So they're not kismesises. They, in fact, cannot be kismesises. He could almost hear the disgusting cheeriness in the other boy's hello in his head, and he hates him all the more for it - but he has to set that aside. And apparently humans have some complex system where they only like a certain gender for a certain quadrant, and if he was seething in humiliation a bit less he'd be almost sympathetic because it's hard enough filling those up without adding in any more trouble and god human romance must be so confusing.
A lot of trolls say that about normal romance, but Karkat isn't one of them. This is a staple plot. Vriska may have flailed around like a skewered grub for ages, insisting on blackrom even after all evidence and more importantly his explanation had made it clear this was impossible, but Karkat knows way more about this than her. He has all the movies. All of them.
John isn't his kismesis, so Karkat just needs to figure out which quadrant John does fit into.
- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling ectoBiologist [EB] -
CG: HI FUCKUP
CG: SO I GUESS WE KNOW EACH OTHER OR SOMETHING
EB: oh you're the past backward one again?
EB: haven't talked to you for a while
EB: i guess we didn't talk much around now
EB: which is kind of weird now that i think about it
EB: you said you were really mad around now
CG: MAD YEAH
CG: WE'VE TALKED A LOT I GUESS?
EB: hey what conversation is this from your timeframe?
CG: SHUT UP
EB: this is kind of nostalgic actually.
CG: YOU'RE A FUCKING MORON THEN
EB: it's a nice change.
CG: YOU'RE A TOTAL WASTE
CG: OF EVERYTHING
CG: OF THIS GAME
CG: OF THIS PLANET
EB: now i know what you meant back then.
EB: it really is boring
EB: when you've already finished a conversation from your perspective
EB: and then the other person starts at the beginning
EB: but if you didn't want that
EB: i guess you wouldn't have decided on the backward trolling thing.
CG: DECIDED YES.
CG: SO HUMAN
CG: ARE WE WORKING TOGETHER
CG: OR SOMETHING
EB: well yeah! of course.
CG: WHAT POSSIBLE REASON COULD WE HAVE
CG: TO WORK TOGETHER
CG: WITH USELESS WASTES OF EVERYTHING LIKE YOU?
EB: i was told you'd ask something like that!
EB: and uh that i shouldn't say stuff
EB: because i hadn't
EB: and that this was for the best
EB: because if i had you'd just have fucked it up somehow.
CG: TEREZI TOLD YOU THAT DIDN'T SHE
EB: no you did
EB: future you
EB: in the past.
CG: WELL FUCK HIM
CG: WHY WOULD YOU LISTEN TO THAT ASSHOLE?
EB: you're not that bad karkat!
- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling ectoBiologist [EB] -
Karkat stares at the screen for a while. That could have gone better.
you're not that bad karkat! Pity? Was the human feeling pity for him? Karkat seethes then reconsiders. Moirallegence was one of the stranger quadrants. Could that be the destined romance between them?
He doesn't feel particularly pacified. Or maybe he's supposed to be taking up that role? Karkat never considered that possibility. But he is more levelheaded than the flailing pink human he's seen, isn't he?
He scrolls back further on the timeline, tries again.
- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling ectoBiologist [EB] -
EB: hi karkat sorry busy bye!
- ectoBiologist [EB] ceased trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] -
CG: WAIT I'M TALKING TO YOU HERE
CG: DAMN IT
He scowls and scrolls back further.
He tries warning the dumb human about the pack of ogres waiting for him. John accepts his advice but doesn't seem to care, which burns Karkat more than he'd like to admit. Several more attempts end the same way. The human just doesn't push back against his advice like a moirail should.
Karkat throws a fit in the next conversation to see if it's John that's supposed to be advising him. John seems to find this funny.
He scrolls back further, to one of the times John is flailing about like an idiot to tell him to knock it off. It doesn't work, the alien just ignores him.
And besides, now that he's calmed down a bit moirail just doesn't feel right. Maybe the human feels pity but his aren't so simple.
The thought of them being matesprits flits across his mind, but this is nothing like any of the movies he's seen, and not that much like he felt with Terezi either for that matter. Terezi can match him. This stupid alien who he's watched is pathetic and weak and enraging.
He keeps talking and going back.
It's a really weird feeling. He's familiar with rage, of course, and he definitely hates the human for a lot of things, like growing up on a planet where a scraped knee was nothing more than an injury. Or having his caretaker be someone who could talk, and in fact the whole idea of an adult that was supposed to protect him instead of kill him. He wouldn't be surprised if the lameass humans didn't even have culling drones, because the human John should have been slated for it a thousand times over.
But the thought of him being culled is... If your kismesis can't take care of themselves they're not worthy. There are some famous tragic black romances where one partner suddenly lucked into a battleship or some other weaponry and jacked up the stakes too fast so they ended up killing their kismesis before the relationship could stabilize again, and those are certainly things to mourn. But your kismesis getting killed by somebody else? What kind of kismesis could they possibly be if they couldn't even survive against somebody who didn't hate them?
Is it weird to worry over someone? It never happens in any of the movies, aside from some of the comedies where they worry that their worthless kismesis will die and they'll be without a partner when the imperial drone comes by with its spades bucket. Karkat supposes the proper thing to do is ask someone else, and then he laughs himself sick. Yeah, maybe he could ask Vriska for romantic advice. Or Eridan. Or Kanaya. Or Aradia. A veritable bounty of potential advisors. Maybe with their help he could succeed at making this fuckup even worse.
You can worry about someone for being pathetic, Karkat decides. You worry over moirails. He thinks. Pretty sure. Well, you fuss over them and tell them what to do, or you get told, depending. But you don't hate them for being pathetic because if you did they wouldn't be your moirail. He wants to yell at the human for being so stupid, but he doesn't want to keep yelling at him, he wants John to stop being stupid.
He's...not completely sure about how he feels about Terezi. But mating fondness is inexplicable, and there is definitely that when he thinks about her. And he doesn't like the thought of her getting hurt, which is the pity part. When she does things, he doesn't hate it as much as he would someone else doing it. But he doesn't worry about her, she can take care of herself. Then he wonders if he'd worry if she were more like John, and imagining her going around like that, playing sburb and facing monsters, makes his stomach clench and twist.
But it can't be matespritship, he's already got a matesprit, right?
He finds himself arguing with John.
CG: THEY ARE FASCINATING SOCIOLOGICAL STUDIES OK
EB: that's so lame!
EB: i can't believe i let you give me all that shit about my movies
EB: while all this time you were watching romcoms
CG: OK SEE THE DIFFERENCE IS
CG: YOUR MOVIES ARE STUPID
CG: FOR STUPID MINI PINK MONKEYS
CG: ONES WHO DEFECATE HARD IN THEIR MINI PINK MONKEY WRAPPINGS
CG: WHILE MINE ARE NOT
CG: UNDERSTANDING THE FOUR QUADRANTS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
EB: the what?
CG: THE FOUR ROMANTIC QUADRANTS
EB: i don't know anything about that
EB: you mean, uh, like gay and straight and
EB: are lesbians a separate category?
CG: WHAT ARE YOU BLATHERING ABOUT
EB: i don't know, what did you mean?
CG: THE FOUR QUADRANTS
CG: CONCILIATORY AND CONCUPISCENT
CG: RED AND BLACK
CG: RING ANY BELLS DUMBASS?
EB: uh no!
EB: so those are the four different quadrants?
CG: WHAT NO THAT'S STUPID
CG: THAT'S HOW YOU CLASSIFY THE FOUR
CG: CONCILIATORY OR CONCUPISCENT
CG: AND RED OR BLACK
CG: MATESPRITSHIP IS CONCUPISCENT AND RED
CG: AUSPISTICE IS CONCILIATORY AND BLACK...
CG: REALLY IT'S SO OBVIOUS
EB: yeah yeah i see where you're going with this
EB: i've never heard any of those
EB: trolls are weird I guess!
CG: WHAT DO YOU MEAN
EB: humans just have one kind!
CG: THAT IS THE STUPIDEST THING I'VE EVER HEARD
CG: I WISH I KNEW WHO WAS TO BLAME FOR THIS
CG: I WOULD PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE
EB: uh evolution i guess?
CG: STOP BEING SO STUPID JOHN
CG: WELL SINCE YOUR RETARDED PINK SPECIES IS TERMINALLY CONFUSED
CG: (PROBABLY GAMZEE OR TAVROS)
CG: I WILL EXPLAIN
CG: IT HAS TO DO WITH THE TWO EMOTIONS, HATE AND PITY
EB: are you sure we're the ones who are confused?
CG: SHUT UP JOHN I AM TRYING TO EDUCATE YOU HERE
CG: HATE GOVERNS BLACKROM AND PITY GOVERNS REDROM
CG: WHEN YOU PITY SOMEONE SO MUCH YOU HAVE MATING FONDNESS
CG: THAT'S MATESPRITSHIP
CG: THAT'S THE WORD FOR IT
CG: YOU'RE WELCOME
EB: i guess we sort of feel that way
EB: it's not really about pity though.
CG: YES IT IS
CG: WHAT ELSE WOULD IT BE, HATE?
CG: EVEN IF YOU ARE SO INCREDIBLY PATHETIC YOU REALLY DESERVE HATE MORE
CG: ANYWAY DON'T INTERRUPT
CG: WHEN YOUR PITY IS PALER YOU'RE MOIRAILS
CG: MOIRALLEGENCE IS WHERE YOU HANDLE EACH OTHER
CG: LIKE WHEN ONE GETS MAD AND IS GOING TO DO SOMETHING DUMB
CG: THE OTHER TALKS THEM OUT OF IT
EB: oooh, that's what you meant.
EB: yeah i guess we do that too! but we don't call it a romantic thing.
CG: WHAT? WHY NOT?
EB: well i don't know. because it's not about kids i guess?
CG: THAT'S SO STUPID. I BLAME ERIDAN.
CG: IT'S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT ABOUT GENETIC MATERIAL AND REPRODUCTION
EB: yeah i agree.
EB: i guess i have that one then! moirallegence.
CG: REALLY. GREAT.
CG: SO EVEN SOMETHING AS DUMB AS YOU CAN MANAGE TO FILL ONE QUADRANT.
EB: is filling one important?
CG: FILLING ALL OF THEM IS IDEAL
EB: so you guys fall in love with four people at once?
CG: FALL IN WHAT?
EB: you know, romantic feelings.
CG: OH. NO, NOT AT ONCE
CG: HOW WOULD THAT EVEN WORK?
CG: YOU'RE REALLY STUPID JOHN
EB: well it's confusing
CG: OK THAT'S TRUE
CG: ALTHOUGH IT'S REALLY NOT THAT HARD
CG: BUT EVERYONE ELSE IS STUPID ABOUT IT TOO
CG: SO I CAN'T EXPECT YOU TO DO ANY BETTER
CG: ANYWAY THOSE ARE REDROM
CG: THEN THERE'S BLACKROM
CG: THE CONCILIATORY QUADRANT IS AUSPISTICE
CG: IT DEPENDS ON WHICH PART OF THE CLUB YOU'RE ON
CG: ONE PERSON MEDIATES BETWEEN TWO OTHERS
CG: AND PREVENTS THEIR HATE FROM BOILING OVER INTO A FEUD
EB: isn't that a bad thing?
CG: NOT IF YOU DON'T WANT A FEUD WITH THAT PERSON
CG: BECAUSE YOU'RE ALREADY SPOKEN FOR
CG: OR THEY'RE NOT RIGHT FOR YOU
CG: OR ERIDAN
EB: i guess we have relationships like those
EB: we don't really aim to have them
CG: WELL OF COURSE NOT
CG: YOU CAN'T GO LOOKING FOR IT
CG: THAT'D BE CHEATING
CG: UNLESS YOUR INTERESTS ARE OF BEING THE THIRD STABILIZING PARTY
CG: LOOKING AROUND FOR AN EXISTING BLACKROM TO MEDIATE ON IS OK
CG: IF A BIT WEIRD
CG: FINALLY THERE'S THE BLACK CONCUPISCENT QUADRANT
CG: YOUR FATED ENEMY
EB: that's a romance?
CG: OF COURSE IT'S ROMANCE WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU
CG: IT'S ONE OF THE TWO VITAL ONES
CG: AND I MEAN VITAL IN THE MOST LITERAL OF WAYS
CG: ALTHOUGH IDEALLY YOU WANT TO FILL ALL FOUR
EB: why would you want an enemy?
CG: JOHN THAT IS LIKE SAYING WHY WOULD YOU WANT A FRIEND
CG: AGAIN LITERALLY
CG: WE DON'T EVEN HAVE A DIFFERENT WORD FOR IT LIKE YOU FREAKS
EB: i feel like this explains a lot actually.
CG: GOOD I AM GLAD YOUR SPECIES FINALLY UNDERSTANDS THE CONCEPT OF ROMANCE.
EB: i meant about you guys.
EB: i mean you're supposed to love someone, not pity them!
EB: and definitely not hate them.
EB: what about other emotions?
CG: YOU MEAN THE PITY SPECTRUM?
CG: THAT'S LIKE MAKING UP A BUNCH OF WORDS FOR LOUD OR SOMETHING
CG: IT'S ALL JUST PITY
EB: that's really depressing.
EB: you guys don't love anybody?
EB: in our society
EB: or species i guess
EB: you fall in love with somebody else
EB: and they're the one you care about and have kids with
EB: it's a lot simpler than having four quadrants
EB: and i think nicer than doing it because you hate the other person a whole lot.
CG: EVERYTHING ABOUT WHAT YOU JUST SAID IS TERRIBLE
CG: WHY WOULD YOU HAVE SPECIAL WORDS
CG: IT'S ALL JUST TYPES OF PITY ANYWAY
EB: love isn't a type of pity fucknuts
EB: there's more than two emotions
CG: YOU ARE EVEN DUMBER THAN I THOUGHT
CG: SOMETHING I WAS NOT AWARE WAS POSSIBLE UNTIL JUST NOW
CG: WHEN I READ THE WORDS THAT SOMEHOW CAME OUT OF YOUR SQUISHY SKULL
EB: my skull isn't squishy
CG: I'M NOT FALLING FOR YOUR STUPID PRANKS AGAIN JOHN
He scrolls around in the timeline, watching John. He stops a little way into the Medium, watching as John is smacked about by ogres and has to be saved repeatedly by his freakish sprite.
It's like the dumb kid has no idea how to fight. He just sort of flails around like an idiot and gets punched in his squishy face.
Karkat is sick of watching. He jumps to a different time, and then another, and then he switches to another timeline and yells at Rose to stop hitting on Eridan and then yells more when she claims to not know what he's talking about.
They have a plan, so Karkat busies himself with that instead, now and then flicking through John's life and studying himself study John, like he could carve his feelings out and pin them to a dissecting board to examine.
The human is nothing at all like Terezi. But he's not sure hate is the right word for it either. It's like some weird tangle of the two things. He wonders how many words the humans have for different parts of the pity spectrum. Maybe this is some unusual combination of those, maybe having words for this kind of thing so you can compare them isn't really that stupid...
Then he remembers they don't even have words for the different types of romance, and snorts. It's like how do you even get your priorities that backward?
By the time they show up in the kid's Medium, though, Karkat has finally worked it out. So after introductions, and then their interruption, and their awkward continuation, and Gamzee picking this of all the times to finally find a kismesis...
After all that, he manages to get John away to somewhere they can talk.
John looks like a dopey, uncertain idiot. More than usual. Karkat is terribly familiar with all the levels of his dopey-ness by now.
"I, um," he says. "I still don't hate you."
"Yes we're not kismesises," Karkat says. "That is a stupid idea."
"Oh. Uh..." And John just looks more uncomfortable, like he's not happy to find out Karkat isn't interested in fighting with him like that. And he should be, because Karkat would absolutely cream him, he's pathetic and he's still pathetic even now, after all the time he's spent fighting monsters and leveling up.
Karkat explains. He explains that he's been trying to figure it out for a while now, and he's finally sure.
"Um," John says again. He's sitting wide-eyed on the chair next to Karkat and looking more nervous by the second, which is so so so stupid and Karkat wants to throttle him because he's explaining that he ISN'T in hate with him and going to do things like throttle him so why does he look scared?
"It's like an auspistice," Karkat blurts out.
"Auspistice," he repeats. "It's like that."
"But I'm not in one of your hate romances with anybody else," John says. Then he looks around desperately and says, "Unless you mean we're in a hate romance and someone else is in charge of mediating it? Someone else nearby?"
"No, it's like..." And he throws up his hands in frustration because his carefully constructed explanation is falling apart in his head. "I want to mediate, but with... it's like... You and...and everything. I don't know. The world. Between you and the world."
"Me and the world?" John repeats slowly.
"Yes!" Karkat yells. Then he thinks he's not doing a great job of this mediating thing and grits his teeth and says more calmly. "Yes. Because you're - you do stupid things, and everything is stupid, and - and I don't like that you're stupid and getting beat up by everything and killed in alternate timelines and fucking up the game and - " He stops and sighs. "Do you understand what I mean?" he asks, because it'd be nice if one of them did.
"I...Yeah," John says. And he smiles at Karkat. "Yeah, I think so."