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I Think This Is Happy

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-- carcinoGeneticist started pestering gardenGnostic --

CG: JADE.

GG: hi karkat!

CG: HI.

GG: whats up?

CG: I WANTED TO ASK YOU A VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION ABOUT HUMAN BAKING PRACTICES.

GG: why arent you asking dave? o:

CG: DAVE DOES NOT KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT BAKING, AND MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO ALLUSIONS TO THE CONTRARY.

CG: AND DESPITE MANY OF YOUR QUAINT HUMAN SAYINGS ABOUT THE MERITS OF ATTEMPTING THINGS WITHOUT A PLAN, I’M TIRED OF WASTING ENTIRE BAGS OF FLOUR ON A SINGLE BATCH OF PANCAKES.

CG: ALSO EVERY STAR IS FARTHER THAN THE MOON, THAT SAYING MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE, AND HUMAN SAYINGS SUCK IN GENERAL.

GG: oh, like yours are any better!!!!

GG: honestly, i dont really know that much about cooking either, heh.

CG: OH, GOOD.

CG: OKAY, I GUESS WE’RE JUST DOOMED. OR I SHOULD ASK SOMEONE ELSE. IS THERE A SINGLE HUMAN AMONG YOU THAT KNOWS HOW TO MAKE PANCAKES?

CG: I CAN DO FINE WITH GROUND GRUB BUT DAVE WON'T EAT IT.

GG: i dunno, maybe rose?

GG: oh! no! jane! ask jane!

CG: JANE? OKAY. I’LL ASK JANE.

CG: WHAT ARE YOU DOING RIGHT NOW?

GG: SPACE STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!

GG: making sure the planets are aligned and shit, so earth doesnt go out of orbit and roast you all like baked potatoes.

GG: or freeze you like sad meaty popsicles.

CG: JESUS FUCKING SHIT. WELL, THANKS. FOR THAT.

CG: YOU’D THINK I’D BE MORE USED TO THAT KIND OF GRAVITAS OF SITUATION WITH DAVE AND THE TIME THING, BUT NO, IT NEVER STOPS BEING ALARMING TO HEAR ABOUT.

GG: oh, its no big deal, and its super easy. the planets are all set up, i just have to check on them!

GG: its just like checking to make sure all the windows in your house are locked

CG: OF COURSE IT IS.

CG: IT’S NOT LIKE YOU GUYS ARE JUST INURED TO THE WHOLE COSMIC SCALE THING, OR ANYTHING.

GG: oh, one second, dave is pestering me!

-- gardenGnostic ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist --

-- turntechGodhead started pestering gardenGnostic --

TG: hey harley whats up

GG: hi dave! i was just talking to karkat!

TG: oh shit really

TG: give me a second

TG: actually give me like 5 minutes

GG: :o

-- turntechGodhead ceased pestering gardenGnostic --

-- turntechGodhead started pestering gardenGnostic --

TG: okay yeah you wanna group this shit up

GG: group chat?

TG: hell yeah

GG: oooooh sure!

-- gardenGnostic joined the chat WHATSCOOLERTHANBEINGCOOL --

GG: hi guys! :)

CG: HI, JADE.

TG: hey

TG: welcome to the coolest fucking chat youll ever be a part of

GG: dont be too humble, dave :p

TG: i dont know the meaning of the word

CG: HE’S NOT WRONG.

CG: I CAN VOUCH.

CG: THIS CHAT IS SO FUCKING COOL I REGULARLY GET FROSTBITE FROM INTERACTING WITH IT.

TG: yeah its so gross

TG: karkat keeps coming to me with these dead black fingers and i have to squeeze them between my legs until the blood comes back

GG: sounds……… kinky.

CG: OH, IT IS.

CG: NOTHING GETS EITHER OF US HOTTER THAN THREAT OF SEMI-PERMANENT INJURY.

CG: I MEAN THEY’D GROW BACK IF THEY FELL OFF, BUT ITD TAKE A FEW WEEKS.

TG: holy shit really

TG: dude we have to try that sometime

CG: TRY CUTTING MY FUCKING FINGERS OFF? ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOT

TG: come on dude theyll grow back

TG: like a lizards tail god thats so weird

TG: and i mean, not your fingers, but maybe your pinky toe

CG: I’M NOT EVEN GOING TO PRETEND TO ENTERTAIN THAT IDEA.

TG: okay fair

TG: but if any part of you happens to fall off can i like

TG: keep it

GG: and do what with it?!?

CG: AND DO WHAT WITH IT?!

CG: HA. I'VE JINXED YOU.

GG: no, i jinxed you, and you have to buy me a soda

CG: DO I NOW?

CG: WHAT AN INTERESTING RITUAL. IN ALTERNIA, JINXING ENTAILS MILD JUJU.

GG: you would put a juju on me? :(

CG: WELL, NOT A BAD ONE, BECAUSE I DON’T ACTUALLY DESPISE YOU.

CG: JUST SOMETHING LIKE, YOU’LL WANT STRAWBERRY GRUBSAUCE, AND YOU’LL ONLY BE ABLE TO FIND GRAPE.

GG: but i wanted strawberry :(

CG: SORRY, JADE, BUT THAT’S THE PRICE OF JINXING. YOU’LL HAVE TO BE MORE CAREFUL NEXT TIME.

GG: no, im pretty sure the price is one soda, owed to me by you!!!!!!

TG: i wanna brine it

CG: ABSOLUTELY NOT.

GG: i cant believe you invited me to this chat just to talk about jinxing and karkat’s pickled appendages :p

TG: oh, we didnt

CG: WE DIDNT.

GG: :o

GG: guys???

TG: give us a second

CG: HOLD ON

GG: um

GG: everything okay over there?

GG: youre making me kind of nervous, haha.

TG: lets go back to shooting the shit actually

CG: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT DATING

TG: so smooth dude

CG: SHUT UP!!!! AT LEAST I FUCKING SAID SOMETHING!!!!!

TG: point

GG: um?? dating is okay? i guess?

GG: im happy for you guys doing it! you seem really good together.

TG: haha, doing it

CG: OH MY GOD SHUT UP

TG: jade how do you feel about doing it with us

GG: what?!

CG: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!

TG: asking her out? thats the game plan here right

TG: oh holy shit i didnt mean to say that

TG: ooooh shit okay jade i didnt mean to say that

TG: i meant to say dating i swear to god

TG: not doing it

TG: i mean maybe that too if youre down

TG: i mean, that would probably come with the dating package, right

TG: but like, dating us, not doing us, unless youre down

CG: STOP. TALKING.

TG: k

GG: youre asking me out?

GG: but youre dating karkat???

GG: are you guys breaking up? :(

TG: no

CG: NO

CG: LIKE, YOU DATING BOTH OF US, AND BOTH OF US DATING YOU

TG: yeah that

GG: ooooh

CG: BUT NO PRESSURE, AND WE CAN TOTALLY STILL BE FRIENDS JUST THE SAME IF YOU DON’T WANT TO

GG: ooooooooooooooooooooh

CG: IT’S JUST THAT WE BOTH REALLY LIKE YOU A LOT AND WE TALKED IT OVER AND IF YOU WOULD BE INTERESTED WE WOULD TOO BUT REALLY NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING AND I HOPE THIS ISN’T TOO WEIRD, WE'VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT IT FOR A FEW MONTHS NOW

GG: ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh

TG: dont leave me hanging forever dude

GG: yes

CG: HOLY SHIT REALLY

CG: LIKE, YES, YOU’LL DATE US?

GG: yeah!

CG: OH

CG: COOL

TG: hell fuckin yeah

GG: oh, god, this is so weird and exciting!!!

GG: i do still have to finish up some space stuff for a little while but when i come back should we like, hang out?

TG: nah man dating is a hands-off endeavor where we only just talk

TG: yeah come over here so we can like

TG: hold hands and shit

GG: is that a euphemism??? ;)

TG: holy shit

TG: i mean it can be if you want it to be

GG: oh man, guys

GG: nevermind, actually!!!!

CG: WHAT

GG: nope!

TG: was it kinky

GG: it sure was!

GG: i was thinking about…………. kissing

TG: jesus, give a guy some warning before you blow his fucking mind with that kind of smut

CG: OH

GG: karkat youre so cute oh my god!!!!!!!!!!

TG: i know right

CG: EXCUSE ME FOR BEING KIND OF FUCKING OVERWHELMED RIGHT NOW

CG: I DIDN’T EXPECT YOU TO SAY YES

GG: well i did! get used to it! we’re DATING now!!!!!!!!!!

CG: HOLY SHIT

TG: ngl im kinda floored too

TG: had a few scenarios pulled out in the old noggin and i didnt want to bank super hard on this one you know

TG: shit this is sweet

GG: hell yeah it is!!!!

GG: okay honestly i uh, nothing has to change right away right?

CG: NO

TG: nope

GG: its just like before but also plus dating?

TG: yeah thats the idea

TG: karkat and i were dating for like two weeks before we even kissed

GG: oh my god thats so cute????

TG: hahaha yeah but then

CG: DAVE

CG: DON’T TELL THIS STORY

GG: :OOO

GG: I WANNA KNOW THOUGH!!!!!!

TG: oh shit

TG: torn between two worlds here

TG: man this is gonna be a thing isnt it huh

TG: weird

GG: ?

TG: how about compromise

TG: ill tell it when you come back

CG: I. GUESS.

GG: fiiiiine

GG: okay how about……. i wrap up the orbit stuff and come over tomorrow?

TG: oh shit yes

TG: i figured you wouldnt be able to swing by until next week

CG: YEAH THAT’D BE GREAT

GG: okay!!!

GG: okay wow!!!!!

GG: okay i wanna talk about more stuff but im kinda overwhelmed! im gonna do the planet stuff bye!!!

TG: peace

CG: OKAY

CG: BYE

CG: COOL

CG: SEE YOU LATER

-- gardenGnostic left WHATSCOOLERTHANBEINGCOOL --

-- turntechGodhead left WHATSCOOLERTHANBEINGCOOL --

-- carcinoGeneticist left WHATSCOOLERTHANBEINGCOOL --

Chapter Text

Jade doesn’t know what’s more surprising - that Dave and Karkat asked her if she wanted to date them (!) or that she said yes (!!) in hardly any time at all (!!!). Maybe she should have thought about it longer, but it just felt so right. She couldn’t imagine any downsides to dating her two best friends, who she’d always thought were cute as heck. Like, yes, she’d been super excited when she found out they were dating each other, because they made each other so happy! She had some regrets, too, because now they were both taken, but she pushed those regrets far, far away because they were clearly perfect for each other, and she didn’t want to get in between them and ruin it or make it weird. But now that wasn’t a thing! It wouldn’t ruin it or make it weird because getting between them was exactly what they wanted!

Jade bolts around from planet to planet, taking the long way around so that she has time to think. It’s quiet, she has plenty of time to herself, and close to no distractions. It’s a big decision, she doesn’t play it completely by ear.

She keeps expecting some sort of doubt or something to come up. It keeps not happening, but she wants to give herself enough time to make sure.

Maybe she told a little fib to Dave and Karkat. Well, not a fib, just, not telling the entire truth of something they didn’t ask. She could finish this up today if she wanted to. She takes as long as she does aligning the planets because she enjoys this. She likes being alone, she likes the chilling, crushing emptiness of space, she likes the cold, dead planets and the deafening silence. She assumes it’s something about her aspect, because she’s pretty sure this would have freaked her the fuck out before the game. But now it’s soothing. The voided air and barely-there hum of the universe makes her feel free, alive, and right. And it’s her favorite place to think. And thinking, she needs to do that, before she barrels into Dave and Karkat’s open arms. Because even though she can’t put her finger on it, there’s some needling little feeling that’s keeping her from going back right away.

Maybe she’s a little nervous about it. She’s going from being completely alone to dating two people at once. Even if those people are Dave and Karkat, who she probably knows and trusts more than anyone else, that’s a lot.

She hangs out with her friends a lot, or, it feels like a lot, a few times a week. And it always leaves her feeling drained. But that might just be because they’re friends. It’ll be different with boyfriends. That’s why people can live together when they’re dating, but they find roommates annoying. Right? Yeah. And if she lives with them, they can have sex whenever. And Jade is pretty sure that’s going to be a tradeoff she’s more than happy to make. A little bit less space than she’s used to in exchange for endless sex and cuddles and hangouts. Well. Maybe not endless. But a lot more than she’s used to, which is nothing.

She grins to herself as she checks up on another planet. It feels like it stares at her, this giant slab of sand and rock and wind floating out here in the middle of nothing. She gives it a thumbs up. Thanks for staying right where you need to be, dude.

Heh. She’s gonna get laid. She hasn’t gotten laid since, like. Ever, heh. Apparently some other version of her was dating Davesprite, but not this version of her. This version of her has just gotten really acquainted with her fingers and her brush handle. Often thinking about Dave and Karkat, with her or with each other, sometimes the three of them together, but honestly she never, like, thought it might actually happen. Haha. Hahahaha. Perfect? This is seriously perfect. She could ask them to do that stuff. If they wanted to. God. Her face gets hot as she remembers some of the stuff she’s thought about. Good stuff. Good stuff that now might be on the table. She could just ask them to do that. And they might actually do it. They’d almost definitely do some of it, like, fucking her, like, that was probably definitely on the table, given that Dave said sex was on the table - okay, calm down! God. She should probably be thinking about something other than sex, right? Yeah. Right. She’s delaying this trip to think about stuff that isn’t just sex.

Sex with two people at once, though. Wow. Sex with Dave and Karkat, at the same time. Wow wow wow. She should maybe just speed this along and surprise them tonight. Wait, no, no, that’s the opposite of what she wants to do!

Calm! Down!

She decides to section off sexy thoughts at least until she finishes this up. She’ll think about them later tonight. They’re not easy to push away, but she’s strong.

What was the problem, again? Oh, space. New relationships, space, feeling things out. Well, if she needs to, she can just pop off to space again and decompress. Or her own place. And she doesn’t have to move in with them right away. She doesn’t have to do anything. They can just take it really slow with that stuff, test the waters before diving in. Yeah, that’s a good idea. Problem solved. She’s a genius.

She can’t wait to see them. She’s usually excited to see them again - they’re her best friends, and time always passes so fast when it’s with them. Maybe she doesn’t have to wait. Jade clocks another planet - in place, again, she’s pretty sure she got the most boring aspect in the universe and it usually doesn’t bother her but golly it sure does when she’s impatient - and decides that, no, she doesn’t have to wait. Why wait? She addressed all her concerns. She’s not nervous anymore. She thought about everything that could possibly go wrong, and came up with a plan for it. She’s good.

-- gardenGnostic started pestering turntechGodhead --

GG: hey, change of plans???

TG: sup

GG: can i come over today instead?

GG: tonight now, i guess

TG: oh shit are you done already

GG: yeah!

TG: you fuckin speed demon you

TG: yeah sure karkat and i are just kinda vibrating out of our skeletons waiting for you so

TG: if you wanna that to an end itd be doing us a huge favor

GG: well, consider me a genie, because your wish is my command ;))))

TG: fucking sick

GG: see you soon dude!!!

-- gardenGnostic ceased pestering turntechGodhead --

*

Jade knocks on the door to Dave and Karkat’s apartment, and it’s not 10 seconds before Karkat opens the door. He smiles shyly at her. Fuck, he’s so cute! He’s always been cute, and she’s always thought he was cute, and now it’s not weird to acknowledge that. She beams at him.

“Hi,” he says, and opens the door enough that she can come in. She smells something baking, something beefy. Very likely beef. She steps in and hugs him.

“Hi!”

“Shit, is she here?” she hears from another room.

“Yeah.”

“Hi Dave!”

“Fuck!” Something clatters in the kitchen. “Hi.”

She steps inside. “What are you guys doing?” she asks Karkat.

“We’re making a, um. Dinner for you?”

Dave floats in from the kitchen. The front of his shirt is wet. He reeks of dish soap and dirty water, Jade can smell it across the room. “Yeah, we thought we’d have time before, uh. It’s, uh. 20 more minutes,” he says.

An awkward silence falls over them. This would usually be the part where they catch up about what they’ve been up to. Fuck. Shit. Yeah, that’s what they should do.

“What have you-“ Jade starts.

“So-“ Karkat says at the same time.

They both go quiet. Jade laughs after another awkward minute.

“This is weird,” she says.

“Yeah. Actually,” Dave says, “I had a feeling this might happen and planned out some ideas to unweirdify. You down?”

“Please!”

Dave puts on a TV show about these weirdos going into swamps and catching alligators, but honestly Jade can’t focus on it at all. She’s sitting in between the two of them, and hyper aware of the space between them. It’s less than usual, but there’s still a solid few inches. And then Dave stretches and puts his arm over her shoulders. Very casual. So casual. Not casual at all but really adorable and exciting. She should follow suit. Very, very casually, she reaches over and grabs Karkat’s hand. It’s so warm, much warmer than hers.

It’s very nice, but it feels like none of them are even breathing.

“So, uh,” Dave says. “Are you gonna be moving in?”

Oh, woah, Jade wasn’t expecting that so soon. “Uh. No?” She feels Dave tense up. “I mean, uh! I’m totally down living here for a few weeks! And eventually, probably, yeah.”

He relaxes. “Okay. Cool. Fuck, that was weird, sorry.”

“It’s fine!”

“Do you want to stay the night?” Karkat asks.

That, she was expecting more.

“Yeah, if you’re, uh. Cool with that.”

“Super cool.”

“Okay, cool.”

Another awkward beat follows, and then Jade smells the edges of the meat just starting to burn.

“Dinner’s done,” she says.

Dave looks at the clock. “Oh, shit, fuck.”

They plate it up and sit down at the table. Dave and Karkat have generously pushed their mountain of crap to the side, clearing three spaces at the edge. There’s just enough space for 2.5 people.

“We should get a round table. Even this shit out.” Dave is trying to stay cool, but Jade can still see that he’s excited that’s she’s here (and smell it on him, but she’s trying not to think about that! of all the senses to get heightened after her dogsformation, smelling people’s emotions is the one she’s the very least comfortable with).

“Hell yeah,” she says. “So, what do you guys do when you’re, like, dating?” She starts to eat as she waits for them to answer. It’s good. They made a roast that’s just a little undersalted, but it’s such a far cry from the abominations they used to crank out when they first moved in here! Jade will never forget the “meat lasagna.” They’ve come a really long way!

Dave and Karkat just look at each other.

“Uh,” Karkat says.

“Sometimes we watch movies in languages we don’t understand and don’t turn on subtitles and try to figure out what’s happening,” Dave says.

“Yeah, that’s fun.”

Jade looks between them, waiting for the rest. Surely there has to be more.

“We look at stuff on the internet together,” Karkat says. Dave nods.

Yeah, this isn’t going where she wants it to go. “What about cooking? Going to clubs? Exploring the world? Going on date, what do you do for dates, guys?”

“I dunno. We don’t really do a ton of them, I guess.”

“I mean, I wouldn’t mind them,” Karkat says hesitantly. “I think we just… didn’t do a lot on the meteor, and it stuck from there.”

“This is blowing my mind, guys. We always do stuff when it’s the three of us!”

“Yeah, hah,” Dave says weakly, and ha indeed, this is getting awkward, and she’ll probably drop it soon. “those were usually your ideas?”

“Oh.” She thinks back to it and, yeah, usually, they were. Huh. “Well, we’re gonna have to do more than that together, or it’ll drive me batshit bananas.”

Karkat snort-laughs and Dave smirks. “That can be arranged,” Dave says as he cuts into his meat.

“Not tonight though,” Jade says. “Tonight we can take it easy like a bunch of dorks.”

She meant it as a joke, and Dave laughs a little, but Karkat’s cutting on his meat falters for a second before he picks it back up. She sees Dave look over at him, and Karkat shakes his head a little bit. Then Karkat picks up a piece of the steak and shows it to Jade.

“Please explain something to me first. What animal does this come from? Have you ever seen one? Where are they hunted?”

Well, that was weird. Maybe Jade was just imagining it. They go back to eating, and Jade explains factory farming. And Karkat explains the massive packs of hunters that worked to gather meat in Alternia. Which sounds fun, and she wants in on some, even though it can’t be very efficient for a society.

They finish up and start watching TV again, and things slow down pretty quickly. Jade is yawning before long, and Karkat notices.

“Tired? It’s, like, 9 PM.”

“Well, some of us don’t stay up until 3 every day.”

“Fair.”

“Wanna sleep in our bed?” Dave asks.

Jade feels excitement tingle in her chest. “Yeah.”

“It’s definitely big enough for three, you won’t be packed in like a sardine, don’t worry.”

“Well, I hope it’s not too big,” she says, without thinking. And then regrets it, heh. And then un-regrets it, because Dave is cute when he’s flustered, and he kinda trips over himself on his way down the hallway and swears and then tries to recover.

“Think you’ll find it the perfect size. This bed’s fuckin’ baby bear’s porridge all the way.”

They take her to their room, and invite her in, which is weird and new and exciting. She’s seen it before, but she hasn’t been inside. Just a little tour, like, and here’s our bedroom, and here’s the bathroom. Now she’s going in. Now this is her bedroom, too, kind of.

The bed is easily big enough for three. Money isn’t really a concern anymore, and while Dave and Karkat aren’t living lavishly, they didn’t spare any expense on the king-sized bed, or the soft sheets that line it. Jade hears a little crinkle when she lays down.

“What’s this?” she asks, making the sound again.

Karkat’s face lights up with a blush.

“It’s, uh.”

“Liners.”

“…Why?”

“Because, uh. Trolls, uh,” Dave’s words die in his throat. “You’ll probably see eventually. Maybe later tonight.” He waggles his eyebrows. Karkat groans and buries his face in his hands.

“What-“

“Can we go to bed and pretend this conversation never happened?”

Jade is definitely dying of curiosity, but Karkat is dying of embarrassment, and she’s also pretty fucking tired, and so she drops it.

“Hey Karkat,” she says. She puts her hands on his and pulls them apart, and then kisses him on the cheek. He’s so cute! And she can just do that now! It’s amazing! His eyes fly wide open and he smiles a little. “Let’s go to bed.”

They climb into bed and lump together in a warm little pile of limbs. It takes a few tries. Dave accidentally elbows her in the ribs as he wiggles around, and Karkat apparently uses him for leverage a little too much and he has to tell him to knock it off, but they settle down, with Jade sandwiched between them. And then Karkat leans over and turns the light off.

“Holy shit,” Dave says.

“Seriously!”

They were right about the bed. The size is a perfect baby bear porridge mix of spacious and snug. They’re all bunched up together right now, but there’s enough space there that they can spread out, if they really wanted to. But they don’t. It’s nice, being so close. Jade hasn’t really cuddled like this before, in a bed, and with people she’s dating (!). It’s warm, she can hear them breathing, it makes her chest feel tight, she feels safe and excited. Which isn’t conducive to sleep. She’s basically not tired at all anymore. She closes her eyes and tries to calm down for a solid 20 seconds, but it’s just not happening.

“So,” she says, she feels Dave flinch. Her voice is way too loud, oops. She adjusts it down to a whisper. “Sorry.”

He laughs it off awkwardly. “No problem, just caught me off my game there. What’s up?”

“I think it’s safe to say none of us are going to be able to sleep for a while?”

“Yeah, no, thank god you said something,” Karkat mumbles. “I thought I was going to have to pretend until you fell asleep.”

“So, what was that story that Karkat said not to tell me the other day?”

She feels Karkat tense up a little behind her, then realizes he’s laughing.

“What?”

“You brought it up, so you tell it. I’m not having any part in this.”

“Yeah, be that way.” Dave turns around and faces Jade. He’s so close that Jade can feel his breath on her skin, and it makes her unmentionables stir up. “So we waited a few weeks to kiss, right? Just holding hands while we watched movies and shit. Cuddling up next to each other and shit.”

“That’s so cute.”

“Yeah. Well, then we kissed and then fucked on the floor that day.”

Jade’s face gets hot. So much for not thinking about sex here.

“It wasn’t on the floor, Dave. And it wasn’t, uh.”

“No, yeah, you’re right, but allow me some narrative license here, dude.”

“It wasn’t… what?” she asks carefully. Good voice, it doesn’t break, even though her thoughts are now just raring with nothing but the idea of them… doing stuff with her right here and now. She’s glad it’s as dark as it is, because it’s probably written all over her face.

 “I sucked his dick and then he jerked me off. And then we fucked a week later.”

Jade swallows. She doesn’t trust her mouth to work. God. That’s. Really hot. Thinking about the two of them fucking and. The other stuff. And they just say it, like, just say it, like it’s nothing. Well, Dave does. But even Karkat is just kind of laughing along, not scandalized by it.

What if they did that with her? What if they couldn’t wait with her? What if all that was standing between them and fucking right now was her asking for it?! God. She wants it. Was there a reason she was going to wait? She didn’t want to make it weird, right, but they’re dating now, and that’s not weird. Was there a reason she wanted to wait?

“That was. Fast.”

“Yeah.” Dave laughs a little. “Is this cool? Are you okay? We can talk about something else if you want. Don’t wanna be like, hey Jade, welcome to the fuck den, where we regale the tales of every time we dicked down for the last three years-“

“No, it’s fine.” She’s suddenly extremely aware of Karkat’s hand on her hip. It’s heavy, and warm, and sends tingles of arousal out from where it rests over her shirt. “I’m just kind of, um.”

“Are you okay?” Karkat asks. His voice is normal, but right into her ear, it makes her shiver.

“Yeah! Why do you guys keep asking!”

“Well, you got really quiet after… I mean, we really don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I mean. I, uh.” Karkat pulls his hand away.

“Are you okay?” she asks. She turns to face him.

“Yeah! I just want to make sure you’re okay!”

“You can put your hand back. It was nice.”

Shit, was that too forward? Fuck. Karkat tentatively places his hand back on her waist, giving her a confused expression.

Dave makes a little oooh sound. “Think she’s horny, dude.”

Oh, fuck it. If there’s a reason she was going to wait, she’s given it more than enough time to pop into her mind, and it’s not fucking here so.

“Dave’s right! I’m horny!”

Karkat flushes so much that Jade can see it, even in the darkness. Dave chortles.

“Oh. Do you want to. Do something. About. Uh.” He clears his throat.

“If you do,” Jade says.

“I definitely do,” he says lowly. “Karkat?”

“I. Yes.”

“Okay. Sweet.”

Karkat runs his hand up and down Jade’s hip, and it sends sparks up her body and down into her core. She leans forward and swallows what little bit of nerves are holding her back and kisses him. His lips are soft and incredibly warm. He’s just incredibly warm, all of him, a solid 10 degrees hotter than her. Probably an alien thing. His hand stops moving for a second, and she feels him gasp, and then he’s kissing her back and squeezing at her skin. Holy shit, this is happening. This is right out of a late-night fantasy and it’s actually happening to her, right now. Jade feels like her heart is going to beat itself out of her chest.

She feels another hand on her, and then a set of lips against the back of her neck, and Dave’s fingers run down her body and dip under her shirt. She shivers as he drags his hand up, up, up, and Jade’s pulse races in anticipation, and then he stops just short of her boobs.

“Do you want to keep going?”

“Yes.”

“Okay,” he murmurs into her skin, and runs his fingers up over the fabric of her bra. He cups her hesitantly, like he’s not sure what he’s supposed to be doing - oh, maybe he’s not. Maybe he’s only done this with Karkat. That makes her feel a little better about the fact that this is her first time even kissing someone for more than some party game. And that hardly really counted, and her and Roxy were both pretty drunk and thought the whole thing was hilarious before, after and during, and, well, this is really, really different.

“You two are so hot,” Dave murmurs. Jade feels his dick pressing into her back and her heart races even faster. She hopes he lets her do stuff to it tonight. “Is this okay?” he asks again as he rubs her, so gently, like he’s worried about scaring her off.

“Yes! It’s fine! It’s super duper fine!”

Karkat’s hand trails lower, and Jade’s breath quickens so much that she’s almost panting. He’s going to touch her, there, holy shit. He goes down, past her underwear, and past her pubes, and then stops.

“Where… where is it?” He runs his hand back and forth over her pubes, like he’s looking for something.

“Dude.”

“Where’s what?” Jade asks.

“Your dick?”

Jade laughs.

Dude.

“What?”

“I don’t have a dick, Karkat.”

Karkat seems absolutely fucking floored by this. “Why not?”

“Oh my god, dude,” Dave says. “We should have had this talk before, I’m so sorry.”

Jade doesn’t need to respond to Karkat’s why not. Instead, she grabs his hand, and guides his fingertips so that they brush over her clit, and shudders.

“Just. Touch this.”

Karkat’s breath gets quiet, and he runs his fingertips back and forth, like she showed him. And it feels amazing, different from doing it herself, the pressure is lighter and she doesn’t know what he’ll do next and it sends thrills down her spine.

“Like that?”

She nods. It’s hard to think. “Show me yours.”

She hears his breath stop in his throat, which is so hot. And then he pulls his hand away, and she hears some rustling, and then he guides her hand slowly to his.

Dave had told her before that trolls have tentacles (he didn’t use that word, of course, Jade remembers something more along the lines of ‘hentai fuckslug’), but it didn’t prepare her for this. It’s long, and slick, and wiggles around. He gasps when her hand makes contact with it, and she barely has time to wrap her hand around it before she feels Dave worm his hands down her pants and start to rub at her. Holy shit, that makes it hard to think, it’s so hard to concentrate on anything but how good it feels to be touched by someone else, even with a wiggling slug of a dick in her hand. She arches back and knocks into him painfully, and hears him swear.

“Fuck! Sorry!”

Dave just laughs. “It happens.” He pauses. “Shit, I, uh, I should have asked, was that okay, fuck, I’m sorry-“

“What, that?” Jade gestures to her crotch area.

“Yeah. That.”

Honestly, it was endearing the first few times, and it’s probably should still be endearing now, but it’s getting kind of annoying. And she just said yes to Karkat, why the hell would she say no to Dave?! “Seriously, Dave, it’s fine, it was good. You don’t have to keep asking every time you do something new.”

Dave smiles a little bit, but without his glasses on his eyes are an open book, and she can see how uncomfortable that made him. “Ha, yeah, makes sense,” he says.

“Sorry, I said that too strongly, didn’t I?”

 And then something shifts, and he relaxes. “It’s fine. Let’s go back to making out.”

That she’s fine with. Well, she hopes she didn’t just fuck up in a huge way, but he did say that it was fine. Everyone makes mistakes, and they’re just starting to figure this whole new thing out. Communication! Dave is a really good kisser, too. And then Karkat is behind her, running his big hands all over her body, and it really doesn’t take very long for her to forget all about that awkwardness. And she’s running her hands all over Dave, too, feeling his skin and more than a few pretty deep scars. She doesn’t comment on them, because no scars are happy scars and it’s really not sexy to ask about them now. Maybe she would ask about them later.

She feels Karkat’s… tentacle thing wiggle a little against the skin of her back, until it starts to flick between her legs. She pulls back to gasp.

“Karkat, can you put it in?”

She hears Karkat swallow, then feels him nod. And then his tentacle slides inside of her. It feels fucking amazing, super fucking weird and amazing, and she moans into Dave’s mouth. Her hands go still on Dave’s skin, and then just gently squeeze. She needs to grab onto something.

“You feel amazing,” Karkat says.

“Can I eat you out?” Dave asks quietly.

She’s going to die. They’re going to kill her immortal form. She nods. Enthusiastically. Words are failing her.

Dave scoots down and opens her legs up a little. The angle is awkward, but it’s okay. Who gives a shit. She’s feels fucking amazing from what Karkat is doing to her, and her clit feels like it’s going to implode from anticipation. She’s always wondered what it felt like, having someone lick at it. People seemed to like it. People seemed to really like it. And oh god Dave is kissing at the insides of her thighs, and she can feel his breath on her, and he’s kissing and licking his way closer, and then he’s kissing her clit and using his tongue on it. Fuck. Fuck. She hopes the moans are doing the job of letting them know that it’s fucking perfect, do not stop, because she can’t quite manage the  words.

Karkat’s bulge gets bigger and wetter, and it flicks around everywhere like nothing else ever has. His breaths get hard and he bites softly at her neck. She blindly grabs for both of them - her hand on Karkat’s side and nestled in Dave’s hair, and she manages to get out at least a few words like yes and that’s really fucking good oh my god, which makes Dave laugh.

It feels like no time at all before he’s tensing up behind her, and then pulls out. And starts scrambling for something under the bed, cursing under his breath.

“What-“

Dave uses the opportunity to grab Jade by the hips and pull her down on his mouth, and gets a few fingers inside her. She’s. Going to die. A little death. Ha. Oh, god.

“Dave, god, yes, fuck, fuck! Fuck!” He really fucking knows what he’s doing with his fingers. “I’m gonna come, shit, fuck-“

He keeps at it, and she grinds herself into his face until she arches off the bed and her world goes black.

And then she collapses back down. For mostly just sitting there and taking it, she feels like she just ran a mile.

“That was so hot,” Karkat says. His bulge is still whipping around between his legs.

“Tell me about it,” Dave says. He kisses at her thigh again.

“Why did you pull out?” she asks Karkat breathlessly.

“Oh, shit, you gotta see this. Hey dude, can I,” he makes a little clicking noise with his tongue and she sees Karkat’s bulge start to thrash.

“Yeah, please, like, yesterday,” Karkat says, and Dave gives Jade one last kiss on the thigh before scooting on the floor. He puts a bucket between his legs and wraps his mouth around Karkat’s bulge, holy shit. It’s hot enough that she almost forgets about the fact that he has a bucket between his legs.

She swallows before she speaks. “Uh, Karkat, why does he, uh.”

Karkat opens his eyes and tries to focus on her.

“It’s… it’s for…” he’s having trouble talking, and his voice is tight, and it’s really hot. Jade just came, and she’s already ready to go again, god damn.

“Just sit back and watch the fireworks, dude,” Dave says, and then sinks back down on him.

Jade scoots forward and kisses him, and runs her hands all over his body. She feels his muscles getting tight as she hears his breaths get fast, his kisses get sloppy, and little moans leave his throat. And then he goes still and makes the most pained face, and she hears Dave moan and hears… something that sounds kind of like water hitting the bucket, and it just goes and goes. Karkat groans and then goes limp against the bed. He is an alien and all, but Jade is pretty dang positive that he just came.

Jade peers over at the bucket. It’s like a quarter full with loose, pinkish liquid.

“Woah.”

“Right?”

“Does that happen every time?”

“Most of the time, yeah. If you milk him he eventually comes dry. But it fills back up after a day. Like jizz. I mean, it is. It’s just alien jizz.”

“Holy shit.”

“Can you stop talking about my freakish alien jizz in front of me, you unfathomably rude earth mammals,” Karkat says, but he doesn’t sound like he’s actually angry.

“Okay!” Jade says.

 Dave put the bucket on the bedside table, and then he’s crawling into bed.

“That was really hot. Totally fucking sweet. Loved it. Let’s do it again sometime.”

“Yeah.” Jade kisses him and starts to run her hand down his side, but he stops her.

“I’m good.”

“But you didn’t-“

“I did, while I was down there. Think I could watch you two like that without getting off?” He throws a tissue at the other side of the room, says Kobe, and hisses when it lands nowhere near the trash can.

Oh. “But… I wanted to do stuff to you too, you know? No fair.”

“Oh. Well, uh, you can get me back next time, okay?”

“Okay.” That’ll work, yeah. She still wishes she could have been the one to get him off, and it seems kind of depressing that he just did it himself, without telling them, but. Whatever. It’s what he wanted, apparently. And Karkat isn’t commenting on it, so it’s probably normal for him? Or maybe he’s really, really shy about sex. She did kind of jump headfirst into it, she can’t fault him for not being exactly the same way.

She kisses him softly, and realizes she’s tasting herself on his lips. Ew. Heh. Weird. But it’s not bad, just weird. And hot.

Karkat turns over to shut the light off.

“Watch out for the bucket,” Dave says.

“Yeah, no shit.”

Something clicks for Jade. “Is that what the liners are for?”

Dave chortles. “Yeah. Don’t always make it to the bucket. Well, don’t always want to make it to the bucket. We have, like, 40 sheet sets because we just keep fucking ruining them.”

“Do you just, like, leave the come bucket there?”

“Yeah. Until it dries out like a festering come scab. Then we scrape it off and feed it to the fish in the local pond.”

“Technically it’s littering. Don’t tell the police. We’re probably on a wanted list already.”

“Ugh, guys, that’s horrible!”

“I’m kidding, we dump it out in the morning and rinse the bucket in the shower.” Karkat says.

“Oh. Okay.” Yeah, that’s a lot more reasonable. “I think it’s a sign that I didn’t realize you were kidding.”

“Sign of what?” Dave asks.

“That I’m too tired to think.”

“We got you good, didn’t we.” Jade can hear the grin in Dave’s voice.

“You totally did.”

Karkat kisses her. It’s soft and sweet. She feels some heat building between her legs and she tries to ignore it, because they’re probably all too tired to do anything about it. Including Jade. She’d probably just fall asleep halfway through. But, gosh, it’s just so hot, Karkat tastes really good and his lips feel so good on hers, and he bites her lips softly and it feels so weird with the retainer in but it’s good, it’s all really good.

“You know what would be hot?” Dave asks quietly. “Watching you two boning.”

The phrasing makes Jade laugh.

“What? No dice?”

“Not when you say it like that!

“Sorry, making love.”

“That’s worse! That’s so much worse!”

Jade can’t stop laughing. She feels as giddy as she does tired. Which is a whole heck of a lot of both. It’s not long before conversation dies down and eyes close and muscles go soft and relaxed with sleep.

She can’t wait for tomorrow. She’s gonna go on a fucking date. She hasn’t decided what just yet, but she’ll figure it out. And it’ll be. Fucking. Great.

Chapter Text

When Jade wakes up, it takes her a few minutes to remember where she is. The walls aren’t right, the bed isn’t right, and her sleep-fogged brain can’t make any sense of it, especially when when she’s still shaking off the weird, weird vibes of last night’s dream. Ugh. She gets these dreams sometimes, where she tries to talk but nothing comes out, and it always makes her so uncomfortable. But then she hears the soft sound of someone breathing behind her - Dave. Right. Karkat should be in front of her, but his space on the bed is completely empty. He must have gotten up already.

She turns a little bit, trying not to wake Dave up, but his posture goes stiff and his eyes snap open. It’s… kind of alarming. He looks extremely confused. God, his eyes are so red, Jade has only really seen them a few times without the shades, and never this close up. He locks eyes with her then snaps upright and scrambles back against the wall. He’s shaking a little bit.

It’s full alarming now. Jade isn’t sure what’s happening, or how she should respond.

“Dave?” she asks gently.

He blinks a few times, looking at her with undisguised terror. She can practically see the gears turning in his head as his brain catches up to his body with the whole “waking up” thing. And then something seems to click into place for him. He looks around him and his posture relaxes.

“Oh. Ha.” He laughs weakly. “That’s one way to wake up, ha.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Can we do that over? Here, I’ll just.” He lays back down and scoots under the covers. He makes a show of closing his eyes, then opens them back up. “Fuck, Jade, look at you, being all in my bed and shit. Let’s make out.”

Jade laughs, because it’s funny, but she’s still really confused. She can’t get the image of him staring at her, terrified, back against the wall, out of her mind.

“But what was that just now?”

“Okay, I guess we’re talking about it. Uh, I sleepwalk sometimes? It’s embarrassing as fuck. It’s usually not that bad.”

“Oh. Okay! That makes sense.” It does, but Jade feels kind of bad for even asking. Seeing this side of Dave is weird, especially when she can see that he really, really doesn’t want to share it.

“So, uh, yeah, just like, can we pretend it didn’t happen and go from there?”

“That’s fine with me.”

“Sweet. So, how about that wake-up rerun?” He raises his eyebrows suggestively, which looks ridiculous.

Jade leans over and kisses him. “You’re cute.”

He kisses her back. “Think you’re cuter.”

Kissing is good. Kissing smooths out the weird kinks of whatever that was. And kissing very quickly becomes more than just kissing. Dave rolls on top of her and starts touching her (!) all over, she grasps at his back and his hair, and she feels his dick getting against her hip. All she would have to do is spread her legs and… oh, gosh. Gosh gosh and gosh fucking darn her bladder, can’t it see she has more important things to do than pee right now? Dave makes the cutest sounds when he rolls against her, and she really wants to get him back for last night, agh!

Dave goes stock still.

“Is something wrong?”

“I really have to pee.”

He relaxes. “Do it, dude. Shit, we should probably find Karkat anyways, see what he’s up to.”

They probably should, yeah. “But I don’t want to stop.”

“Dude.” Dave continues to be adorable when he’s flustered. “Wow. Okay, uh. We don’t have to. God, you really know what you want, don’t you?”

“Is that bad?”

“No. Just, uh, different. I mean, I’m happy to… provide.” He waggles his eyebrows and before Jade has a chance to respond, he’s scooting down her body and spreading her legs open.

“Holy shit! Do you always do this so much?”

“Mm. It’s fun. And I gotta learn the terrain, if you catch my drift.” He starts kissing at her, then looks up. “Pretty please don’t piss on me.”

“I won’t!”

And then he starts licking at her, teasingly before he dives in, gently sucking and swirling his tongue over her nub. And it really doesn’t take long before she’s floating on that perfect peak, feeling like she could just stay there forever. And then he does something just a little harder with her tongue and sends her right over.

He climbs up beside her and kisses her softly. He’s making little panting sounds, and Jade sees his arm moving.

“That was so hot, dude. I could do that to you for, like, a year straight.” His voice is a little tight.

Jade still feels loose and foggy from the orgasm, but she gently places a hand on his arm. “Can I? Please?”

He stops, looks at her, and nods. He swallows and pulls his hand away. For someone who’s taken the initiative to eat her out twice in the last, what, 9 hours, he’s so shy about this. It’s kind of weird. But he’s letting her do it now! She wraps her and around him and find it’s already wet. Probably with her own junk stuff. Which is hot. She registers that she smells bacon cooking in some other part of the house, but she has much more important things to focus on than that. She pulls up and down a few times, and he seems to enjoy that, but she quickly realizes she has absolutely no idea what she’s doing.

“How do you like it?” she asks quietly.

Dave guides her hand to the tip. “Like… like this,” he says, showing her how hard to squeeze it, how to rub at the shaft. “Fuck. Fuck, yeah. It’s all good, though. It’s all fucking great. Fuck.”

“So, like this?” She does what he showed her and he shakes a little, bites his lip.

“That’s the fucking ticket, yeah.”

He feels good in her hand, and her heartbeat races at the fact that she’s doing this to him. He’s hot, warm, velvety, hard. It’d probably feel really good inside of her. She really, really wants that to happen soon.

“Fuck, Jade,” he moans softly. He’s so quiet, for all his yammering, barely whispering and just making the quietest little gasps. Like he’s afraid to let anyone hear him enjoying it. Well, some people are just quiet during sex. And it really doesn’t take long before his gasps pick up, and he’s tensing against her, grabbing at her skin and moaning so quietly, helplessly in her ear. Fuck. Fuck, she wants to go again, hearing him sound like that is way too good! And then she feels his spunk painting her skin, and he pushes her hand away.

“Fuck. Fuck, good shit. Best shit. Fuck.” He nuzzles against her in a little half-hug that Jade is more than happy to return. “Is Karkat making bacon? Nothing could be better than this shit.”

Jade grins. “His vocabulary is really rubbing off on you, by the way.”

“For fucking real it is, though. Fuck. I can’t even think of another exclamation these days. I mean, it covers all the bases. Fuck.”

Jade laughs. They get dressed and head to the kitchen, where Karkat is, indeed, making bacon, and looking intently at his phone.

“Have fun?” he asks.

“Oh, shit, you heard that?” Dave asks.

Karkat laughs a little and rolls his eyes. “I would have to be deaf to not have heard that.”

“You coulda popped in,” he says.

“Where were you?” Jade asks.

“In here.”

Jade is going to lose it with these boys and their two-word answers. “Okay, but why?”

“I only sleep like, five hours a night on a good night. I don’t know how you and Dave do it.”

“Oh.” Yeah, Jade remembers him mentioning that at some point. “That sucks.”

“I’m used to it.”

“But it sucks.”

“Well, it gives me time to make you bacon while you fuck in the other room.”

“Aw, babe, we’ll get you back later,” Dave says. He goes to the cabinet and starts pulling out dishes.

“It’s fine,” Karkat says, and Jade can’t decide if she believes him.

“We’ll get you back anyways,” she says, because that covers all the bases pretty well! Not too pushy if he’s fine, and not too flippant if he’s not! She’s a genius. Problem solving!

Karkat turns to her and smiles. “Thanks. It’s seriously fine, though, don’t worry about it. Now, eat my meal of swine bacon and mashed potatoes.”

Well, if he says he’s fine, he’s fine, Jade thinks. She sits down and eats the meal, a humble preparation of bacon and mashed potatoes. It’s one of the stranger breakfasts she’s had, but it’s still tasty.

“So,” she says when they’re done, “what do you guys normally do all day?”

“Uh,” they both say, then look at each other and go quiet.

Dave takes the lead. “We kinda split off after breakfast, and, like, do our own thing for a while. Then meet up for lunch and hang out?”

“Yeah. You probably want to do something more exciting than that, right?” Karkat sounds hopeful.

“Damn right I do! We’re going to fucking London!”

“Holy shit, what?” Dave asks.

“I mean, if you want,” Jade says. “I can take us there in, like, one second.”

“Oh, holy shit. Yeah, I guess you would be able to do that, wouldn’t you?” Dave says.

Karkat’s eyes light up like he’s watching fireworks for the first time. “That’s fucking amazing.”

“Are you ready?”

“What, right now?” Karkat actually laughs. He’s adorable! Agh!

“Sure! Dave?”

“Hell fucking yeah.”

Jade holds her hands out, and they take them. She imagines where she wants to go, does that weird little ‘whisper to the universe’ thing, and then closes her eyes. When she opens them, the three of them are sitting in the center of a grassy park. A few people scream. Oops. She probably should have done it in a less populated place. Next time!

“Holy shit,” Karkat says. “We’re in London now? On the other side of the planet?”

“Yep!”

 “You can just do that?”

“Yep!”

“Holy shit.”

“Come on, I’ll show you the best place to eat.” She stops. “Fuck, we just ate! Okay, uh, the best place to shop!”

“You’ve been here before?” Dave asks as she guides the way to this totally sweet secondhand store with just the weirdest things.

“Yeah. Not as much as some other places, but yeah!”

“Why were you keeping this on the down low?”

“I wasn’t ‘keeping it on the down low,’” she says, “it just didn’t come up.”

“Shit, yeah, guess it might not. Dude. This is so cool.”

She shows them the coolest secondhand store she’s ever seen, where Dave finds an incredible display of a crab on a beach suspended in this weird wax substance. Karkat says it’s a dumb tchotchke, but he’s smiling, and he doesn’t argue when Dave says has an undeniable charm.

After that, they explore some of the rest of the city. It’s cloudy and a bit chilly, but it’s not raining, and not too cold. A few people stop them and them for autographs, which is always weird as hell, but most people leave them alone. Eventually they do get hungry again, at which point Jade takes them to this food truck she’d found a few months back that serves roasted meat by the half-pound.

By the time they get home, all three of them are pretty exhausted. They watch some TV and snuggle on the couch, and Jade and Dave definitely gets Karkat back. They get him so, so back. Jade discovers that one of the best perks of dating two people at once is that it’s really, really fun to tag team one of them. She slips her fingers up Karkat’s dripping nook, which is almost like her own junk but subtly different and alien and weird, and kisses him while Dave licks at his bulge.

He’s so shy. She’d thought Dave was shy before, but Karkat is even more intense. His words come out jumbled when they come out at all, he bites his lip and looks away like he’s too bashful to maintain eye contact. He makes little clicking sounds in his throat in between the moans. Jade remembers at the last second to teleport the bucket in between his legs, although she notices for the first time that the couches also have covers and liners.

He’s loud, though. Shy, but loud. It’s incredibly hot hearing him say their names, breathless and strained. And the sound he makes when he starts to spill into the bucket, Jade will probably have on recall for the next year. It’s a good sound. It’s an incredibly good sound.

They get into bed after that.

“Today was fucking great,” Karkat says.

“Yeah,” Dave agrees.

“I agree! I like living with you guys.”

“Holy shit, really?” Dave asks. “You think you want to- fuck, nevermind.”

He was probably going to ask her to move in again. Which would have been… bad, for reasons that Jade doesn’t really feel like articulating. But he didn’t, so it’s fine!

“Tomorrow will be fun, too,” she says instead.

“Good.” Karkat sounds exhausted. He surprises her by snuggling up extremely close to her, spooning into her back. She smiles. It feels warm and soft and good, until it doesn’t. Jade realizes that there’s just no way that she’s going to be able to fall asleep with him this close to her. He’s so warm, and having anyone that close, her body just screams that she needs more room. Gently, she pries herself away from the hold. Karkat gets the picture, he pulls arm back. She turns over to face him and kisses him softly.

“Night,” she says.

“Good night.”

Jade falls asleep easily after that.

Chapter Text

A few days later, Jade wakes up alone and realizes she’s been wearing the same clothes for three days straight. She quickly teleports back to her apartment to grab some.

Being there is nice. She doesn’t take too long, because she really should have told Dave or Karkat beforehand, and she doesn’t want them to not be able to find her and freak out. But it’s nice. She didn’t realize how much she missed it. It’s so much cleaner than their place. She likes them a lot, and it doesn’t bother her a ton, but both of them seem to have a bit of a propensity for hoarding, and their artistic taste is just… bizarre. Weird colors that seem to clash intentionally, posters for terrible movies, cheap figurines and sculptures of every size and shape lining most available surfaces. Her place has a few decorations. Maybe it’s a little bit of the complete opposite of theirs, if she’s honest, so sparse as to almost be intimidating. Like a display room in a furniture store, with a few squiddles. But she likes it that way. It’s clean, she can think better.

But she doesn’t have much time to think now. She needs to get back to them before they freak out. And they would, definitely. One time she decided to take a walk without telling them, and when she came back, they were sitting on the couch, nervously staring at the door. Then tried to play it off like they were waiting for a package, even though they relaxed right after, and a package never came. She let it go for their sakes and hers.

She pulls some of her favorite outfits and teleports back. They don’t seem to have realized she left yet, which is good. She gets changed, and then scoots a pile of trash on one of their desks to the side so she can stack her neatly folded clothes on it.

When she walks in the living room, it’s just Karkat sitting there, typing away on his laptop.

“Hi, Karkat!”

“Hi,” he says. He presses a few buttons, probably saving whatever he’s doing, then looks up at her with a little smile. “Dave is out until 3. He didn’t want to wake you up to tell you.”

“Where is he?”

“He goes to hang out with Dirk every Wednesday. Sometimes I go with.”

“Oh. Okay. Why not today?”

“I need to finish this program I’m writing. I haven’t had a fucking minute to myself since you got here and I almost forgot what I was doing. Thank god for non-executable notes.”

“You’re not really upset with me, are you?” Jade asks teasingly. She can hear in his voice that he’s not, and she knows better by now that if he was really upset, he’d say it a different way. He’s just very, very bristly, but not in a painful way. He’s a cactus completely covered in spikes, but it turns out the spikes are as fine as hair and give way to even the gentlest touches. Heh.

“The mortal realm can’t contain my fury. I made plant-based biscuits and swine ham earlier, it should still be warm if you want any.” He pauses his typing. “Did you bring a change of clothes when you came here?”

Jade is impressed that he even noticed. She has no idea if he’s wearing the same thing he wore yesterday. “Oh! No, I just went home really quick and grabbed some.”

He shakes his head. “I’ll never get used to the fact that you can do that.”

Jade makes herself up a plate of food. Again, it’s delicious, albeit the combination is just off from what she would be used to. But it’s good! There’s no reason biscuits and ham shouldn’t go together. She plunks down on the couch next to Karkat.

“What’s the program do?”

“It’s stupid.”

“Shut up and tell me.”

He laughs. “How could I even do that? It’s one or the other, either-“

“Karkat.”

“Okay. It’s a module to run a visual novel, because none of the existing ones do what I need to have the right branching paths. All your human software is focused entirely on dating, and doesn’t even start to account of quadrants, let alone polyamory. It’s disgusting.”

“Woah.” Jade tries to run through the scope of that and fails. Karkat had sent her a few lame but totally passable and possibly worth your time visual novels before, and she’d thought the 15 or so endings they had were more than enough. “How many endings would you have, then?”

“Well, I don’t have a story written for it, it’s just the system to run it. But it should be able to handle at least 5,000 disparate endings per game.”

Jade’s eyes widen. “That’s insane.”

“Yeah, well, someone has to do it.”

“You know most of our games only have, like, five endings tops?”

“I’m aware, yes. That’s exactly why someone has to do it. I’ve been sorely lacking for this since the game started. You can only play through the same 372 endings on 16 games so many times before they get stale.”

“Wow. Okay. Well, I was going to ask if you wanted to go on a date,” Karkat looks up from his program, “but are you busy, then? That seems huge.”

“This can definitely wait.”

“You want to go out somewhere?”

“Yeah. Yes. Absolutely. You seem to be pretty good at coming up with shit that isn’t completely stupid for dates.”

Jade smiles. “Such high praise! Thank you. Do you have anything you want to do?”

“I dunno. Anything you come up with would probably be fine.”

“Lame.”

“Uh. We can watch Love Actually.”

“We can do that later.”

“Fine, okay. What ideas do you have, then?”

“I was thinking more like, having dinner in Paris in a few hours. It’ll be dinnertime there and I know a good place. And then we can walk the Seine until Dave gets back. It’s really pretty at night.”

She can practically see the hearts in Karkat’s eyes. His mouth actually drops open a little for a few moments before he closes it. He’s such an open book. “That doesn’t sound awful.”

“You know, it’s okay to like things, Karkat.”

“It sounds good. Yeah. Let’s do that.”

*

Karkat is so adorable. He keeps making all these little comments about how ridiculous earth is, but he looks totally awestruck when Jade shows him the river. She takes him to an outdoor café that overlooks it. A candle lights the table softly, giving Karkat’s grey skin a gentle orange glow, and a soft-spoken waiter suffers through Jade’s awfully-accented French to bring them two mostly rare steaks.

“This is… really good,” Karkat says as the sun sets fully and the darkness settles in over them. A few dim lamps come on over them, nothing overwhelming. “I’ve seen this place in movies, but I never thought…”

Jade smiles. She feels giddy, having given this to him. Hell fucking yes, teleportation powers are so sweet, what the hell is travel time when you can port literally anywhere?

“Where’s the weirdest place you and Dave have gone together?” she asks.

Karkat thinks about it a while before responding. “He took me to a garbage dump outside of New York City a few times.”

“…why?”

“Treasure hunting. Where did you think we got most of our decorations?”

“Oooh,” Jade says. “Yeah, that makes sense.”

“Excuse me? You’re supposed to be awe-struck by that. You’re supposed to be, like, woah, no way, Karkat, I never would have guessed that in 100 years!”

“Well, I wouldn’t have guessed, but it still makes sense.”

“Unbelievable. You’re just unbelievably rude. I can’t believe I’m dating you.” He smiles to himself after he says that. She can practically see it written on his face, holy shit, I’m dating you. It’s so cute.

They walk along the bridge when they’re done. Karkat keeps an awkward distance between them for the first few hundred feet, but when Jade decides to close the gap and hold his hand, he seems thrilled, and squeezes her hand tight in his.

“I have to admit, the humans here did a really good job on this.” He motions to the whole scene in front of them, the quiet lights of the city, the bridge, and the gently sloshing water beneath them. “It’s weird, Dave and I haven’t done this kind of thing in, like, years.”

“Why not?”

He hesitates. “I don’t know. We just kinda stopped at some point.”

“You should start doing it again. You’re clearly having fun.”

“Yeah. What do you think that is?” he asks, pointing at a building a few blocks away.

It’s an obvious change of subject, so Jade drops it. “I don’t know. Want to find out?”

Karkat smirks. “Don’t teleport us in front of all these people. You’re going to give someone a heart attack, and Jane isn’t around to do damage control on that.”

“Oh. Oh, good point. Well, I guess we can walk over there, like people or whatever.”

That makes him go quiet. Oh, because he still has to walk everywhere, doesn’t he. Shit. Jade has the most delicious foot.

“Uh,” Jade says, “not that there’s anything wrong with walking.” Very smooth.

“Fuck no there’s not,” Karkat says. “You and Dave and the rest of you flying around like that, shit’s unnatural. Gravity is a perfectly good rule and I’m happy to stick to it.”

Jade actually does a lot to regulate gravity on planets with sentient lifeforms, but she has a funny feeling that Karkat doesn’t want to hear about that right now. Hmm. Maybe, though, she could figure out a way to turn his gravity off, but so that he could still be in control of it, so that he could fly, too. Hmmmmm. Maybe.

“What are you thinking about?” he asks.

“A present I might get you later,” she says, and squeezes his hand.

Eventually, Karkat pulls out his phone. “Oh, Dave’s back.”

“We should probably head back then, shouldn’t we?” Jade asks.

Karkat nods.

“This was really fun, though.”

“Yeah. Yeah, it was.” He smiles so big he’s practically beaming.

Together, they head over to a relatively empty side street, and then teleport back outside of Dave and Karkat’s house. Karkat uses a key to unlock the door, and they see Dave sitting on the couch on his laptop.

“Hey. Where were you guys?” Dave asks.

“Nowhere big-“ Karkat starts to say.

“We went to Paris! We got dinner in a candlelit café and crossed the Seine! It was awesome!”

Dave looks between them like he can’t believe it. “Seriously? Dude, that’s so sappy. That’s like, tap the fucking tree and have syrup for years level of sap.”

That’s a weird reaction and- oh, that’s why Karkat was being so weird about it. Dave probably made fun of “sappy” stuff like that before, so Karkat felt weird about bringing it up. Well, this seems like a problem that would be perfectly fixed with some communication.

“Maybe we had fun, Dave. And maybe you would, too. I think you should try some ‘sappy’ stuff sometime.”

Dave stares at her for a minute, like he’s trying to figure out if this is an extended joke. Then he looks at Karkat.

“Wait, really?” He waits. Karkat doesn’t respond. “Shit,” he says quietly.

“It’s fine,” Karkat says.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner, dude?”

 “It… it didn’t come up.”

“Dude, it totally came up. It would have been, like, so easy to just say, like, hey Dave, let’s go on a sappy date, also stop calling it sappy and bullshit all the time because it’s something I actually want to do and you’re being a huge asshole.

Jade looks between them. This feels like a conversation she shouldn’t be listening to. This feels like she just stepped on some weird landmine that has nothing to do with her, and is stuck awkwardly surveying the wreckage.

“Should I go for a while so you guys can talk?” she asks.

They both stare at her for a few eternally long moments.

“This is weird,” Dave finally says. “But yeah, probably? Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” she says. “Sorry for making it weird.”

“No, it’s my fault, I made it weird,” Karkat says. “Fuck.”

“It’s fine. Just, go, talk,” Jade says, shooing them with her hands, if for no other reason than to end what she foresees as a long, extended discussion about which of them made it the weirdest.

Dave and Karkat head off to their room and close the door behind them. She can hear them talking, really softly, but can’t make out the words.

It makes sense that they would have to talk about that alone. It makes sense. It’s something she’s not involved in. So why does she feel so left out? That’s stupid. But… she can’t compete with them, can she? How can she ever compete with them? They’ve been dating for three years, they know each other so well- well, she doesn’t have to compete with them, that’s how! They invited her to be a part of this.

And how long until they realize that they actually liked being alone together better than being with her?

Fuck, she needs to think about something else, these thoughts are so stupid. She scrambles the room looking for a book, or a game, or something. She feels weirdly like she’s in a time-out or something, waiting for them to finish up. Yeah, actually, that won’t do.

“Guys, I’m going for a walk! Bye!” she yells. She hears their voices soft, then Dave calls out cool. She walks outside.

It’s the afternoon, and the sun is just starting to set in the sky. She hasn’t really had a chance to look around the neighborhood yet. It’s just on the outskirts of the city, where weather-worn concrete and brick buildings are just starting to encroach on the trees and grass of the suburbs. The blocks are long and winding. She has a great sense of direction, but she would be willing to bet a lot of people got lost around here. She walks out about a mile before heading back, realizing when a little kid points and stares that she forgot her baseball cap and just walked outside with her ears just in the open. And now everyone who doesn’t recognize her thinks she’s a furry. Oh well. Worse things have happened!

When Jade comes back, Dave and Karkat look way more relaxed, but incredibly sheepish.

“Turns out talking about shit is good for what ails you,” Dave says. “Sorry we had to boot you out.”

“But you guys figured it out? And you’ll go on more dates now?”

“Hell yeah,” Dave says. “Karkat’s gonna be so sweetly romanced by us he won’t know what fucking hit him. I’m gonna eat my three year old foot of shit talking the adorable-ass shit that is romance.”

“God, shut up, and never say ‘ass shit’ together like that again,” Karkat says. He’s smiling. “This is fucking mortifying.”

“I think it’s cute.”

“Yeah, same,” Dave says. “You’re overruled. Two to one. It’s poly rules.”

“Good!”

“Are you good?” Karkat asks.

Jade decides that whatever stupid worries she had earlier aren’t even kind of worth talking about. They’re ridiculous. Karkat and Dave are happy to have her with them, and that’s all that matters.

“I’m great. Dave, want to see the Seine with me and Karkat?”

“Hell fucking yeah, I do.”

Jade holds out her hands, and they both take them, and then she takes them away.

Chapter Text

She wakes up alone the next day, too. Which is weird. Apparently she’s a really heavy sleeper, and apparently Dave and Karkat aren’t. She hears the two of them shooting the shit in another room. Jade hasn’t really had a lot of time to herself since she got here, has she? Except for that walk she took last night, and a few moments here and there. she’s spent almost all her time with either one or both of them. And that walk was so nice. Even though it was tamped down all the worry and the weirdness, being alone was so nice. And now she’s hungry for more. So she takes her time getting ready. There’s no need to rush!

The air around her is just different when she’s sharing it with someone else, and there’s so many things she doesn’t have the time or space to think about when she’s around multiple partners at once. Being around multiple friends for a few hours was intense, but people this close to her… it takes being apart from them to realize how hard it is to think straight around them. She hadn’t even noticed the pressure building, but now that it’s gone, she feels the weight where it used to be aching like a bruise.

A sick feeling goes through her. She thinks about that other Callie, what she’d said about space, how it was best conquered in silence and loneliness. How it seemed to spear into Jade that that’s what she was destined for. Her aspect, the way she grew up, all of it pointed towards an inevitable life of complete isolation, didn’t it? Fuck, no, she’s being overdramatic. It’s fine to want some space sometimes. Everyone needs it. And she just… needs more of it than other people? Fuck. No. She shouldn’t, and she can’t let herself, because if she gives into that, where will it end?

She should leave. She should go meet Dave and Karkat in the kitchen. She doesn’t. When she’s done with her morning routine, she sits on the bed and just looks out the window. She hasn’t even had time to check the view yet. She sees houses and apartment complexes, a pretty nice view of the sky, and some birds chirping away on the telephone wire. She watches them intently. They’d be fun to chase.

“Oh, you’re up?” Dave asks. Jade turns to see him in the doorway. “Cool, saves me a step. Breakfast is ready as shit if you want it.”

Jade puts on a smile and pushes back the feeling that she wishes he’d just waited for her to come to him instead. She wasn’t done here. Of course she wasn’t. Because she needs all the space in the world, doesn’t she? Ridiculous. Stupid. She wasn’t even doing anything! She pushes the thoughts out of her mind, gets up and heads to the kitchen to eat with her boyfriends.

They made chocolate chip pancakes.

“Do you guys cook a lot? This is the fifth time you’ve cooked for me.”

“Yeah,” Karkat says. “It’s fun. Your cooking styles are so involved here.”

“Karkat makes the best shit. He’s a regular fucking Ramsey.”

“Ramsey is good, but he’s far from the best of your celebrity chefs, and it baffles me that you keep bringing him up as the pinnacle at every opportunity.”

“Who the hell is better than Gordon Ramsey? That’s blasphemous as fuck. Name one.”

Jade wishes she could contribute, but she finds the entire conversation annoying as hell. Who cares about Gordon Ramsey! Who cares about which celebrity chef is better than which other celebrity chef! Why did they always have to talk about people and things she barely knew?

Why did they have to interrupt her?

 “Jade?”

“What?”

“You look like you want to murder your pancake.”

“I didn’t burn it that bad, did I?” Karkat asks.

The other Callie’s words burn in her ears.

 “No. It’s good. It’s super good.” Jade should probably just come clean, no point in stringing them along. “I think I want to eat in the living room instead.”

“Oh, that’s weird, but I can dig it. Yeah, let’s move over there,” Dave says, and picks his plate up. “Watch some TV or something.”

Jade gives up. It’ll be fine. It’ll be fine.

Karkat hesitates. He looks between Dave and Jade.

“You okay?” he asks quietly.

 “I’m fine! Want to watch TV?”

“Okay, yeah.”

It takes a few minutes for the weirdness of that to die down, but it does, eventually, much helped by Dave putting on this really, really obnoxious dating show from the early 2000s that makes it hard to think about anything else. Jade finds that forcing herself to participate in the banter really helps with the god I have to get away feeling. Of course it does! She just has to involve herself in the conversations. And when it’s one of these shows, these trashy pulpy reality shows, no one knows who anyone is, and she’s not expected to be up and up with the hundreds of dead celebrities from their old planets.

“Do you have any ideas for today?” Karkat asks when they’re done eating.

She didn’t, no. But he sounds so hopeful, and there’s this look in his eyes that she doesn’t want to say no to. And hell, why should she? They’re retired gods, they have all the time and money in the world, and she loves spending time with them. She does.

She takes them to these really cool Greek islands she found earlier in the year. They exhaust themselves swimming in the ocean and running around the cliffs. Karkat especially seems to love it. He’s happier than maybe she’s ever seen him, and he’s so excited to point things out. Holy shit, look at the view, what the fuck. Check out this weird crab I found, do you think we could cook it? And Dave is more relaxed than he was before. Whatever they talked about without her did them both some good. Good for them. Fucking great. She’s happy for them.

When they get back, Dave surprises Jade by kissing her.

“You’re really hot in your swimsuit,” he says. And weirdness be damned, she feels herself start to swell down there. It doesn’t take much to get her going, and, well, it’s been a few days, hasn’t it?

“You were, too.”

Karkat comes up behind her and kisses the back of her neck.

“You seem to be having a bad day,” he says. “Maybe we can make it better?”

A shiver goes through her. She kind of feels like a cornered animal, that the two of them are starving for her. She likes it. She likes it a lot. She nods.

Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she acknowledges that she doesn’t like how well they can read her already. Better than she can read herself. She tried to play it off like she was fine, but it was glaringly apparent, somehow. It feels violating. It feels bad. It makes her feel helpless and it makes her feel shitty. But that’s just in the back of her mind, and it’s easy enough to dismiss when she has two very loving boyfriends guiding her to bed.

Dave does that thing he does. And Jade shouldn’t be surprised anymore, she should expect it.

“Can I take this off?” he asks, gently thumbing at her bra.

“Yes, Dave, you can take off my bra when we have sex,” she says, and it comes out a little sharper than she meant it to. Well, he should know better! He’s already naked, Karkat is only wearing his briefs, of course they’re all going to get naked. “I told you to stop asking so much. I told you like five times.” Is he her bratty child? God, what’s wrong with her?

Dave gets tense. He looks like a wounded puppy. Karkat’s hands and lips stop what they were doing. Shit, was it that bad?

“Oh,” he says. “Ha. Yeah, guess that would. Be included in the package.”

She doesn’t apologize, even though she kind of wants to. He unclasps the buckle on her bra and starts to pull it away. His movements falter, and he pulls away.

“We… we should probably talk about that some time,” he says, and it sounds like the words are causing him physical pain. “I, uh, don’t think we’re on the same page there, and it’s kind of. A moodkill.”

She feels him soften completely against her leg. Great. She did that. She killed the mood by being such a fucking asshole. For asking Dave to stop doing obnoxious shit.

“Should we talk about it now?” she asks.

“Do you guys want me to go?” Karkat asks quietly.

Dave swallows. “No, uh, it’s fine. Some other time.”

“Dave,” Karkat says quietly, and Jade can’t parse the tone at all. And Dave reacts to it, goes limp against the bed, because the two of them know each other so well that they have their own language of whispers and glances.

“Okay, yeah, now,” he says quietly.

“Okay,” Karkat says. He gets up, throws his clothes back on, and leaves the room.

Dave sits up and curls into a lose ball.

“This is so fucking awkward, ha.”

“Why do you keep asking, then?”

The tiny hint of a smile leaves his face. “Because I need to know. Before I do stuff. I don’t want to do anything to you that you don’t want.”

“But we’re dating. And I trust you.”

There’s that look again, like he’s going to start crying or run out of the room or something. Shit. Whatever this is about, Dave, her boyfriend, is clearly really fucked up about it, and maybe it would have behooved her to use even one single iota of tact at any step along this process.

And why might that be? a little voice asks her, and things start to click into place. Maybe. Maybe Dave wasn’t asked about this stuff. Maybe it wasn’t someone he trusted. Maybe it wasn’t someone he was dating. She hopes she’s wrong. Because that would fucking suck for Dave, and it would mean she’s been a huge asshole. But it would make a lot of sense, wouldn’t it? Fuck. If there’s one thing she knows about Dave, it’s that he’s not going to start opening up about this.

“Yeah, hah, it’s not the most rational thing, is it.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” she asks gently, trying not to make it too weird. It doesn’t work, she’s made it weird. Dave goes tense.

“Talk about what? There’s nothing to talk about that we’re not already talking about.”

Well, it was worth a shot, wasn’t it?

“Okay,” she says. “How about a compromise, then?”

“Hell fucking yeah, compromises rule.”

“You can ask for super new stuff, and I can tell you the second I don’t want something.”

He nods slowly, like he’s thinking it over.

“Do you want me to ask for you, too?” Jade asks.

He stops mid-nod. Then starts back up again. Just a tiny little movement of his head.

“That’d be rad, yeah. Super fucking cool shit.”

“Okay. That should help start to fix this mess we made, right?”

“I think so, yeah.”

“Dave?” she asks. He looks at her. “Sorry for being a jackass.”

That makes him laugh a little. “Well, I should have said something too, instead of just hoping you’d read my smoke signals.”

“Maybe we were both trying to do that.”

“Yeah, probably.”

A quiet rests over them. Jade doesn’t know if they got everything out, but she knows it’s better than before.

“Do you want to watch TV for a while?” she asks.

“Yeah. Let’s go get Karkat. I bet he’s already watching something stupid. I think he’s due for us indulging one of his shitty movies.” Dave gets up and starts to head towards his clothes, then stops. He looks at her awkwardly. “Good talk.”

He talks like such a frat boy, for someone who’s never set foot in a frat. Jade… likes him so much.

“Good talk.”

*

When they go to bed, it’s after watching A Walk To Remember with Karkat. His eyes absolutely lit up when Dave suggested it, even though he tried to play it off like it was just because that movie had a marginally better plot structure than the dreck he was watching. By the time the movie is over, any weird mood that was hanging between Dave and Jade seems to be gone.

They all crawl into bed together, but Jade can’t sleep. She keeps hearing them breathe, and feeling their little shifts. She used to take sleeping alone for granted. She used to wish she had someone to sleep next to. Ha, little did she know, there would be no sleeping going on, because people are loud and make noise and she just wants to be alone.

Which makes her incredibly uncomfortable. She thought she was done with this line of thinking. She thought the movie and the emotional talk fixed it. Because she absolutely cared about them so much, and she liked spending time with them. But she wants to be alone. She needs to be alone. She feels it in her bones, the way she feels a need for water in her throat and chest.

Maybe they wouldn’t notice if she just slept on the couch instead. That seems like a good middle ground, actually, where she can get her alone time in and they won’t be hurt, which they inevitably would be. Carefully, she creeps out of bed.

Dave bolts upright. Of course he does. Which wakes up Karkat. Why did she think she could do this quietly? She’s never been the most graceful person.

“Just going to pee,” she lies. Well, she doesn’t lie, because that’s all she’s going to do, now that they’re up. She doesn’t want to make things weird, and she doesn’t want to have that other conversation, about not wanting to sleep next to them right now.

“Okay,” Karkat says sleepily.

Dave gives her a thumbs up and lays back down.

She takes her time in the bathroom. She finishes up and just sits in the dark, quiet room for ten minutes. It’s almost like space. Like how a bathtub is almost like an ocean. The air is different when she’s in the dark, by herself. She feels like it’s recharging her, and she wants to bathe in it for hours, get her battery up high enough so that she can just date like a normal person. And in the quiet calmness of it she realizes that she’s going to have to tell them how she’s feeling. She remembers Dave’s face, sad and hurt, and the fact that she didn’t even stop to think about, hmm, why is he relentlessly, neurotically asking for permission? No, she just snapped, because clearly it was just because he didn’t care enough about her to stop doing this weird thing that she hated. And she snapped, because she wanted to be alone, and these little things kept building, and she let that be the one that tipped the powder keg over.

If she lets this fester, it’s just going to keep getting worse. She’s probably going to blow up on them even harder, or teleport out mid-conversation. Both of those things would suck. This is normal, isn’t it? To need space? Maybe she is doomed- no, it’s normal. She’s normal. And it’s not helping anyone to pretend that she wants to be here, Dave and Karkat can tell something is up and she doesn’t know how many more times she can tell them it’s fine, really before she snaps. And she doesn’t want to do that. She’ll tell them, tomorrow.

It takes a while to fall asleep. But she does, eventually.

When she wakes up next to them early the next morning - early enough that Karkat is still in bed, breathing peacefully - feeling like she’s going to suffocate, she knows what she has to do. She gets up as quietly as she can, and somehow, somehow manages to not wake them up. Maybe they’re deep enough in sleep? Well, she’s not looking that gift horse in the mouth.

It’s quiet in the kitchen, and she has a chance to really look around it for the first time. She realizes that even though she’s kind of sort of living here, she basically hasn’t really scoped out the place at all. She’s just hung on Dave or Karkat basically the entire time. It probably makes sense that she’s going crazy about the space thing, she’s barely had a minute to herself for three days now! That little part of her that worries this means she’ll never be compatible with them is calmed down by that thought. It’s fine.

She opens the cabinets and looks around. There’s so, so much food, it’s kind of absurd. If there’s an order to it, she can’t tell what it is. Flour and sugar are mixed in with potato chips and soy sauce and tuna fish. The bread sits on top of a careful stack of Chef Boyardee and Spaghettios cans. The fridge is worse, somehow. The freezer is stacked full of plastic bags filled with… she has no idea what until she smells them. Chicken, beef, Brussel spouts (why!), fish, and something that smells like wax worms, which is probably Karkat’s.

She does all this very quietly. She doesn’t want to wake them up.

She manages to find some coffee. She finds multiple bags, actually, in completely different shelves, and one in the fridge. Sure, why not? She puts a few spoonfuls into the pot and listens to it bubble. Things will be fine. She’s figuring it out.

*

Karkat stumbles in first, and Dave follows him.

“Oh. Hi,” Karkat says.

“Couldn’t sleep?” Dave asks.

And there it is again, this stifling feeling that everything she does is being watched and judged, that her thoughts are not her own because they’re being broadcast into their minds.

“I need some time alone,” she says, and cringes because she wanted that to be at least a little smoother.

Dave goes still. “Is this because of yesterday?”

“No. Absolutely not. Yesterday was fine. I mean, the… discussion we had. That was totally fine and good.”

“Is it because of the other night?” Karkat asks.

“No. I just need some more space.”

“Uh, are you sure? I mean, is something wrong?” Dave asks tentatively. “Did I do something shitty? You gotta let me know so I can stop, right, like, lickedy-split I’ll be so done with whatever it is that isn’t keeping your wheels turning-“

“No,” Jade says. She has to interrupt him, even though she hates to do it, because she has a feeling he’ll just go on and on and on if she doesn’t. “You didn’t do anything. Neither of you. Not yesterday, or any of the other days. I’m just not used to being around people so much, that’s all. It’s a lot.”

“Oh,” Dave says. “Okay. That’s cool.” It doesn’t sound like it’s cool. “That makes sense, yeah, for sure. People, being around them all the time. Yeah, for sure. Can’t imagine why you would enjoy that, or, like, crave it. No, okay, you don’t like it?”

Jade stares at him uncomprehendingly.

“Do you like it?”

“Well, yeah. That’s why we live together.”

You’ll never be enough, you’ll never be like them, you’ll never be able to date anyone-

“Oh, well, that’s different. I need more space than that!”

“Oh,” Dave says weakly.

“I’ll be back,” Jade says, trying to reassure him. It does not seem to reassure him, or Karkat, at all.

“You’re leaving?” Karkat asks, his voice cracking.

“I’ll be back! Just a few days.”

“Yeah. Okay. That makes sense” Karkat sounds like someone just kicked him in the stomach, and he looks like he’s going to cry.

“Are you okay?” Jade asks.

“I’m fine.”

“…You don’t seem fine, Karkat.”

“I didn’t realize you were gonna be leaving, that’s all, it’s coming out of nowhere and I just woke up. Fuck. I mean, I thought, like, you would just spend some time in the room or something. Should we get you your own room? Uh, maybe we could clean out the shit room and that could be yours? I mean it’s just garbage in there-“

“That’d be cool, yeah! But it would take, like, a week, and I’d rather not wait that long. I don’t want to start getting snappy and mean. Well. Snappy and meaner.”

“But you weren’t that snappy or mean,” Karkat says. “Like, I’m the fucking shit king of snappy and mean, and you’re not close to touching my throne. Like, maybe a couple dick moves. But you’re not-”

“A couple dick moves is two more dick moves than I want to make!” she says. “I’ve been getting really impatient about stupid things and I don’t really want to talk about it because it’s stupid! I just need to get away for a little while.”

“Oh. Fuck. Fuck, we should have cleared out the room for you before you got here.”

“It’s okay, Karkat, really. I didn’t know, either.”

“No, it’s just so fucking obvious that you would want your own room. Like, Dave and I are fine sharing a room, but you too, that’s fucking weird, of course it’s weird-“

“Dude,” Dave says, and Karkat stops. “Breathe.”

Karkat exhales. “Sorry. When will you come back? Fuck, a few days, you said that.”

Breathe,” Dave repeats.

“I’ll be back,” Jade says. “Okay? I just need a few days. I used to spend almost all of my time alone, and now we’re together 24/7, and it’s just too much.”

“Yeah, that makes sense,” Karkat says. She seems him relax a little bit. Not much, but it’s progress. She waits for them to say something else, but apparently the conversation is over.

“Goodbye kiss?” she asks.

Karkat leans forward and kisses her. She turns to Dave, and he kisses her too.

“See you, dude,” he says.

Jade resists the urge to apologize. Because what does she have to apologize for? Taking a few days to herself? They don’t even live together. This is entirely reasonable. Why does she feel like she’s breaking their hearts?

She feels like she should stay a little longer. Maybe give them some warning. But it’s too late for that now. Now, all day would just be this sad, tense, awkward dance of them pretending not to be dreading her departure. No. She has to leave now. She can give them warning next time.

“Bye, guys. See you soon.”

And she leaves.

Chapter Text

Jade’s gone. She was here, and then she left. People do that. It feels like it all happened way too fucking fast. Like, blink, she’s here, blink, she’s here, blink, she’s gone. Not that she teleported out of the kitchen right then. No, she went to their bedroom, and Karkat and Dave mopily drank some coffee, and then when they went to check if she needed help packing (Karkat knew that was a bad idea, of course she didn’t, stupid idea, stupid excuse to try to fix whatever he fucked up) the place had that weird stink of slightly burnt rock that he’d come to associate with her teleportation powers.

She took her clothes with her. Karkat tries not to panic about that.

“She said she’d be back, dude. It’s okay.”

Maybe that would have comforted Karkat on another day, but not today. It’s just words, they don’t sink in, the panic doesn’t leave. He did this. He, Karkat, did this, by showing Jade that he and Dave weren’t literally perfect together all the time. This is his fault. Because, obviously, this is her first relationship. She doesn’t know what’s normal (does he?). And she probably thought you always agree about everything, and he confirmed that’s not the case, he confirmed that you can get three years into something and somehow not know something important about your partner, and she got scared off-

Dave sits down on the bed and pats the spot next to him. “I can see the bad thought gears spinning in your head.”

Invitation to feelings jams. That’s what that is. Karkat should accept. Karkat sits on the bed, close enough that their arms and legs are touching.

“It’s probably my fault.”

“What? No. How the hell is it your fault?”

“What, do you think it’s your fault somehow?”

“I mean, yeah, pretty sure.”

“Well, you’re wrong.”

“This is a stupid argument,” Dave says, and he’s right, but Karkat isn’t ready to let it go.

“Why would this be your fault? I can’t fathom your reasoning.”

“I… we had some shit go down.”

The obvious follow up: what shit went down? But Karkat can’t ask that, because Dave is visibly uncomfortable. Back off, change courses slightly, adjust tone. It comes naturally to Karkat. The two of them have been navigating each other’s minefields long enough, they know what a raised lump in the ground means when they see it.

“And it was bad enough that she’d just leave? I doubt that.”

“Anything is possible with Christ, dude.”

Karkat ignores that inane remark. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“I mean, you were there.”

“Oh.” That. Okay. Yeah, Karkat was there. For part of that, at least. It was awkward. He kept wanting to pull Jade aside and tell her what kind of shit she needed to not do, but that seemed really, really out of place. Fuck, what if it wasn’t? No, no, it was. “I really don’t think that’s why she left,” he says, but he doesn’t know if he believes it. It’s about as likely as her leaving because she got freaked out that Karkat and Dave weren’t a perfect couple, isn’t it? It’s as good an explanation as any. “Did you… tell her to not do that anymore? It was pretty clearly freaking you out.” Watching that happen over and over, watching Dave flip his shit for god knows why, and watching Jade continue to not pick up on it, was painful.

They didn’t talk about it after Dave and Jade came out of the room. They seemed a little nervous but way more relaxed and more than willing to move on from the subject, so Karkat didn’t question it.

Dave nods stiffly.

“That’s good.”

“Yeah. But shit was awkward as hell. So if it was either of our faults, it’s definitely mine.” He’s quiet for a few seconds. “Why do you think it’s your fault, dude?”

When faced with the opportunity to put his bullshit reasoning to words, Karkat decides he’d rather pluck his own eyelashes out one by one with tweezers. “It doesn’t even make sense. I don’t know. It just feels like it’s probably my fault.”

“You’d blame yourself for the weather report being wrong, dude.”

“Excuse you, I only blame myself for things where there’s some semblance of a possibility of my own culpability.”

“Like the dishwasher breaking, yeah.”

“That was probably my fault and you know it.”

Dave makes a little psch sound and wraps his arm around Karkat.

“She’s probably telling the truth, though. She just needs space. That’s her thing. Space.”

“Yeah.” It makes sense. It’s logical. Thank god Dave is still here. Karkat can’t imagine going through that again, having someone so close just leave and having nothing, no one left. Going from all that contact to nothing, not seeing it coming, and picking up the pieces. Trying to fill the space and time left behind and not think about how he did it, he drove them away, either with some stupid action or a series of inactions, or with just the sheer uselessness of his entire personality-

“What are you thinking, dude?”

“I’m really glad you’re still here.”

Dave hugs him tighter. “You too, dude.”

Maybe it’ll be fine like this. It hurts to have her leave, but Karkat will get used to it. And he and Dave can be each other’s rocks for it. He laughs a little.

“What?”

“We’re being so fucking overdramatic about this.”

“Yeah,” Dave says, grinning. “Probably. Definitely. Let’s try and not mope all day.”

“Fine. Yeah. Good idea.” Karkat tries to think of something to do and fails. Well, one of them will think of something. “Did you know this was coming?”

The question seems to catch Dave off guard. “No. Couldn’t you tell from in there?”

“Right, yeah, but the two of you hang out a lot, so maybe she mentioned it, I don’t know.”

“No, dude, it was as much of a surprise to me as you. Came out of fucking nowhere, ha.”

And the mood starts to sink again. Karkat squeezes him a little. “If I’m not allowed to mope, you’re not either, dipshit.”

Dave perks up and laughs. “Yeah. Okay. Let’s go… do shit.”

*

They do shit. They explore a weird artsy section of the city they moved to, which they haven’t done in literally a year, at least. Dave takes him to this coffeeshop he’s never been to, says he comes here sometimes to write his screenplay when he needs to get out. There’s some board games on the tables, ones with complicated enough rulesets that Karkat doesn’t lose his mind with the inanity of it like he did with human checkers.

It feels really good to get out. Karkat had resigned himself to being a homebody, even though he really liked exploring the world, doing new things, meeting people (even if he was absolutely awful at it), because Dave usually wanted to stay at home. But Jade is rubbing off on him. He’s actually excited to get out again, like he hasn’t been since very shortly after the game ended.

And when they’re done there, Dave takes his hand and asks if maybe he wants to watch the sunset at the park. And Karkat realizes what this is - a date. His face is probably flushing as his chest fills with warm, overwhelming feelings he doesn’t totally know how to process, and Dave smirks and looks down a little bit. Karkat squeezes his hand and tells him yeah, the two of them have enough time to find a vantage point that doesn’t suck. And they do.

*

Dave is… affectionate that night. He nuzzles into Karkat’s neck and runs his hands down his body.

“Been a while since I had you to myself.”

Karkat’s heart races. It’s true. If he’s being honest with himself, Karkat has been feeling like kind of a tack-on addition to Dave and Jade. He feels like he’s dating Dave, he’s dating Jade, but when the two of them are together, he finds himself just taking a backseat. And it’s stupid. He doesn’t bring it up because it’s stupid. It’s a stupid problem with an obvious fix, which is to get over himself and just dive in and stop being so weird about it.

But he’s been feeling a little neglected and weird, and this is something he’s wanted for a while. He’s like a pathetic affection sponge, just soaks it all up like he isn’t fucking drowning in it constantly. He should be glad they pay any attention to him at all, and from them especially, they're fucking amazing and way too good for him, where the hell does he get off feeling neglected? But this feels good. Really good.

It’s different doing this with Dave again, without Jade here. It’s quieter and feels more private. Not that he doesn’t love doing it with Jade, too, he absolutely does. All of it, it’s new and exciting and hot and fan-fucking-tastic. But there’s just a lot of stuff he has to think about when it’s the three of them that he and Dave have worked out years ago. Dave kisses him and ruts against him, pulls his pants down and groans when Karkat’s bulge wraps around his dick. He asks Karkat to hand him the lube, tells him he’s been missing Karkat’s sweet bootytastic action. Karkat rolls his eyes.

“I’m so glad doing this with Jade hasn’t killed your stunning way with words.”

“Thanks, babealicious, I try. You know what you should do one day?”

“What?” Karkat asks as he watches Dave slick up his fingers. He spreads his legs and tries not to think about his disgusting red bulge whipping around between his legs. Dave runs his fingertip over his hole, which is already kind of wet from his gross red nook drippings but not nearly enough for this, they know that, they’ve tried that, it was unpleasant-

“You should stick your bulge in your nook,” he says, just as he sinks a finger inside of him.

“Holy shit.”

“Maybe while I’m fucking you. Double-stuffed Karkat. Self-stuffed Karkat. Hey, remember when you tried to date yourself? This would be just like that.”

“Can we talk about anything else while you finger my ass?”

Thankfully he does. He laughs and then asks Karkat if he can eat him out a little bit while he does this. Like Karkat would literally ever say no to that. But he’s been asking a lot lately, as much as when they first started doing this on the meteor, and it seems to make him pretty uncomfortable if he doesn’t. It seems like one of those “beeping landmine, do not touch” issues so Karkat isn’t pushing it. Dave talks about stuff if and when he wants to, and not a minute sooner. So Karkat bites down the yes, obviously, please, you buffoon that’s sitting in his throat - not because he really thinks he’s an idiot for asking, but because it’s weird and alarming and that’s how he reacts to weird and alarming when he can't do anything else about it, and he knows he can't, not with Dave - and just nods. He bites his hand to keep from making all kinds of stupid noises as Dave licks into his nook as he rubs his prostate with two, three fingers.

Dave has him turn over. He pushes in, asks Karkat if he’s okay, holds his hand and tells him he loves him. It’s good and overwhelming. And then Dave whispers some stuff in his ear about how much he’s missed doing this to Karkat, how good he smells and sounds. Karkat’s bulge thrashes against the bed, making a fucking mess, and he moans Dave’s name as the pace picks up. Fuck, he’s missed this, too. It’s stupid, but he’s missed Dave.

They scoot past what Dave dubs “Karkat jizz mountain” on the sheets when they’re done and cuddle to the side until they’re with it enough to change the sheets. Dave asks Karkat if he wants to come hang out with him and John the next day, asks him if he has any plans with Sollux or Kanaya this week. He doesn’t, and decides to make some. He has a bad habit of getting so lost in relationships that he lets his friendships die, and apparently that wasn’t limited to just him and Dave. He says yes to the thing with John, too.

“We should hang out just the two of us when she’s here, too,” Dave says. “Didn’t realize how much we weren’t doing it.”

“Yeah. It snuck up on me, too. I missed you.”

*

Three days pass. Dave and Karkat fall into their more usual routine after day one. Meaning, Karkat suggests something that isn’t watching TV or playing video games, and Dave says ok maybe later, give me a few minutes.

Which is fine.

It’s fine. They hang out with John, and Karkat is meeting up with Terezi and Kanaya in a few days to watch some stupid movie (Karkat will never understand what Terezi gets out of movies, but she’s always the one to suggest them). Plus, they both needed some time to clear out the spare bedroom for her. It needs a bed, if she wants it, but it has a desk and dressers and shit. And the rest of the house is only a little bit more absurdly packed with garbage as a result of the cleaning. It’s a lot of work, it kills a lot of time. They didn’t have time to go anywhere crazy, anyways.

Jade will be back eventually, and they can all do fun shit then.

She’s rubbing off on Dave, too. Maybe Karkat won’t ever have to even bring it up with him, because he’ll just start enjoying stuff more.

Karkat’s phone buzzes at the same time that Dave’s does. Which could be any number of people inviting them to a group chat, but he still hopes it’s her.

-- gardenGnostic joined the chat WHATSCOOLERTHANBEINGCOOL --

GG: hey guys! :)

GG: is it cool if i come around tonight?

GG: i think I figured out what i need to figure out to make stuff work without leaving out of nowhere like that again, haha

GG: (sorry about that)

TG: hey

TG: yeah thatd be super cool

TG: come on back and tell us all about that introspective shit

CG: HI JADE

CG: YEAH TOTALLY COME BACK WHENEVER

CG: IT’S TOTALLY COOL

GG: okay sweet! i'll see you tonight :)

GG: i missed you guys!

CG: YOU TOO

CG: I MEAN I MISSED YOU

TG: yeah samesies

TG: see you soon?

GG: a few hours

GG: can i… bring some more stuff over?

CG: TO LIKE

CG: MOVE IN?

CG: WE CLEARED THE SPARE ROOM FOR YOU.

GG: sweet, thank you!

GG: but not exactly, no

GG: i mean, kind of?

GG: like halfway moving in but not

GG: just, no pressure, right?

TG: yeah, of course not

TG: so little pressure that we’re literally floating like astronauts through this beautiful relationship

CG: YEAH

CG: WHAT DAVE SAID, BUT LESS STUPID

TG: dude we’ve talked about this

TG: literally literally means figuratively now, it’s fine and not even kind of stupid

CG: WELL IT SHOULDN’T, AND YOU SHOULDN’T JUST GO ALONG WITH WHAT SOME COUNCIL OF IDIOTS SAYS ABOUT WORDS LIKE THAT.

TG: you sound like an old man

TG: get off my lawn with your gameboys and pokemans, back in my day literally didnt mean figuratively and we had nine planets and i care so fucking much about this for some reason

CG: THAT LITERALLY MEANS NOTHING TO ME AND YOU KNOW IT

GG: ANYWAYS, GUYS!!!!

GG: im coming back tonight, ok? just a few hours to pack :)

TG: oh yeah

TG: see you then

CG: YEAH

CG: LOOKING FORWARD TO IT

CG: SEE YOU SOON

-- gardenGnostic left the chat WHATSCOOLERTHANBEINGCOOL --

Chapter Text

“So,” Jade says, “I’ll live here for a few days, and then leave for a few days. Is that okay?”

Dave and Karkat nod. Sounds good to Dave, at least, and he’s pretty sure Karkat saw this coming, too.

“So this time, I’ll leave on… Tuesday. And come back on Friday. And I think I’ll build up my resistance to being around people 24-7.”

“Sweet.”

Jade smiles, embarrassed.

“Sorry for leaving like that. I had to think about some stuff.”

“I get it, dude. Gotta be alone to think.”

“Yeah.” She looks so relieved. “That exact thing, yeah. You too?”

“For sure, yeah.” He usually pauses time to do it, but he doesn’t need to tell her that right this second, when she’s just settling in.

“Karkat? Are you okay with this?” she asks. Dave realizes that Karkat hasn’t said anything since this started.

“Yeah. It’s great, sounds like it’ll work. I’m glad you’re back. Did you see the room? We got most of the garbage out of it.”

*

Jade settles into her room. The three of them decide to take it easy for a day or two, before jumping in to hanging out literally constantly. Which is a great idea. Should have thought of that himself. Haha. He spends his time in his room office thing, writing his screenplay, playing MMOs, shooting the shit with John and Roxy, who’s fun as hell and he’s just starting to get to know. At one point he walks in the kitchen to grab an energy drink and gets an eyeful of Jade and Karkat making out against the counter. So intensely that they don’t even hear him come in. Heh. It’s kind of hot, but he really doesn’t want to interrupt them or make it weird, so he slinks out quietly. He’ll get his energy drink later.

*

Jade pulls him out of his room a few hours later. She’s practically bouncing in place, beaming as bright as the celestial sun she is. Wow, that was cheesy, jesus he needs to stop watching those movies with Karkat so much.

“I have an idea for tonight.”

“Yeah?”

“Oh, yeah. Karkat’s waiting in the living room! Wait, fuck, are you doing anything important?”

“Nah. Let’s go.”

*

She teleports the two of them to rolling fields somewhere.

“Where the hell are we?” Karkat asks.

“Velika Planina. That's not important right now. Okay. Okay." She paces a little bit, seems to be gathering her thoughts. "Dave, okay, uh. No, nevermind. Okay. Karkat, take my hand.”

Karkat raises an eyebrow and takes her hand, and she levitates the two of them a few inches. And beams. She’s absolutely giddy.

"Okay."

“Jade,” Karkat says hesitantly, “you know, Dave can do this too-“

“Give me your other hand.”

He holds it out to her, totally baffled.

She turns his hand over and puts something in his palm. It looks like a rubber marble about the size of a half-dollar. Dave smells something weird and indescribable in the air around them.

“What the hell is-“

“Now let go.”

“I’d rather not fall on my ass, thanks.”

Dave laughs. “Jade, what the hell are you up to?”

“Do you trust me?” she asks Karkat.

“Y…yes?”

“Let go of my hand.”

Karkat’s fingers pry themselves off from Jade’s arm one by one, and then he slowly lifts his hand away. And stays floating. He stares at her, then the ball, then her again, eyes wide. He pulls his hand a little farther back. And then floats back several feet.

Jade squeals and claps. “Yes!

“How the fuck- what?”

“Holy shit, Jade, did you do that?” Dave asks.

“Yeah! This is why it took me so long to come back, actually? Had to make sure it actually worked!”

Karkat floats a little higher, then drops back down. “How am I controlling that?! Am I controlling that? Or is that you? What did you do?”

“So, okay, I bound up some gravitational control in that ball, and bound it to you when you touched it, and now it lets you fly however you want to. Just like me and Dave!”

“Wh- what-“

“Do you love it?” Jade asks.

“Fuck- what if I drop it?”

“Well, it should bring you down slow enough that you won’t get hurt. Try it!” she pulls him up a few feet and looks at him expectantly.

He turns his hand out and drops it on the ground. And slowly, slowly sinks back down to earth.

“Hell fuckin’ yeah,” she says.

Karkat starts to pick it up again. His movements are slow, full of disbelief.

“How-“

“Dave! Come with me!” She grabs Dave’s hand and pulls him several hundred feet in the air. It’s cold up here, quiet. Dave’s ears pop with the change in velocity, but it’s been worse. Karkat is small on the ground under them, staring up with his hand clutching the ball tightly.

“C’mere, dude,” Dave yells.

“Yeah, catch us if you can!” Jade hollers. “He can,” she says to Dave. “He totally can.”

“Holy shit, I can’t believe you did this. Shit’s amazing.”

She grins. “I thought he’d like it. I think he does.”

Karkat slowly floats up to them. He looks down and starts shaking. “Oh, woah.”

“That takes a while to get used to,” Jade says.

“Yeah, don’t look down for a while. Eyes up here.”

Karkat looks at them both, his face a mess of happiness and shock and something that makes Dave’s heart feel like it’s melting in his chest.

“Holy- holy shit, Jade, guys I- I didn’t think I’d ever do this.”

Is he crying? Shit, Dave’s pretty sure he sees tears. Yeah, fat pink tears, streaming down his cheeks, moonlight reflecting off of them like a cheesy romance movie. Jade reaches out and hugs him, and he hugs her back.

Dave kind of feels like an emotional voyeur, but he doesn’t want to disturb this adorable-ass moment, and then Jade pulls him in.

“Get over here, nerd, you’re part of this, too!”

Dave wraps his arms around both of them. And beams. He can’t remember the last time he’s seen Karkat so happy.

(which makes him feel like a massively shitty boyfriend, so shitty, like woah, but not really the point of this excursion at all)

“Fuck, thank you, thank you so much. I really… I thought I would never do this. Ever.”

Jade kisses his cheek, and then kisses Dave’s cheek.

“And if you lose it, I can just make you another one.”

His eyes well up again and he laughs.

“Holy shit, Jade...”

“Now!” she says, “let’s look around the park. This place is so pretty at night.”

She lets him go and starts to float off. And Karkat follows her.

*

She’s right. The park is gorgeous at night. But Dave can’t stop looking at the two of them, listening to them banter and laugh, and wondering how he got so unbelievably lucky. It doesn’t feel real. But it is. This is real. This is his life.

And every time he starts to let himself drift off, let the two of them have some time together, Jade calls him a dork and pulls him right back with them, until he stops wanting to fall back.

Chapter Text

(a few days later)

 

Karkat goes grocery shopping alone. They probably don’t need even more shit, but they’re out of milk, and he needs an excuse to be alone. To get away from Jade so he can think.

He’s trying not to make it weird. But that’s what he does best, and he knows he’s going to make it as weird as it can possibly be if he’s around her anymore. He walked in on the two of them drinking coffee, and she smiled at him and waved and he felt like his heart was going to burst out of his chest because of how gorgeous and perfect she is. Which is fucking weird!!! And he’s been trying to ignore it, every night since that fucking unreal, magical night when she gave him the flight totem. Honestly, he’d been pushing it away every day since the fucking Seine, and he was actually having some success with it until Jade did fucking, that, that shit, flying through the sky in her arms like he’s her fucking Lois Lane, diving into moonlit lakes in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and she’s radiant, she’s absolutely radiant and she makes him feel like he’s going to explode.

There’s a word for this. He feels it on the tip of his tongue every time he talks to her - well, three words, that one stupid human word in the middle tying them all together - and he’s not going to fucking say them three weeks into this fucking relationship because that’s so, so fucking weird.

So he walks around the grocery store - even though he could float if he wanted to, now! - and tries not to get overwhelmed by 1) the sheer abundance of shit on the shelves and 2) those three words and all the shit that comes with them.

Shit like, he’s an idiot and he’s probably wrong about it. He’s a creep and he’s moving way too fast. He hasn’t felt that way about Dave since a few months into their relationship. Which means it’s not… love, probably, it’s infatuation. It’s a very intense crush. But it’s different with Jade than it was with Dave. They have almost a decade of this ultra-close friendship and life-changing universe-saving as a bedrock, and now they’re dating.

But still, something changed the other night. Something clicked in how he felt about her, and excitement and attraction and friendship gave way to something bigger and deeper and much more difficult to describe, except with this four-letter word that meant so many fucking things that it basically meant nothing at all.

Milk. Right. He’s here for milk. What the fuck is he doing looking at bread? Why the fuck is there an entire fucking aisle of the store devoted to varieties of bread? How could the human economy possibly sustain that much variety of choice for fucking bread? Whole wheat, cheap gummy white, rye, marbled rye, rye with seeds, rye without seeds, pumpernickel, rye and pumpernickel combined, and about 75 more. Ridiculous.

Another problem with this is that Karkat knows himself. He knows how he thinks. He thinks like a fucking idiot. He thinks in histrionic extremes and he watches too many cheesy movies. He thinks things like, she makes my heart soar. Like he’s a lead in one of those movies, instead of a boring little mutant toad. Who the hell does he think he is? He’d just creep her out telling her any of this. She makes him special, and she makes him feel like he’s living that dream, dancing in the moonlight, but that’s entirely him being a huge weirdo and has nothing to do with her. He’s disgusting for even wanting that. He’s grossing himself out just thinking about it.

Things are weird with Dave, too. Dave taking him on dates and watching the sunset, Dave telling him he loves him and holding his hand. Going from getting that from zero people to two is probably just overwhelming him and leaving him confused. Because he’d given that up, basically, when Dave started talking about how glad he was that Karkat didn’t like that stuff. And now it’s happening. It’s a lot. And now he feels like he wants to sweep Dave off his feet and kiss him and keep him safe and tell him how much he loves him, because he doesn’t say it enough.

Or maybe he just loves them both, now. Maybe he just fell in love with Jade, too, and he’s infatuated by her.

In any case, he should keep a fucking lid on it. Whether it’s reasonable or not, it’s fucking creepy. Even if they’re dating. Because they’re only just dating. It’s okay to care about each other, but not throw around the l-word like it’s a fucking party popper on New Year’s Eve. They’ve been dating like a week (three weeks), he’s probably not even really in love with her, just infatuated - but, it’s not like it’s too soon to be in love, is it-

Karkat realizes the mental conversation is circling and will continue to circle forever if he lets it.. He decides what he usually decides, which is to not say anything about it ever. Well, or, until she says it first, because then it’s safe. It took him and Dave over a year of flushed dating to get the word out, there’s no rush. He’ll just keep a fucking lid on it.

*

Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially when Jade is right in front of him. Every time she laughs, Karkat’s chest gets warm. When she smiles, he wants to hug her. When she looks at him, it feels like she’s looking straight through him. And he gets caught in a mental loop of how to not make it weird, which he realizes is probably causing it to become weird. But, fuck, what can he fucking do? He has to stay alert, lest he fucking drop it like a hot tuber on her unsuspecting lap.

He walks by her in her room. She and Dave are mixing some music. She calls him in, and he sits to the side as they work.

She sings. She has a really lovely singing voice. It’s sweet, soft and hypnotizing. And maybe he’s seeing her with rose-tinted glasses but it seems like she just comes up with the most perfect melodies to Dave’s backbeat, and they play off each other perfectly.

She’s going to fucking kill Karkat by the end of the day.

“Hey, are you going to get in on this, or just keep staring?”

“Not all of us are as musically inclined as the two of you. Not all of us have a voice that doesn’t make small animals want to throw themselves off a cliff.”

Jade laughs. “There’s no way that your voice is that bad, but you don’t have to sing if you don’t want to.”

“Yeah, dude, come here. He’s sick with drums and bass.” Dave clicks some buttons, turns the laptop in his direction, and raises his eyebrows. Karkat caves.

Listening to Jade singing this close fills his fucking brain with a torrent of flushed feelings, but at least now he isn’t gaping at her like a love-struck animal anymore. He has the music to focus on. And Jade’s amazing talent and laugh and smile. Agh. He’s so bad at this.

*

Jade stops him in the kitchen later that night, as he’s topping off his 8 o’clock espresso triple.

“Karkat.”

“What?”

“You’ve been staring at me like you want to say something all day.”

No. Fuck no. Red alert, absolutely not. Fuck, he’s so bad at this.

“Weird. No. I’m not.”

“Are you sure?” she asks teasingly. “Oooh, what are you drinking?”

He holds it out to her, because that’s easier to address. She sniffs it and laughs.

“How do you drink that poison?”

“My stomach is built to withstand things that would literally kill you. This is nothing to me.”

“I’m so impressed, Karkat,” she says, dripping with sarcasm. Fuck. Even that’s fucking adorable. “Can I have some?”

“Think you can survive it? It’s pretty strong.”

She rolls her eyes and takes a sip.

“It might be good with some biscotti.”

“Yeah, probably.”

“I know a place in Venice. Do you want to go?”

“Wh- right now?”

“Yeah, sure. Dave can come too! It’ll only take a minute.”

“Shit, sure.”

Dave decides not to come. He says he’s super busy finishing up a track. Which Karkat understands to mean “I left the house six times this week and you want me to do it again? Have mercy.” He has mercy, he doesn’t press it. Jade drops it, too, after calling him a loser.

The place in Venice is perfect. Of course it is. It’s sunny and warm and the biscotti is fucking incredible. There’s a little bit of some fluffy white plant blowing in the summer wind and even though it’s gross when a tuft lands in his fucking coffee, it just makes the whole scene feel that much more magical.

The whole time, he’s trying not to say it. And she keeps telling him how cute he is, how she loves doing this for him, how she loves seeing him happy. He’s going to die. She’s going to kill him.

But he manages to not say it. And if he stuck that out without blabbing, he’s probably going to be fine. That was the truest test of his abilities. He passed.

They get a bag to go, so Dave can try some, too, and teleport back home.

Jade puts the bag on the counter and attaches a little note on it so Dave knows it’s for him.

Then she turns back to Karkat. She has a little tuft of white stuck in her hair. He tells her to hold still and pulls gently out. She looks at him as he does it, up close. He can smell her skin, and she smells amazing. And then she kisses him for a long time before pulling back.

“Today was really fun, Karkat,” she says, and there’s something in her eyes that just.

“I love you,” Karkat says.

Idiot. Bumbling fucking idiot. Moron. Rotten fucking dish sponge moldering from the inside. Jade’s eyes go wide. Of course they do. Because he’s a fucking fat-lipped jackass with fucking insane proclivities for insane nonsense that’s way, way too intense for the situation, like telling Jade that-

 “Oh, woah, really?”

“I’m sorry, fuck, that was too soon, that was way too soon-“

“You love me?”

Karkat considers taking it back, but decides not to. The train has left the station. The train is stuck and rusting in the heart of fucking Atlantis. He ran his stupid mouth, and now Jade is going to tell him he’s moving way too fast, that she doesn’t feel like that yet but maybe someday, and it’ll be weird, if she doesn’t outright dump him for it, because wow that was fast and I don’t know if I’m ready-

“Karkat? Are you ok?”

“I’m fine. Sorry for dumping that on you. It was fucking stupid. I didn’t mean to, it was a mistake.”

“But you meant it… right?”

Yet another chance to take it back. Is she giving him an out intentionally?

“N….no?” Stupid. “No, I mean, it’s stupid-“

Jade looks amused. “Oh, okay, because I was going to say that I think I love you too, but now that would be weird.”

Karkat couldn’t have heard that right. His chest feels tight, and his thoughts narrow to just Jade.

“What?”

“I think I love you?” she says cautiously. Her relaxed, playful confidence from before is gone, she looks just as nervous as he feels.

“What?”

“I said I think I love you too! Can you hear?”

“You… you think you love me?”

“Yeah.” She smiles awkwardly. “It’s kinda silly because we only just started dating, but. I dunno. I’ve liked you for forever, and you’re just. I don’t know. I mean! It feels like… love? But maybe it isn’t. I’ve never dated anyone before. What’s love feel like?”

That’s. A lot. “It’s.” Karkat tries to think beyond she loves me too, oh my god. He… he hadn’t even considered this as a possible outcome. This wasn’t even on the table in his mind. But it’s happening.

“It’s like.” He forces himself to speak. “You get really excited when you see them, and you want them to be happy, and you want to be around them.” This is stupid. His explanations are just as stupid as his thoughts, and make no sense. “Why am I explaining love to you! You know what love is. It’s a fucking human concept.”

“Are you seriously trying to tell me that trolls don’t have love?”

“We have love! It’s just different.”

“Well, which one do you feel for me?”

Karkat swallows and looks at Jade. He tries to pin down a thought to communicate in the whirlwind of chaos. I get excited when I see you, no one could ever love a mutant freak like you, you make me feel like romance isn’t just in movies, I metaphorically see a fucking glowing light of radiance emanating off you when you smile, ugly mutant freak with a stupid voice and stunted horns trying to woo a god-

His voice freezes in his throat. There’s just absolutely no way any of that is coming out of his mouth. He tries to speak, but, nothing. Fuck. Fucking worthless. Worthless, useless-

And then Jade kisses him. He relaxes muscles he didn’t realize were tense.

“That was kind of an unfair question, wasn’t it? Sorry.” She kisses him again. “I love you too, though.”

“Really?”

She laughs. “Yes, Karkat! Really! I… It feels really fast, too, which is why I’m nervous that maybe it’s weird or something, but, you said it first, so it’s… fine. I dunno. I had a crush on you for, like, the last four years, you know? And then we had dinner on the river, and it just. Made me feel weird. And good. Whenever I see you. And Dave. Which is weird. I love you both, uh. Which feels insane. It’s only been, like, three weeks. Please stop me, I’m rambling.”

Karkat kisses her. It lasts a while this time. It lasts a very, very long time. It heats up in no time at all, and she’s running her hands through Karkat’s hair and bumping him up against the kitchen table and laying him flat down against it. He can feel rumble sphe- her breasts pressing into his chest, and he opens his legs so she can press up between them-

“Again? You two are like fucking rabbits up in this bitch. Consecrating every known surface of the kitchen with- oh, shit, uh, I mean, getting out of here, uh, don’t mind me, pretend I wasn’t just here.”

And he leaves.

And the mood is dead. He killed it.

Jade pulls back and laughs awkwardly. Her hair is kind of messy. She looks like a goddess.

“I’m... really glad this is in the open now. I can just tell you I love you. It’s cool.”

Karkat nods stupidly. It’s a lot to take in. He’s relieved, so fucking relieved, and still pretty horny, and Jade is so perfect and adorable when she’s like this. And like anything. He’s being a creep. He’s always being a creep.

But Jade loves him too.

She loves him too.

Karkat smiles.

"Me too."

Chapter Text

Dave has that nightmare again. He’s back there, and it’s happening again, hands where he doesn’t want them, he's too scared make it stop and disgusted with his body for reacting to it, disgusted that it’s happening with him, smelling shit and sweat-

He opens his eyes and sees the wall, and the feeling doesn’t stop. Fingertips brushing along the tip of his boxers, running over his pubes, again.

He never got out, did he?

The game wasn’t real. Karkat wasn’t real. God, Karkat wasn’t real. That sears like a burning brand in his chest. And Jade, too, fucking, that was just getting going, that was just getting fucking wonderful, except it wasn't, because she’s not real, either. And Dirk wasn’t real, obviously, obviously that was just some sick mind game he played with himself, none of them were real, that was just a dream, they’re all just people he talked to on the internet and he’s alone, he’s alone and he’s 13 and he’s trapped here, and his brother is here with his hands down his pants and he’s going to push him down he’s going to take it, again and again and again whenever Bro feels like it, for as long as he lives because there’s no way out-

“Good morning, Dave,” says a voice that’s not… his. Jade? Jade is here. Dave turns his head around and sees Jade staring at him. Her hand - her hand, not his - pulls away from his lower stomach as he looks at her, trying to figure out what’s happening. Fuck, he’s so confused, it hurts to think.

“I’m sorry, oh jeez, I’m sorry, fuck, I thought it’d be fine if I didn’t- shit.”

That doesn’t make any sense. None of this makes any sense. Dave’s head hurts a little, trying to piece all this together.

“Where is he?” he asks, quietly, because he doesn’t want to draw his attention, doesn’t want to bring him here.

“Where is who? Karkat?”

“Karkat is real?”

“Yes, Dave, Karkat is real. Do you know where you are right now?”

That makes him think. He thought he was in Houston, but Jade is here, and Karkat is real, and the fan isn’t the same and the window is different-

He feels the sleepwalking fog start to shake off for good. Relief that this is real, not that fucking hell, is only tamped down by the utter mortification that he just did this shit in front of Jade.

There’s just… no way of recovering from this. Not right now. Panic starts to set in, which is never good. Well, he has a handy little off switch for that, doesn’t he? He clicks into that part of his brain, slows the gears down, and pauses it all. Jade’s eyes stare blankly, her face concerned, at the wall in front of her as he gets up. Gets dressed. Leaves the room. Opens the bathroom. Karkat is showering, the steamy water around him suspended in warm little clouds that move only when the door pushes into them and forces them out of the way. Okay, not there. Into the… guest room. Jade’s room. Hmm, no. This feels bad, too. This isn’t his space to be in like this. Maybe the living room? Yeah. Bathroom would be ideal, but this works. He’ll just keep time paused until he settles down.

Focusing on the rooms issue so he doesn’t have to think about what just happened? Nah. Dave would never. He addresses shit head fucking on. That’s what he does.

Interacting with a time-frozen world is weird. Everything is stuck unless he wills it not to be, which is sick as hell, but unnerving. And there’s this subtle quality of wrongness to everything, even things that are still or dead anyways. Statues, books, furniture, even the air itself all seem to silently rebel against him. Well, that’s all made up of some living particles too, so probably makes sense that it doesn’t like it, maybe? But he’s a god of this shit, this is his right, and he’s using his powers for good. His good. And it’s not like it’s actively hurting anything sentient. He’s fine.

He pops in one of his favorite movies, one he found after the game because the ones he watched before just make him feel kind of sick and awful now. Kingsman, though. This shit is his, this shit is safe, and this shit is fast and slick enough that it can drown out the rest of his thoughts pretty well.

He didn’t say anything too revealing to Jade, he doesn’t think. He has pretty good recall of what happened there, and she probably has no idea who “he” is, or why Dave was so scared of him. For all she knows, “he” might be Karkat. Which is good. Shit’s way too heavy to dump on anyone, let alone his girlfriend.

Fear that he’s going to spill his fucking guts out about this, whether he wants to or not, because his subconscious mind is intent on letting it spew like projectile vomit from his brain? Drowned out by a sick action sequence. Terror that she’d abandon him if she knew? Sickening dread that the weight of this shit would crush their burgeoning relationship to a gibby pulp? Silent in the face of this sweet, sweet soundtrack. Discomfort that this shit really only kicked into high gear once Jade came around? Because his brain doesn’t parse Jade as safe yet the way it does with Karkat? Washed away by a tidal wave of hella cool gearing up. Fuck, those suits are so sick. He should get a suit again, one that fits really nice, tailor that shit up.

After about an hour, he feels himself start to relax. He knows from experience that he can brute force his way through this, and that’s exactly what he intends to do.

When he has about an hour left to the movie, he feels the world around him starting to vibrate against the chains of timelessness. It does that sometimes, if he extends this out too long. It’s best to let it go when it does. He really doesn’t want to. He wants to extend this out at least another 15 minutes. But it’s best to listen to the universe on this one.

The room seems to relax when he releases it. He hears Jade yelp in the bedroom and feels a twinge of guilt.

She comes in the living room a few minutes later, sheepishly. Well, of course she does. Dave is totally, totally over it, but it literally just happened for her. She looks at him uncomfortably and lets out an awkward little half-laugh.

“God, it’s weird that you can do that.”

“You’ll get used to it. It took Karkat a few months.”

“I don’t like it.”

Dave doesn’t respond to that.

She looks at the TV.

“How long have you been gone for?”

Dave pauses the movie. The timestamp reads 1:37:04.

“Holy shit, Dave...”

“Time," he wiggles his eyebrows, "really flies when you’re watching this, though.”

“Can we talk about what just happened?”

“Sure,” he says, only because it’s completely inevitable.

“I’m sorry. I thought it would be fine if I waited to… go farther until I asked for permission. But that was too far, wasn’t it.”

Talking about it this bluntly puts Dave’s nerves right on the fucking edge. He weighs his words carefully so he doesn’t want to give too much away.

“Maybe while I’m sleeping, yeah. Gotta give the ol’ noggin a chance to catch up first.”

“Yeah. Okay. Sorry about that. Can I sit with you?”

 “Yeah. That’d be sweet.”

She sits next to him. Their thighs touch. It’s... bad. He tries and fails to suppress these stupid thoughts. She’s just like him, this is how it starts, she’s going to snap and pin him down and fuck him whether he wants it or not, she’s going to laugh in his face, she’s going to tell him he wanted it. Ridiculous. She just said she wouldn’t do all that bullshit. Well, implied it. She also implied it with literally everything she's done in the last, what, 10 years? Except tell him he was a weirdo for asking for permission too much, and touching his junk without asking to, but, uh, she apologized for that, so it's fine. Jade is so fucking categorically safe, he just needs this stupid lizard part of his brain to fucking acknowledge that.

It’s so dumb. All this shit was fine before the game ended. He didn’t think about it, so he didn't. He wanted to push it away, so he did. And it was fine. And then, after the game, the nightmares kicked into high gear, and the memories at the dumbest times, and the dumbest shit would set it off, and. He can't stop thinking about it. He cannot will himself to just fucking stop it anymore. It comes back. It keeps coming back.

And maybe he cut hangouts with Dirk to twice a month instead of every week because there’s just no good way to deal with that, is there. It doesn’t always bother him, is the thing. Sometimes they hang out for hours and it’s fine. But sometimes he says a certain turn of phrase or does some weird thing with his fingers or gets a little too close to that and Dave pauses time to calm down in Dirk’s bathroom for an hour. He knows Dirk knows he’s doing it, he knows the time shit leaves a weird smell behind him like a magical god slug trail, but he doesn’t comment on it. Which is good. Because what the hell is Dave going to say? You smell exactly like my brother did when he was raping me and it’s really bugging me today, haha, no, absolutely literally never. This will all go away soon enough, and shit will go back to normal, which it absolutely never will if he tells anyone any of this, especially Dirk. Fuck no. Shit’s weird. Dirk doesn’t need to know that. Dirk cannot know that.

(what if he knows, though. dirk reads him like an open book at the best of times and these aren’t the best of times- nah, it’s fine)

(but fucking heart powers, dude. soul intuition. what if he knows?)

(no, it’s fine, he probably just knows something is fucky)

(hell, there’s no way he wants to know that, and god knows the two of them can have powerful blind spots when they want to)

(it’s fine)

So yeah, maybe sometimes he tells Karkat he’s going to Dirk’s and then goes and gets coffee at a local shop and works on his screenplay, because that’s hilariously ironic. The coffee shop screenplay part, not avoiding his friend-cum-brother because he reminds him of his brother-cum-dad. Anyways. That might bite him in the ass later, if Karkat finds out, but hell, he can just tell Karkat… hmm. He should figure out what to tell Karkat, if that ever comes up.

“Dave?”

“What?”

“You haven’t said a word in five minutes.”

“Oh, I just love this movie, it’s rad.”

“Are you actually watching it?” Jade sounds exasperated.

Are you watching, bitch? Don’t look away. Look at me. That’s it.

Wow, haha, not even kind of on the table right now, brain, but thanks for the reminder.

Watching. Watching, all it takes to spur this on is hearing the word watching, apparently, hahahaha.

“Yeah, it totally rocks.”

“Dave… I don’t want this to get off on the wrong foot. And I feel like it really did. It’s like I created a third foot just to start this off and immediately fell on my face because what the hell is that third foot for? Noth-“

Dave maybe sort of pauses time again. He needs a second to stop thinking about fingers in his mouth, nails digging into his tongue suck, don’t you dare bite me because Jade is talking to him and he can barely think. He takes a few deep breaths. He looks at Jade, her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth in a syllable she’ll have to wait to finish. Jade. She’s so fucking cute. They’ve been friends for so long, she was his first crush, they kind of lost touch for a while during the game and now there’s all this new stuff to her personality and her powers that he loves finding out about. She’s a fucking delight. And she’s is being helpful, she’s trying to work with him, she isn’t his brother in any way, shape or form. Jade is safe. And she’s right about this.

Why the hell can’t she just figure it out like Karkat can? Why does she have to talk about everything? Karkat just picks up on the clues. At least she hasn’t asked what this is all about yet, and hopefully it stays that way forever. Ugh. But it’s fine, relationships are compromise and all that shit. He can work with this.

“-ing.” She stops and stares at him. It probably wasn’t long enough to leave a huge stank behind, but something probably feels wrong. But she doesn’t ask about it. “Can we start over?”

She’s trying. She’s not him, she’s Jade. She cares about him. She doesn’t want to hurt him. She just hit while he was in the grasp of the subconscious morning demons, and she realizes that, and she’s not going to do it again. She’s trying. She’s working with him. It’s painful and awkward, but she’s working with him, so that it doesn’t happen again, so they can do better, be normal and happy together.

Dave smiles. “Yeah. That’s a good idea. Wanna hug it out?”

She visibly relaxes. “Yeah.”

She’s warm. She’s safe and soft and warm and hugging her is good. That was a weird, uncomfortable thing that just happened, but they fixed it.

“Do you want to talk about it? Or anything else?” she says softly.

Dave shakes his head. Any residual weird feelings are just left over from before. It’s fine. They figured it out. Problem fucking solved. Package wrapped up and postmarked, on transit to the North Pole where it belongs. Far the fuck away from here, away from them.

“What are you guys watching?” Karkat asks from the hallway. Dave and Jade pull apart.

“Kingsman,” Dave says. Karkat’s hair is still wet, and his skin shines a little. Dave pats the couch next to him. “It’s almost done. Then we should get fucking pancakes or something.”

“That sounds good, yeah! I need to try them with ice cream.”

“This movie is lame. At least it’s almost over.”

Karkat sits next to him. And as they finish it up and talk over the ending to decide where to get breakfast - Dave’s seen it a hundred times, and Karkat and Jade haven’t seen enough for it to matter, and it was never really about the movie anyways - the last of the weird vibes die. He’s here now, with them, and they’re going to get pancakes and have a great day. His dumbass lizard brain can fucking kick it.

Chapter Text

A few days pass. Dave seems to be going out of his way to talk to Jade more. He invites her in his room to mix tracks, forces himself to get out to a park with her, talks to her about his screenplay. It seems like he’s talking about everything except what happened the other day. Jade isn’t pressing the issue.

Things are fine, except when they’re not. It usually doesn’t come up.

She wishes there was a way she could make him open up about… whatever it is that he’s carrying around in there. And she’s pretty sure she’s got a good picture of what happened, and she’s pretty sure he knows that, and she’s pretty sure that scares him, and she’s pretty sure that all this communication through mind-reading is going to kill her. She gets the impression that Dave and Karkat primarily communicate like this, and it blows her mind. And terrifies her.

She keeps wanting to say something about it, get it out in the open, because it’s getting moldy like a wet wad of clothes that’s been left in the washing machine. And she tries to bring stuff up, usually. With most things. Like with the dates thing! She brought that up, and it went great, and now everyone is happier. And she’s going to keep bringing things up, because it makes everyone happier. But not this. Definitely not this. Jade is confident that she’s pretty fucking awful at people, but even she knows better than to press this. But she feels it there, and she feels that it’s fucking huge, and it’s killing her that she can’t just address it at all. Especially with something so big.

But, it doesn’t usually come up.

They write songs together, and they watch movies, Jade takes them to a couple more fun new places, the three of plan out a group date thing with Dirk and Jake. Jade is kind of nervous. She never really talked with Dirk before, and still hasn’t talked to Jake a ton outside of letters. And, and and and, she doesn’t know what the whole “double date” thing entails. Like, obviously they won’t all be macking on each other, because that’d be weird as heck. But she’s so new to this. She really doesn’t know what to expect.

Karkat notices, before she even formulates in her mind to ask him about it. It still kind of bothers her how well he can read her. But he tells her that it’s basically just like hanging out with a couple of people who happen to be dating, while you do stuff that you might do while you date.

“By that definition, a group date with you and Dave would be watching soap operas and eating frozen pizzas.”

Karkat rolls his eyes. “Listen. Listen. Just because you have magical teleportation powers that make your life a literal fantasy doesn’t mean the rest of us are just wasting away in apathy.”

But, okay. It’s just like a normal hangout session. It’s fine. No pressure. Then Dave is coming out from the shower, his hair soaking wet (Jade makes him blow dry it, she won’t hear any of this “it dries in the car ride over there” nonsense), and then they’re off.

*

They go bowling. Jade has literally no idea what she’s doing there, but neither does literally anyone else. They all walk out to the bowling lane immediately after paying, only stopping to change out their shoes after a worker chases them down. Weird. Jade’s seen this in a few movies, but never actually had a chance to do this before. She would feel weirder about that if it wasn’t so blatantly apparent that everyone there was in the same boat. That makes her feel a lot better about the whole “am I actually a feral animal in human clothes” thing that sometimes gnaws its way into her thoughts at night. Nah. They’re all figuring out the society thing!

“So, who’s idea was this?” Jade asks as Dirk fiddles with the touchscreen.

“Karkat’s,” Dirk says.

“Charlatan frabricator. This couldn’t possibly be less of my idea. If anyone had approached me to pick, and no one did, I can’t think of anything that would have been lower on my list of ideas than throwing heavy balls at weighted pins.”

“Yeah, I lied, it was all Dave.”

“Dave? Dave decided to go bowling?” Jade asks.

“Yeah,” Dave says. “Nothing I love more than some physical activity. Hand-eye coordination. I’dda thought you’d know this about me by now, Jade.”

They’re both smirking. God, they’re insufferable together. Jade wishes she didn’t find it so stupidly charming. Dave gets along so well with his brother, they just clicked after the game. Sometimes she’s kind of jealous, because she and Jake are chummy (to use a terrible word he’d use) but nowhere near that kind of close. They like each other fine, but they’re not hanging out every week. But she’s happy for Dave. She’s happy for both of them.

Jake comes back from the ball-selecty place and sits next to Dirk.

 “Sometimes tells me you’re lying, too, Dave.”

“Me? Never.”

“Lying about what?” Jake asks.

“How it was totally Dave’s idea to come here,” Dirk says.

“What? No, it was my idea. What?”

“Jake. Man. You’re killing me,” Dirk says, but he’s smiling.

Jake seems really confused. “I have to admit I don’t understand the ruse. But, I watched this in my movies, see, and I never dreamed I’d get to play it myself someday. Well. I did dream it. I never thought it’d really happen.” Jake talks quicker the longer he goes on. “Um. Anyways. Dirk, you should go pick your ball. So should the rest of you.”

“Pick my ball, you say,” Dirk says slowly. “Hm.”

“Do you not know the first thing about how this works? You have to pick a ball to a weight that you’re comfortable with.”

“Mm. Yeah, I totally knew that. Give me one second to finish running some numbers.”

Jake snorts. “Oh, don’t look it up on your glasses, I can just show you.”

The two of them walk off.

“I think we should make it a couple’s competition,” Jade says.

“It’s three to two, there’s no way we wouldn’t destroy them,” Dave says. “Perks of being a trio.”

“You fail to account for our collective lack of physical prowess. Well, Jade, you have more than zero, so it probably evens out to, what, a third of an average person? One divided by three.”

Jade laughs. “You guys can’t be that bad at it.”

“You underestimate me,” Dave says. “You underestimate Karkat.”

“We’ll see.”

Jade looks over to where Dirk and Jake are trying out the balls, heh. Dirk grabs one with two hands until Jake shows him how to grab it with his fingers.

“You don’t really talk to him much, do you?” Karkat asks, a little quieter. “Not like Dave and Dirk.”

Like he can read her fucking mind.

“No. Not really.” Before she can go into any detail at all, they start heading back, so Jade drops it. Instead, she fills the two of them in on the plan. Jake seems approximately 10,000 times more interested in a competition than Dirk does. Good. Well, he’s on. Maybe she should invite him to play sports more often? It seems like they have that in common.

Dirk starts fiddling with the screen on the front of their table. He sets his team’s name to THE DEATH-DEFYING SLAYE, because apparently the character limit caps before he can finish “slayers.”

 “You guys should pick out your balls, too,” Dirk says.

“Righto! I’m more than happy to help you guys, too. Jade, have you ever gone bowling before?”

“I barely know what bowling is, to be honest.”

“That makes two of us.” Karkat looks over the other patrons of the place, who are tossing balls around a few lanes over from them. “This game looks stupid.”

“That’s the spirit,” Dirk says.

“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, chum.”

Jake shows them how to pick their balls out. Jade wants to pick the pink one, but ends up going with a much larger black one, because apparently it should be just under the heaviest that you can manage. Apparently. Jade isn’t sure if Jake really knows what he’s talking about, either, but he knows more than the three of them.

Jake also has to explain to them how to roll the ball. Jade has absolutely no idea what she’s doing, and neither does anyone else. After two straight rounds of everyone but Jake getting all gutterballs, they turn on the bumpers. For her part, though, Jade is picking it up. It’s taking a while, but she’s figuring it out. She’s pretty sure she won’t need the bumpers soon.

Dave and Dirk make a competition to see how few pins they can knock down, minimum of one per round. Dipshits.

Jake gloats as the bumpers go down for his turn and his turn only.

“Jade, Karkat, even if these two over here aren’t taking this seriously, I think the three of us still have quite a fierce competition ahead of us. At least, the two of you do. Maybe we should combine your scores against mine?”

Karkat rolls his eyes and laughs. “Yeah, as if. This game is a pale imitation to its Alternian version. You had to literally hunt for your pins and slaughter ballbeasts.”

Jake’s eyes go wide. “You’ll have to tell me about that. You’ll have to tell me all about that, as soon as I finish this strike.”

“Sick fucking burn, dude, you gonna take that?” Dave asks.

Karkat rolls his eyes again as Jake walks off.

“So, Dirk, Karkat told me that you and Dave hang out every week,” Jade says.

Dave goes stock still, and Dirk looks confused.

“I mean-” Dirk starts.

“Yeah,” Dave says quickly. “Every week. Right, dude? Like clockwork. Every week.” He seems weirdly insistent about it.

Dirk’s brows knit up further in confusion. Karkat looks at Dave warily.

“Yeah. Totally. Every week. Like Dave said.”

Okay, this is weird as fuck. Fuck. What did she say wrong? Why was that off limits? Why was that weird to bring up?

Jake comes back. “What are you guys talking about? Looks a mite serious.”

“Nothing,” Dave says. “Oh, sick, my turn.” He gets up to go. Jade notices his hands shaking a little.

It’s quiet when he leaves. Karkat is staring at Jake so intently. Jade recognizes that it’s his concentration face, but it looks like there’s murder in his eyes. Jake shifts uncomfortably.

“Did I bungle something? Hah. I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re good, dude. Don’t worry,” Dirk says.

Dave comes back after knocking down most of the pins.

“You’re getting off your game, bro,” Dirk says. And then the world feels a little bit different, and the air around them stinks that weird chemical smell. That smell from the other morning.

Dave sits down without saying anything. Then, like he just remembered to respond, he says, “Shit, I forgot I was playing the anti-game. I’ll get you back by sheer lack of pins by the end of this. There’s no way you’ll top me in ineptitude.”

Dirk takes a while to respond. “We’ll see. You’re not accounting for my secret technique.”

“What the living fuck is your secret technique?”

“Telling you would nullify its existence as a secret technique.”

“Yeah. Fair. Shit, they have pizza? Who wants pizza?”

And whatever the hell happened just then, it’s not gone, but it’s cleared out of the air enough that conversation moves back to a more normal flow.

Dave orders one pineapple pizza for himself and Jade, one meat lovers for Dirk and Jake, and one anchovies and jalepenos one for Karkat and whoever else wants to hazard a slice. Jade tries it, and it’s horrible, and god it does stupid things to her chest to see Karkat eating gross food. Like, what the hell is her deal. Why is that making her feel all gushy inside. He’s nasty. It’s not cute. But it is. Fuck.

Ultimately, the game does end up a competition between Jake and Jade. Karkat is making some rad progress for a game he’s never played, but Jade is off bumpers and hitting strikes by the middle of the first game. She wins one game, he wins one game. Dirk wins the un-competition with Dave.

Dave is kind of quiet for the rest of the night, but he seems to have relaxed from before. Jade hopes she’s imagining it. She tries not to feel guilty. She feels like she caused whatever it was that happened, but she knows that’s ridiculous. As much as she plays that conversation back in her head, she can’t come up with where she messed up.

When Jake asks if they’re up for a tiebreaker round, Dave speaks up.

“I’m beyond tired, gonna have to pass. I mean, you four can stay here if you want. Kick it up like an actual double date, instead of this quintuple-headed monstrosity.”

“It’s an adorable monstrosity, Dave,” Jade says, “but I’m pretty tired, too. Do you guys want a teleport back to your place?”

Dirk and Jake blink at her.

“A what now.”

Jade wiggles her fingers. “I can get you there lickety-split with god stuff.”

“Shit. Yeah. Blast me, space master,” Dirk says.

So, they return their shoes, and then Jade drops Dirk and Jake off at their place in the blink of an eye (they go to the back alley before teleporting, no need to freak out the entire bowling alley! She revels in their compliments about how that’s totally the best power, damn, why didn’t they get space powers, all they got was the ability to fuck with souls and make dreams come true.

“You what?”

“Ah, hah, it’s a bit more complicated than that,” Jake says sheepishly.

“Yeah. My bad. I mean, hell, maybe my shit doesn’t totally suck, and I just haven’t figured out how to use it yet.”

This is fascinating. Jade wants to know more. But Dave is exhausted, and she gets the strong impression that he wants to leave ASAP, given his lack of responses to stuff.

“Can we talk about this on Pesterchum?” she asks them.

“I’d be glad to!” Jake says.

“Yeah, totally.”

“Sick.”

Jade waves them off, takes Dave and Karkat’s hands, and teleports the three of them home. Well, to Dave and Karkat’s home.

“Okay, hey, uh, that was sweet, I’m gonna just go in my room for a while, don’t come in, I’m working on, like, the craziest shit. So crazy. Okay?” Dave says.

“Uh. Okay?”

Karkat stares at him, concerned.

“Dave…”

“It’s not a big deal, really. Just need to get this out of the way.”

Karkat’s whole body seems to deflate. “Okay.”

Dave walks off. He closes the door behind him.

Karkat looks crushed. Then he forces himself to perk up. “You want to go out? The stars are probably going to come out soon.”

“Yeah. That’d be good.”

They leave a note, because Dave didn’t want to be disturbed. They leave it smack dab on the middle of the couch, so he’ll see it if and when he leaves. And they go to watch the stars come out.

Jade has seen stars close up, as close as you can get before your skin starts to peel and burn. She actually knows a really nice spot in this one nebula where you can see more stars than you could ever imagine. But now doesn’t seem like a good time to bring that up. The two of them find a quiet, grassy patch in a park where they have a good view of the sky and lay down.

They talk about bowling in Alternia, and how apparently Dirk and Jake had a super rocky patch for a few months where they were completely insufferable to be around, and about what they’ll do the next few days before Jade leaves again. Then Karkat gets quiet.

“I know you have to leave,” he says quietly. “For a while. Right.”

Jade nods, then realizes Karkat can’t see her. “Yeah, that’s probably for the best. I think that’ll help stuff.”

“I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too. And Dave.” She stops there, thinks about him sitting in his room, setting off his landmines with the most innocuous phrases. “I’m worried about him.”

Karkat is quiet for a while. “Me too,” he says weakly.

Well. She’s not just imagining it. If Karkat’s worried, too, stuff is weird, and stuff is bad.

“I don’t know what to do about it,” he says.

Jade takes his hand and squeezes it. “Me either.”

Stars start to come out, one after another, blinking into existence so quietly Jade doesn’t notice until they’re already there.

“Well. That’s two of us, isn’t it,” Jade says, and laughs weakly. “But it’ll be okay, won’t it? We’ll figure it out.”

Karkat is quiet a while. “Yeah. Do you think we should talk to him?”

“Y…yeah. But not at the same time. I think that’d freak him out.”

“Okay. Yeah. Yeah, I agree.”

“Not tonight, either. Too soon, it’d freak him out, too.”

“Yeah.”

“But soon. If he’s still acting weird in a week or two.”

“Yeah.” Karkat sounds perkier. Like this talk, weak as it was, is calming his nerves. “God. It’s so stupid. It wouldn’t have even occurred to me to talk to him about it if you weren’t here.”

“Woah, really? Why not?”

“I… I don’t know. We just have a pattern. Where we don’t talk about stuff, we just figure out how to work around the steaming piles of emotional dog shit. It’s stupid.”

Jade had assumed as much. She looks up and realizes that the sky is full of stars, that the sun has set completely, and the sky is blue-black broken up by the white moon and stars. It’s pretty. It’s as pretty a night sky as you can see in the city, on earth. The air is starting to get cold, but Karkat is warm. She scoots a little closer to him. He wraps an arm around her, and she nuzzles into him.

“I’m really glad you’re here. It’s great having you around. And dating you. And shit.”

“I love you too, Karkat,” she says jokingly.

“Shut up. And I didn’t mean that, like, pressuring you to stay. I get that you have to go. I don’t mean-“

“It’s fine, Karkat. Don’t worry.”

“Okay.”

They hang out until it’s too cold to justify staying out with only their T-shirts on, and then head back.

Dave is playing video games in the living room. He waves at them. Asks them how their date went, asks them if they boned down in public. Acts like nothing was wrong earlier. Jade reminds herself that she’s not going to push, not tonight. She lets it go as well as she can, and her and Karkat both make themselves buy into the fantasy Dave is pushing on them. Because, really, maybe it’ll work itself out, and there’s no point in poking at it for no reason if it does. Hopefully, it does.

Chapter Text

Karkat starts macking on her two nights before she’s supposed to leave, before the three of them fall asleep. And she returns the macking. (god, these dumb boys are rubbing off on her too much! macking? who says that!) Dave tentatively tries to join in, and then slowly pulls away. Before Jade can even ask if he wants to slow down or just go to bed,

“I left the stove on, uh, gotta go check on that.”

She knows what this is about. He knows she knows. He has to know. They didn’t even use the stove tonight, they ate at a sushi bar in Tokyo. But it’s not about the excuse, it’s about getting out of there as fast as possible.

And the mood is dead, right, with her and Karkat. Karkat looks concerned. He gives her this look that’s probably meant to communicate something more than “that was bad, this is bad.” As if she could possibly have the same level of wordless communication with Karkat that he has with Dave.

“Do you know what that was about?” she asks him quietly.

“No.”

“Does he do that with you?”

Karkat pauses, then shakes his head. He looks really uncomfortable.

Oh. This is new information. It’s not just Dave, is it. It’s Jade. She’s the problem.

Jade wants to leave now. Jade wants to bump up her departure by one day and just leave now because she can’t think straight. I’m the problem. I’m the reason he’s like this. I’m the reason he’s upset. Probably because I was such a fucking asshole-

She has to address this. She doesn’t want to force him to talk about stuff he doesn’t want to talk about, but she has to address this before it gets worse, she has to figure out why it’s just her, she has to make this better, she has to fix this right now.

“Where are you going?” Karkat asks as she sits up.

“I have to talk to him.”

Karkat looks extremely distressed about that. She gives him a few seconds to decide if he wants to say anything or not.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he says.

“Well, what’s a better idea? Let this just keep happening forever?”

Karkat looks like he’s in physical pain. His eyes are wide and scared.

“Are you okay, Karkat?”

“Yeah?”

“You don’t look okay.”

Karkat doesn’t respond to that for a while. He keeps opening his mouth to speak, then closing it.

“It’s. Hard.”

“What? What’s hard?”

Jade notes that Dave does not come back into the room at any point. He’s probably watching TV or something. Is she more annoyed at Dave, or herself? It’s a mystery! A cosmic puzzle of the universe! Fuck!

“I. Feel like. I’m. Fuck. Fuck, I mean, I know you’re not, but-“

“Like you’re what?”

“Being asked to, uh, pick. One of you.”

“What? No. What the hell? I wouldn’t do that.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I know. Fuck.”

“I would never ask you to pick, Karkat.”

“I know, I apologized, I fucked up, it was stupid-“

He’s panicking. Jade doesn’t really know exactly what she stepped in here, but it seems pretty bad.

“Hey, it’s fine.” Is it? Is it fine? Honestly, Jade’s kind of fucking offended by both the idea that she would ask him to choose, and maybe there’s some fucking horrible part of her that’s offended that he wouldn’t choose her at all, even in this tiny little way that benefits literally everyone involved. But that’s fucking awful and she refuses to acknowledge it. Stupid. Haha, they’re both being stupid. It happens. Relationships, right? Relationships. It’s fine.

“You’re fine,” she says.

“I’m sorry.”

“Karkat, I love you.”

That seems to start to calm him down. And her, too, because she does, she loves him. Is she really going to let this stupid little thing upset her? She loves him, and he didn’t mean anything by it, and he apologized. It’s fine. It’s not worth fighting about.

She kisses his forehead. “I’m not asking you to choose, not at all. I just want to figure out how to make this better.”

He sighs. “I don’t know. I don’t know how. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” She kisses his forehead. “I’m gonna go talk to him. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

She finds Dave sitting at the kitchen table, nursing a cup with steam coming out of it. The room reeks of that indescribable chemical smell, and everything feels a little stale, the way it did the other morning. She wonders if it’s his first cup, or his third.

“Can we talk?”

“Sure, about what?” Dave asks.

Jade is getting really tired of that.

“About what just happened.”

“Oh. Uh, well, I forgot if the stove was on, and then I was hungry-“

“Dave.” He stops. “Can we please talk about it?”

He’s gripping his cup so tight his knuckles look white. He doesn’t outright rebuff her this time, but she goes over her words and cringes. Holy shit, that must have sounded pretty fucking bac on his end. Come on, Dave, just tell me everything, right now. No. No no no, that’s the exact opposite of what she wanted from this talk.

“Like, about how to make things better. You don’t have to talk about things you don’t want to talk about-“

“Yeah, no shit I don’t,” he says sharply.

Oh, ow. Okay. She deserved that, though. Probably.

“Sorry. I’m sorry. It came out wrong. I just really don’t want to freak you out again. And I don’t know how and that freaks me out.”

Dave looks into his cup. He seems to be thinking.

“Okay. Sorry. I’m being a dick. Okay. Uh. I’ll work with you here. Can we talk about it later?”

Shit. Yes. Victory. Progress. It makes sense that he needs some time to collect his thoughts and feelings about it.

“Yeah. Sure. Whenever, just tell me when you’re up for it.”

He nods. “Cool. Now’s just not a good time,” he says.

“Yeah, I get it,” Jade says.

A silence falls over them. It’s not comfortable, but it’s not as tense as it was. Dave scoots back the chair next to him and gestures towards it.

“You want some tea?”

“Sure.”

He pulls her a mug and makes her a cup of something black and strong, but she doesn’t know enough about tea to even hazard a guess as to what it is. She drinks it slowly, and the weird vibes dissipate.

Dave starts to speak. He’s so quiet, Jade can barely hear him. “Sorry for being a freak,” he says. Jade waits for him to go on. “It’s like. Shit’s out of my control, you know?”

“What do you mean?”

“Like. I’m trying not to think about…” he pauses, then full stops. It feels like a full minute passes. Then Jade smells that weird smell, like chemicals, sticking in the back of her throat. “Trying not to think about.” He stops. Again. More of the weird smell. “Gross shit,” he finally says. “But it keeps coming up.” His voice gets quieter and slower as he goes on, like an automaton running out of batteries. Jade is worried he’s going to stop altogether, but he keeps going. “I don’t wanna make it weird, right.” He takes a sip of his drink. He seems to be done, he glances at her, waiting for her to respond. He looks very small, and very nervous.

“It’s already a little weird,” she says. “I think that train might have left the station.”

He deflates a little, but he laughs.

“Yeah. Yeah, it has, hasn’t it.” He takes a careful sip of his drink. His hands are shaking a little. “I’m trying not to. Right. But it’s like. It’s fucking determined to get weird.”

“Maybe…” fuck, Jade shouldn’t have spoken, she has no idea what she’s doing here. Oh, well, too late now. “Maybe talking about it would help.”

Dave sighs a little. “Yeah. Maybe,” he says quietly. “Probably.” He looks like he’s going to say more, but they hear the sound of the bathroom door opening and closing. The toilet flushing, the sink running. She knows better than to press when Karkat might pop in at any second. The time for talking is probably gone. Maybe they should do it in space next time. No interruptions. Yeah, that’d be perfect.

“Can we talk about this later?” he asks quietly.

“Yeah. Definitely.”

“Ok, cool. I’m gonna call him in here, is that cool?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Dave does. Karkat comes down the hallway and stops in the entrance to the kitchen. He looks at them warily, like he’s trying to figure out the mood of the room.

“What the hell are you two doing? Drinking fucking tea? It’s 1 in the morning.”

Jade knows better than to try to continue that conversation.

“Yeah, drinking tea. It’s good tea. Come here, nerd.” She pushes the garbage off a side of the table and scoots a chair closer to Karkat.

Karkat joins them. He calls them idiots for drinking caffeine before bed. They finish up their drinks slowly, then pile back into bed. This time, they fall asleep quickly, close together and warm.

Dave kisses the back of her neck.

“’Night, Jade.”

**

The next day starts off pretty quietly. Jade gets the feeling that Dave and Karkat still don’t know how exactly to deal with the fact that she’s leaving tomorrow. They’re trying not to let it show, but apparently two (three?) can play at this accidental mind-reading thing. And that just won’t do. She’s going out with a bang, not a fizzle. Something that’ll leave them all with a good taste in their brainmouths.

At the same time, coming up with date ideas by herself every time is honestly starting to get exhausting. She’s kind of nervous she’s going to run out of stuff to do soon. The world is huge, but she’s worried that she’s going to run out of places, or (more realistically) it’s only a matter of time before exploring new places starts to lose its luster.

And… she’s happy to see them happy, but there’s this little part of her that’s relentlessly annoyed that they don’t suggest anything, ever - well, she’s being uncharitable! They suggested some stuff. Karkat suggested the park. There. But it’d be nice if they suggested more.

She finds them on the couch, as usual, and plunks down.

“What do you guys want to do today?”

“I dunno. Whatever,” Dave says.

“Yeah. What are you thinking?”

Jade resists the urge to roll her eyes. She can’t expect them to change if they don’t know she what she wants!

“Work with me, guys!”

“What?” Dave asks. “But this is like, your thing.”

“What, planning stuff for us to do?”

He nods. “Which might actually be incredibly shitty for you, huh.” Thank god, he picks up so quick.

“Oh, fuck, Jade, I’m sorry,” Karkat says. Agh.

“No! It’s fine! I just expected you guys to pick up the slack at some point. It’s fine! Better to take care of it now, right?”

Dave seems super fucking on edge, and Karkat looks like he might cry. Fuck. Fuck!

“It’s okay, really! Really! How would you guys know it was bothering me if I didn’t tell you?”

“I should have picked up on it,” Karkat says. “It’s skull-numbingly obvious. It should have been plain as the fucking day.”

“What? No. How? I didn’t tell you. Karkat, it’s fine.”

“Is it?” he asks carefully.

“Yeah.”

“Is that… is that how you and Dave…” Stupid mouth, there it goes. Of course it is. He told her that, she should have picked up on it before now, of course, of course, they just, read each other’s minds, half-effectively, all the time. It never fails to surprise her. It just doesn’t make sense, it’s not how people work. But, shit, this is awkward. “Well, Dave, do you have any ideas?”

“Yeah, six.”

“What? Where the fuck have you been keeping them?”

“Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV--”

“Oh my god, no, we’re not marathoning that again.”

“Uh. How about. Fucking. What’s a cool place that you can take us to, Jade?”

Jade tries not to let her annoyance show. “Well, if you’re the one coming up with the date idea, it’s your job to pick it.”

“Oh. Okay. Got it. Uh… Egypt.”

This really isn’t what Jade wanted out of this exercise. “And what’ll we do in Egypt, Dave?”

Dave takes a half-step back. “Uh. Uh. Fuck. I don’t know. Look at the pyramids. You probably know a lot of cool stuff down there, right?”

Jade’s done. Because honestly, she put herself out here, because she was worried about how this would go down. And it’s like Dave doesn’t even care. She’s just a well of ideas and plans that he taps into, even when she explicitly tells him she doesn’t want to be that. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care!

“Are you serious right now? Your date idea is me figuring it out? Again?”

“Wow, okay. Sorry for not knocking it out of the fucking park the first time I swung the old idea bat around. Second time, actually, because the boss isn’t good enough, either.”

“I don’t think that Rocky is the human that’s called ‘the boss,’” Karkat says weakly. “Uh, should I go?”

 “What? Why?” Jade asks.

“You… seem like you two need a minute to hash this out?”

What a very Karkat way to deal with this, Jade thinks. Which is mean, and she’s glad she didn’t say it out loud, but fuck, this has been bothering her for a while now and he’s doing it again and well, apparently it’s time to get all this stuff in the open!

“No. You’re part of this, too. You never suggest anything, you just go along with whatever I pick. It’s lame and I hate it!”

“Did I not already apologize for that? Oh, no, I did, at the top of this conversation. Look, I can make a list of shit to do-”

“It’s not about the date ideas!”

Karkat’s eyes widen. “What the fuck? What’s it about, then?”

All the words leave Jade’s brain. Oops.

“Jade?”

Jade really wishes she could go back and eat those words. Just gobble them right up. She can see how scared Karkat is, and hurt, and preemptively angry.

“Jade, do you need to, like, cool off for a few?” Dave asks carefully.

“No. Well, mayb- no! No. We should talk about it, it’s been bothering me for a while.”

“Talk about what?”

“How you guys refuse to talk about things!”

Dave goes stock-still and his mouth sets in a straight line. Shit. Shit.

“Not that,” Jade says weakly. God, she has the tastiest foot! “Stuff like this, like date ideas. And like. Like, why did you freak out the other day? I have no idea! I don’t know what I did wrong! Am I expected to know why that was wrong? There’s all these little things that I keep messing up and I don’t know why and you refuse to explain-“

“I mean, Karkat seems to have figured it out pretty well without me having to spell it out for him letter by letter.”

Oh. Ow. Okay.

“Jesus Christ, Dave, what the fu-“

“Okay, well, actually, forget staying another day.”

“What, you’re leaving? Just from that?” Dave asks. “So much for talking it out, I guess.”

“Are you serious?

“Jade, wait-“

“No! You and Dave can just hang out and read each other’s minds while I’m away, and it’ll all be fine, right?”

“Wait,” Dave says, and Jade waits. “Are we putting shit on the table? Or are you just gonna say your piece and then poof?”

Insufferable. He looks so pissed and smug, too, like this is some long-standing thing he’s been dealing with. As if! He can say whatever he wants whenever he wants, why does he not know that!

“Maybe if you’d actually tell me something for once I’d be able to react to it! Please! Please say it!”

Dave’s mouth sets in a straight line.

“Okay, well, maybe you could fucking cool it with trying to make me say everything I think and feel every time it makes you uncomfortable? Maybe? Because that’s a thing that’s happening.”

Jade feels like she can’t even begin to parse that. She’s wrong, isn’t she, she’s in the wrong here- but so are they! They are, too! Fuck! She’s trying!

She thought she’d been doing well. She thought she was taking it slow. She thought that she and Dave had a moment the other night, and things were fine, and that was okay and good, even. Haha, stupid, apparently, because apparently he fucking hates that it happened at all!

“Is that what you think I’m doing? Is that really how you see it? Really? Dave? I’m making you spell out every single thing you think just because it makes me uncomfortable? I thought I was- I wasn’t trying-”

“I mean, maybe that was a little strong, but-“

“I’m gonna… go…” Karkat says shakily. Is he panicking? He looks like he’s panicking, his eyes are wide and scared. Jade would do more about that, like tell him it’s okay and that she loved him etc, if Dave wasn’t right there, and if she wasn’t halfway to panicking herself. She’s feels like she’s going to scream.

 “Don’t bother! I’ll just go! Bye!”

“Jade, come on, I didn’t mean-“ Dave starts to say. Nope! Bye! Goodbye!

And she’s back in the quiet of her room. Her room, not the room they let her sleep in, not the room they let her put her desk in. It doesn’t have her computer in it anymore. Hmm. She should get another one for here. Yeah. She really didn’t think that through, only having one computer when she knew she would be coming back here. She didn’t think a lot of things through, ahhaha, like choosing to date her two best friends instead of just fucking leaving it be before she ruins everything she ever had with them with her ineptitude because she’s cosmically destined to be alone and knew that going into this!

That was a fight, apparently. Was that a normal level of fight? She’d ask Dave and Karkat later. If they still want to talk to her, Oh, god.

Her phone buzzes. Her phone buzzes again. And again.

She mutes it.

But she knows it’s still going, on and on, that they’re talking to her and explaining things - or, maybe, telling her that actually, yeah, just stay, we’ll bring your stuff over, sorry for ever thinking this could work.

She takes it out of her pocket, throws it on her bed, and goes into space.

She doesn’t strictly need to align the planets, because they don’t actually ever go out of line, and because she’s not even due to check up on them for another five days, at least. But, why not. Why the fuck not.

For the first time in days, she feels like she can breathe again. In space. Ha-ha.

It still hurts. She really thought she and Dave were doing well with that stuff. She thought she wasn’t pushing too fast. Did he want her to never say anything, ever? Because… it’s just such a huge thing, and it keeps coming up, she can’t imagine how she could do that.

And Karkat… that was shitty of her. That had been bugging her for a while, it’s true. Especially after he told her, explicitly, that yeah, her suspicions were right, he tends to just not do anything about anything. She told herself she was just happy to help and nudge him in the right direction, but it bugs her. And she let herself just throw that on him out of nowhere because she was in a bad mood and fighting with Dave and Karkat started doing it again, just leaving - although, was he even wrong to leave then? It really didn’t have anything to do with him. It just fit into the overall pattern. But it sucked. Agh.

She needs to apologize to Karkat.

And she needs to talk with Dave. That presents more challenges. But she has to do it, doesn’t she? If they want to keep … doing this.

God. What if… what if it doesn’t work? With just her and Dave? And Karkat has to pick- she really doesn’t want to follow this train of thought. He’d pick Dave, obviously. If she ever has trouble with either of them, she loses both of them, doesn’t she? No, that’s probably not right- but what if?

She’ll deal with it, she guesses. Hope it doesn’t happen and deal with it if it does. When it does. If it does.

She runs through her thoughts again a few times, trying not to worry about what might happen. Because whatever happens, happens. She really hopes they don’t have to break up. Hopefully her and Dave can work out whatever this is, and Karkat can forgive her for being tactless and having terrible timing.

She goes home and opens her phone. And feels relief wash over her the second she starts to read the messages.

-- turntechGodhead started pestering GardenGnostic --

TG: sorry that was dumb

TG: please come back

TG: that was seriously the douchiest possible way to do that

TG: i mean its like

TG: a tiny thing that kind of has been bothering me a little bit and got poked by some stuff that you said but honestly like

TG: the other night was fine

TG: idk why i had to bring that up right then like

TG: thats probably why you were so upset right

TG: because it seemed like i was lying about the other night being fine

TG: i wasnt

TG: im just a douche with bad timing

TG: please come back

TG: i can make so many date ideas that dont suck if you want

TG: date one uh we can go rollerskating and you can watch me and karkat wipe seven times in one minute and do kickflips over our prone forms

TG: thats not exactly the issue here but its part of it right

TG: i get that youre ignoring me right now but you havent blocked me and i take that as a sign that its fine to continue

TG: so uh

TG: sorry for being a massive, swollen, turgid cock about everything

TG: we can talk about stuff if you want

TG: like

TG: not everything everything right ok because like

TG: i think like

TG: sorry

TG: but can we at least talk about what went down just now

TG: jade

TG: are you there

TG: im starting to think not

TG: im being so respectful of privacy right now and not asking if youre responding to karkat like so respectful please note my mad respect

TG: anyways if youre not uh, sorry about the wall of needy overemotional text youre gonna have from both of us

TG: please come back if you want to i really like having you around and youre wonderful and i really really like you and sorry for being a tool

TG: ok gonna stop the text wall now

She closes that message set out, and looks at Karkat’s.

-- carcinoGeneticist started pestering GardenGnostic --

CG: JADE

CG: CAN YOU COME BACK SO WE CAN TALK

CG: MAYBE I CAN FACILITATE FOR YOU AND DAVE INSTEAD OF STANDING THERE LIKE A FUCKING GOB-SMACKED MORON

CG: PLEASE COME BACK THOUGH

CG: SORRY FOR BEING WORSE THAN USELESS WHEN YOU GUYS NEEDED ME

CG: THAT’S KIND OF MY THING BUT I’M WORKING ON IT

CG: I MEAN YOU’RE PROBABLY PISSED WITH ME TOO RIGHT SO THIS WALL OF BULLSHIT ISNT GOING TO SIT WELL BUT

CG: SORRY

GG: why on earth are *you* apologizing??????

CG: JADE

CG: HI

GG: hi, karkat. :p

GG: im really sorry for being a jerk for no reason.

CG: I MEAN

CG: I WAS BEING A USELESS PIECE OF SHIT

GG: you were not!!!!

GG: it’s not your job to facilitate me and dave’s arguments

CG: I MEAN

CG: IT WOULD HAVE HELPED, THOUGH, RIGHT?

CG: OH, UH, DAVE SEES THAT YOU’RE RESPONDING NOW

GG: oh, fuck

-- GardenGnostic ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist --

-- GardenGnostic started pestering turntechGodhead --

GG: thank you

GG: i came on really strong, too. kinda out of nowhere

TG: haha yeah i guess maybe a little

GG: a little. a FUCKTON more like

TG: pff

TG: are you coming back

GG: yeah.

GG: we have some stuff to talk about, still

GG: maybe we should do it over text?

TG: do we have to

TG: jk

GG: … are you really jk?

TG: fuck yeah i mean dumb joke right now right

TG: asshole with terrible timing, remember

TG: mastering the aspect has no bearing on my phenomenal lack of tact

TG: sorry

TG: please come back

GG: ill come back!

GG: i just think we really should talk about this stuff first, because i really dont want to step all over your toes all the time forever!

GG: and i gotta know where your toes are so i can avoid them, right?

TG: yeah

TG: yeah, definitely

TG: the shit i said about karkat getting it was bogus sorry

TG: you dont have like five years of relationship backlog at your disposal like he does

GG: don’t i know it :p

TG: shit that really bothered you didnt it

GG: it’s fine!!!

TG: im really sorry it was stupid

TG: im so happy to work with you idk what i was thinking

GG: thank you. its ok. really

GG: do you guys mind if i come back today? like right now?

TG: please

TG: karkat also says please

GG: okay. see you guys soon.

-- GardenGnostic ceased pestering turntechGodhead --

*

Jade politely teleports herself to the front door, and knocks. She’s barely inside before Dave is crushing her in a hug.

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too. I’m sorry.”

Jade has her eyes closed, and she’s just reeling with the feeling of relief and the warmth of Dave’s body and how nice it is to hug him again when she was so worried that she wouldn’t be able to, that she doesn’t see Karkat approach, doesn’t realize he’s coming until she feels his arms wrap around her, too. She lets go of Dave, just for a second, and hugs Karkat hard.

“I’m sorry, Karkat!”

“It’s fine. I’m just… really glad you came back.”

“Of course I would come back! Did you guys really think I wouldn’t? I thought you wouldn’t want me back!”

“Why the hell would we not want you back? There’s basically nothing you would do that would have me declare this a no-Jade zone.”

It feels good. It feels even better, knowing that she can bring stuff like that up, and they can bring stuff like that up, and still want to be around each other afterwards. Fuck, it’s overwhelming, and her eyes start to tear up. She slings one of her arms around Dave, and he wraps both his arms around her and kisses her. She kisses him back. They usually have to work their way up to messy, but this starts out at an 8 on the messy scale, strong and almost missing. It feels like reassurance. It’s okay. It’s okay. I still want you. I want you here.

“I love you,” Dave says quietly.

“Oh, wow.”

“Hah, sorry to dump the emotional shit on you all at once, but I thought I lost you, and it was like- it was like holy shit, she’s not even gonna know, and I mean, I can’t tell her after, right, because that would be weird-“

Jade kisses him again and squeezes him in her arms.

“I love you, too! I was starting to worry you didn’t… I mean…”

“No, I totally do-“

She feels Karkat start to step away and grabs his hand. She turns to face him and kisses him before he can tell her how it’s okay, really, her and Dave just need a minute alone. Maybe she’s kind of bothered by him being as passive as he is, but she doesn’t exactly do much to rope him in when he’s uncomfortable, does she? Maybe he just needs a little nudge. She can help him walk before he runs, and she’s happy to do that.

“I love you, Karkat. I love both of you.”

Karkat squeezes her hand and swallow. His eyes are pink with tears. Such a softie, gosh, she thinks as tears roll down her cheeks.

They make their way to the couch.

“So should we talk about… stuff?” Jade asks carefully. She sniffles a little.

“Yeah. I’ll try to bring shit up more when it comes up. Instead of hoarding it like a fuckwit and pelting you with it like the world’s most passive-aggressive squirrel hoarding pain nuts.”

Jade laughs. “Okay. Should I… back off more than I have been?”

“…Maybe a little.”

“Can we have a word to let me know when to back off? Because I don’t know when I should. And I can’t read you like Karkat can.” That hurts to admit, especially to Dave. She feels completely naked in front of him now. But he just nods.

“Yeah. That’s a good idea. Uh. Slimetime?”

“Slimetime? You’re picking slimetime?”

“I mean, I’m not gonna say it any other time, right?”

“You’re right. Yeah. You’re right.”

“Karkat, you, uh. Sorry for being a jerk. I should have been nicer about that.”

“It bothers me, too,” he says quietly.

“What?”

“I know I take a backseat to shit basically every time I have a chance to pick a seat. I hate it.”

Ha. Haha. Jade is just the best girlfriend.

“I’m sorry-“

“It’s okay, you weren’t wrong. I can see why you’d hate it. I can try to be better.”

“I’m sorry for being such a dick about it, though! You keep acting like it doesn’t matter, and clearly it does. It’s like you don’t think your feelings matter.”

“He does that,” Dave says.

“Don’t team up on me, you soft alien freaks.”

“Nah, it’s basically a unified from on the Karkat should think higher of himself front. I’m glad I got someone else backing me up now. Maybe it’ll start to sink in more.”

Karkat flushes and laughs, and looks away awkwardly. Jade kisses his cheek.

“I love you, and I don’t want to hurt you, and I don’t want you to think it’s fine that I did.”

Karkat looks at her. “Thanks,” he says uncomfortably.

She squeezes his hand. It’s quiet for a moment.

“Is that everything?”

Dave and Karkat think for a moment.

“Yeah,” Dave says. “Think so.”

“Yeah, I can’t think of anything else.”

“I’m really glad we talked about it, guys. Thanks.”

“Yeah,” Dave says, “me too. It’s like. Shit’s better. Fucking incredible. We fixed it.”

Jade feels something warm swell in her chest. They fixed it, she fixed it, the nasty shit that was brewing between them. She’s so happy she could cry. But she won’t!

Dave looks at her, probably sees the sappy expression she’s wearing plain as day on her face, and hugs her again. And kisses her.

He loves her, and he’s glad she’s here, and he still wants her here, and everything is better now, and they fixed it, and she’s so relieved and happy and warm. She kisses him back, and it doesn’t take long before it gets heated, before Dave starts biting at her lips and running his hands up her sides. And before Karkat scoops her up and cradles her back into his chest and kisses the back of her neck. Jade runs her hands past Dave’s shirt, then pauses before dipping under.

“Can I-“

“Everything, yes, you can do everything, unless I tell you to stop, anything, it’s fine. Better than fine, it’s so fucking good, please.”

God that’s so hot to hear, and she feels Karkat’s bulge wriggle against her back.

“The two of you are so hot,” he says softly into her ear. Jade turns and kisses Karkat as best she can, which isn’t great, given the weird angle and the weird couch thing.

Fuck, fuck she needs to look into positions that the three of them can do together, all at once, because as she’s kissing Karkat, Dave unzips her pants and starts licking his way down her happy trail and she can’t think of anything but how bad she wants to feel him there. But, fuck, no! No leaving out Karkat! She tugs on his hair before he reaches her clit, because she knows it’s going to be hard to tell him to stop once he gets started.

“Can we take this to bed?”

“Oh, fuck yeah, absolutely yeah.”

They stumble awkwardly into the bedroom. Jade pushes Karkat down first and immediately gets to work pulling his pants off. He pulls her up before she can do anything with his bulge which is already out, and kisses her. He wraps his arms around her, and she’s got her skin pressed up against his skin basically everywhere it could possibly touch, and it’s amazing. He’s so warm and soft and his mouth feels so good, and his bulge is flicking lightly against her. And then she feels Dave behind her, naked, his cock poking against her thigh.

The most unfair part about dating two people is that you can’t kiss both of them at once, Jade decides. It’s a travesty.

“How- how should we do this?” she asks shakily, because Karkat’s bulge is flicking against her clit and Dave is kissing her neck and dipping his fingers into her teasingly.

“This seems just fine to me. Karkat?” Dave asks as he dips in deeper, starts fucking his fingers into her. Jade moans and falls forward

“Yeah, this is good. This is great.”

“Guys!” Jade tries to sound admonishing, but it’s hard to do when they’re making her feel this good.

“Hey, Jade, can I put my outie in your innie?”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“He wants to fuck you, and he’s being insufferable about it.”

“Oh, fuck. Fuck. Yes. And never call it that again.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

He pulls away, but before she can look up and ask why Karkat pushes her hips down so she’s straddling his bulge, which licks up against her clit.

“You feel so good,” Karkat says. “So soft.”

“Fuck! Fuck, your bulge is amazing, oh my god. You’re amazing.”

“Shut up.”

“You are, oh fuck, do that again-“

She hears some weird plasticy sounds behind her, and then something wet. What the hell is he doing back there?

And then she feels him against her back, and feels his cock press against her slit.

“Tell me if you need me to slow down,” Dave says.

“Okay.”

“Are you ready?”

Jade’s heart hammers in her chest. “Yeah.”

And then he’s pushing in, and it’s amazing. It takes her a second to get used to it. It feels so good and wet and warm and she’s surrounded on all sides by soft, warm, slightly sweaty skin from the guys she loves to bits and they love her too and agh. It’s overwhelming. She’s making all kinds of stupid noises, because it feels so good and Karkat’s bulge hasn’t stopped molesting her clit with perfect, soft, warm pressure. And when Dave picks up the pace, it’s hardly any time at all before she’s shaking and her eyes are rolling back into her head, with Karkat kissing her and telling her how perfect she is and how much he loves her. And Dave gives her a chance to recover before starting up again and, oh, oh this is good.

And the rest is a hazy, fun, pleasured blur. Dave keeps fucking her and Karkat keeps fondling her until she’s nearly screaming three separate times. Dave eventually buries himself in her, and Jade doesn’t think she’ll ever forget how hot it is when he says her name like that. And then he’s pulling out, and she shivers from the lack of contact. Then she hears something wet.

“You absolutely insufferable fucking wiggler. No older than fucking two sweeps in your fucking brain. Was it hard to learn to speak, you fucking-“

She hears the slap again, and Dave giggle. She looks down and sees him slapping a tied-off condom against Karkat’s legs.

“Dave, you’re the worst!”

“That’s not what you were saying five minutes ago.”

“Oh my god.”

“That’s my name, don’t-“

Jade can’t not laugh. Her emotional filter is zero. “Dave! Stop! It’s Karkat’s turn to feel good, don’t you think?”

“Oh, fuck yeah it is.”

Karkat makes an embarrassed alien sound in his throat, and Jade slides her way down his body. His bulge is thrashing, and it takes some maneuvering, but she gets it in his mouth, and he trills.

“Scoot over, make room, gotta get my love up on this dude.”

Jade moves over a little bit so that Dave can slip his fingers into Karkat’s nook as he kisses the alien chirps and trills out of his mouth. And it takes hardly any time at all - much less time than Jade would have liked to spend on him, and she’ll have to make it up to him next time, get him in the kitchen or the bathroom and just lavish him with attention - before he’s spilling all over her face with a comical amount of jizz. She waits for him to start shaking and then wipes it off, makes her way back up to the two of them, and joins the cuddle puddle.

When Jade goes to bed that night, on a clean set of sheets because, oops, it’s tucked snugly between the two of them, the three of them taking turns kissing and whispering out little I love yous.

She doesn’t know what comes next, but they if got through this, she’s a lot more confident that they can handle the rest.

Chapter Text

Dave sits at Dirk’s kitchen/living room table, trying to think how to phrase what he’s about to say. The thing is, he wants an outside perspective about what went down. Because it’s probably fine, and they probably fixed everything, but it was still significantly more intense than anything that’d gone down with just him and Karkat, at least in the last three years. That freaks him out. And Dirk is cool, and Dave trusts him, and he’s had a lot of ups and downs with Jake so it’s a totally natural-ass culmination that Dave wants to hash it out with him.

“If this is way too personal tell me to back off,” he says.

Dirk waits for him to go on. The two of them are waiting on cups of coffee from a weird new machine that Dirk made, which might or might not prove functional. Just a prototype, still in beta, yadda yadda, it’s probably amazing. Dirk seemed equally confident that it might be shit or the best coffee he ever had, or ever will have, and that’s a gamble that Dave is willing to take.

“How much did you and Jake fight, like, when you first started dating?”

The machine burbles.

“Define first.”

“Like, the first two months,” Dave says, and then cringes when he sees Dirk raise his eyebrows, because oh, haha, isn’t that the exact timeframe for how long he’s been dating Jade. Oh well. Too late now.

“Never.”

“What?”

“Never. Took a little longer than that.”

“How long?”

“I dunno. Maybe three months.”

“Oh. And then you…” Dave thinks about how to ask this, what he wants to know. He wants to ask, was that normal? Was that fight a normal part of dating? “This is about Jade,” he says bluntly, because dancing around this any longer is going to become farcical.

“I’m aware.”

“Okay. Well. We fought, right.”

“Was it bad?”

“I don’t know.”

“You want to talk about it? Have a 20 minute honesty power session?”

“Hah. Yeah, let’s fucking do this. I guess I just want to know if it was normal shit. Or bad shit. Or if I can make it better with some shit.”

“If you get any vaguer I might just think you were talking about a dick abscess.”

“Okay.” Dave thinks for a second. He and Dirk talk about a lot of heavy shit, right. Like, Dirk has talked to him about having trouble with Jake sometimes, and they talk about growing up. And, well, he leaves out some stuff in his stories. Because you just can’t say that kind of shit to someone without making it weird. But they’re heavy shit bros. Not all the time, just when they need it, and that way they can get it out without tying that emotional anchor to their boyfriends. And girlfriends. “We had a fight, right.”

“Right.”

“It felt pretty bad. Like, Jade just teleported right in the middle of it and didn’t come home for a few hours.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m a huge dickhead.”

Dirk thinks something over. “Was it the same or worse than times you’ve fought with Karkat?”

“So, like. Maybe a few times, like that, a few years in. But I guess I figured that was just because we were teenagers. And that we fixed everything right up when we got older.”

“Ah.”

“So? Thoughts? Pearls of wisdom from the horse’s mouth?”

Dirk rolls his eyes. “Don’t call me that. Or call me that exclusively. But don’t just throw it in every once in a while.”

“Deal.”

“So, you want to know if that was normal?”

“…Yeah.”

“Uh. Not to be a dick, but I’m not exactly a relationship expert here. I’ve dated one guy and we spent like half our time together time arguing. I’m really not a great standard to hold.”

Dave doesn’t respond. He’s right, and Dave is being an idiot.

“That said, we can like, talk it out, if you want.”

“Okay.”

“What started it?”

“Some stupid shit. Like, I can hardly even remember. It was fucking nothing.”

Dirk laughs a little. “That happens.”

“So, like. Jade does this thing, right, where.” Dave stops. Talking about this without getting to too close to that could be tricky. But he can manage. And the shit isn’t acting up today. He’s actually totally comfortable around Dirk, and he should probably wring this juicy comfort orange for every drop of emotional juice that he can. “She tries to get me to open up about shit, right. Like, bad shit.”

“Ah. That would be a problem, yeah.”

“Right. I mean, it’s not like, yo Dave, tell me about every fucked up thing that ever happened to you in detail, but it’s like, she just doesn’t get it unless I spell it out a little. Like, Karkat gets it, you get it, but she needs it all in print form.”

Dirk is quiet for a while. The coffee maker gurgles. “So, what, she does things that bother you? Does she slam doors? Teleport into rooms without warning you?”

Hah, he’s fast to cut right to the core. No pussyfooting around. Dirk kind of cringes when he says that, too, like he usually does when they talk about him in any capacity. Dave used to tell him that he’s so different, like, such a fucking different person, and holding himself accountable for shit that some random other dude with his genes had was ridiculous, but he doesn’t think it ever really sunk in. It’s another reason that Dave really, really doesn’t want to let slip about the other shit. Other than the fact that it’s fucking awful and would make everything weird and terrible forever. There’s no reality where Dirk doesn’t blame himself for it happening, and that would suck.

“No,” Dave says, before he thinks better of it. Whoops. Because now Dirk wants to know what it is that she does, that isn’t slamming doors. “Uh, she.” Fuck. “Yeah, she slams doors and shit.”

If Dirk doesn’t believe him, and there’s basically no way that he would, he doesn’t press. “Okay. And you don’t want to tell her why that bugs you?”

“Fuck no.”

“…Did you ever tell Karkat about him?”

“Like, a little bit, but no. They don’t need to know that shit, you feel me?”

“…It’s your call, I guess.”

“What, would you tell Jake that kind of shit?”

“I mean, yeah. Not as much I’d tell you but, yeah. Like, he used to give me a ton of shit for needing so much time alone, right. Thought I hated him or something. Kept asking me what he did wrong. So I told him what was up, and he stopped, because he got it. It wasn’t just a random set of rules for him to memorize anymore.”

“Oh.”

“I mean, you don’t have to go into every little thing, but they probably want to know.”

Do they? Do they really want to know? “But shit’s so fucking heavy.”

“Yeah, but.” Dirk looks down and raps his fingers on the table erratically. “What if it was them? Would you want to know?”

The coffee maker dings before Dave can answer. Dirk gets cups, pours them both a cup.

It’s fucking perfect. And it’s something to focus on, besides how fucking right Dirk is about this.

“Holy shit,” Dave says.

“Yeah, it’s not bad.”

“Sell this, dude. Market the shit out of it. It’s viral waiting to happen.”

“Pff. At least a few more things I want to try out with it.”

“Excuses. You gotta get this off the ground.”

Dirk takes another sip. He’s not going to sell it, Dave knows him better. He’ll be happy to just keep it here, share it with Jake, maybe give a prototype to some of his friends.

“Honesty session is still ongoing, right?” Dirk says eventually.

“Yeah, totally. It’d be all kinds of shitty to soak up all that time for myself and then cut you off at the pass.” Dave takes another sip. Fucking ambrosia. Dirk is gonna deny most of the human race the best thing they ever had. “And thanks.” He holds out his fist, and Dirk bumps it.

“No problem.” Dirk taps the table again, forming the words in his head before he says them. “Why did you lie to Jade and Karkat about hanging out every week?”

Well.

Dave pauses time before Dirk can see him panic. He should have seen this coming, right. That kind of shit doesn’t just sit, not between them. Like, a lot of shit goes without saying, though, and maybe Dave was hoping against hope that this would be one of them. But, no, because there’s no intuitive logic to it, no leap for Dirk to make for why Dave is avoiding him and lying to his partners about it, and-

And the longer he keeps shit paused, the more likely Dirk is to notice. Fuck. Think.

Honesty? Completely, utterly out of the question here. Not gonna happen. Cannot happen. That’s the thing. Everything rests on him not spilling the fucking beans about this. Everything.

Okay. Okay, he’s got something. Unpause.

“I’ve just needed some time to write my screenplay, right. Alone. And shit’s really intense with Jade around, and I don’t wanna offend either of them by being all, oh I totally can’t think when you’re around because you being around is psychically noisy even though I totally love you.”

Dirk’s tapping slows down, and he looks away. Dave is pretty sure he’s not buying a word of it. Oh, haha, yeah, because he’s been cutting hangouts short since well before Jade entered the picture. Ha. Haha. And even without that, wow, he just dropped the L-bomb right on the waiting architecture of Dirk’s listening ears, didn’t he.

“You know you can tell me things, right?”

Pause. Breathe. Unpause.

“Yeah.”

“I’m not gonna push you to slice yourself open so I can poke at the viscera. But, like. Something’s up. And you can talk to me.”

Dave wants to laugh, and he gets dangerously close to actually doing so before he pauses time again. He can’t hold it back.

Ha. He can talk to Dirk. About this. Yeah, okay, Dirk. Good one. God. It’s the funniest thing he’s heard all week. He’s actually crying. Fuck. Fuck, breathe. Get it together, dude. Okay.

“Thanks,” he says, and pauses again so he can let loose the hysterical fit of giggles. God. Fuck. Fuck, he has to get it together. Fuck. He takes his glasses off and wipes a tear streak off with his hoodie. Good thing he wore black today, can’t see shit. Okay. Okay.

“I appreciate it.” He holds his hand out for a fistbump.

Dirk stares at him. He slowly returns the fistbump, his movements forced. Hah.

“I know you want to drop it, but.” He stops. “Just kinda worried about you, dude. In general.”

“What? Why? There’s nothing to be worried about. I’m totally fine.”

Dirk sighs quietly through his nose. “Alright.”

Dave fights the urge to apologize. He’s got nothing to apologize for. And Dirk really, really doesn’t want to know this. Even if he thinks he does. He doesn’t.

“You want more coffee?”

Dave nods and Dirk grabs his cup. And then they start talking about the screenplay instead.

Chapter Text

Jade is gone, and Karkat is bored.

Dave wakes up a few hours after him. So does Jade, when she’s here, usually. Sometimes one of them wakes up significantly before the other one, and that’s. Something. Well… sometimes Jade wakes up before Dave. And Karkat just has a few sleepy morning hours to sit at the kitchen table with her, drink coffee or tea and talk (or make out like adolescent wrigglers because she’s so hot and she somehow finds him hot). She tried his grub tea once. She said it tasted like soup. Not bad but weird. She’d try it again if he made it for her. Maybe with some salt. And then she asked him all about Alternian cuisine, and her eyes sparkled with interest at what he told her. And fuck, it’s stupid, but he missed that, feeling like he was telling someone something new, and she was so excited for everything, she had so many questions-

Fuck. He misses her.

He puts on coffee and listens to it burble. He’ll have to drink a whole fucking pot to get anything out of it, with how little he slept last night. She’d left yesterday, and she’d been very clear that she didn’t want either of them to text her outside of an emergency. If I start talking to you guys while I’m away, it’s going to make me want to come back even more and I can’t do that even if I want to. So don’t! I love you. See you soon.

Texting her and having her around would defeat the purpose, she said. The purpose is that she leaves on a good note, and slowly gets used to being around the people she’s dating in such close proximity for so long. And on one hand, great. Karkat feels his romance-sucking thinkpan wheeling into Assumptions Town but, that seems like it means she might want to move in someday, enough that she’s working on it. On the other hand, he knows it’s mostly his fault that she has to leave, that she can’t stand being around them for more than a few days.

So, Jade left, and Dave has also been acting weird since he got back from Dirk’s. Dave is acting weird, a four-part epic describing the last year. But he was acting really, really weird. Karkat kept catching him staring at him, and when he’d ask him what’s up? Oh, nothing. Or, you got something on your face, it’s handsome. Nice try at distraction, fucko (well, it worked. But only for a few minutes). Karkat chalked it up to Jade weirdness, but it followed them into bed that night, and every little thing Dave said sounded halted or forced and it was weird. Karkat didn’t ask him if he wanted to talk about it. He probably didn’t.

The coffee pot stops gurgling, and Karkat shuts it off. Better for it to be lukewarm as fast as possible. He wishes he could just fucking inject it into his bloodstream, bypass the chore of guzzling cup after bitter cup. Oh well.

He’s halfway through his third shitty cup when Dave walks in. He hugs him from behind loosely and kisses the back of Karkat’s neck.

“Shit, you’re up early.”

“Couldn’t sleep without my hot water heater buddy. Come back to bed, it’s warm.”

“And watch you fall back asleep? I’ll pass.”

“Or we can make out.” Dave kisses the side of his neck now, hugs him a little tighter. “Just sayin’.  That’s on the table.”

“Hmm.” That’s tempting. But admitting that would be weak at this point. And Dave probably knows, anyways, because Karkat didn’t immediately shoot him down. This is the little game they play. Like, convince me, to do this thing I would absolutely do immediately right now if the floor wasn’t so hard.

“That sounds like a yes.”

“Drink some coffee so you don’t fall asleep on me.”

Dave cranes his neck out and purses his lips.

“What are you doing.”

“Give me the coffee.”

“No.”

“Just pour it in my mouth.”

“It’ll absolutely spill.”

“Not if you’re really careful with it.”

“No. Get your own cup.”

“But then I have to detach myself from you and, nah, it’s too cold in here.”

“Dave-“

“Sorry, man. I’m stuck here now. Until we get back to bed.”

“…Don’t spill it.”

“I won’t, babe. I’ll be so careful. You be careful, too. Work with me. Pour that sweet goo down my throat nice and easy.”

“Stop talking.”

Karkat can’t believe he’s doing it, but he’s fucking doing it, he’s taking the cup of iced coffee and reaching it over and attempting to pour it in Dave’s mouth. Some probably gets in. A lot gets all over his stupid gas station T-shirt. It’s a graphic design nightmare, it’s covered in wolves howling at the moon and cursive print that says take a walk on the wild side and it’s just fucking awful.

“More.”

“You’re insufferable. Get off me so I can fill the cup up.”

“Hmm, nah.”

So Karkat and Dave carefully walk to the coffee pot, then carefully to the ice cube tray, and Karkat does his best to not laugh. And still fucks it up. At least Dave deigns to take the cup in his own hand this time when he downs it.

“There. Am I properly caffeinated now? Come to bed.”

“Fine.”

And finally, Dave lets him go, and they go back to bed.

Dave flops into bed on his back. He looks up at Karkat, smiles and holds out his arms. “C’mere, dude.”

Karkat sits on the bed. First order of business. Take off that fucking T-shirt.

Dave laughs. “Shit, feeling frisky? Me and Jade didn’t wear you out the other night? We should double-team you more. We should double-team you every day. I have to talk to her about-”

“No, I just can’t stand looking at it anymore.”

“Sure.”

“It’s true and you know it.” Karkat pulls it off, and then gets under the blanket. Dave scoots up close to him and drapes his leg over Karkat’s hip.

As much as things are great with Jade, it’s just so much more relaxing with just him and Dave. And relaxing tips so easily back into boring, but he’s missed this, too. He wishes he could just get lost in it, like he used to. Instead of comparing it to when she’s around. And when she’s here, wishing they could all find this same kind of peace. He’s just never fucking happy, is the problem.

“You’re overthinking something,” Dave says softly. He kisses the side of Karkat’s head.

Instead of admitting that, Karkat just turns to kiss him. That’s another thing about Dave. In Dave’s words, not everything has to be a federal fucking issue. Don’t want to think about something? Then just fucking don’t. Dave is down to drop uncomfortable shit at any time, and that’s a breath of fresh. It’s like a warm blanket. It’s perfect. They’re both perfect, in completely opposite ways, and Karkat is dating both of them and it’s not even unusual for trolls to date multiple partners so why does he feel so torn about how he feels-

“Oh, fuck.” Dave is snaking his hand into Karkat’s sleep pants and fingering at the slit of Karkat’s nook.

Dave pauses a little, raises his eyebrows at Karkat. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

And that puts an end to the stupid, agonizing thoughts. For now.

Dave kisses him and fingers his nook slow and sweet until his bulge wriggles its way out from its stealth cavern.

“I need to do this to you more. So much more,” Dave says.

“Can I fuck you?”

Dave goes still, and then jolts forward a few inches in the blink of an eye. Gyah. Karkat fucking hates when he does that time pausing shit when they’re close enough that he can see it like this. But he’s a good boyfriend, and he knows better than to call him on it, because he’s doing it with the exact intention that they don’t make a federal fucking issue of it.

“Yeah, totally,” he says.

“You can say no, you fucking nooksponge. Just fuck me instead.”

And Dave jolts back this time.

“I want it, dude. Let me ride you.”

“Dave-“

“Come on. I super want it.”

Dave rocks back against Karkat’s bulge. Just a thin layer of fabric between him and Dave’s ass. “Yeah? Karkat? Can I ride your bulge? Please let me ride your bulge.”

Fuck him and the fucking begging fucking. “Yeah, yeah, do it. Fuck.”

Dave scoots his briefs off and wastes absolutely no time sinking down on Karkat’s bulge, and no time setting a delicious, lazy rhythm that has Karkat’s eyes rolling back in his head.

“Fuck, I love your sex limpet, dude.”

“Shut the fuck up.”

“It’s so fucking wriggly, Karkat. Erotic fuck noodle Vantas, you’re stirring me up.”

“Why are you like this?”

“Because your, fuck, your jizz flavored ramen soup is my ass’s favorite fucking flavor- oh fuck, do that again.”

“Will you stop talking about this shit?”

Karkat does it again anyways. It’s kind of hard to control his bulge, but he’s had practice, and Dave seemed to like that spot right… there. Dave falls forward and pants into Karkat’s shoulder, and Karkat picks up the slack until Dave is panting out excited warnings into his ear as he rocks back onto him. And then he gets impossibly tight and whimpers, and Karkat feels his stupidly weak spurts of genetic material on his stomach.

Karkat pulls out carefully. Dave really, really doesn’t like it if he keeps going after. Karkat hugs him and kisses at the side of his neck as he trembles above him, and then goes lax.

“Mm. Mm. Love getting dicked down by your fuckin’ dick scallop.” Dave reaches a hand down and starts to stroke Karkat, firm and fast enough that Karkat can’t think of a clever, biting response to his fucking inanity. “Gotta get my love on this tasty dude. Not right now, though. Too fulla my ass and that’s just not my cup of tea.”

Please stop talking,” Karkat begs.

“Okay.”

And he does, blessedly. For a full 10 seconds or so. And when he starts up, it’s just to tell Karkat that he’s hot, and that he should just spill because the sheets need changing anyways. Which is what does it for Karkat.

Dave is so enthusiastic, like he always is, after. He clamps onto Karkat like a fucking barnacle. “You’re hot, dude.”

“You told me in the kitchen.”

“Don’t play that game.”

“Let’s move out of the jizz puddle.”

They scoot over. There’s more than enough space for three, so they could just leave this here, but that’s fucking filthy and they won’t. Karkat refuses. In five minutes or so, because god he’s tired and the bed is soft.

“We should watch some shit.”

“Sure.”

“There’s so much shit to watch, dude. We can watch something all day every day for years and have more left at the end.”

“What a fucking nightmare that’d be,” Karkat says, before he thinks better of it, because he’s a fucking idiot and he just had sex and he didn’t sleep enough and Jade is gone and he’s a moron.

“What?” Dave sounds hurt, for all that he’s pretending he’s not. “We don’t have to watch anything, dude.”

“No. Fuck. Watching things is good. I like it.”

“…You sure about that?”

“Yeah. We just do it a lot.”

Dave goes quiet. Fuck. Fuck. What the fuck is wrong with Karkat? He loves Dave. And yeah, the movies are getting kind of old (after five years of them) but fuck, it’s their thing, what the fuck is wrong with him?

“I want to watch a movie with you. Please. Let me pick it.” Karkat tries not to panic. Fuck. “Just not all day every day for years. That’s the only time it would be shitty. It’s fine. I love you. Movies with you are good.”

“You… okay.” Dave sounds unsure. But like he wants to drop it. “Don’t worry. It’s okay. What do you want to watch?”

Karkat picks an art movie that he’s never heard of, because it gives him some small illusion of novelty. And it’s tense, it’s not okay, but they have the movie to focus on and comment on. He’s glad when Dave picks some blindingly action-packed Hollywood movie next, because it’s so overwhelming that he can’t focus on how badly he fucked up.

Just a few minutes after the second movie ends, Dave kisses Karkat’s cheek and tells him he’s gotta go meet up with John. Karkat wonders, but doesn’t ask, if he’s still upset.

Dave has the right idea, hanging out with someone who isn’t him. Karkat should ask someone to dinner or something.

And he should have seen it coming that literally everyone he’s comfortable asking to hang out on the fly is fucking busy. Because he never does anything on the fly. He plans days in advance. He considers asking some people he’s only hung out with a few times, but that’s way too fucking weird and random. Cool. Fucking great.

Well, back to coding his stupid fucking visual novel that no one will ever bother reading. He opens the window beside the bed before sitting at his computer. Ha, ha, nice middle ground, there.

Maybe she could come back early. That’d be nice. Karkat looks at his phone. He picks it up and opens it to Pesterchum. And throws it across the room - on the bed, so it won’t break. The bed, which is still completely naked from this morning, because neither he nor Dave could muster up the will to bother with it. They never muster up the will to bother with making it except the day they put new sheets on. And that never used to bother him before she came into the picture. Jade makes the bed every morning. Now it looks filthy and wrong. It’s a fucking scab in their pigsty room and he has to fix it.

It doesn’t look as good as when she makes it, but it kills a few minutes. He should ask her how she gets it so crisp. He’ll have to do that later, because she wants to be really alone from his bullshit for the next few days, and asking her how she folds a fucking sheet isn’t allowing her that.

He tries coding. He gets nowhere. His phone buzzes and he almost falls over himself to pick it up. Spam. It’s a spam email. Fucking. Stupid. And now he messed the bed up again. He straightens the sheets out and puts the phone back down. The house creaks a little in the wind, but everything else is painfully silent.

How was he so okay with this before? With just spending day in and day out, most of the week, with just Dave? Why is it not the same? Why is it not the same and why is he such a fucking idiot that he hurt Dave by letting him know that in the fucking stupidest way possible?

He looks at his phone again. She said not to, but as long as he keeps it short, it’ll probably be fine.

-- carcinoGeneticist started pestering gardenGnostic --

CG: HEY JADE

Idiot. Stupid. Why the fuck did he click send. Why did he type the letters. If I don’t send it now I’ll regret it too much and never send it ever, he’d thought, and that’s where he should have fucking stayed, because he should regret it, because it’s stupid.

She doesn’t respond for 10 minutes.

GG: karkat? is something wrong?

Fucking moron. Karkat frantically racks his thinkpan for something, some conceivable excuse. He comes up dry because his fucking thinkpan is empty, it’s just a fucking wriggling bulge and two shame globes and an eternity’s worth of clingy bullshit that he indulges too fucking frequently.

CG: NO

CG: JUST WANTED TO CHECK IN WITH YOU, HOW ARE YOU?

She types and deletes for five full minutes before her response comes in.

GG: im fine. im hanging out with jake.

GG: i said not to text me, remember?

CG: SORRY

GG: is everything okay with you?

CG: YEAH I’M FINE I’M JUST A FUCKING IDIOT

GG: youre not an idiot

GG: youre being kind of clingy but youre not an idiot

GG: i love you a lot, but please don’t do this

CG: I’M SORRY I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK I WAS THINKING

GG: hey, karkat, its okay!!!!!

GG: i love you. ill be back before you know it. but i gotta be alone for a while.

CG: OKAY

GG: …

GG: are you and dave doing okay?

CG: KIND OF

CG: IGNORE THAT, IT’S NOTHING, DAVE AND I ARE FINE

CG: I’M JUST A FUCKING IDIOT

GG: youre not an idiot

GG: did you guys fight?

CG: KIND OF

GG: oh, shit, want to talk about it?

CG: I FEEL SO FUCKING STUPID RIGHT NOW I’M SORRY

GG: is that a no?

CG: YEAH

GG: okay, well

GG: if you change your mind later

GG: hmmm

GG: ill make an exception to the ‘no contact’ rule for this one

CG: FUCK

CG: YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT

GG: sthu!!! i want to. youre clearly freaking out

CG: OKAY

CG: THANK YOU

CG: FUCK THANK YOU THAT’S REALLY NICE

CG: I LOVE YOU

GG: i love you too

GG: text me if you want to talk about it. or if theres an emergency

CG: OKAY

CG: HAVE FUN WITH JAKE

CG: YOU SHOULD TELL ME ABOUT IT SOME TIME

CG: IF YOU WANT TO

GG: okay, karkat

GG: bye!! :*

-- gardenGnostic ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist --

And well. That was fucking moronic, wasn’t it.

Chapter Text

Jade spends the first day of her boyfriend vacation completely alone. She drinks in the silence of her apartment. She flops into bed and just stares at the wall for a while. Then she draws the blankets up to herself and pulls out her phone, and enjoys the hard-to-define happiness that comes with knowing that no one is going to disturb her, no one is going to make a clatter as the poorly-stacked mountain of pots and pans crammed under the sink tumbles onto the floor, no one is going to freeze time and  come back smelling of dried salt tears and fear then belligerently pretend he’s fine and leave her to stew in concern, no one is going to ask her to come with him to the coffee shop because he doesn’t want to go alone. She takes a deep breath. She’s glad that she left when she did. She’d thought about staying a little longer, because she wasn’t as annoyed with this or that little thing as she sometimes is before she leaves, but she stayed resolute to the timeline she set. And now it’s all bubbling out, and she’s glad it’s coming out here, and not at them.

And she starts to wonder if this is normal. She knows she needs some space, sometimes, but she doesn’t know if this cycle is good. Hang out with them, swallow down every annoying thing she can, let it bubble out of her when she’s alone. No, it’s probably actually not so great. She should probably just tell them when things bother her, and why. Meaning that she has to figure out how to do that without being a massive, blunt dick. Argh. Well, for now, cat videos on the internet.

It’s soothing, but not as much as it used to be. The lack of noise and presence sets her on edge. Slowly at first, and then more and more, until she’s opening up her messages. She asks Jake to hang out tomorrow, and he tells her that it’d be just dilly darn tootin’ (or something) if she came over tomorrow for brunch. She closes that out and then texts a few more people, staggering it out so that she’ll hang out with someone every other day. Hell yeah. Perfect.

And the rest of the night passes less anxiously than before. It’s still weirdly tranquil, but that’s not as upsetting, and she can actually focus on the experiments and projects that she’d left off. She should probably move a few over to their place when she comes back.

Neither of them text her, which she’s glad for. It probably wouldn’t take much for them to convince her to come back at this point. Come back right now, fix all the few little problems that are left, and then everything will be perfect! Silly. But they respect that she asked them not to, which makes her happy.

*

Jade hasn’t been inside Jake’s place for six months, but it’s even messier than she remembers it. Probably because now it has the addition of all of Dirk’s things, too. Which is no excuse! Sometimes she thinks she’s the only single person from the session who knows how to clean. Even Rose’s place is all a-clutter with far too many statues and half-finished fabrics projects and pincushions and books.

Jake brings her inside and spends a while chattering to himself as he frantically clears off some space on the coffee table. He leaves, and then comes back with a cup of hot coffee that smells like gasoline. And tastes about the same. She sets it down.

“Is this espresso?”

“Oh, no, granulated stuff. Freeze-dried. Lasts for eons. Had more than enough when I was scrumming it alone on the island, got a real taste for it.” He looks even more doubtful for a moment. “Do you hate it? I can make something else.”

“It’s fin-“

“Dirk actually made quite the machine lately, I just don’t know the first thing about working it myself.”

“Did he?” Talking to him is so weird, and never stops being weird, and Jade is starting to regret coming. Agh. They used to get along so well when they were younger, she doesn’t know what happened. “What is it?”

“A coffee machine. Come, I’ll show you.” He leads her to a bizarre looking hunk of metal in the kitchen. There are several buttons, with labels, but the handwriting is so messy Jade can’t begin to make sense of it. “As you can see, the functionality isn’t exactly intuitive, although it makes the meanest cup of bean you’ve ever had. He’s around here somewhere, maybe he can- oh, darli-“ Jake clears his throat, as if that’s going to make Jade not hear the pet name, which is adorable, “Dirk, hello, would you mind operating the machine for us?”

“Coffeetron700? Hey, Jade.”

“Hi!”

“Yes. This one right here.” Jake slaps the machine. Something creaks and he rears his hand back.

“Sure.”

“Lovely. Just dilly. Thank you, ba-“ He clears his throat again. “Thanks!”

“I can bring it out for you guys when it’s done.”

“Okay, great.” Jake leads her back into the living room. And awkwardly asks her how she’s doing, how things are going with ‘the boys.’

“Oh, it’s great! I’m on my break from them right now, until Sunday.”

Jake blinks at her. “You’re on your what now?”

“Well, sometimes I just need some me time, so I move out for a while. And then come back later.” Jake looks at her like she’s speaking German, and Jade starts to feel embarrassed. “I mean, we’re not breaking up. I’m just really not used to being around people that much.”

“Oh, huh. Okay. Wow.”

“It’s not that crazy, is it?” Jade asks. Is it?

“Oh, no, I just. I never considered that one could do such a thing. I thought… hm.”

Dirk comes in with the coffee, and Jake tells him he should stick around, if Jade is quite alright with that. The coffee is perfect, like, ridiculously good. And Jake seems to relax a little when Dirk is around. Still painfully nervous, but less so. And before too long, he’s excusing his terrible rudeness, how could he forget, he promised her a meal and didn’t even get the thing started.

“I’ll be back in just a few,” he says. “So sorry. So sorry, Jade.”

“It’s okay, really, I’m not even that-“

But he’s gone before she can finish.

“He gets nervous around people he doesn’t see a lot,” Dirk says quietly.

“Like this?”

“Yeah. He’ll chill out eventually. He’s just really shy in person.”

“Oh.” Jade sips her coffee. She should probably hang out more, then. Because she does miss how easy they used to talk. Maybe message him more, too. “Okay.”

Something clatters in the kitchen. Dirk pulls out a deck of cards and starts shuffling them. “It’ll probably be like 10 minutes. Want to play something?”

“Sure!”

Dirk explains the rules of the game. It’s simple, quick to learn, and something to focus on other than the sounds coming from the kitchen and the awkward silence. For all that Jade hasn’t spent much time with Jake, she’s spent even less with Dirk, and she’s not totally sure how to talk to him.

“Have you talked to Dave recently?” she asks. She’s not sure if this is off limits. Fuck. Fuck, why did she ask?

Dirk nods.

“Cool.”

They play a few more rounds. “He’s freaking me out a little,” Dirk finally says. Jade feels like the awkwardness dam breaks open.

“Me too. He keeps, like. Does he.” Jade stops. “You don’t have to answer, but does he do the time thing with you?”

“Oh my god. Oh my god, he does that to you, too?”

“Holy crap, does he.”

“Yeah, it’s...” He plays another card, takes the pile. “So fucking alarming seeing him twitch like that.”

“What?”

“Like. Like he moves, right. He tries to keep still but you can’t keep totally still. It’s fucking. Quantum-level impossible. And so he clicks off and suddenly he’s just twitching forward a little. Like a stop-motion movie.”

“Oh my god. I don’t think I’ve noticed.”

“It’s so fucking freaky. And you can’t say anything because he doesn’t want to talk about it, but fuck.”

“He just, like, vanishes on me. Like one second he’s there, and then he’s just completely gone.”

“Holy shit.”

“I almost had a heart attack the first time it happened.”

“Yeah, I fucking bet. God. That’s new.”

Jade finds herself wanting to laugh. She puts her hand over her mouth, but she can’t stop. Not because it’s funny, at all, but it just feels so good to talk about it with someone who isn’t Karkat. And because that’s new, that’s special, that’s just for her, apparently!

“God. Sorry. Sorry,” she says. “It’s not funny.”

“Nah, it’s kind of funny. In a fucked-up kind of way. Like a dead baby joke.”

“God.” She laughs more, plays a card, takes a pile. She doesn’t have any clue who’s winning, and she doesn’t think they’re going to count the score at the end.

Jake comes into the room with three trays. In the sections, neatly separated out in the tray's partitions, is sliced canned ham, canned mandarin oranges, and soggy, pale green beans.

“It’s nothing big, but it’s something good while you’re here!” he says cheerily. He sits down and picks up his fork. “What are you two playing over here?”

“War,” Dirk says, and he sets his cards down.

Jade takes a bite. She doesn’t know why she expected the food wouldn’t be room temperature, but she was led astray by that hope. Her phone buzzes and she pulls it out. And it’s Karkat.

“I ever teach you war, dude?” Dirk asks.

“I don’t believe you have.”

“Okay, check it. We can play three. Jade, you in?”

“Yeah, just a minute.”

Jade tries not to get annoyed by this. But she told him. She told him not to do this. And she was so happy yesterday that he respected it. But he just doesn’t care, does he.

GG: i said not to text me, remember?

He freaks out, because of course he does. Jade tries to talk him down, keep him calm, undo the damage, because he’s probably freaking out about something else, too, and she’s just making it worse.

“Everything okay?” Dirk asks.

“Yeah, it’s fine.”

Only, it’s not super duper fine, she finds out. And she doesn’t just want to leave Karkat hanging. She’s surprised by how quickly and resolutely he refuses her offer, but she has a feeling he’ll take her up on it later.

And she’s not surprised when, on her way home, her phone starts buzzing again.

CG: I JUST DON’T LIKE MOVIES ANYMORE RIGHT

CG: LIKE I CAN DEAL WITH IT BARELY BUT I FUCKING HATE WATCHING MOVIES EVERY SINGLE DAY

CG: BUT I’M A MASSIVE FUCKING ASSHOLE AND I CAN’T SAY THAT POLITELY OR LEAD INTO IT OR ANYTHING AND I JUST SAID IT LIKE A FUCKING DICK AND HE WASN’T EXPECTING IT AND I’M JUST SHITTING ALL OVER OUR THING LIKE A FUCKING ASSHOLE

GG: woah, slow down, im on my way home, can you explain as i walk?

CG: WHY ARE YOU EVEN WALKING WHEN YOU COULD JUST TELEPORT

GG: why do you walk when you can drive! its my life to lead! youre not my dad :p

CG: FUCK I’M SORRY I’M SUCH A FUCKING DICK

GG: im joking, karkat, im not upset

GG: i just thought it was funny

GG: maybe shouldnt have joked right now sorry?

CG: NO I’M A FUCKING JERK AND I PHRASED THAT LIKE A JACKASS LIKE I DO WITH EVERY POSSIBLE THING

Oh, god. Jade really doesn’t know how to handle this. It seems like everything she says just gives him more fuel to hate himself. She sneaks off to an empty alley and goes ahead and teleports home, because clearly this needs her full attention.

GG: stop doing that its okay really

CG: SORRY

CG: SORRY I’M FREAKING YOU OUT

GG: can you tell me what happened?

CG: I TOLD DAVE I HATE WATCHING MOVIES WITH HIM WHEN IT’S BEEN OUR *THING* FOR LIKE FIVE YEARS

CG: THAT WAS OUR FIRST DATE AND I JUST FUCKING

CG: TOLD HIM THAT I HATE IT

CG: AND NOW HE’S WITH JOHN ALL DAY BECAUSE I’M A JERK

GG: you told him you hate movies? those exact words?

CG: I MAY AS WELL HAVE

GG: are you sure hes not just hanging out with john because they had something planned?

CG: NO IT’S BECAUSE I FUCKING SLICED INTO HIS HEART WITH DAGGERS FOR NO FUCKING REASON

GG: can you take some deep breaths

CG: WHY

GG: youre freaking out a lot

CG: I FAIL TO SEE WHAT BREATHING WILL DO TO CHANGE THAT

GG: i dont know but thats what helps me! just try it?

CG: I’M TRYING IT OKAY

CG: MAYBE IT HELPED A LITTLE

CG: WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT

GG: youre not getting enough air because your breathing gets shallow or something! i dont know, i read it online when i was growing up and there were scary noises outside

CG: WEIRD

CG: OKAY

CG: OKAY I THINK I MIGHT HAVE HURT HIM AND NOW HE’LL HATE ME FOREVER AND I DESERVE IT

GG: you really think that?

CG: KIND OF?

CG: I MEAN I LITERALLY TOOK A LIQUID DIARRHEAL SHIT ALL OVER THE THING THAT BROUGHT US TOGETHER LIKE

CG: I DESERVE IT YEAH

GG: it sounds like this has been bothering you a while, though

CG: WHAT HAS

GG: the movie thing

CG: YEAH

CG: IT HAS

CG: IT DIDN’T BOTHER ME AS MUCH BEFORE I STARTED DATING YOU

GG: woah, really?

CG: FUCK THAT’S WEIRD AND I’M SORRY

GG: you dont have to apologize so much! youre not doing *anything* wrong

CG: IT’S JUST

CG: YOU DO ALL THIS SHIT RIGHT AND IT MADE ME REALIZE HOW THIS HAS BEEN BOTHERING ME FOR A WHILE BUT I JUST DIDN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT

GG: why not?

CG: I DON’T KNOW

CG: I HAVE NO IDEA

CG: I JUST GOT USED TO HOW STUFF WAS AND IT WAS FINE

GG: well, if its been bothering you that much, it seems like hed want to know, right?

CG: MAYBE

CG: BUT NOT LIKE THIS, LIKE A FUCKING ASSHOLE

GG: i think you two should probably talk it out?

CG: YEAH YOURE RIGHT SORRY

CG: FUCK

CG: IGNORE THE SORRY ON THERE

GG: okay :p

CG: THANK YOU

CG: SORRY FOR DUMPING ALL THIS SHIT ON YOU

GG: karkat!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CG: UH

CG: AHEM

GG: maybe wait to talk to him, actually

GG: until youre more calm?

CG: OKAY GOOD IDEA

GG: and its fine, really, im happy to help, as long as its not like

GG: i become your go-between forever

GG: and dont apologize for this but it was really upsetting that you texted me even though i told you not to

CG: FUCK

GG: i get it, you were really upset, and i told you it was okay, just dont make a habit of it!

CG: OKAY I WON’T

GG: just tell him whats up. you can do it, i believe in you!

CG: THANK YOU

CG: FOR THE WHOLE THING

GG: yw!

GG: bye! talk to you sunday!

CG: BYE

-- gardenGnostic ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist --

Jade shuts her phone. Then turns it off. She closes her eyes and takes a few deep breaths, listening to the air conditioning hum softly in the other room.

She shouldn’t have told him that she wanted to do that, is what should have happened there. But she did, so she had to follow through on it.

Is that how he thinks about her, too? Or just Dave? Did the two of them just stuck in a weird rut, or does he look at all of their little disagreements like they’re the end of the world, too? Probably not. He probably would have come to her with something, if he did. Or, maybe that’s what normal relationships are like? Jade feels sick when she thinks that. She really, really hopes that’s not the case.

And the fact that... is she some weird lynch pin that's causing them to fight? Should she feel as guilty as she definitely does about that? 

But it’ll be fine. She’ll know better next time. And he’ll know better next time. There probably won’t even be a next time, because he won’t do that again. He and Dave will talk out their stuff, and she’ll come back on Sunday, and they’ll all just do better from now on.

Chapter Text

-- carcinoGeneticist started pestering turntechGodhead --

CG: CAN WE TALK

TG: im with john whats up

CG: FUCK

CG: NEVERMIND

CG: NOTHING

TG: ok

-- turntechGodhead stopped pestering carcinoGeneticist --

-- carcinoGeneticist started pestering turntechGodhead --

CG: CAN WE TALK LATER

TG: sure

-- turntechGodhead stopped pestering carcinoGeneticist --

-- carcinoGeneticist started pestering turntechGodhead --

CG: DON’T YOU CARE WHAT IT’S ABOUT

CG: DAVE?

TG: well theres a less than 0% chance that its not about this morning

TG: or you wouldnt have introduced it with ‘can we talk’

TG: am i wrong

CG: NO

TG: ok

TG: listen it wasnt a big deal dont worry about it

CG: BULLSHIT

TG: ok but can this wait until i get home

CG: YEAH

CG: FUCK SORRY I KEEP FUCKING UP

TG: babe its okay really

CG: I DON’T WANT TO LOSE YOU

TG: woah what?????

CG: I’M SO FUCKING SORRY I DIDN’T TELL YOU SOONER

TG: gimme a sec

TG: ok i snuck off for a few whats wrong??? why would you lose me??????

TG: thats not even kind of on the table dude

CG: IT’S NOT

TG: no literally where the hell did that come from

CG: I DON’T KNOW

TG: ???

TG: youre kind of freaking me out please give me something to work with

CG: YOU WERE IGNORING MY TEXTS

CG: AND I THOUGHT IT WAS BECAUSE

CG: THIS MORNING WAS THE LAST STRAW THIS MORNING AND YOU’RE FUCKING DONE WITH ME

CG: WHY BOTHER TALKING ABOUT IT WHEN ITS OVER

CG: BECAUSE MOVIES WAS OUR THING AND I JUST SHAT ON IT BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO TELL YOU I DON’T LIKE MOVIES ANYMORE BECAUSE WE DO IT TOO MUCH

TG: fuck

TG: no

TG: calm down

TG: i love you, no, its not over or a last straw or anything

TG: i just didnt want to talk about it because i was kind of sore about it and literally with john right then

TG: like it sucked hearing that like a whole fucking lot and maybe i was a little salty yeah

TG: maybe more than a little idk

TG: but mostly ive been having a minicrisis about it and that crisis is getting bigger right now because i really dont know how long thats been a thing with you and well that speaks some fucking volumes about how i treat you doesnt it

TG: and my response was to watch yet more movies with you like wow good one dave

TG: and i was trying to not think about that and then on you pop into my phone asking to talk and just

TG: and now apparently you think im straight up going to dump you for it

TG: when really alls thats going on is im a weak pos so i wanted to just not think about it for a while you feel me

TG: im so sorry dude i shouldnt have been a dick

CG: YOU’RE NOT LAME

CG: WHAT THE FUCK IS POS

TG: piece of shit

CG: YOU’RE NOT THAT EITHER WHAT THE FUCK IS *WRONG* WITH YOU

CG: FUCK

CG: YOU’RE FINE IT’S MY FAULT

CG: FUCK

CG: DON’T HAVE A CRISIS ABOUT THAT I’M JUST A FUCKING MORON AND THIS ENTIRE THING WAS A STUPID OVERREACTION ON MY END

TG: im absolutely not letting you shoulder this

TG: like i was legit being a dick because i was salty at you

CG: YOU WERE ONLY SALTY BECAUSE I WAS A DICK

TG: dont

TG: do you want me to come home? talk it out?

CG: NO ITS FINE DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. PLEASE. HAVE FUN WITH JOHN. SORRY FOR BEING LIKE THIS WHEN YOU’RE WITY YOU’RE FRIENDS

TG: karkat come on youre freaking me out

CG: DON’T BE FREAKED OUT, I’M FINE

TG: you are the antithesis of fine and we both know it

CG: HOW LATE WERE YOU GOING TO STAY?

TG: i dunno, few hours

TG: ive been here all day though like its no big deal to cut it a little short

CG: I GUESS IF IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL AT ALL LIKE

CG: TALKING MIGHT BE GOOD IDK

CG: WE’VE BEEN FIGHTING SO MUCH MORE LATELY

CG: WHY THE FUCK CAN’T YOU DELETE SHIT ON THIS STUPID FUCKING PLATFORM FUCK

CG: IT’S SO FUCKING USELESS AND STUPID

CG: WE NEED TO GET A DIFFERENT FUCKING TEXTING PLATFORM

CG: WHAT KIND OF FUCKING CODE DOESN’T ALLOW FOR DELETION

CG: FUCKING INEPT CODE THAT’S WHAT

TG: ill be home in a few ok

TG: just gonna say bye to john and then ill be home before you know it

CG: OK

nbsp;-- turntechGodhead stopped pestering carcinoGeneticist --

He’s true to his word. Not five minutes pass before he’s home, reeking of mothballs and ozone. Five minutes where Karkat tries not to scream or cry or something similarly stupid as he sits at his desk, clutching his phone, staring at it blankly, trying to think. He’s close to panicking. His thoughts are racing. For no fucking reason. It’s so fucking stupid. But this feels like the beginning of the end. And that conversation might have just confirmed it. He’s overreacting, probably, maybe? He’s overreacting?

And then there’s a knock on his door. “Can I come in?”

Karkat can’t move. “Yeah.”

The door opens. And then Dave’s hand is on his back. “Hey,” he says softly. “You okay?”

Karkat nods.

“Really, now?” Dave says, sad humor in his voice.

“No.”

“What’s wrong?”

Karkat peels himself back from the chair and looks at Dave. Right into his eyes, because he has his shades hanging from his shirt.

“I’m just. Really worried.”

“About what?”

“That this is. It.”

“Wh-“

He feels a sick, cold chill run through his blood, but he can’t stop, as much as he wants to just shut the fuck up. Leave this tucked up away so the lack of oxygen can kill it.

“Like, it starts here. We were getting along and now we’re not. And what if. What if we’re not. What if it-“

Dave’s eyes get wide and he takes a step back.

“Why are you saying this stuff? Do you- do you want to-” His voice gets so shaky and weak, it’s hard to listen to. It makes Karkat want to cry. He doesn’t want to see Dave like this, what the fuck is wrong with him for doing this, saying this? “Are we-“

“No! Why the fuck would I? I’m just- I’m- worried that. You. Do.”

“What?”

“It’s stupid.”

“Please, Karkat.” He looks and sounds so scared. At this point, not telling him is going to freak him out more than telling him. Good one, Karkat!

“Because- because shit like this keeps coming up. And you’re not fine and you keep saying you are, and I just. I’m trying not to be offended by that, but I just,” Karkat stops when he sees the deer-in-headlights look on Dave’s face. Right, like this is a good fucking time to bring this up. Make him even more upset, throw some defensiveness on the shit cake. “Stuff like this, right? The movie thing? It comes up and it’s like. Maybe we’re just not fucking perfect for each other.” Wow, that sounded just as moronic out loud as he thought it would. “This is so fucking stupid. Fuck.”

“No one is perfect for each other, dude.”

“Well, maybe I.” Karkat stops. This is too fucking stupid to say.

“What?”

“I thought.” Nope. Not coming out.

“…You thought we were?”

And those stupid tears that he’d been trying to keep in start falling. Karkat blinks and wipes them away, clearing the pink haze from his vision. So fucking stupid, so embarrassing.

And then Dave is back on him, hugging him tightly and tugging him up. Karkat hears the sound of Dave’s glasses hitting the desk. “C’mon, get up so I can hug you properly.”

Karkat gets up numbly and Dave’s arms lock around him. It feels good, safe, warm. He hugs him back and tries not to cry harder.

“Maybe I thought so too. A little bit. But it’s fine. It’s normal to be like this. I’m pretty sure. I mean, we don’t have a guidebook here, right. But it seems like the kind of thing that’s normal.” He’s rambling, talking a little too fast, but he’s staying on point and Karkat wants to hear what he has to say. “If we were totally perfect for each other, fated for each other, like a fairy tale? Like, maybe that’d be sweet, I guess. But like, that shit doesn’t happen. You gotta make the choice, right? To work with the person. When you’re not immediately perfect in every possible arena. Because you love them. Or whatever.”

“Yeah. You’re right,” Karkat chokes out.

“I love you, dude.”

Karkat would respond, but he’s crying too hard.

“It’s freaking me out, too. It’s like all this shit is getting dragged up that we tried to leave buried. It fucking sucks.”

“Yeah it fucking does.”

“Right? Just let it fucking die. But no. It’s gotta come back. It’s gotta come out. I guess.” His voice gets kind of weird. There’s something in his tone that Karkat can’t read.

“What?”

“Like, this stuff,” he says, a little too quickly. “No, fuck I just- What the fuck. No. Fuck. I-“

“What?”

“It’s a lot, right? The shit from earlier?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t be offended, I just,” Dave stops and doesn’t say anything for a few beats. “I’ll tell you later, okay? More important shit to talk about right now. I’m just all fucking hopped up on honesty at the moment.”

“O…kay?”

“I love you. That’s the point.” Dave hugs him tighter. “I know it’s not about the movies, but we can do something else. We can go places. Or hang out with people. What do you want? We can do it.” He rubs Karkat’s scalp, kneads his hand into his back. “Please tell me shit like that. I really didn’t know. I know I should have known, but I didn’t know. I should have been looking. And I’m such a fucking dick for being pissed at you about it-“

“You were pissed at me?”

Dave takes a fast breath. “I’m an asshole,” he says, almost whispers. “I’m sorry, dude. It wasn’t cool. It sucked. I was trying not to be a dick to you because I knew it was shitty.”

“I- that’s why you left?”

Dave nods. Fuck. Karkat is glad they’re talking, but it hurts. He was mad, Karkat was hoping he was overreacting, but he was mad, and that’s why he left, he was right about everything, Jade thought he was overreacting but he wasn’t-

“Please tell me shit like that,” Dave says quietly, and then laughs. Karkat hears his breathing get funny, and his voice is thick. “I know I’m a fucking hypocrite. I’m working on it. But tell me so I can do something. I want to make you happy. I love you. Fuck movies. I don’t- I don’t want you to do shit you hate to make me happy, that sucks so fucking bad.”

“I’ll tell you stuff,” Karkat says. And he will, he’ll try to, from now on. Because Dave’s right, and telling him earlier could have saved them both from this. And he was hurting Dave, too, by not telling him this shit, and he feels like an asshole piece of shit because of it. “Can you,” Karkat almost doesn’t say it, but, fuck it, they’re being honest with each other. “You too, please.”

Dave nods. “I’ll try.”

“I love you. I want to choose to work with you.”

Dave laughs a little. “I want to work with you, too. You’re the fucking bomb.” He strokes Karkat’s hair softly, and Karkat hugs him tighter. “I’m so fucking sorry that I fucked up with you so bad that you thought I wanted to dump you. No way, dude. Not even fucking close. I love you so much.”

That makes Karkat feel a little better. Better enough that rational thought can start to creep in and actually hear the words Dave’s saying, and register them in his stupid, oversaturated sponge of a brain.

“Thank you,” he says. For saying that, for not dumping him, for talking it out, for coming home, for being honest, for not telling him to get over himself. “Thank you.”

“Yeah, babe. Stuff comes up, we can deal with it. That’s how it works. I don’t know if it’s because the game is over or because Jade’s here or what, why shit’s all coming up now, but ignoring it hasn’t made it go away yet, so I should probably stop hoping that it will.”

“Hah. God. It’s so stupid.” They pull away a little, and Karkat thinks as he calms down. “It’s probably both, right? The game and Jade?”

“Yeah, probably. Everything’s all fucked up from how it usually is.”

“Yeah.”

“Something was bound to change eventually, right. Couldn’t have stayed on the meteor forever.”

“Thank fucking god we couldn’t, though. If I had to smell Vriska’s unshowered pits one more fucking time I would have thrown myself off the ledge.”

“Oh, same. Or be interrupted from makeouts by Terezi’s fucking cackle.”

“Or walk in on Rose doing who fucking knows what with her silicone molds one more fucking time.”

“Or pretend not to hear Jake and Tavros jacking each other off through the vents?”

“Ugh! Never fucking remind me of that again! Those were the worst fucking nights of my life!”

Dave laughs.

“How the fuck did we survive three fucking years of that?”

“God, I don’t know. I don’t fucking know. But if we got through that…” Dave snorts and starts to giggle, kind of manically. “We can get through fucking anything. Seriously.”

Karkat sits down on the bed. He’s fucking exhausted. Dave sits next to him, incredibly close, like he wants to be sure that they’re really okay. Karkat nuzzles into him.

“Yeah. You’re right.” He takes a deep breath. He feels so much calmer, so much better, he feels like he has ground beneath his feet again. “Can we go for a walk when our eyes aren’t bloodshot and puffy?”

“Yeah.” Dave kisses his forehead. “We totally should. Hell yeah. Love walking with my boyfriend. Fucking exploring with our feet. There’s a whole world out there that’s barely charted by the gods of the new realm-“

Karkat kisses him quiet and squeezes his hand. Dave squeezes back.