GROWN INTO A BETTER PERSON. THAT'S WHAT MATTERS.
CG: S9me days I still catch myself falling int9 th9se 9ld th9ught patterns, I'll admit.
CG: JOIN THE CLUB. SOME DAYS I STILL WAKE UP IN A RAGE WITH NO SOURCE, IT'S THE FUCKING WORST.
CG: I can 9nly imagine.
CG: 6ut...yes, I've 6een scared. Y9u never deserved anything that...that…
CG: That hein9us, l9wlife, 6lithering feculent fucking shith9le did t9 y9u!!!!
CG: O:
CG: F9rgive my language, 6ut just the th9ught 9f him makes my 6l99d 69il! And n9t 9nly did he hurt y9u 6ut he hurt Nepeta as well, and her friend! F9r what he did t9 my family, I can NEVER f9rgive him. And quite frankly if I ever see him again I just might kick his ass!
CG: And y9u were s9 unlike the little b9y I grew up with afterwards, I was genuinely afraid that I had l9st my 6r9ther. That y9u w9uldn't 6e a6le t9 c9me 6ack t9 us.
CG: S9 t9 see y9u with s9me9ne wh9 makes y9u s9 happy means...it means everything t9 me. And I am *s9* happy f9r y9u. Y9u deserve the w9rld.
CG: NO, FUCK YOU, YOU DON'T GET TO LAY ALL THESE HEARTFELT MESSAGES ON ME OVER PESTERCHUM OF ALL FUCKING THINGS!
CG: GODDAMMIT KANKRI, YOU MAY BE INSUFFERABLE BUT YOU'RE MY BROTHER, AND OUTSIDE OF YOUR CREEPY SJW PHASE YOU'VE ALWAYS BEEN AMAZING. YOU'RE PASSIONATE AND YOU GENUINELY GIVE A SHIT ABOUT OTHERS. WHY ELSE DID YOU GO INTO COMMUNICATIONS AND PSYCHIATRY? NOT FOR THE SHITTY MONEY THAT'S FOR SURE!
CG: YOU WENT INTO THOSE FIELDS SO THAT YOU COULD HELP OTHERS. YOU TOOK YOUR RANCID SHITTINESS AND MADE IT INTO INSPIRATION, AND LEARNED FROM YOUR MISTAKES. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT ACTUALLY IS?
CG: SO FUCK YOU, YOU'RE THE BEST BROTHER, FIGHT ME.
CG: Fine, I will!
CG: 6est three 9ut 9f five?
CG: I'M GONNA WIPE THE FUCKING FLOOR WITH YOU.
CG: Y9u wish.


When Karkat opened the door he was swept up into a near suffocating hug, feet lifting off the floor. “Karkat!! It's been so long!!”

“Hi, Meu,” he managed with a strained tone. God, his sister was strong! What the hell was she doing at the zoo, wrestling the damn lions or something? He had to thump her back a few times before she put him back down. Sucking in a few needed breaths, he still grinned at her. “How was the trip down?” he asked, signing as he spoke.

“Oh, fine! And Karkitty, you won’t believe the gossip I have to share!” she gushed. “Oh, and Kurloz says hi.”

“Tell him I said fuck off,” he replied with no true rancor behind the words. With both pairs of hands going nonstop as they spoke (out of habit more than anything else) a glint caught his eye, and he grabbed her hand. His eyes widened as much as her grin grew. “MEU! HOLY FUCKING SHIT!”

“I KNOW!!”

Their mother walked in from the dining room in time to see the two screaming and jumping together in the entryway of the house. Amused, Disele cocked a hip and put a hand on it. “What’s got my kittens all excited?” she teased.

“MOM MOM!!” Meulin ran up to her and showed off the silver ring topped with sparkling peridot gems, tiny diamonds studding the band itself. “KURLOZ PROPOSED!”

Siglas didn’t even flinched at the high-pitched screaming that echoed through the house as he checked on the oruk in the oven. He simply smiled at the memory of Kurloz appearing at his house in distress over the proposal. But when his family poured into the kitchen he made sure to act in surprise and delight as he swept Meulin into a hug.

Kankri walked in with Nepeta and the two looked at each other in confusion. “That’s a lot of screaming,” he commented.

She just shrugged. “Something good must have happened!” she chirped. “I’m going to get cleaned up, I’ll meet you at the table!”

He nodded with a soft smile and went into the kitchen, where he was equally attacked with an oomph by Meulin. “Meu, what’s--?” He was confronted by the engagement ring and his eyes went comically huge. “Oh my god. Oh--oh my fucking god!” He scooped her into a hug and spun her, both of them laughing while Karkat gasped overdramatically behind them. “He finally proposed! When did he do it?”

“Just the other day!” she said, hugging him and this time picking him up off the floor. “I promise I’ll tell you all about it once we’re sitting down!”

“Nepeta there you are, holy shit, Kankri swore.”

“What! You’re bluffing.”

“He did! Dad, didn’t he?”

“He certainly did.”

Kankri flushed hotly and cleared his throat, fixing his turtleneck once he was put back down. “W-well, it was surprising news! I apologize for letting myself slip--”

Siglas pushed a glass of raki into his hands. “Kankri, my dear, shut up, drink, and be merry.”

The six (plus Pounce de Leon) sat around the table, trading off plates of dolma, souvlaki, sarma, and kibbeh, while Meulin gushed over the proposal. Kurloz had taken her to a local circus, where the magician had chosen the two of them for part of his act. After being locked in a box that was “stabbed” and then set on fire, Kurloz had appeared out of a second container, down on one knee with box in hand. She had cried with joy as she accepted.

While listening to the story, Siglas couldn’t help but take the moment to observe his family. Karkat and Nepeta were both focused on Meulin with stars in their eyes, no doubt imagining their own partners and possible proposals. Kankri, pink-cheeked from the combination of raki and Kalecik Karasi, seemed a little distracted. Though, he was never exactly one for alcohol, so that would do it.

His gaze drifted to Disele, and his mouth curled into a ridiculously dopey smile filled with love and adoration. Her dark curls were barely restrained back in a ponytail, bright green eyes sparkling in the light, and while the years have led her to get a little less muscular, the strength in her arms from dancing since childhood was still apparent. Even now, she could pick him up and (how did the kids put it? yeet?) toss him across the room. She still didn’t bother with hair dye either. He liked to call the silver her “tinsel”. God, he could just stare at her all day and never be finished drinking in her beauty.

It took him a moment to realize that she was staring back at him, and he could feel the back of his neck heat up. But rather than be sheepish, he simply sipped his own wine and quirked an eyebrow up. The nudge of a foot against his and her smile turning into a smirk was answer enough.

“Oh for fuck’s sake, stop eyefucking each other at the table!”

Siglas choked on his drink as Disele almost started crying with laughter.


“Karkaaaaat, come ooooooon you gotta tell us more!”

“I’ve already told you everything! I can’t possibly fathom what other damn thing that you think I’m hiding from you, Meu!”

“Oh oh, I bet I can guess! I bet he’s already leaving stuff at Dave’s penthouse! He’s not even sleeping at home for two or three nights a week!”

“I can confirm it.”

“Dad! Look, Dave and I are just watching a ton of movies together, he’s got a huge collection of them. We’re not really big on big dates so we usually just stay in and shit. And we stay up late as all fuck so I just end up staying the night. It’s easier.”

“Ooohhhhhh~?”

Mom , it isn’t like that! Dad, stop wiggling your eyebrows at me! Fuck my love life, what about Nepeta?”

“Don’t turn it on me!”

“Yeah well you’re the one who finally started dating her what, year-long crush? Or was it two-- oomph !”

“No pillow fights in the living room, I can’t replace that vase!”

Kankri was distracted from his family’s usual antics by a buzz from his phone. When he saw the message he cleared his throat. “Sorry to leave so early, but Cronus is here and we need to start heading back.”

“Awww!”

Disele stood up. “Wait a minute, I’ll grab you your leftovers.”

He rolled his eyes in fond exasperation as he gave farewell hugs to his sisters, and then one to a reluctant Karkat. “You be good, don’t scare him off okay?” he teased.

Karkat huffed and gave his arm a light slap. “Yeah, yeah, you should be worried you’re gonna scare Cronus off. How does he handle your nonstop chatter?”

“He’s usually got headphones in.” The ghost of a smile reassured Karkat that Kankri was teasing. “We actually get along far better than you’d expect.”

“You know he would have been welcome to come for dinner,” Siglas pointed out as he stood up as well. “Our door is always open to friends and family.”

Kankri gave a shrug that almost seemed shy, if it had been anyone else. “He wanted to say hi to Dirk, share updates on their mutual musical interests. But maybe next time he’ll stop by--oof! Oh, for goodness’ sakes, Mom--”

“You are a graduate student, you are getting homemade food that will last you longer than the terrible takeout I’m sure you and Cronus have been eating more often than not,” Disele insisted, hands on hips. “Trust me, your father made plenty for you.”

“Dad!”

“Is she wrong?”

“Does it matter?”

Meulin rolled her eyes with a groan. “Not this again!” A horn honked outside and she quickly went to the door. Sticking her head out she gave the driver outside a grin. “Hey Cronus! I got engaged!”

“No shit?! Hang on, lemme come give you a hug!”

Kankri rolled his own eyes with an affectionate groan. “Alright, alright. Thank you, Mom, Dad. I’ll text when I get home, I promise.” He endured the embarrassingly over the top kiss that Disele gave his cheek, matched by Nepeta on the other side. At the door he met with his roommate, who was currently being crushed in a tight hug. “Meulin, he can’t breathe.”

“Whoops!”

Cronus gasped when he was released. “Thanks, dollface. Happy for ya though! Oh fuck, Kanny, your mom always spoils us! Thanks Dis!”

“Any time hon!”

Kankri was about to reply when he stiffened. The tree across the way...He shoved the containers into a startled Cronus’ arms and ran across the road. An all-too-familiar shadow dashed away and jumped the fence before he could grab it. Cussing up a blue streak in Turkish, Kankri stalked back to his house. “Dad, the security cameras are still working, right?”

Siglas frowned and nodded. “Yes, of course. Who was that?”

“Pretty sure it was him,” Kankri snarled. He watched as his father’s face turned stony. “If he shows up again tell me so I can kill him.”

“No, no killing.” Siglas took note of the cracking knuckles and added, “I’ll try to keep Meulin from killing him anyway. If he continues this, I promise we’ll pursue legal action.” He glanced over his shoulder, where he could hear Karkat and Nepeta chattering over the sound of dinner cleanup. “And I’ll try to keep this from Karkat.”

“Thank you, Dad. I’ll talk to you later.” Kankri gave him one last hug before he and Cronus climbed into the car. As Cronus pulled away, Kankri hid his face in his hands with a groan. “Fuck, and tonight had been so nice.”

“Awv, chief, it’s alright.” Cronus glanced over at him. “Look, whatever’s gonna happen will happen, and I’m gonna be with you every step of the way.” Gently, he took Kankri’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “Trust me, babe?”

He blushed, but squeezed back. “...I do. Thank you, Cronus. Are we late for the flight, by the way?”

“No, we’re actually a bit early. Ya know what that means~”

“Put those eyebrows down.”

“Whaaaat? I was just thinking of cuddling!”

“Sure you were.” Kankri was smiling however. And of course, Cronus insisted on draping his leather jacket around him once they had reached the airport, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. “...I was thinking. Maybe...maybe Thanksgiving, if you aren’t doing anything, you could...come for dinner? As…” He swallowed nervously as he leaned on the taller man’s chest. “As my boyfriend?”

Cronus stilled as he looked down at him. “Are you sure, Kankri?” he asked softly. It made a warmth flare in Kankri’s chest at hearing him use his full name. He understood just how serious the offer was.

“If this works out...then yes. I am.”

“Well, only if Eri is up to it. We’ll have to see how he does the next month or so. But I think doing something with your family would be good for him. And you’re sure you’re okay with him staying with us until he gets his own place?”

“I wouldn’t have said yes if I wasn’t. His plane just landed, he’ll be here soon.”

The two waited at the terminal anxiously, until they saw the familiar man limping out of the gate. Cronus immediately left Kankri to run to him, sweeping his little brother into his arms. “Eridan,” he breathed in relief. “I’m so glad you’re home.”

Eridan couldn’t help the faint sob as he clutched Cronus just as tightly. “M-me too,” he managed. “Thanks for...for coming.”

“Of course! You’re my little bro, kiddo.” Cronus pulled away just enough to look at Eridan properly and he shook his head. “You can grow your hair out again, that short cut is doing terrible things to ya.” He smiled as Eridan slapped his arm lightly with a damp laugh. “Come on, Eri. Let’s get your bags, and get you home.”

Chapter Text

  Levity and Fun; Luck; Understanding, Appreciation, Truest Love

The little bell over the door rang, and Karkat looked up from his book. Immediately his face lit up with a grin. “Kanaya!”

“Karkat.” Kanaya smiled warmly as she embraced him equally as tight as he did her. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

“Maybe if you hadn’t been spending all your time with Rose, we could have had our weekly hangouts,” he snarked with a little nudge.

She simply hip-checked him in return. “And you haven’t been spending all that time with Dave?” she teased. “Surely you can be spared for a nice lunch date at least. If that’s alright with Jade, of course?”

“Let me make sure, she’s in the back with Dannei. Jade has the biggest crush on them, it’s the greatest damn thing I’ve seen,” he whispered with a conspiratory grin. As he disappeared through the Employees Only door, Kanaya started looking around at the flowers. Getting roses for Rose might seem contrite, and she wanted to convey her emotions without any teasing remarks about roses by any other name, or anything of the sort. Sometimes, sincerity was nice.

She looked up as Karkat appeared again, Dannei in tow. They were dirt-smudged and chipper. “Heeeeey! I don’t think we’ve met! I’m Dannei, they/them pronouns!”

Kanaya smiled as the other bounced forward to shake hands. “Kanaya, she/her.”

“Great to meetcha! Saw you eyeing some of the flowers, you have a special someone in mind~?”

“Well, yes, but I’ll buy some when Karkat and I return. I’m sure whichever I get though will be perfect,” she added with a smile.

Dannei groaned and grabbed at their chest. “You’re so pretty, I’m having a gay moment. I’m surrounded by pretty people. This is how I die and I couldn’t have chosen a better death.”

Kanaya giggled, Karkat rolled his eyes, and a yelp of surprise came from the doorway. “You can’t die though! Who else is going to make sure the new hybrids make it through winter?” Jade exclaimed, latching onto Dannei’s arm. She was much dirtier than Dannei, so she left marks of black earth along their sleeve.

Dannei flushed bright enough that their freckles stood out. “Well, then I guess I just need true love’s kiss,” they nearly stammered, even as they gave an enthusiastic eyebrow waggle. 

Jade’s smile grew playful and she just gave them a peck on the cheek. “That’ll have to do!” she declared. “You watch the register then. I’m going to work on some more buckets~ have a nice lunch Karkat! See you later Kanaya!”

A dumbfounded Dannei watched her leave with a sashay to her step before looking at the other two with a ridiculous grin on their face. “I’m gonna marry the shit out of her one day. Stop the presses, my heart has been stolen like a cat stealing fish off a table, I am paws over wings and I am going to woo her.”

“Shouldn’t it be coo her?” Karkat said with another eyeroll. His mouth was twitching though as he tried desperately not to laugh. “Come on, Kanaya. I owe you lunch.”

“It was lovely to meet you,” she told the other, smiling coyly. “I do hope you don’t get too flustered by Jade.”

“What, me flustered? Noooo way Jose, I’m doing all the flustering, she isn’t gonna know what hit her when I really get my groove!”

Karkat snorted as he and Kanaya left the shop. He shivered a bit, hunching his shoulders further into his coat. “Winter’s on its way,” he commented with a glance at the sky. It was chilly, but the clouds didn’t promise snow at least.

Kanaya hummed a bit as she followed his gaze. “I’m looking forward to it. Especially since I’ll be working here from now on.”

“No shit?”

“There is indeed no shit here. Doctor Scratch is currently abroad in Europe, and he said that the Felt and Billiards shop here has a skilled tailor I can work with,” she clarified with a bright smile. “So I don’t have to go back to New York except for special projects.”

“That’s great!” Karkat took the chance to hug her, smiling at how even now she still was taller than him. Whether that was her heels or not was unclear. “God you have no idea how much I fucking missed you while you’ve been away.”

“Believe me, I’ve missed you too.” She gave him a squeeze and pulled back, her smile turning sly. “After all, you have so much to tell me, I’m sure.”

He just raised an eyebrow at her. “And you don’t, miss future wife of a certain Rose Lalonde?” He smirked as she blushed and glanced away sheepishly. “Come on, there’s a cafe not far from here you’ll like. Their tea is actually decent instead of that shitty hogwash swill most places try to push onto customers.”

They soon found themselves in a cozy little cafe with hot tea made to their liking (Empire Keemun black with milk and a bit of sugar for Karkat, Silver Needles white with honey for Kanaya), a tray of finger sandwiches, and two salads. This was accompanied by the complementary fruit always provided by the owners. Kanaya sipped her tea and sighed happily. “Good tea is so hard to find, unless you go to specialty stores. And even then, it can be pricey. Sometimes I would write to Porrim or Mother asking for my favorite brew when I couldn’t bear to be away from it any longer.”

Karkat shook his head with a snort of amusement, carding his fork through the chicken Caesar to get it properly mixed. “No Chinatowns near you?”

“There were, of course, but they never had the type I liked. I did enjoy my time there though,” she confessed. “I learned so much, I think that in a couple of years I will be comfortable enough to leave Doctor Scratch and open my own shop.”

“Nice! Look at you, breaking onto the fashion scene like a crazed vampire with a chainsaw!”

“Karkat!” She had to grab a napkin to cover her mouth as she coughed with laughter. “Good lord, what a vision!” 

He grinned with the smug satisfaction of a cat who polished off the cream. “I’m experimenting with different writing genres. Think that would go over well?”

“Honestly, I think it would be excellent,” she replied. She was still grinning even as she took a bite of salad. “Just make her a lesbian.”

“Well, fucking duh . I barely know how to write straight people anymore. I can’t even use my dad as an example, since he’s a flaming bi!”

“True. We’ve been going to pride events since we were in diapers.”

“Remember that time someone told our parents they were ruining us by taking us to the events when we were so little?”

“You yelled at them that you’d rather be gay than be a filthy homophobe, kicked them in the shin, and ran away.”

“I’m still proud of five-year-old me.”

“Yes, well, speaking of being gay...” Jade eyes glittered mischievously as she raised a delicate eyebrow. “You simply must tell me about your relationship with Dave. I haven’t seen you so happy in a relationship in quite some time.”

Karkat’s cheeks flushed as he tried to hide the soft smile behind his mug. “I told you how we met already--as much as I hate being in debt to that fucking buck-toothed asshole, I guess I owe Egbert thanks for pissing Dave off. Plus, advertising bouquets for that special someone you love to hate has been increasing sales exponentially. A lot of them have been sold to office workers, it’s the funniest shit.”

Kanaya snorted slightly. “I should send a bouquet to Vriska then, just to bother her,” she joked.

“Don’t let me stop you. But after that first meeting and the more we were together, things just...clicked. You know how you do something really stupid and you start kicking yourself, like what the fuck were you thinking there you ridiculous jackass? But then you look at your partner and they’re still looking at you like you hung the stars and moon in the sky?”

“I know exactly what you mean.”

“Yeah, it’s...incredible.” He smiled softly, poking at his salad in thought. “Dave, he...I can be myself around him. I don’t have to keep the pissy asshole facade up like I usually do--not that I keep it up around you.”

“I certainly hope not.”

“Like you don’t keep the perfect seamstress facade up around me.”

“Exactly. I’d never do that to you anyway. For one thing, you know me too well for me to pull the wool over your eyes.”

“Right, anyway. I get the same kind of...comfort with him. And he accepts me as I am, flaws and all.” He laughed, running a hand through his hair. “Hell, a couple weeks ago we had a pretty bad argument because for all his talk about showing me the pool in his building--seriously what the fuck is that place it’s a rich person’s playground--he didn’t want to take off his shirt. I thought he was still being pretentious and keeping up the whole coolkid schtick. But after we had cooled down we talked about it, and he told me it was because he has a bunch of scars. Not like me, but from his…” Here he sneered in pure disgust. “Ugh, sperm donor I guess. The fucker made him fight with an actual sword. Sharp steel and everything.”

She made a horrified noise, covering her mouth with a hand. “Good heavens! Is he alright?”

“He is. The horrendous waste of space is dead now so that’s good. But we were able to talk about things calmly, and we both apologized and shit.” He smiled again. “I don’t think I’ve had a lot of partners who I actually could just take time to talk it out. And now that we’re opening up more, we’re learning about things that set us off and shit. Like how there are some movies he can’t watch because of his trauma, or how I can’t watch movies that deal with transphobia and homophobia.”

“Except RENT .”

“That’s different, I end up bawling like a tantruming toddler by the end.”

“That’s true, I almost forgot about that.”

“Like you don’t end up sobbing into your own handkerchiefs?”

“Shoosh.” Kanaya glanced away with a hint of color to her cheeks. She was still smiling though as she returned her gaze to him. “I’m glad that you have someone you care so much about though. He sounds like he’s the right one for you.”

Karkat nodded in agreement and gave her one of the softest smiles he ever had. “I really do love him, Kanaya. We haven’t quite said it to each other properly, but I think he loves me too.”

She beamed and leaned over to grab his hands and squeeze them gently. “I’m so happy for you, Karkat, you have no idea. You deserve someone who loves you and will treat you as you deserve.”

He flushed dark enough that it could clearly be seen. “Thanks, Kanaya. Now enough about me, what about you? I know you’ve been busy with Rose~”

She suddenly looked almost shy at the change of subject. “O-oh, well, things are...well. Very well, in fact! We’ve had some absolutely delightful dates, but more often than not we stay in and I’ll work on a sewing project, and she reads aloud. This weekend we’re going to the museum, and after the Halloween rush we’re going to visit Salem.”

“Oh nice! That’s going to be fun. And does she share any of your...proclivities?” he asked, eyebrows giving a quick waggle.

“Karkat! You’re spending too much time with Dave,” she tittered, hiding her giggles. “But if you must know, we do enjoy roleplaying, both in and out of the bedroom. That’s all I’m telling you though. For now. When we’re not in public, I’m sure we’ll be sharing quite a few stories, hmmmm?” She gave him her own little eyebrow waggle.

He flushed and gave a small grin. “We haven’t done much, but...he’s very enthusiastic. And he’s really respectful, he doesn’t want to do anything that hurts me.”

“So you haven’t discussed anything less vanilla?”

Kanaya!” He hid his face in his hand while she grinned lasciviously. “No, we haven’t. We’re not jumping in headfirst like some crazy broad who just wants dick. We’re taking our time. It’s actually really nice, after all the hookups and shit in college.”

She nodded in understanding, nibbling on a finger sandwich. “Well, I’m glad he’s treating you so well. You deserve it, and the world.”

He gave her a smile. “Same for you. Rose sounds like she’s doing the same.”

“Oh yes, we’ve had a few spats because we’re both trying to...let go of our own facades. You know how sarcastic I can get.”

“Is that sarcasm right there?” Karkat teased. Kanaya raised an eyebrow at him. “I get it, don’t worry. Dave has his whole irony shit too, but he’s been getting shittons better at being sincere when it’s us. I’m sure you and Rose will be alright.”

“Thank you. Oh! I just remembered, isn’t tomorrow the final Battle of the Bands?”

“Ah fuck, thanks for reminding me! I wanted to know if you’d help me with fixing something up for my costume. It’s an easy thing.”

“Of course! What is it?”

“Well...you know my dad’s cloak? He gave it to me. Said it deserves a better history now.”

“Oh, I would be thrilled to help! Bring it by tonight and I’ll fix it up exactly how you want it! Actually--come stay the night, how long has it been since we had a sleepover?”

“Fuck, it’s been over a year hasn’t it? You’ve been in New York and I was in LA finishing my degree. We gotta fix that bullshit tonight.”


Dirk raised an eyebrow at the...spectacle in front of him. “Viktor, what the fuck are you even supposed to be?”

Viktor posed with a flourish, tail feathers rustling with every step he took. “A white peacock of course!” He eyed the casual clothes the ginger had on in comparison. “And you are?”

He gave an unexpected grin. “A murderer. They usually look like the last person you’d expect it to be.” Viktor took a couple of shuffling steps away.

“Sorry I’m late!” Bitty ran into the small room the judges had congregated, fixing his hood. “The Halloween party at the Haus was insane, I could barely get away!”

Viktor squealed at the adorableness of the rabbit outfit. “о Боже мой! You look so cute!! What are you supposed to be?”

“Oh, um, a puck bunny,” Bitty managed, still trying to get past the starstruck feeling he usually got when around one of his figure skating idols. “Sort of a joke? And everyone says I’m like a rabbit since I’m so fast, so--”

“Is perfect! You’re small, and I’ve seen your tapes, you could still make a career in figure skating if you get tired of hitting pucks into goal!”

Dirk noticed Bitty growing redder and took pity on him. “So how about we go get settled outside? It’s almost midnight.”

“Lord if my mama knew what I was doing she’d have a litter of kittens,” the Southern skater muttered. He couldn’t hide his grin however as he peeked out the office door. Viktor’s head poked out above his. “Look at some of them! They look amazing!”

“Oooh, look at Voltron, they look like aliens!”

“So otherworldly~”

Dirk gave them both a shove out the door. “Get out there and we can admire them all while judging,” he groused without heat. He had to avoid the tail feathers, but it was no big deal. He was following behind them when he caught sight of Jake, and his breath caught in his throat. The other was wearing an outfit based off of Lara Croft, with shorts that should be criminalized for the lack of length. Seeing those thick thighs, the kind that could crush his head, on display had Dirk’s mouth drying out.

Jake looked up from his phone and gave him a blinding smile. “There you are, chap! Was hoping to catch you before you got too busy.” Grabbing his boyfriend’s hand he pulled him close, kissing him lightly. “So what exactly are you supposed to be?”

“A murderer.” Dirk chuckled at the confused expression on that gorgeous face. “They usually look normal.”

Jake snorted and shook his head, still smiling. “Ah, that’s what I adore about you. You got such a clever way of thinking, you could think figure eights and stars around someone and they’d have no freaking idea you just pulled a mind heist.”

He could feel an unfamiliar heat creep up his neck, and he couldn’t help but duck his head at the unexpected compliment. “Yeah, well, you’re pretty fucking smart too. How else could you survive jungles and shit while still looking as fucking amazing as you do?”

A chuckle rumbled through Jake’s chest as he used his fingers to tilt Dirk’s chin back up. “You’re the one who looks amazing,” he purred, lips just brushing against his.

He groped for the doorknob he knew was behind him. “They can wait ten minutes. Or twenty. Um, yeah. Just. Get in here.”

Jake’s laughter was cut off by the door closing behind the two of them.


Sollux gave his girlfriend a Look. “We just got into a fucking car accident yesterday, did you have to stick to that costume?”

“It’s called coping with trauma, Sollux!” she replied cheerfully. She was dressed in a funerary kimono, one half perfect, the other made to look like it was partly rotten. Her own face was half dead, half alive. Her hair was carefully made up so that half of it was in an intricate updo, while the other half hung straight down.

Sollux simply rolled his eyes. Between the stringiness of his hair (intentionally stringy, not actually filthy), the blue tint to his skin, and the red lips, he was a perfect drowning victim. “Ugh, fine. I’m not happy about it though.”

“Yeah yeah, you never are.” She gave him a light kiss. “Hey, Feferi and Equius are gonna be watching us, and after the competition we’re having the horror movie marathon at Dave’s! You know you’re looking forward to The Wicker Man.

“It’s the only Nic Cage movie I like, AA. And we all know there’s gonna be at least one of those for JH.”

“Oh relax~ look, we’re alive, we’re healthy, and we’re about to play our hearts out!” she exclaimed with a bounce in every movement. It made her kimono sleeves sway. “Aren’t you excited?”

“Meh.”

“Ohhh don’t be such a grumpy gus!” Aradia gave him a sweet kiss that gave Sollux’s mood a small lift. “Come on, let’s give them a show!” She tugged him out of the hallway and into the backstage area, immediately sighting the others. “Oh wow, you guys look amazing!”

Vriska gave her a sharp smile as she tossed her hair over her shoulder. With the makeup and fake fangs, it gave the Spider Queen an air of horror similar to Shelob for Tolkien fans. “We try. You don’t look half bad,” she teased with a wink. Aradia giggled while Sollux just groaned behind her.

Jade bounced over and gave a quiet howl. The ears on her head swiveled until they were perked forward. “We look fantastic! And if I see Dannei anytime soon, I’m going to take a bite out of them,” the werewolf growled with a lascivious grin. She flexed her fingers, claws and fur looking disturbingly real.

“Oh wow! You guys look incredible!” John was right next to Jade, grinning ear to ear as he took them in. What surprised the two was that he was in an outfit that was a stark contrast to the others. His frames were a shocking pink, and the jeans were a dusky rose. His shirt was a paler pink with an odd design in baby blue that none of them recognized. The blond wig had to be cosplay quality, considering how much like his real hair it looked. The pink and blue hammer with hearts on it strangely finished it off.

Sollux tilted his head to the side. “And what the fuck are you supposed to be?”

“Manic depression! Because it never looks like what you think it would.”

“I’d say you just couldn’t come up with a costume idea and bullshitted it, but the wig and hammer say otherwise.”

“It’s actually kind of creepy,” Aradia chirped. “The rest of us are really dark and terrifying, but you’re such a violent contrast it really drives home the uncanny valley feeling with manic depression!”

“Well, if I’m being accurate I would say bipolar one disorder, but it doesn’t really go with the joke very well,” John amended with a grin. “Manic depression is an outdated term and has been since either the DSM-III or DSM-IV was published, but I’d say since the 1970s is most likely. But it wasn’t until around that time that they stopped doing the ice baths and electroshock treatments that were favorites in the old institutions and sanatoriums--”

He was suddenly cut off by a clawed hand across his mouth. “You don’t have to give us a fucking lecture, Egbert,” Karkat snarked from under mask and hood. “We’ve heard it ten times and I don’t think any of us are neurotypical in any way, shape, or form.”

In response he gave him a sheepish shrug. “Sorry! You know how I can get carried away.”

“Well, let’s go get carried away to the stage, it’s almost time and we’re third in the lineup.” Karkat waited until the others had headed in the proper direction before turning to John, tugging down the hood and flipping the mask up. “Are you alright?” he asked softly.

John’s grin slipped into something less exuberant as he shrugged again. “Kinda? My mood’s been cycling the last week, but Crabdad changed my medication so I’m adjusting to it. The last one wasn’t working as effectively as before. And he gave me trazodone to take at night too, so the sedative side effect is helping me actually sleep all night instead of the usual insomnia crap, so that’s really nice!” he added with a laugh. “I’m alright though, Karkat. If anything went wrong, I’d let you know.”

Karkat gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze as he smiled. “I’m glad it isn’t anything worse.” He let out a little oof as John gave him a tight squeeze around the middle in return. “Alright, alright, enough with the sappy shit,” he teased, laughing. He returned the hug anyway. “Come on you fucking nerd, let’s go rock their pants off.”

“You mean Dave’s.” John ducked the slap from Karkat and ran to join the others with giggles drifting behind him.


The plague doctor on stage wouldn’t have looked out of place in the streets of Florence in 1349, if not for the aviators perched comically on the beak. Next to the plague doctor was an undead lawyer of old English court, with a powdered wig and a noose as a necklace. “Alright everyone, are we excited?” The screaming crowd was all he needed to hear. “Awesome! So we got some pretty fucking awesome bands lined up today, and it all leads up to the most rocking Halloween this club’s ever seen! Except Dirk, what the hell are you supposed to be bro?”

Dirk, looking rather ruffled but smug, called back, “A murderer.”

“I’m pretty sure I nearly killed you already my love!”

Dave lost it at Jake’s yell while Dirk turned bright red under the lights. Terezi had to lean on her dragon-head cane so as not to fall while cackling. Dirk stood up and yelled back, “Keep it up and you’re not getting any more of this sweet Strider ass!”

“You wound me!”

Dave had to take the plague mask off to wipe his eyes from laughing so hard. “Okay, okay, my bro’s romantic life aside--which I did not need to know any details, I get enough of that shit from Rose--we’re going to kick this off with the first band of the night!”

“You know them from their charm and kicking riffs, they’re truly out of this world, welcome to the stage Voltron~!”

They hurried off to the wings as the curtains opened, revealing a band straight out of Star Trek. Viktor immediately leaned forward with delight as he took in their costumes. Prosthetics expertly put on, glitter strategically strewn, even contacts for added alien touches! It was a drama lover’s dream! “Wait wait wait!” he declared as he stood up. Bitty and Dirk both ducked the tail feathers. “Please enlighten us on your delightful designs!”

Lance immediately took the microphone. “Well, I’m a fashion major so of course, I had a hand in making sure we look amazing, and that Keith’s mullet is actually not a travesty.”

“Fuck you too Lance.”

He just blew a teasing kiss to Keith, who rolled his eyes and flipped him off. “Anyway, so all of us had met because we really love space! Like full on Star Wars marathons and everything! And Allura had the idea of us making our own alien species and dressing up like that! I’m an Aguamarine, a mermaid-like species that lives on a planet covered in water!” He then pointed at various members. “Keith’s a Galra, they’re like a cat humanoid species and we had an idea that they used to try and take over the universe but didn’t get that far. Hunk’s what we call a Balmeran! Rock people who can communicate with a petrified ancient beast!

“By the way, Pidge’s brother Matt and Shiro are the ones who came up with species backstory, I’m just the one who did costumes and some makeup. Allura did the rest of the makeup, she’s amazing!”

“That’s my girlfriend you’re talking about,” Shiro teased.

Lance just shot him a grin over his shoulder. “Anyway! Shiro’s the personification of a star, what was it again? Blue giant, that’s it! So we basically made him look like a walking galaxy filled with stardust. And our favorite gremlin is what she calls a Dritoid, they’re based off lions but are also like, communing with both nature and technology? Honestly, she got into way too much technobabble and my ADHD mind got distracted.”

“You’re lucky I’m the same way,” Pidge added with a fanged grin.

Viktor clapped in delight. “I love it!” he crowed. “Now, dazzle us!”


Karkat was double checking his makeup in the small makeup station provided in a back room when he caught Vriska’s eye in his reflection. “Spiderbitch? What’s going on?”

Vriska bit at her lip as she fiddled with her webbing. “It’s...oh, I have this really big plan for later but if we don’t win I’m not going to be able to go through with it and I’m gonna be a fool and then I’ll probably end up losing John and--”

“Whoa whoa whoa! Vriska look at me, breathe! Breathe with me, it’s gonna be alright.” As soon as he was sure she wasn’t going to panic he put his hands on her shoulders to ground her. “Alright. Start from the beginning.”

Vriska breathed in and out before telling him her plans. There was a moment of silence before she added, “But...what if he says no?”

He laughed softly and cupped her head in his hands. “Trust me, Vriska, he’s not gonna say no. He is going to fucking love the surprise. And even if we don’t win, you’ll still be able to do it. Hell, you can even talk to Dirk about it, he’ll probably think it’s the sappiest shit ever but he’ll make sure you get the chance.”

“You’re being honest with me? Not just pulling my legs?”

“Vriska. When am I not honest with you?”

She snorted and nodded. “Good point.” She inhaled, and then let it out with a whoosh . “Alright. I feel better. I got this! I’m gonna knock his adorable rosy pants off!”

Karkat grinned as he pulled his half-skull mask back over his eyes. Death made sure his hood was up and the shackles around his wrists were ready for the upcoming performance. “Just don’t actually jump his damn bones on stage, I know you’re an exhibitionist.” The responding punch hurt, but it was totally worth the bruise blooming on his shoulder.


Dannei sat near the bar, feet tapping along with the beat. Their wings rustled as they shifted on the stool they had claimed. Coastal Voyagers was really good, and they loved their costumes! The group had gone for a sort of elemental weather or seasonal spirit theme. Jack looked every bit the mischievous ice spirit he had nicknamed himself after, and Merida was the perfect embodiment of fire to Moana’s oceanic outfit. Rapunzel looked like she had stepped out of a meadow with all the flowers threaded into her long braid. What really got Dannei’s attention though was Hiccup.

Not that Dannei was romantically interested like that! No, they were very monogamous and very focused on a particular werewolf slash boss but hopefully more. Rather, it was the dragon wings that opened and closed, and the tail that looked to be animatronic too. Dannei was trying to figure out how he had managed that. They needed to know! Cosplay wouldn’t be complete without this important knowledge!

Oh and their singing was pretty damn good too.

The angel-demon leaned back against the counter and knocked their drink back before standing up. Well, there was still time. After Coastal Voyagers was National Treasure, and about seven more bands, and then intermission and then the final round. After Jade and the others performed, they’d go up to say hi and pester Hiccup about it.

Speaking of, the brunet was all but accosted by Pidge when he got off the stage. “Oof! Yes?”

“You need to tell me how you made these like, yesterday.” She pulled one out to its fullest wingspan. "They look so real!"

"Oh! Well I first started with a basic frame--you want to use aluminum for them, it's lightweight but also sturdier than PVC. They're connected with a tiny computer that tells them to open or close, and I have wires going down my arm to my wrist so that I can press a button to command them." He demonstrated them for her. "I can send you the code and you can play around with it."

"Sweet!" Pidge beamed up at him. "I want to try and make something for Anime Boston's masquerade! But that's all I'm saying!"

Hiccup sighed in mock disappointment. "I suppose that I can wait. Oh, Sollux's band is starting."

"I'm trying to recruit him into the cryptid club."

"You may have better luck with Aradia there."

"Oh, I have my ways."

Hiccup shuffled a little away from Pidge and her terrifying scheming grin.


I'm the reaper outside your door
I am the reckoning
For every wrong you ever did to me
I am the reckoning!!

Death incarnate gave the audience a savage grin as the last chords faded out. He could see Dave grip his chest over his heart and swoon into Terezi’s arms, which definitely gave him a bit of an ego boost. Behind him, Jade howled loud and clear. “That’s for all the shitty exes we’ve all had to deal with!” he added.

Viktor was obviously fanning himself with a feather he had plucked from his tail. “I have no words! That was--that was--!!” He fell into Russian with exuberant hand motions. The people onstage only blinked in confusion.

Dirk sighed as he rubbed his eyes under his shades. “Translation, you fucking wowed him. As for me, your playing is so much tighter than last time, I think I only counted two missed notes? Vriska, fan-fucking-tastic job, you didn’t overshadow anyone and you kept beat, which really held everyone together, that’s what I was looking for last time. John, you kept time too so that’s a big improvement. I really think that if you wanted, you could actually make it as a legit band. But, maybe change the name for copyright purposes.”

John shrugged as everyone else chuckled. “Maybe! We’ll see how it goes!”

“Well, I say that it was downright awe-inspiring!” Bitty chirped. “There was so much emotion put into the song, and it really felt like you were all playing or singing from the heart! I especially loved how the background vocals mingled together, I’m not sure who’s soprano and who’s alto but the harmony was sweeter than molasses!”

Aradia and Jade high fived.

Victor switched from Russian back to English. “It was absolutely wonderful! The drama, the passion, the ferocity ! Oh, we’re going to have such a hard time with judging, there are so many amazing bands!”

“Alright, off you go, get off so the next group can go,” Dirk shooed them with a faint smirk. As the band gathered their things and walked offstage he leaned to the right. “Hey, Dave! Stop going googly eyed at your boyfriend!” He just got a middle finger in return.

Behind the curtains the group hurried out of the way of the next band, grinning in triumph. Karkat held his father’s old cape up. “Didn’t think this would work out as well as it did.”

“Come on, Kanaya did a fantastic job!” Jade chirped. “I love how she made the edges look so tattered and old! Rose said they were here, but hopefully it won’t be too hard to find them!”

“She’s pretty tall, shouldn’t be too hard,” Aradia said with a giggle. “I know Feferi and Equius are out there too!”

“They better be, since they’re the ones who took us here,” Sollux grumbled without heat.

“All I know is that--oof! Oh sorry!”

“Nono, that was my fault, I wasn’t looking where I was going!” The ice elemental gave them all a wide grin. “You guys sounded amazing!”

“Thanks Jack but so did you!” John said with bright eyes. “You guys do a great job covering Mariana’s Trench! Your voice works so well for it, but if I sing I sound like a dying animal.”

“Can confirm,” Karkat deadpanned.

Jack snorted and motioned toward where some of the other band members had scattered along the bar. “Wanna join us for a drink? Whoever’s old enough anyway, I don’t need to get in trouble for giving alcohol to minors.”

Sollux waved his concerns off. “Even if we weren’t I’d have made them fake IDs a long time ago. But I don’t have to waste good 3D printing materials on them. Even if half of them act like kids who keep eating the glue. Karkat.”

“Fuck you too.”

The group dispersed along the bar, mingling with the other two bands. Karkat sipped at his apple cider sidecar (one of many Halloween specialties) when someone tapped on his arm. “Kar? That you?”

He turned and his eyes went huge. “Eridan! You fucking bastard!” He gave the other a tight hug, one which was returned as best as possible. “Holy shit, when did you get in? Are you on leave? It’s been years!”

Eridan gave an awkward laugh, leaning on his cane. “Not quite. Honorable discharge. Got injured in the line of duty and once I was healed up enough, got sent home. Cro’s letting me stay with him and Kan.” The accent he used to have was mostly covered with polished military diction, but every now and then consonants would drop off and words would meld together. “Got back last week. Been recovering since.”

Karkat made sure that the other was sitting on the stool before saying anything else. “Shit, I’m glad you’re alright. And I see you still have the flair for wizard dramatic bullshit.”

“Oh, don’t hate on the cape,” he snarked with an amused huff. His eyes seemed to grow brighter in the flashing lights. “It’s just really, really good to see you, Kar. I missed you, and everyone else.”

“We missed you too. You got a lot to catch up on. You good with me getting everyone’s attention?”

“Go for it.”

Karkat stood up and whistled sharply enough that it cut through a lot of the excess chatter. “Hey fuckers! Eridan’s home!”

“ERIDAN!” Feferi launched herself from where she had been using Equius for a chair, almost tackling him with the strength of her hug. “Oh my goodness, I missed you so much!!”

“F...Fef...air…”

“Oh!” She eased up and stepped back so that some of the others could give him a welcome hug. “I’m just so glad you’re home, it’s been over a year!”

“Heh, same.” Eridan rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “I got no idea what I’m gonna be doing now though. I got physical therapy, but otherwise I’m just bumming around with Cro and Kan.”

Sollux wrinkled his nose. “Your hair is hideous .”

“I know, thanks Captain Obvious.”

“How’re you doing here though?” Aradia asked, concern knitting her eyebrows together. “The noise has to get loud at times. You’re not overstimulated or anything?”

He shook his head with a small smile. “I stay near the bar and it isn’t bad. Plus I got ear plugs. But you guys sounded great! Kar when the fuck did you learn how to sing like that?”

He shrugged, rubbing the back of his neck shyly. “I’m not that great, but my voice is good for this kind of thing. Plus after doing karaoke so much with Nepeta, it kinda just comes naturally now."

Vriska leaned forward with a wide fanged grin. "Soooooooo, what're you gonna do now? Go into history or something?"

Eridan stiffened and looked away. His cane tapped against the floor in a quick staccato. "Right now it's just working through physical therapy. Otherwise…" He awkwardly shrugged a shoulder.

The air around them had turned tense, and it was surprisingly John who broke the silence. "Dave and Karkat are dating!"

Karkat choked on his drink. Eridan's eyes widened so much that his glasses slid down his nose. "Kar! How could you not tell me you found a boyfriend?" he asked, gripping his chest in faux pain.

"It's a recent fucking development," he replied, shooting a glare at the unrepentant trickster. "I promise, I'll tell you all the details later. Dave's hosting a horror movie marathon after the contest if you wanna come. He keeps a guest room open for if anyone gets triggered or overwhelmed which is great."

"Yeah! One time I started dissociating during a movie and it really helped to have that as, like, a safe space," John added with a smile. "But I don't think anyone here is neurotypical anyway so if anything happens, you're in good company."

Eridan looked about ready to burst into tears then and there. "...thanks. That really means a lot."

Before anything else could be said Dannei showed up. "Backstage guys! Semifinals judging is in about ten minutes, three more acts!"

As everyone who was playing started to pay for their drinks, Vriska tucked her hand in her pocket, making sure the little box was there.


Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck this was a terrible idea what was I thinking he's going to just say no and I'll have humiliated myself and everyone will pity us and it's going to be everywhere and I should just not do it--

"Vriska."

She shrieked and nearly elbowed John in the face. "Oh god! I'm so sorry, I didn't hit you did I?"

He laughed it off easily. “Nope! I’m all good!” He put a hand on her arm as he looked more closely at her. “Are you alright? You seem really nervous!”

Her laugh went up a pitch with anxiety. “Just a bit yeah! I dunno, I guess I’m more nervous about the judging than I thought!”

“I dunno why, you did great! Seriously Vriska, you’re amazing! Don’t get too caught up in yourself, alright?” he said with a soft smile. “I know how quickly you can get caught up in downward spirals. Is this like that?”

“No! No, just...well, I have a...secret.”

“Serket’s secret.”

“Shoosh you dork! It’s a surprise! For you! But we have to wait until later, and it’s something that really means a lot to me, so I’m just being stupid and worried!”

“Awwwwwwww Vriska, you know whatever it is I’ll love it!” He leaned down to kiss her forehead and gave her a warm grin that set butterflies going off in her gut. Dammit, how did he always manage to make her melt even after so long? “Come on, they’re about to announce the winners.”

She barely heard Dirk announce Coastal Voyagers as the grand prize winners, then Voltron, then National Treasure. Wait--they won? Fuck then that meant they really would get to do one last song for a final hurrah, and Karkat convinced them to do Beautiful With You from their choice between that and Better Sorry Than Safe with a quick but knowing glance to her and they got to go first since they got third place and oh fuck it was time already. She barely had the sense of mind to make a halfhearted crack at Sollux about not getting at least second before she found herself at the drums.

As Karkat sang his heart out, she was struck by how much emotion he was pouring into the lyrics. He had always been an emotional guy, but this was different. He put love and care and gratefulness into every syllable. She noticed where he was looking and it was like a punch to the face.

I am beautiful with you
Even in the darkest part of me
I am beautiful with you
Make it feel the way it's supposed to be

Well damn. Good for him, finally finding someone who loved him back like he deserved. Dave hadn’t looked away for one moment from Karkat, even with Terezi elbowing him with what Vriska guessed were snickers. And John just glanced at her with a smile and she nearly stumbled on a beat. Damn him and his dorky hotness!

Make it feel the way it's supposed to be
You're here with me
Just show me this and I'll believe
I am beautiful with you

Somehow they had gotten through it without her fumbling or messing up any rhythms. She looked up as Karkat lingered on the mic. “Before we go offstage, our drummer has something she’d like to say. Vriska?”

Vriska took a shaky breath as she moved forward, gripping the mic that Karkat had left behind with a dramatic bow. “So, this song isn’t just something we picked because Karkat actually has decent vocals for it, shocking us all.”

“Fuck you too spiderbitch!”

She just flipped him off while a ripple of laughter dispersed through the crowd. “I’m actually going to get sappy for once, so no one can say I’m going soft!” Then she paused. “Well...maybe I am, actually. And I’m actually...okay with it. Because someone reached out to me, a long time ago, and helped me realize that being soft isn’t bad. I don’t have to be a bitch with walls of steel around me. Other people and things helped, but he was the first one to really see through my bluster and call me out on my shit.

“He’s a dork, he’s always pulling pranks, he has terrible taste in music, and he still unironically loves Nic Cage...but he’s also kind and compassionate, always has an ear for me, and has a heart that’s always been open, no matter how many times I pull my histrionic bullshit and push him away, or cling to him like a greedy leech. He’s my best friend, my rock, the one person I trust more than anyone else in the world.”

She turned to where John was standing, mouth agape, and took a few steps closer. Once she was close enough she dropped to one knee, box in hand. “John Egbert, will you marry me?”

There was a squeal that rang through the crowd. Jade was gripping Karkat’s arm hard enough to start cutting off circulation. The man of the hour stammered a couple of times before a wide grin broke across his face. “Yes!”

And then he fainted.

Chapter Text

Anticipation, the Feeling of Being Forsaken; Discretion

“You jerks! Taking the spotlight like that!” The redhead from Coastal Voyagers gave Vriska a punch on the arm with a grin. “We got first place, but all everyone can talk about is that proposal of yours!”

“Hey, can you blame them Merida? It was the best part! I mean, of course I would come up with the best way to propose!”

Karkat snorted as he pulled his mask off. “You were panicking before the show even started.”

“Shut up!!” Vriska turned bright red as everyone started laughing. “Okay, maybe I was a little nervous about it!”

John draped himself over her shoulders and kissed her cheek. “You didn’t have to be! I would’ve said yes if you had asked me over Taco Bell with a Ring Pop!”

She pouted. “Yeah, but that isn’t nearly what you deserve.”

While John was stammering in bashfulness, Merida was joined by the long-haired blonde. “I wanted to congratulate you two!” she gushed happily. “That was sooo sweet, it reminds me of when Eugene proposed to me!”

“Which time, Punzi?” Merida snarked. She got a smack on the arm for that. Snickering, Merida gave Vriska a hug. “Seriously, congrats. That had been a lot sweeter than I thought you capable of.”

“Woooooooow, thanks,” Vriska said while flipping her off. “What’re your plans now?”

“I gotta go back home and get some sleep, I have to be at the stables for 12. Remind me to kick Equius’s arse for snagging the evening shift.”

“Will do. Rapunzel?”

“Eugene and I are having a night in, date night! Moana said she was going to meet up with her cousin and make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. So Hiccup and Jack are going back to their dorm and watch scary movies all night.”

“I’m putting sixteen bucks one of them makes a move tonight.”

“Double that and it’s Hiccup who makes the move.”

“Ha! Easy bet, deal!”

Rapunzel just rolled her eyes while Vriska and Merida shook hands. “Alright, I’m heading out. Night guys! Happy Halloween!”

Everyone split, John and Vriska meeting up with the rest of their usual crew at Dave’s apartment for the yearly horror movie marathon that the blond had been hosting every Halloween since high school. Some had gone home to sleep due to work, but it was still sizeable. John found himself being yoinked away by Dave. “Hey--!”

Dave shut him up quick with a tight hug. John went stiff from surprise before he returned it as quickly as possible. “Look...I’m really happy for you,” the blond said softly.

John knew how hard it was for Dave to be this open, after years of struggling against the programming his brother/dad/sperm-donor had instilled in him. Knowing that Dave meant every bit of it made him get a little teary eyed. “Haha, thanks Dave. I’m really happy too.”

When Dave pulled away a bit John realized that his sunglasses were gone, though that made sense since the apartment’s lighting was low. It let him see that he was getting emotional too. “No, man, I mean it. You got a great thing going on with Vriska and you both have been through so much shit, and you two really love each other after all this time, your peanut butter to her jelly, your Nic Cage to her National Treasure, your Sweet Bro to her Hella Jeff--”

“Dave, Dave!” John laughed even as he felt a few tears spill over. “I get it, I really do. Thank you, Dave. You know this means you’re my best man, right?”

The blond jerked back in surprise. “What? Already?”

“Hey, you’ve been my best bro for over a decade now. I can’t think of anyone else I’d want up at the altar with me. Or judge’s table, or whatever we decide!” he added with another laugh.

“Dude. You’re going to have the best bachelor’s party ever.” Even as serious as Dave sounded, he was definitely about to cry judging by the wobbly smile. “I’m serious, I’m going to hire strippers and pay them to wear Nic Cage masks so that you can get all the mediocre actor you always wanted--”

“Dave!” Even as John shoved him he was laughing, Dave cracking up with him. They looked up as Karkat yelled at them to get back with the group. “We’re coming!” He didn’t stop grinning all night, even as he was nestled in between a shrieking Vriska and cackling Terezi.


++Dave woke up in a fog the next day. It was about eleven am, and everyone was still passed out in the living room or guest room in exhausted candy comas. Except for his bed partner. Yawning, he saw that out on the balcony Karkat was sitting with a steaming mug on the table, staring out at the horizon. He quickly cleaned up enough so that morning breath wouldn’t kill anyone before going outside. “Babe, what’re you doing up?”

Karkat didn’t look up at him. “Couldn’t sleep. Just thinking.”

Dave shivered in his hoodie. “You can think inside, Kitkat, it’s like forty degrees out.” He noticed the faroff expression on Karkat’s face and frowned. “Are you okay?”

A shrug. “I guess...just kinda reflecting on things. You ever start feeling detached from everything, like you’re surrounded by friends and everything is going great, but you feel alone and something is going to come along and ruin that?”

"...sometimes, yeah." Dave sat down next to him with a thoughtful sound. "Not as bad as when I was younger though. When Mom first took me in I kept waking up from nightmares thinking I was gonna be taken away by him. Barely slept. The others learned not to touch me to wake me up 'cause I'd think it was a strife."

"A what?"

"What he called our fights." Dave sighed heavily, looking away from Karkat. "He was kinda a doomsday prepper but not like, bunker down sorta shit. He made me learn how to fight from like when I could walk or something. I think he started with swords when I was 5."

"Dave…"

"I'm better now, I promise." He gave the other a soft reassuring smile. "I don't sleep with knives under my pillows or anything shitty like that. Sure, I still get nightmares sometimes, but I really am better."

"Good." Karkat laced their fingers together and gave his hand a squeeze. "Dad taught me self defense from an early age too--but that was because I didn't know when to shut the fuck up and kept getting into fights with assholes bigger than I was."

"Professor Hotstuff can fight?"

"...Did you just--"

"Absolutely not I totally didn't call him Professor Hotstuff just because he looks like the next Indiana Jones star and looks like an older version of you with more scruff and glasses doesn't mean I think he's hot no sir--"

Karkat covered Dave's mouth before he could dig himself any deeper. " Ignoring that. Dad knows how to fight, yeah. He was a rebel leader back in Turkey, during one of the big uprisings against the local regime. He got captured and they tried to execute him but he escaped with Auntie Rosa's help and they got asylum here. He still keeps it up and we spar every so often."

Dave had to focus very hard on anything other than the image of Karkat shirtless, sweaty, and fighting like one of the heroes in John's action movies. "Damn. That explains a lot about Porrim."

"Hah, yeah, but you've never seen Kanaya pissed off. One time Eridan was being a prick--back in high school--and I thought she was gonna saw him in half."

"Saw?"

"She likes carving topiaries. Shrubbery. With chainsaws."

"...I knew Rose liked girls who could kill her but damn."

Karkat snorted a laugh. "Trust me, Kanaya's completely fucking enamored."

"Oh good, cuz I think Rose has a secret folder for wedding ideas."

He laughed again, and as he calmed he gave Dave's hand another squeeze. "Thanks for this. Sometimes I need someone to pull my head out of my own ass before I spiral into overthinking shit."

"Dude, you are talking to the king of overthinking. I totally get it. But if you ever need a distraction or something, I'm your guy." He lifted their hands and kissed his knuckles, feeling warm at the touch of pink on Karkat's face. " Seni seviyorum. "

He turned red and visibly melted. "I love you too. Your pronunciation is fucking atrocious."

"Well we can't all be sexy bilinguals, I'm lucky that you understood me!" He grinned and stood up. "Come on inside babe, it's getting colder because of the fucking wind, we can cuddle and be disturbingly affectionate while we wait for everyone else to wake up."

Karkat let himself be tugged in, his brief bout of ennui all but dissipated.


John kept spinning the ring on his finger, smiling rather dreamily as he admired the shining blue sapphires set in silver. Yeah, it had been a week, but he couldn’t help himself! It was a perfect fit, not too bulky or obvious, and there was something about it that really appealed to him. Maybe it was that there were eight gems set in the band. Or maybe...it was that it looked somewhere between a man’s ring and a woman’s ring.

He hadn’t told anyone yet but he had started to really think about himself in a different light, after meeting Dannei through Jade. They had explained to him about how the gender binary was pretty much a bullshit social construct used to oppress people who were “diffurent” and there was more stuff they said, but he had kinda zoned out a bit. He had tried to keep up though! His exposure to anyone not cisgender had only been trans men or trans women. The concept of not being either was...appealing.

His smile dropped and he stood up to look at himself in the mirror. He never liked the facial hair that grew so easily. If anything he wished he could afford electrolysis and have his face done. Maybe some other body parts one day, like his legs. For now, he stuck with the shaving lessons passed down from father to...child.

Who am I? John leaned closer to the mirror, running a hand through their hair and trying to imagine it longer. They’d probably look similar to Jade if they let it grow that long. But they didn’t want to do a full transition like Karkat. There were many days they were comfortable with John and he/him and bro. But other days the sound of their name made them itch with discomfort. Not to mention the days they couldn't stand to look at themselves in the mirror…

Damn, they really should bring this up with Craig when they got the chance. For now, they turned away from the mirror, pulling out their phone. There was one person who he knew would help.

- ghostyTrickster [GT] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] -

GT: hey karkat!
GT: you around?
CG: SHOCKINGLY YES. YOU HAVE CAUGHT ME AT A TIME WHEN I’M NOT BEING BESIEGED BY ASININE SHOPPERS TRYING TO GET AS MANY MUMS AS POSSIBLE IN ORDER TO PUT ON A FACADE OF AUTUMNAL BLISS FOR THANKSGIVING.
CG: AFTER ALL, IF KAREN DOESN’T HAVE A PERFECT LAWN DISPLAY TO CELEBRATE COLONIALISM AND WIDESPREAD GENOCIDE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES THEN HER MOTHER IN LAW WILL TAKE DELIGHT IN PASSIVE AGGRESSIVELY POINTING OUT EVERY FUCKING FLAW, AND THEN KAREN WILL HAVE TO PRETEND NOTHING IS WRONG.
CG: OTHERWISE SHOULD SHE RETALIATE THEN THE MOTHER IN LAW WILL USE HER MATRIARCHAL CONTROL OVER THE FAMILY TO TURN EVERYONE AGAINST HER.

GT: you good?
CG: I AM NOW.
CG: WHAT’S UP?

GT: i wanted to ask you something, but it’s kinda awkward now that i think about it.
GT: promise you won’t laugh?

CG: ONLY IF IT ISN’T SOMETHING STUPID.
CG: IS IT SERIOUS?
GT: it actually is, yeah.
CG: HIT ME.
GT: how did…
GT:  argh this is so hard to ask!
GT: how did you know you were trans?

CG: OH.
CG: I DIDN’T EXPECT THAT.
CG: DIDN’T WE TALK ABOUT THAT IN HIGH SCHOOL?

GT: yeah, but i’ve been thinking about things and i couldn’t really remember everything we had talked about.
CG: THAT’S FAIR.
CG: IT WAS DIFFERENT FOR ME BECAUSE EVEN AS A KID, I NEVER LIKED BEING CALLED A GIRL OR WEARING DRESSES. THEY WERE REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE FOR ME.
CG: I THINK I WAS ABOUT FIVE WHEN I TOLD DAD I WANTED TO BE A BOY. HE QUICKLY GOT ME INTO THERAPY WITH CRABDAD BECAUSE I WAS HAVING A REALLY HARD TIME.
CG: LIKE, NOT BECAUSE I WAS WRONG OR ANY BULLSHIT LIKE THAT, BUT BECAUSE I WAS REALLY CONFUSED AND IT WAS UPSETTING ME, AND MAKING SCHOOL HARD.
CG: HE WANTED TO MAKE SURE I HAD THE RIGHT TOOLS TO BE THE BEST ME I COULD BE, SINCE HE ISN’T TRANS.

GT: how did he know it wasn’t like, some kind of tomboy phase?
CG: HE DIDN’T.
CG: IT’S WHY I STARTED GOING, ACTUALLY. HE DIDN’T WANT TO STUNT MY GROWTH OR SOMETHING STUPID LIKE THAT.
CG: IT WAS ALSO JUST A YEAR AFTER MY MOM HAD PASSED SO HE WAS STRUGGLING WITH THE SINGLE DAD SHTICK. AUNTIE ROSA INTRODUCED HIM TO CRABDAD THROUGH HER CLASSES IN SOCIAL WORK.

GT: so...what did you do in those therapy sessions? if i can ask of course!
CG: IT’S FINE.
CG: TRYING TO REMEMBER IS THE PROBLEM.
CG: I THINK WE TALKED ABOUT WHY I FELT SO UNCOMFORTABLE, WHETHER IT WAS BECAUSE I DIDN’T FIT IN WITH THE GIRLS AND JUST PREFERRED HANGING WITH THE BOYS, AND OTHER STUFF.
CG: FUNNY ENOUGH I ALWAYS TENDED TO PREFER SPENDING TIME WITH GIRLS, BUT THEN AGAIN I GREW UP WITH A LOT OF GIRLS IN MY LIFE.

GT: wow, wait until i tell dave you were such a player!
CG: SHUT THE FUCK UP EGBERT, YOU KNOW DAMN WELL I MEAN KANAYA AND TEREZI.
CG: ANYWAY.
CG: WE DECIDED TO START WITH FINDING A NEW NAME FOR MYSELF. DAD TOLD ME HE HAD PICKED OUT THE NAME KARKAT, SINCE IT COMES FROM THE SANSKRIT WORD KARKATA.
CG: HE WAS WORKING ON A LOT OF HINDUISM SHIT DURING THAT TIME.
CG: I LIKED IT AND IT STUCK.
CG: OVER THE YEARS I KEPT SEEING CRABDAD ON AND OFF, AND I NEVER REALLY HAD ANY DOUBTS. I WAS A BOY, THAT WAS THAT.
CG: THOUGH EVEN WITH BEING ON T I STILL HAD SOME BREAST TISSUE GROW SO AS SOON AS I COULD I HAD THOSE CHOPPED OFF.
CG: HAHA, OF ALL THE THINGS I ENDED UP INHERITING FROM MOM, IT WAS HER TEMPER AND HER BOOBS.
CG: AND APPARENTLY AN INVENTIVE USE OF LANGUAGE IN ORDER TO BEST TELL PEOPLE HOW TO GET FUCKED IN THE MOST CRUDE YET CLEVER WAYS POSSIBLE, ACCORDING TO DAD.
CG: ANYWAY, DID THAT HELP?

GT: kinda yeah.
GT: i guess i’ve just been...thinking about all that lately.

CG: HOW COME?
GT: dannei and i’ve been talking since jade introduced us a while back.
GT: and they were telling me about being nonbinary and stuff which had really surprised me! i thought people only transitioned from one to the other!

CG: OH, THAT’S A PRETTY COMMON MISCONCEPTION.
CG: BUT MAKES SENSE, THERE REALLY ISN’T ANYONE ELSE IN OUR FRIEND GROUP WHO DOESN’T IDENTIFY AS ONE OR THE OTHER ON THE GENDER BINARY.
CG: YOU GOT YOUR HOOD IN A TWIST ABOUT IT?

GT: well……..
GT: what if i was……..
GT: what if some days i feel like a guy but other days i don’t?
GT: maybe……..i feel like a girl those days?

CG: THEN YOU’RE PROBABLY GENDERFLUID.
CG: THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF GENDER IS MOSTLY A WESTERN ONE ANYWAY, USED TO OPPRESS INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND TRY TO FIT EVERYONE INTO NEAT LITTLE BOXES SO THAT WHITE PEOPLE CAN PAT THEMSELVES ON THE BACK FOR BEING SO GOOD TO THE HEATHENS AND SAVING THEM FROM THEIR IGNORANCE.

GT: karkat, we’re both minorities, you can save the speech for the protestors.
CG: SORRY, GOT CARRIED AWAY.
GT: yeah i know lol :B
GT: but you think i might be genderfluid?

CG: SURE SOUNDS LIKE IT.
CG: I’D SUGGEST STARTING TO DO SOME RESEARCH INTO IT, AND SEE IF ANY OF OUR FRIENDS ARE WILLING TO HELP YOU WITH THE FEMININE SIDE OF THINGS.
CG: AS IT IS I CAN BARELY DO EYELINER AND THAT’S ONLY BECAUSE KANAYA IS HELPING ME.

GT: hahahaha feferi got you hooked on that after the contest huh?
CG: I CAN’T HELP IT IF I LOOK FIERCE AS FUCK WITH IT ON.
CG: IF I CAN SLAY AN IGNORANT ASSHOLE WITH BOTH WORDS AND MY WINGS, THEN I’M SATISFIED.

GT: lmao
GT: not asking rose though, i love her but she’d start trying to psychoanalyze me and that just makes me real uncomfortable.

CG: SHE MAKES EVERYONE UNCOMFORTABLE, YOU’RE IN GOOD COMPANY.
CG: WHY NOT TALK TO VRISKA ABOUT IT
?
GT: i don’t think i’m ready for that.
GT: i mean, what if she suddenly decides she doesn’t want to marry me after i come out?

CG: EGBERT.
CG: THINK OF ALL THE BULLSHIT YOU’VE BOTH WENT THROUGH.
CG: SHE LOST AN ARM, YOU WERE DIAGNOSED WITH DEPRESSION, HER FUCKING EGG DONOR GOT ARRESTED, YOU HAD A BREAKDOWN AND DROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE, SHE TRANSITIONED.
CG: THAT’S JUST THE TOP OF THE BIGGEST ICEBERG EVER TO FLOAT AROUND IN THIS OCEAN OF LIFE.

GT: cute!
CG: SHUT UP, I’M NOT DONE.
CG: YOU’VE BOTH BEEN THROUGH HELL AND BACK, AND EVEN THOUGH YOU BROKE UP AND GOT BACK TOGETHER LIKE EIGHT FUCKING TIMES DURING HIGH SCHOOL, YOU STILL FOUND A WAY TO FIND THAT BALANCE AND WORK TOGETHER.
CG: SHE LOVES YOU, NO MATTER WHAT.
CG: IF YOU AREN’T READY TO TALK ABOUT IT WITH HER THOUGH, THAT’S ALRIGHT. I’D SUGGEST NEPETA, SHE CAN HELP YOU WITH SHIT LIKE CONTOURING TO MAKE YOUR FACE LOOK MORE FEMININE AND THAT KIND OF THING.

GT: alright. i’ll message her later.
GT: thanks for listening, karkat. you always know what to say, even if it’s in your uniquely abrasive way. :)

CG: YEAH YEAH, ANYTIME.
CG: I MEAN THAT. YOU EVER HAVE ANYTHING YOU NEED TO JUST VENT ABOUT OR COMPLAIN OR JUST RAMBLE, LET ME KNOW.
CG: TALK TO CRABDAD ABOUT THIS TOO NEXT TIME YOU SEE HIM.

GT: yeah, i was already planning on that! maybe he knows some stuff too, other resources to help.
GT: ...wait a minute.

CG: WHAT?
GT: if i do decide that genderfluid is right for me…
GT: does that mean i AM a homosexual some of the time?

CG: OH FOR THE LOVE OF AZALEAS!
GT: hahahahahahahaha!

John smiled as Karkat bid a quick goodbye to return to work. That had been a lot less terrifying than they had thought it would be! Next task, messaging Nepeta.

- ghostyTrickster [GT] began pestering arsenicCatnip [AC] -

GT: *gt floats over to the pouncellor's cave, knocking on the makeshift door*
GT: esteemed pouncellor! i come seeking advice!

AC: :33 << *ac peeks out the entrance in surprise, not expecting visitors*
AC: :33 << hello there, good purrier! why purrtainly i can give advice, depending on what you wish to know!
AC: :33 << purrlease, come in!
GT: (you just used the same pun three times in a row.)
AC: >:?? << (you try coming up with multiple puns in succession, i worked with what i had)
AC: :33 << (anyway!)
AC: :33 << *ac lets the purrier in and hurries to the tea kettle* your usual tea?

GT: black with four sugars please!
AC: :33 << absolutely!
AC: :33 << and what can i help you with today?

GT: heheh, rp aside i actually do have something to ask of you, but...it’s kinda hard to explain.
AC: :33 << oh? whats that?
GT: how did you
GT: oops hit enter
GT: how did you know you were trans?

AC: :OO << john! i didnt expect that question furom you!
AC: :33 << what brought this on?

GT: i’m just curious!
GT: well...more than that.
GT: i’m wondering if, maybe, i might be trans too?
GT: not like from one gender to another like you and karkat and vriska and such, but more like...maybe genderfluid?
GT: but i don’t know how to even start looking into that.

AC: :33 << oh!
AC: :33 << id be happy to help then! you can ask me any questions!
AC: :33 << as for when i knew i was trans, that started at about...i wanna say fifth or sixth grade?
AC: :33 << ive known trans people for a long time beclaws of the volunteer work moms done, and from growing up with karkitty too!
AC: :33 << he purretty much knew furom the beginning
AC: :33 << i think it was when i started puberty that i realized i was r33lly uncomfurtable with my body! especially the body hair! i asked karcat for his thoughts and he asked me some questions like if i felt comfurtable as a boy, or if i felt more comfurtable with the idea of being called a feminine name
AC: :33 << i think it was that, purrlus our parents getting married, that helped change our furiendship furom the awkward one it was with me having a silly crush on him to the sibling one we have now!

GT: oh yeah i forgot you had a crush on karkat for a while!
GT: what happened, did you learn too much about him?

AC: :33 << h33h33, basically!
AC: :33 << and he learned too much about me
AC: :33 << we definitely work better as siblings!
AC: :33 << he and kanaya helped me with trying on diffurent clothes since i had no idea what to even begin with, but seeing myself in a skirt felt r333333lly good!
AC: :33 << i had already started growing out my hair so that wasnt much diffurent either
AC: :33 << crabdad was really helpful to talk to and he suggested a diffurent therapist fur me to work with, and i started hormones the next year or so

GT: wow, and you never regretted it?
GT: wait that’s a stupid question to ask, forget i did.

AC: :33 << no that’s actually a good question!
AC: :33 << there were a couple times i thought i was doing the wrong thing, but when i thought about going back to being a boy it felt so gross
AC: :33 << hey! i n33d to do some shopping for christmas gifts, do you wanna come with me? we can make a day of it and look at some of the women’s stuff, maybe find something you can try on and s33 how you f33l?

GT: that sounds great actually! i need to do some christmas shopping too, there’s a few people still on my list.
GT: and there’s that really fancy barber shop that sells straight-edge razors that dad would love! he’s always wanted a proper razor kit like what his dad had

AC: :33 << great! lets go this w33kend then!
GT: okay! oh do you have any ideas for karcat?
GT: dammit i mean karkat

AC: >:33 << h33h33 the pouncellor strikes again! ill think about it and let you know
AC: :33 << s33 you saturday
!
GT: see you then!

- ghostyTrickster [GT] ceased pestering arsenicCatnip [AC] -