Your name is Dave Strider, and you are about to do a beautifully executed swan-dive off the handle.
First, your bro calls to tell you that he's come down with a horrible case of tonsilitis and the flu at the same time, and needs you to 'take care of him in his time of need'. Which is code for 'I'm broke, hungry, and sick. Buy me shit, lil' man'. And, obviously, you can't just leave him hanging. The guy practically raised you. So, you have to find a temporary manager who wouldn't send everything to Hell in six minutes flat. Which is actually very hard to do, since nearly everyone you employ is some form of delinquent.
Then, three of the eleven employees at the small grocery store you manage decide that today is a good day to show up twenty minutes late, Gavin high off his ass (something you're almost used to by now, sadly), with an unfamiliar cripple in tow. Oh, and Gavin is also wearing that white stage makeup that you explicitly ordered him never to come into work with ever again, after he scared an elderly woman so badly she had a mild heart attack.
But, you don't have time to deal with them at the moment. Instead of brutally murdering them with one of the several shitty swords you have mounted on the wall of your office, you just dismiss them to their posts with your pokerface and dignity still somewhat intact.
Then, as if you're trying to assassinate the small amount of self-respect you still have, you do the one thing you swore that you would never do, ever again.
You call your ex for help.
Your name is John Egbert, and you just got a call from one of your favorite people in the world.
Even though Dave is your ex-boyfriend, you like to think that you two are still best bros. You stayed friends through unbelievable shit when you were kids. Dave's dad walking out on him and his brother, your own father's bout with cancer, his half-sister Rose (who lived across-state) going off the deep end when her mom was institutionalized, and almost killing the mailman.... You should be able to get through something like that.
Even though the two of you haven't hung out or even spoken much since the breakup a year ago, the connection was evident during your short conversation. At least, it was to you.
And, you would like to point out that you are most definitely not a homosexual. Dave is just so intense with his attractiveness and charm that he transcends gender, so you can call complete no-homo on your relationship. Shut your mouth, asshole, yes you can.
But, putting all that emotional crap aside, you're more than happy to help with the management of Dave's store while he's away. You're not exactly sure that you're qualified for something like that, but you figure a few days wouldn't hurt anything. Plus, it's Dave's store, so he can do with it as he pleases. And if that involves trusting it to you, well, you think you're alright with that.
As long as nothing too out of the ordinary takes place, everything should be fine.
Your name is Karkat Vantas, and right now you really wish strangling stupid people was in your job description.
Some jerk-off is currently bitching at Sollux for the way he rings things up (by twos, part of some OCD shit), and you can hardly keep yourself from beaning the fucker with one of the cans of sliced peaches you're currently restocking the shelves with. You can see Sollux getting visibly upset, scrambling to fix whatever problem he had created. You just know he's going to be beating himself up about this later, like he does every time he's criticized in any way. You know these things are delicate as fuck with him and it only takes one thing to tip his scale from normal to batshit depressed off his ass.
You can feel heated anger (more than usual, at least) blossom inside your stomach like blood from an open wound, and bubble up into your throat, threatening to burst out in the form of a curse-laden threat involving a sickle and two crabs. But, for the sake of your friend and your job, you swallow the thick bile rising in your throat, and go back to shelving as calmly as you possibly can, while still keeping an eye on the situation.
It's only when you hear the word 'freak' tumble from the man's mouth that you can't stand to sit idly by anymore. You know it's in reference to Sollux's eyes and his habits and sure, he's a weird-ass fuck, but he's your best friend and you know he can not take being called a freak, not after everything that's happened. You are overcome by a blind rage, and find yourself stomping over to the cash register with your lips pulled into a deep scowl.
"Just who the fuck do you think you are?" you snarl, not even waiting for a reply from the incredulous-looking shithead before both of your hands are on his chest and you're shoving him back, partly out of violent anger and partly because you just want him to get the fuck away from Sollux.
He's saying something to you that's probably offensive and maybe racist since you think you heard some slur for Mexicans, even though you're Brazilian, but you don't expect him to know that. Instead you just get angrier, because now he's bringing skin color into the matter and that almost makes you more upset than his berating of Sollux.
Then, the next thing you know, you hear a loud crack and your knuckles are stinging and sticky and you can't see the racist bastard anymore because holy shit he's on the ground. Sollux, who you assume was frozen in some obsessive-compulsive-stress-coma until that very moment, finally jumps into action.
If jumping into action can be described as him muttering what you believe to be, "Holy thit, KK."
And then time does that weird jumpy thing again, because some guy with fluffy black hair, square glasses, and an almost ridiculous overbite is standing next to you with this horrified look on his face, and you never even saw him walk over.
The angry ringing in your ears has quieted down enough for you to understand what he's saying to you, though now it's probably pointless because whatever he was talking about is almost over with. Now he's kneeling down beside Racist Bastard, whose nose is bent at an awkward angle, and gushing dark red blood.
You swear there are time vortexes lurking around the shop, because they seem to be opening up and swallowing you left and right. It keeps happening, and you don't know why. Something you do know, however, is that the last one decided to dump you in Strider's office, half an hour later.
It takes you a few seconds, but you eventually realize that the person chewing you out is doing it a lot less violently than Strider. By now, there should be a shitty sword about two inches from your chest, and a poetically worded threat hanging in the air. Instead, the only thing you hear is a soft, yet somehow still firm voice telling you that what you did was wrong. You also realize that the person speaking doesn't have Strider's platinum blond hair, or trademark shades. No, this is the same guy who ninja-d his way over to you after you knocked that racist bastard off his feet. The one with the fluffy hair and awful teeth.
"Are you even listening to me?" he askes, leaning over until your noses are almost touching and, well, you forget to answer him because, fuck, his eyes are so goddamned /blue/, it should be illegal. He should get ticketed simply for walking amongst normal people with eyes that insanely, deeply blue. The ticket will read, 'reckless endangerment of those around him for having distractingly beautiful eyes', and the little fucker better take that ticket like a man or you'll have to punish him-
"Karkat?" he says, probably to get your attention. You wonder briefly why he knows your name, before you remembee that it's stated quite plainly on your nametag. Then, you realize you don't know who this guy is. You don't even know what the hell he's doing here. He could be some insane homeless guy for all you know.
"Who are you?" you decide to ask. Short, simple, and curse-free. You figure you're already walking on thin ice here, and you really don't want to lose this job.
At first, the look on his face is one of confusion. Then, as it dawns on him that he hasn't introduced himself, an almost sheepish one replaces that.
"Sorry! My name is John Egbert, I'm going to be managing the store temporarily while Dave is away," he explains, perching on the edge of Strider's desk. You nod absentmindedly, and vaguely remember him saying something about going to take care of his 'deadbeat dadbro'. You hadn't understood but also hadn't questioned him, since he had let you off the hook for all the shit you pulled that morning (for which you make a mental note to yank out Gamzee's nose ring).
"But that's beside the point. The point is, you probably broke that guy's nose. And, based on the story I gathered from some observers, he deserved it." John spoke, his eyebrows furrowing so that little creases formed on his forehead, and his overbite got even more intense as he chewed on his lip.
"Damn right he did." you mutter, folding your arms over your chest and scowling. You hope that idiot has to have his jaw wired shut so he can't talk shit anymore. But, you know your right hook isn't that good. You're surprised it did as much damage as it did, honestly.
"But that doesn't give you the right to just punch him! You're lucky he decided not to charge you for assault. He probably would have if he hadn't been handing out racial slurs like Star Wars copies at a sci-fi convention." John's frown deepens. "If Dave were here, he would probably fire you."
"Like hell he would! I've gotten away with more scandalous shit than you can shake a phallic-nosed puppet at, this is a limp-wristed flamer compared to the macho star quarterback that is my track record!" you object, practically jumping out of your chair, half from rage and half from fear. You can't afford to lose this job, you really fucking can't.
Even though John looks like the kind of person to just back away from a challenge, he doesn't. He stands right up as well, and you can't help but notice that he's at least two or three inches taller than you. What an asshole.
"Then maybe it's high time you were let go." he speaks in a voice so low and serious, you almost think he's Dave for a second. Which is why you can't stop the twisted look of fear and regret that covers your face when you hear this.
John can't help but grin. A trickster's smile, something you'd associate with child's pranks, like buckets of water atop doors. And then, he burst out laughing, hand on his stomach and tears in his eyes.
"Oh gosh, you should've seen your face!" he howls placing a hand on Strider's desk to support himself.
You can't believe this guy. He's been here less than an hour, and he's threatening to fire you as a joke? He is without a doubt the most ridiculous, insufferable asshole you have ever met.
And you don't think anyone else has ever been able to make you more aroused.