Chapter 1: by the morning they'll be gone
"Respectfully, what the fuck is this?"
Dave moved his webcam, head momentarily clipping out of the frame of the video chat. When his face wobbled back into view he was just barely grinning, a garishly bright party hat sitting lopsided on his head. He was obviously a little drunk, yet that didn't bother you as much as usual. It was probably the smile on his face.
"What? I thought you'd appreciate something that wasn't entirely fucken' overplayed when it comes to birthday gifts. 'Snot like I was gonna get you a stuffed rabbit or something."
You stared back at him through the screen, refusing to let your mouth twitch even a little. You reached into the torn-open box on your desk and pulled out the gift by its dinky little neck.
"You got me a goddamn ukulele." You deadpan, holding the accused instrument in view. Dave shrugged, his grin going from subtle to snarky in record time.
"Hell yes I did. Can't you just feel the heartfelt intentions oozing from me like precum outta a prepubescent kiddy's first boner?"
You wrinkle your nose at the metaphor, setting the ukulele next the packaging with a twanging thump. Another second of rifling through the brown paper packaging reveals a plastic-wrapped lump, and you yank it out. Curiosity gets the better of you and you tear it open right then, Dave chuckling to himself at the look on your face as you unveil a brand spanking new MLP ukulele case.
The predominant coloration is eye-watering pink, and the label confirms it as "Official Merchandise!!!"
This time, you can't help the small laugh that slips out of you. Dave looks delighted. He always let his emotions show during your calls, probably due to how exhausted he was after remaining stoic all day during filming.
"Jesus Christ, where do you even find this shit?" You scoff, tossing the case over by the actual instrument. You have to admit, it's a well played stroke in your eternally facetious game of ironic one-upmanship.
Dave seemed to lean back, his hands hooking behind his head.
"Four AM combined with whiskey and an Amazon prime membership can lead to a lot of rabbit holes. I did a little Alice 'n Wonderland style digging." He drawled. He seemed excessively pleased with himself, and you let him have this for now.
You go for the uke again, flipping it over in your hands with a small frown. The strings twang again whenever you brush your fingers over them, horrendously out of tune. It looks like a toy. A very beautiful toy, to be honest, stained a deep brown with delicately spiky engraving around the soundhole. You wonder how much it cost.
Another actual attempt at a strum ends with a discordant noise that has both you and Dave wincing.
"Eh, you'll figure it out. This time next week you'll be playing tiptoe through the tulips and serenading me proper. I have faith in you, Dirky."
"Tiny Tim jokes. Eloquent." You smile slightly despite the quip, leaning forward to switch off the webcam.
"Go to bed, you alcoholic disaster." He grumbled at that, waving his hand dismissively.
"Love you too, you neurotic dumpster raccoon."
The screen goes dark, and you're left alone with a stupid toy of an instrument, a shitty pony case, and the memory of Dave’s presence.
A minute or so of idly fiddling with it in an attempt to figure out some way to tune it results in nothing but it sounding worse, and you give up and head to bed. It's not like you had any intention of sleeping, but laying in your bed and staring at the ceiling like the insomniac you were was better than continuously bruising your ego fucking with that thing. It was zipped up in the case to be perpetually ignored.
At least, that was the intention. Thoughts keep you awake, little snippets of guilt. Your insanely busy brother found time to pick that out and had it delivered all the way from LA-- well, Amazon delivery, but whatever-- just in time for your birthday. For you. The theory that the gift may of not been all that sarcastic was seeming more and more plausible.
With a sigh and a eye roll you were tracking down a decent tuning app. The app store dug one specifically for ukuleles up in record time, and you padded over to retrieve the florescent case as it downloaded.
Your phone beeps to confirm the instalment just as you're getting it out and plucking at the strings some. It doesn't sound that bad out of tune, honestly, as long as you don't strum it.
The app is overly chipper with helping you, and you try to not let it grate on your nerves too much. Even with siri-on-xanax parroting obnoxiously optimistic voice instructions at you from your phone, it takes you awhile to get the ukulele tuned. You probably looked like an absolute idiot, wrapped up in a blanket on your bed and leaning over a miniature guitar with your hair in your face and a happy robotic voice repeating "Five cents sharp! Wind the key clockwise!".
As soon as you get that over with, though, the uke sounds really good. Like, relaxingly good, even though you don't take the time to learn any note names and are mostly just fleshing out soft little tunes. They're repetitive, soothing, and the strings feel kinda nice brushing against your fingertips.
One of the patterns you figure out forcibly reminds out of a song you have, and that leads to your scouring your music library for acoustic songs to learn by ear.
Actually using notes and shit is for chumps.
In about an hour, you've learned several snippets of songs, most notably the base part from 'Lancer'. You think you remember Dave giving this song and others to you a while ago with an offhand comment about "Back when Rose used to give me songs to remix." You cover it fairly well, the uke taking the somber feel of the baseline and making it sound airy and peaceful with barely any swearing and effort from you. The dumb thing was growing on you in a big way.
There are, in fact, several remixed copies of string songs in the collection, and you take the time to copy the main riffs from them. It's a little funny, akin to claiming songs meant for a bass clarinet and playing it on the piccallo.
After you get bored of that you go to your secret indie music stash to find a good song that you could learn in full. ‘Secret’ because, well- It's not like you don't love the weird, electronic music that you and Dave both have a penchant for making. It's just that sometimes you have to be an insufferable hipster and pirate some Mumford and Sons, y'know?
Eventually, you decide on trying "Lua" by Bright Eyes. It's a good song, a little mopey, but still catchy and well done.
I know that it is raining, but I think we have to walk…
It starts up, Conor Oberst waxing poetic about loneliness and pigeons filling your room. You listen, figure out the chords with some struggle, and soon you're quietly playing and singing along.
I've got a flask inside my pocket, we can share it on the train…
You singing voice was nothing special, filled with a few too many voice cracks and inaccurate pitches, but you can't bring yourself to care. "Lua" fades out with a final line about simplicity being deceiving, and you're feeling tight in the chest. Man, that hit some sad part in you. You didn't know whether it was the miscellaneous sad tone of the song or the perspective of a lovesick alcoholic (A small voice helpfully reminds you who you're thinking of), but you know you're being overdramatic and cliché. That doesn't stop the embarrassing sniffling and such.
You missed your brother. It was irrational, annoying. You could literally Skype him at any time, but he still wasn't here. His gift resting in your lap made you keenly aware of this. It wasn't just a birthday present. It was an apology for absence, or maybe the world's shittiest substitute teacher.
Sorry class, today instead of having the man who you've idolized since childhood care for you like a proper guardian, you're gonna have fun with a ukulele!
The way Dave wasn't around was so evident. Painfully so.
He wasn't clanging about in his graceless matter, swearing a blue streak into the air every time he clunked his knee on the coffee table trying to flashstep. He wasn't ribbing you at every given moment, softening dorky insults with crooked half-smiles. He wasn't checking on you at ungodly early hours only to find you awake and just come into the room with you, settling onto your bed and watching you work on your latest project, no words needed.
No matter how hard you tried to suppress it, Dave's absence was like a physical hole in your heart and it never stopped aching. He was a dick, he was unhealthy, but god, he cared about you and in return all you offered was snark and a secretive devotion.
You wiped the dampness out from under your eyes with the back of your hand and zipped the uke back up, gently leaning the case against the side of your bed. The upside of being alone was that you could shove your face into your pillows and cry without tarnishing your reputation. You did as such, clutching the pillow to your face to muffle frustrated sobs.
Chapter 2: rockit
You intended to spend some time contemplating-- probably another streetlight monologue, if you were being honest with yourself-- but here you were, almost crying with laughter on the ground because some rapper made a dick joke.
The lingering aura of daylight paired with the excessive amount of streetlights still operating posed an intriguing sense of surrealism. Somehow it seemed redundant to provide an alternate light source when the sun was still present. The very environment was redundant.
As it goes with nature and sunsets and the like, the faint honey glow amongst the bluish clouds faded before long. The streetlights remained an unwavering constant, as always.
If looking for continued determination when faced with the fundamental obsolescence of one's existence, an individual would be hard pressed to find a more prime example than a streetlight.
You were not fond of streetlights. For that matter, you were not fond of any perpetual inorganic light sources. You found them to be a waste-- not to mention light pollution and the sheer garishness of illuminated corporate signs.
As such, it was a mystery for the ages how you lived in the heart of Houston, Texas without throwing chronic hissy fits.
Currently, you're observing aforementioned city from one of your favorite vantage points-- the roof. As irksome as the city's lights may be from a practical standpoint, you have to admit, the blinking dots spreading out like a multicolor starscape look pretty fucken' rad.
Adding to this, the roof of your apartment will always be an escape route from the miscellaneous stress of life for you. A place to chill out, train, smoke in peace. Maybe have the occasional rap battle with your robro prototypes. Forget the suffocating emptiness that was the apartment without Dave.
Lately, the latter had been the main focus of your rooftop visits, as loathe as you'd be to admit it.
With a jaw-cracking yawn, you snuff out the roach of your latest blunt and lay back, flicking the charred scrap of rolling paper in the general direction of your ashtray.
The sky had gone from bluish all the way to gunmetal, with a bunch of other fancy color-describing words in-between. The lack of stars always bothered you when you lay on the roof at night. Maybe it was the weed, but it always seemed as if the sky was so endlessly vast without the safety net of constellations that you'd fall into it and drown.
Not that you'd ever seen stars anywhere except for a computer screen, but the sentiment still stood. Almost like nostalgia from memories that didn't exist.
Yeah. Definitely the weed. You fumbled for your phone out of boredom, the haze in your head not enough to prevent a wince at the bright screen as you checked the time. Somehow, it was already ten thirty. The entire day had flown by.
The problem with living alone during the summer was that each day was an effort to fill up. Meaningless bullshit, while originally intended to filled the cracks in-between periods of productivity, had a habit of spilling over and expanding until the schedule and planning created dissolved into hours of playing poptropica.
Jesus Christ, you were up to your fucking eyeballs in projects, robotics-related or not. Without the rigidity of your online course schedule to set a skeleton for some actual work getting done, all you ever did was waste time.
Sitting around and waiting to not be alone had become your regular state.
Enough melodramatic self-reflection. You grabbed your ashtray-- dumping it out over the edge of the roof, unfortunately for anyone who had a window open below you-- and the scraps of metal you'd been tinkering with, shoving it into your bag. Your sword went through the handles of the backpack, to jab you in the ass as usual.
In several fluid, practiced movements, you swung yourself off the edge of the roof. The concrete lip surrounding the precipice digs into your hands and you let yourself hit the wall with a slight thud. It's intoxicating to sway for a moment on the edge of certain death, dangling over the streets like a particularly reckless performer. You let yourself soak it in, arms straining, before your feet hit the sill and you climb your bedroom window.
Your heart is racing deliciously at you pull yourself fully through the opening. Admittedly, you're an adrenaline junkie, and that little roof-to-window trick will never get old. A laugh forces its way out of your chest as you dig your toes into your carpet, rough and obnoxiously loud. You're almost surprised at yourself.
The ashtray and katana clatters to your desk as you flop into your swivel chair. The momentum sends it rolling across the floor, and you indulge in a moment of spinning around like an idiot, your head lolling back against the headrest with an equally idiotic grin on your face. When it stops being fun you grab the edge of your desk, ignoring the way your monitor wobbles worryingly at the jostle, and pull yourself in to your computer.
A few keystrokes pulls up your music library. You don't really feel like tracking down anything good, so you just hit shuffle and push away from the desk. As you rotate slowly, staring at the ceiling, G.O.A.T by watsky starts blasting. Fuck.
You're laughing again, almost drowning out the absurd lyrics with breathless snorting. God, you love this song.
Two songs later, you've skipped the "casually amused and reacting like a normal person" phase and gone straight to rolling around on the floor. You intended to spend some time contemplating-- probably another streetlight monologue, if you were being honest with yourself-- but here you were, almost crying with laughter on the ground because some rapper made a dick joke. You really needed to lay off the hash. The cramps in your stomach were a testament to that.
You recovered some when a retro 8-bit song came on out of the blue, most likely dredged up from the depths of your library. You hadn't heard this song in forever, and yet the simple tune had your fingers itching to try it out on your uke. You give in to the urge and sit up for half a second, locating your flamboyantly pink and pony-encrusted case in the corner.
It doesn't take long for you to end up flopped back on the floor, ukulele held above you in an utterly ridiculous outstretched pose as you plink out the song. The tempo is slightly off and you just can't quite find the right key, but it's fun. You're genuinely enjoying yourself. Thankfully, you'd improved a lot on the instrument since you'd gotten it a couple months back. After you adjust a bit-- as nice as your floor is, that's improper position-- you're playing along nicely. Cute song.
Before you can stop yourself, you're pulling up your camera app and recording an audio file of you playing without the song in the background. The main tune isn't that hard, and you'd basically memorized it, but you can't help but chuckle a little when you mess up. It essentially ruined the audio.
Oh, well. You'd just send it to Dave with a nonsensical caption later. Maybe he'd get a kick out of it-- he'd enjoy hearing that you were using his gift, at least.
The idea of him smiling and watching your video has you smiling, even as you unsteadily get up to go meander around somewhere else in the house. Your uke is tossed to the bed for later repackaging.
You make it into the kitchen in one piece, despite how you elegantly tripped over every bit of random shit strewn across the floor. The cabinets let out their obligatory loud creaking when you open them grab something edible. You're barely aware of the fact that you haven't eaten all day, other than some faint nausea. Puttering around for a bit results in the discovery of a few cellophane-wrapped packages, and you return to the floor in triumph.
You don't even notice what you're gnawing on, really. Some type of stale granola bar that's leaving crumbs all over your shirt. Food is food.
Spread eagle, right in the middle of the kitchen floor, you're sweating. It's almost illegally hot for June. The perfect weather to lay around and be a useless stoner.
The cool linoleum feels nice against your face, and you find yourself content enough to begin humming the 8-bit song from earlier. You stuff the last of the granola bar in your mouth, barely even tasting it. Could be honey flavor. You're not quite sure, at this point.
You're in the process of a really good daydream and fiddling with the rubber band in your ponytail when you hear the doorknob rattle. Honestly, it scares the fuck out of you, and the shitty old thing breaks in half when your hand jerks in surprise. Your hair spills out in soft waves across your face, the shampoo-commercial-esque floof lost on you due to how it obscures your vision of whoever's walking in the door. You scramble to your feet, heart pounding in the worst way.
You're suddenly terrified despite yourself, danger danger danger going at full blast, rattling around inside of your head. You fall into a defensive stance on instinct. There's still too much hair in your face, you can't see anything, you're panicking--
"Holy fuck, kid. Don't shit yourself, it's just me."
You make a truly embarrassing noise of relief and slump into the counter. It's Dave.
It doesn't really hit for a solid five seconds.
"Oh my God. You're--" You snap your head up, one hand shoving the bangs out of your eyes. Dave is standing there, customary shades and crooked smirk on his face and a duffle bag in his hands.
"I'm back early, yeah." You can't help yourself, returning his smirk with a full-scale toothy grin. He just raises his eyebrows at that, holding his arms out.
"Come on, don't I get a hug?" Of course, he was saying that as a joke. You know that, and yet you're shoving yourself into his arms in record time.
Your face presses into his chest and you breathe in deep, taking a moment to appreciate the fact that he's really here. Right now. You would cry if that wouldn't be mortifying.
"Whoof, someone's excited."
"You're never home early. What gives?" Your voice is muffled into his shirt, but he hears the way it shakes. How could he not?
There's an awkward hand resting on your hair. You try not to shiver at the contact. Fuck, you missed him so much. It doesn't help that you haven't had someone touch you in any way since he left, however long ago that was. At least a month.
"A bunch of boring Hollywood stuff gives. I'll spare you the riveting details for now." He sniffs, hand sliding off your hair, and laughs.
"And you absolutely reek of weed. I shoulda known, you're only this happy to see me when you're high off your ass."
You pull away reluctantly, trying not to inhale his scent. Dave always smelled so good, like clove cigarettes and expensive whiskey-- okay. Wow, creepy much?
You muster up a deadpan. Control yourself.
"Yeah, true. Can't imagine being anything except a sour asshole otherwise." He smirks again, ever the original emoter, picking up his bag again and heading for his room.
"You know you love me." He calls over his shoulder, and you internally agree even as you're flipping him off.
Chapter 3: guru
sorry for the long wait for this chapter, y'all! i kinda lost motivation, went to camp for a week, yadda yadda. thankfully due to a really amazing comment (thaNK YOU oml. i haven't gotten around to a sufficient reply yet) and a lot of motivation from a good friend of mine (i know you're reading this dude ;3c), I cranked out this chapter on the ride home from camp. I've also got the next two chapters in the works so expect a better update schedule
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When it comes to knowing your brand, you consider yourself a bit of an expert.
Your calling card, the hallmark forced upon whoever interacts with you is lovingly built around things that are unarguably detrimental to mental health, objects and/or media that are widely considered awful, and simply put, being an asshole.
You've considered the idea that it's a family trait in the past when faced with Dave's “work” of SBaHJ. When put under even more unnecessarily careful scrutiny, however, the similarities stop at bad. Where Dave creates drivel, you're more of a connoisseur, a collector. You hoard awful fetish art and unhealthy coping mechanisms like it's going out of style. May explain why you're so fucked up.
As such, it's to be expected that you're startlingly awake at 4 AM on the dot, rummaging around to make Mac N Cheese.
Breakfast of champions.
So far, you've successfully procured a pot and what looked to be your last box of Easy Peasy Instant Macaroni (Trademark, even with the blatant Kraft ripoff). You get the water set up to boil, leaning against the counter when you're done. It's too early for this. You're well aware, but literally the only time you feel hungry anymore is at godforsaken hours of the morning.
The burner is on high, but it's taking forever to boil. You're halfway through planning out a new prototype to kill time (the jury is out on deciding between calling it Anbroid.09R or the something-inator) when you hear a loud yelp from the other room.
There's a split-second of stiff confusion before you realize Dave's home again, and relax back into the counter. You're not quite used to his presence yet, and so you'd been the opposite of stealthy whilst getting out Mac N Cheese supplies. Pots are loud.
He was probably going to pop into the kitchen in a second, rubbing the random part of his body that he smacked hard enough to elicit the yelp. You're not that surprised.
You know when to take your shades off for the bare minimum of common sense, but Dave is religious about keeping the ol' aviators on 24/7. This isn't the first time he'd attempted to walk around in near-darkness with those fucking horse blinders on and injured himself.
Right on cue, your brother walks in, sucking back a bloody nose. With how far his head is tilted back in an attempt to stop the bleeding, you can almost catch a glimpse of his eyes. All you can see is the spiky fringe of his lashes, really. Scarlett O'Hara ain't got nothing on those.
It's not like you're trying to snoop-- seeing his eyes was akin to seeing your brother naked, at least according to Dave himself. You've caught fleeting glimpses of both his dick and those peepers in the past, of course. When two people live together for almost nineteen years, shit happens.
He catches you looking and abruptly brings his chin back down. Predictably, more blood trickles down his face only to be carelessly wiped off.
You sigh, reaching for the roll of paper towels and tossing it at him. He catches it with ease, despite the sluggishness to his movements. Looks like he was probably asleep-- that makes one of you.
“Don't think red's my color?”
“In cocktail dresses, yes. In sanguineous liquids, however, it's a solid no.” He snorts, not thinking of the consequences. Blood splatters everywhere.
Goodbye to that white undershirt, you guess. Dave just groans and plunks down at the table, proceeding with stuffing paper towel up his nostrils. He's such a walking biohazard.
You go back to your pot of finally boiling water. It may have been left alone for a tad too long-- there's a cloud of steam when you open the lid, and much less liquid than you put in originally. It'll do.
The instructions are fuzzy, and you can't bother to reread the directions on the box even though it's right in your hand. You just dump the noodles in and hope for the best. Fuck, there goes the cheese powder packet.
“So what's going down in here, other than you waking the dead at the fucken' asscrack of dawn?” You're a little preoccupied with attempting to fish out the packet without scalding yourself, so you just offer up a noncommittal grunt. It's not even dawn yet. You somehow refrain from notifying him.
You can hear him leaning back in his chair-- the legs groan wearily-- and your quest for cheese powder notwithstanding, you can imagine he's doing that pseudo-shocked face of his.
“You're trying to burn the house down, huh? I always had an inkling that I was gonna go out in a Dirk-induced murder-suicide.” He drawls.
The packet is retrieved after a brief struggle- you didn't think to grab the tongs for at least a minute, how did you not think to grab the tongs-- and slapped onto the counter with a slight squishing noise. It's soaked. You would make it work.
“I'm thinking you gotta open the powder thingamafuck first, dude.”
“I'm aware, thanks.” Man, you're just passing out the eloquent responses like cheap cigars today.
Around twice the normal time it should have taken to make macaroni and cheese later, Dave appears to be comatose with his head in his arms at the table and you've got two reasonably sized bowls of pasta. Normally, you'd eat the entire box in one sitting and hate yourself for it later, but you figured that you may as well provide Dave with an unusual breakfast. You did wake him up, after all-- and indirectly cause a nosebleed.
Wait, no, that was entirely his fault. You don't even know how or what on he managed to hit his nose in the thirty-second walk to the kitchen.
You bring the bowls over, sliding into the remaining chair. Dave slowly raises his head at the thunk of his bowl hitting the table. He looks absurd, with the red-stained paper sticking out of his nose and his shades lopsided underneath bedhead bangs. It makes him look younger, like some scrappy teenager who got in a fight and lost. It's a good look for him.
“Oh. 'S this for me?”
You nod briefly, your mouth already full. The painfully artificial orange goo coats your tongue in seconds with its weird, oily texture, and you're in utter bliss. You can't go wrong with dubiously prepared breakfast Mac N Cheese.
With an internal wince, you realize that Dave has probably been living off caviar and cocaine for the past month. You could have made him something less bachlor pad, for fuck's sake.
“S' not exactly some welcome-home-meal-style bullshit, man. I kinda forgot you were here.”
To your surprise, he bolts upright and shoves his hand across the table like he wants to grab yours. It doesn't scare you in the slightest, but you still find your heart rate quickening as he fumbles to lace your fingers together. His hands are long, soft and warm despite their knobbiness, and it's bizarre how well your own calloused palms fit against his. You swallow, hoping that's just noodles stuck in your throat.
He stares at you steadily. You half expect him to start delivering the answer to the great riddle of life in a poetic monologue.
“Dirk. Bro. If there was one thing I repeated to myself like a holy fucken' mantra while I was away, it was along the lines of whoa, I could totally kill someone right now for some goddamn box macaroni. I owe you my life.” Holy shit, he was actually delivering this with a straight face. You're almost in awe of his deadpan skills.
“What the fuck?”
“Do you even know how much fancy, stick-up-your-ass-so-far-it's-choking-you continental breakfast bullshit I've had to put up with?” His hand tightened around yours as he continued-- this fact doesn't pass you or your rebelliously fast heart by-- and you honestly couldn't tell if he was being serious or not. He was overtly putting it on thick, and yet was still very convincing.
“I miss constantly living like a college student with you.” In all honestly, that both irked you and tugged at your heartstrings. On one hand, here was Dave, telling you in what had a 50% chance of being all honesty that he missed you, in a way. On the other hand, here was this douchebag, taking a life of glamour for advantage in favor of some relatively shitty apartment both he and you had grown up in.
You decide on rolling your eyes. “Golly gee, David, I can see how absolutely unbearable it is for you to be slathered in luxury.”
“Shut up and eat your neon ambrosia, Princess.” He said in return, shoving a spoonful in his mouth for emphasis.
At that, you find yourself choking on air. You cover it behind a cough and yank your hand away, adjusting your shades with one hand in an attempt to further conceal any reaction. You hope to God you're not blushing. You don't usually blush easily at all, but Dave had such a way of getting under your skin-- especially with “offhand” nicknames like that.
Princess was a new one, and a lot more to work with in the way of a comeback, even though it did fluster you. Surprisingly, you almost liked being called Princess. You did not like liking it.
His spoon clatters to the table, and he's laughing at you, a low, barely audible string of chuckles. It's endearing, despite his amusement being at your expense. You manage to sculpt your features into a facsimile of irritation, even as you're studying the way his nose crinkles up.
“I'm sorry. Did that bother you?” His head tilts in feigned innocence, and it's back to deadpan. Two can play at this game-- or, rather, one can play, and the other can lug a shotgun to the field and shoot the ball into smithereens.
“No. In fact, I think it's kinda hot. Call me your princess, Daddy.”
Needless to say, you finish the impromptu meal in a thick miasma of awkward silence.
this daddy kink joke was brought to you by my bad influence of a girlfriend
Chapter 4: run dry
hah... the phrase "better updates" may of been a hyperbole. heres an extra long chapter as some form of an apology.
also I know little about smoking weed so the terminology might not be up to snuff for yall vetran stoners (lol)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It's nine fourty-five, and you're elbow deep in the chassis of a dismembered robot when your computer screen blinks to life, pesterchum symbol popping up on the toolbar. The 'bot can wait-- it's nothing important, essentially an effort to test your joint-making skills-- so you yank your oily hands out and move to your computer chair.
Predictably, you leave motor oil handprints all over everything you touch before you manage to boot up. You're gonna have a bitch of a time getting that shit out of your chair.
It's a tad odd to get a message at this hour. You know that Jane clocks out at eight like an old lady, Jake's time zone is probably sometime around six AM right now, and the only time Roxy messages you is only either past midnight or just after the sun comes up. Adding to the mystery, you only have three friends. Not a lot of options here.
You open the app, and it's a friend request from "turntechGodhead".
Huh. Stupid name aside, you're bored enough to hit accept and enter a chat with the mystery person.
A typing bubble pops up almost instantly. That's… interesting.
TG: hey kid you awake
TT: Yet again, your inability to come to my room and talk to me like a sane person exhibits itself.
TT: It's dangerously nearing the creepy stage to get ahold of me using my childhood's communication app, you know.
TG: man that was instantaneous recognition whats a guy gotta do to maintain an air of mystery around here
TG: seriously i could of been any random internet pedophile after your twink ass
TG: learn to protect yourself kid
TG: didnt you ever take D.A.R.E
TT: Really impressive how openly you ignored my question, dude.
TG: ive been texting you
TG: i got tired of waiting for you to wake up and/or charge your dumbass phone
You glace over to your phone at that. It's conveniently placed on your desk and yet woefully on silent, the cracked screen lit up with several texts from Dave. Yeah, you deserved that much.
TT: What's so pressing that it requires soley face-to-screen interaction?
TG: thought youd never ask
TG: come to the roof asap
TT: That's sure vaugely ominous. I should be worried, shouldn't I.
TG: im not gonna spell it out for you man just like
TG: bring your weed
TT: Say no more.
Five minutes later, you've scrubbed most of the black gunk off your hands and gathered everything you could need- ie; a gram, your personal favorite bong, and strangely enough, your uke. Admittedly, it's weird to bring a musical instrument to what's probably just going to be an average smoke on the roof, but you're going to follow your impulse on this one. The opportunity may arise for you to show off your improving skills. Dave better hold onto his socks, because if you found a way to smoothy initiate a performance, those suckers would be getting knocked into orbit.
You hoof it up the stairs-- you can't climb out of the window every time-- with both bag and ukulele case slung over your back, and open the door. For once, it doesn't squeal bloody murder, which is a very odd occurrence considering the abysmal state of most of the hinges in your entire apartment complex. It nearly glides open and you're presented with a lean figure silhouetted on the edge of the roof. A small swirl of apprehension goes through your gut-- actually, maybe it was excitement? Whatever it was, both the feeling and the view leave you breathless for a moment. You're not a photographer by any means, but if you were, getting a snapshot of the scene spread out in front of you would be murder-worthy.
It's wholly tempting to plunk yourself down in the doorway and just watch him exist for a while. However, as poetic as it would be to quietly stalk Dave, he hasn't seemed to notice you yet. It would be a crying shame to let such a tactical advantage go to waste, wouldn't it?
With no further ado, you slink up behind him as stealthily as possible and sit down. Dave looks over at the thump and gets the treat of your best "silent creeper face" inches from his own. Predictably, he jumps out of his skin and knocks over the open bottle next to him, swearing as the liquor spills. It it shines in the city lights, a swirling splash painted across the unfeelingly black surface of the roof like glitter on tar. You've always wondered if it could perhaps be a tar roof like those memorable books they had in your childhood classrooms, but you've never taken the time to learn the difference between the term tar roof and just black asphalt.
He furrows his brows at you, pouting like a child at the brief startle, then proceedes to scoot away and chug down the remainder of his bottle. The sharp-smelling liquid drips down his arm, unnoticed or not deemed worthy of notice.
You ignore him other than a small smirk in his direction and start unpacking your bag.
He just watches you after that, his head cocked to one side, hands folded in his lap, and legs swinging over the side of the building. Understandably, you're rather self-conscious at his prolonged gaze. Buzzed or not, he's being oddly attentive. You really should be worried.
The bong is set down at a safe distance from the edge with a delicate clink, and he grins at you hair-trigger quick.
"You only love me for my weed. Fucken' disrespectful." You drawl, pulling out the bag of aformentioned drugs only to have him snatch it out of your hand.
"What's really disrespectful is you thinkin I'd choose drugs as my reason to love you. Dumbass."
You totally know he's joking. Of course he is, what's the other option?
That being said, you know you're looking at him like an adoring puppy as he fills the bowl. Who knew a weakass, mildly backhanded compliment could set your mushy side off.
That lasts about until Dave's waving a hand in front of your face and holding up the mournfully empty bong.
"Might need water for this shit. Just a handy dandy lil' suggestion."
"Yeah, yeah, knew I was forgetting something. Hold your metaphorical horses with an iron grip, if you can manage it."
He does that quick little grin thing at you again, and you guess you know what heart palpitations feel like now?
You yank your bag over and shuffle though it, eventually producing a water bottle to toss at him. It smacks him in the face, eliciting both a bark of laugher from you and a nightmare mental image of Dave dropping your bong over the roof. You do what seems like the reasonable thing and shoot your hand out, wrapping it around the pipe as the other one fumbles for the bottle. Typically, it goes over his shoulder, so you end up leaning into him to grab it.
Dave makes a confused noise, and then you're falling into him.
The city below you goes on in its fluctuating racket, reduced to a faintness behind the noise of your heart pounding in your ears at an absolutely batshit pace. It's straddling that oh-so-line thin between flustered and cardiac arrest.
Here you are, awkwardly pinning Dave to the roof, one arm mashed into the gritty edge and still clutching the water bottle, the other trapped in the tangle that was your lower bodies and shoved directly into what was definitely his dick. To add some icing to that cake, 2/4 of your limbs are hanging off the edge of the roof.
Really, really not ideal, and yet you can't bring yourself to move. It's far too surreal, even though Dave is indubitably there and this is happening. Notably, he's not making any motion to shove you off yet. You'll take what you can get, but--
As you stare down into his startled face, everything you've ever tried to ignore came together like one big 'ol puzzle of doom. The realization was swift, shocking, and the fact that everything made sense now was a precipice you knew you couldn't back down from.
Also, you caught the water bottle, even though it's currently being crushed beneath Dave's back. Score one for team Dirk.
Score two for Team Universe, however, since you're apparently head over heels for your brother and should have realized that sooner.
So many should's tonight. Shoulda coulda woulda, you suppose.
"Glad to see we're just gonna stay inexplicably entangled for the whole night, Dirky. I've always wanted to know what it was like to get pressure ulcers on my crotch." He said from under you, sarcasm so thick you scoop some off the top with a butter knife and spread it on toast.
Case in point-- you really should have snapped out of this ages ago, but no, you just had to get your intospection done whilst teetering on the edge of a fucking roof in a painfully cliché position.
You scramble off of him, rolling onto the roof and trying to force some air into your lungs. The opposite happens-- all the oxygen in your body comes out in a weird, strangled huff. Yeah, you-- you're fucked up at this point. You just hope Dave won't see your legs shaking.
A hand rests on your shoulder and shakes it lightly, and you look up from your sprawled-out-on-the-floor standpoint to see Dave looking rather concerned and remarkably unruffled, considering his recent elevation to Senpai status.
" 'M good. Sorry about that, 'twas hella disturbing." You mutter, brushing his touch away and going to unscrew the rather squished water bottle. Y'all gotta get stoned at some point tonight, after all.
"Is m'lady thus pants-shittingly terrified of thyne heights?" He asks, wiggling his eyebrows obnoxiously. You nod, ignoring his pitiable attempt at ye olde high English, then shake your head, then nod again so you're doing some dumbass back and forth headbang. Doesn't seem to phase him much.
"Doesn't seem like something the Great Dirk Strider would worry about. What's got your panties all up in a twist?
You, you want to say. The words stick in your throat and cut off your breath.
He laughs nervously after a pregnant pause, and you both drop it.
Your hands are trembling bad enough that Dave has to take the bottle from you and do the whole setup himself, shooting worried glances all the while. You shouldn't really care, and you don't-- in some strangely convoluted backwards manner, albeit-- that you're reacting so badly to, well, him. Him, and yourself.
You've always considered yourself a very separate person, unaffected by what you're supposed to do, say, and act to be considered "normal". But now, somehow the fact that normal people don't act like this and normal people don't have crushes on their brother is weighing on you like a lead apron. Gotta protect your delicate, blancing-act-esque sense of individuality from those dangerous societal construct rays.
You have an inkling that metaphor may of gotten tangled up in your head, and then it's just all downhill.
In all honesty, you kinda zone out for a couple minutes. You'd like to say you were thinking, mulling over your recent internalized breakthrough in a very mature way, but the skyline has both captivated and wiped clean your mind. You're being lulled into a supor by the backdrop for your batshit life.
In the midst of this, Dave preforms a small fit of transparently fake throat clearing, presumably enacted in an effort to garder your attention. When that fails miserably he settles for shoving your shoulder.
"Melodrama is eating you alive, ain't it." You open your mouth to scathingly reply, but he shuts you up with a well-timed Shhhshshsh.
"Let's just get this party started." He says, then smushes the pipe to his face and lights it up.
His drag is long, impressively so, he just keeps going until he's red in the face and his shades start to slip down his nose. It's definitely amusing enough that you laugh a bit as you push the glasses fully back up onto his face.
Abruptly, he pulls off and tips his head back, flicking the lighter to the side and bringing a hand to his throat in one smooth motion. You watch with widened eyes as he strokes his jugular like he was coaxing the smoke down his windpipe, not without a self-indulgent smirk.
A second later he's bringing his head back down and exhaling, blowing smoke directly at your face so the cloud envelopes you.
You make a big show of coughing and glaring at him, but the malicious lil' demon on your shoulder is hissing That's kinda hot in your ear. The floodgates of brotherly attraction got burned to the ground, salted, then burned again for good measure, remember? This is your life now.
You don't know if you hate it or not.
He passes you the bong and you finally got your mouth on it, hella ready to show off your Stoner Skillz(TM), only to end up inhaling the wrong way and futzing miserably because you felt some of Dave's drool stick to your lips from the rim. Unf, right.
This goes on for some time, in a similar pattern.
After quite a few more refills and hits, you finally hit that point of buzzing comfort and end up laying on the roof in a content puddle. Dave lays down next to you, elbow propping him up. Draw me like one of your French girls. Utterly hilarious.
An idea hits you like a fucking freight train out of nowhere and you scramble up, laughter bubbling against your teeth at the sheer genius of it. There's no way this could possibly go wrong.
You reach out and very seriously pat Dave's arm, still barely restraining a smile.
"Here's a broprosal, man." You say, a little too fast.Way to overreact, doof. Totally wasted the sweet bro pun.
"Hit me with it."
"I'll show you mine if you show me yours." His eyebrows disappear into his bangs at that.
"Uhh, dude-- oh." You whip off your shades, eyes shut tight for an unknown reason. Don't have to see him to know his groan at the joke is accompanied by a temple rub.
"Fine, whatever. Drunk and high sounds like a good state of mind for the reveal of my mystique."
There's a click of glasses folding, a light rustle that you imagine is him stashing them in your bag, then you open your eyes.
When he looks at you, really looks at you without any cruel barrier of opaque glass between his eyes and yours, it's instantaneous starstroke. You're like a deer in headlights. Like a lamb before the slaughter. Speechless.
He's too much without the shades. He looks etheral, simply put, with the reddish-gold glow of the city matching his irises perfectly and backlighting him through the sillouetted tower's bars. Without hyperbole, D ks most handsome thing you've ever laid eyes on. How could you only of realized how deep your attention went tonight? Despite the drugs in your system and your heart in your throat, you've never seen clearer.
Even so, you're not trying to talk some sense into yourself when you move forward and rest your palm on the side of his face. Even so, you're trying not to remember that Dave's your brother.
He looks at you quizzically, too stoned to really react, and tilts his head to lean into your palm. It was probably an unconscious movement, but you still lose the ability to breathe properly. Are you red? You're probably bright red, you can feel the heat prickling under your cheeks like a smattering of needles.
There's an ache in your chest urging you to give into your long-buried yet resurfaced urge and press your smoke-chapped lips onto Dave's.
Your faces are so close, you can smell his kinda grossly stale weed breath. It doesn't bother you because absolutley nothing's stopping you, not even yourself for once. You could so do it and just kiss him--
Just as you're letting your eyes slip shut and puckering up like this was a very incest-y romance movie, his phone lets out a blaring snippet from the SBAHJ soundtrack.
What goddamn timing.
Even after you jerk away, he thankfully doesn't seem to notice your brief lapse into makeout mode. In hindsight, seeing him grin apologetically and go to take the call was a massive relief as well as a disappointment.
You can't believe you almost kissed him. God.
Watching him brace himself against the cell tower and bicker sleepily into the phone isn't in the least bit entertaining, even as a distraction from the rioting conflict in the put of your stomach. You don't want to go for the bong again, you don't want to just lay on the roof and wait for him. You're not sure what you want anymore, in every sense of the phrase.
When Dave gets done chewing out whatever poor intern was on the other end of the line, you're already gone. You didn't jump off the roof as you probably should of, just grabbed your shit and got the hell out of Dodge.
Your room is dark and silent except for the faint glow of your still-running computer screen. Pesterchum is still open. No new messages.
You're just barely setting your bag down and flopping onto your bed when you realize you never got to play the ukulele for him.
That's the saddest part of the night, honestly.
if someone could teach me how to use the pesterlog formatting that'd be fine n dandy also id owe you a blood debt
EDIT: thanks for your help yall pesterlogs are fixed!
EDIT EDIT: you may of noticed i changed D to Dave lmao. i just changed my mind really theres no sneaky motive