Chapter 1: Cool Head
Karkat should have known.
Correction: He had known. His past self just ignored it like the stupid fuck his past self tended to be.
He had known, from the second he saw the name on the housing assignment page, that Sollux Captor was going to fuck up his entire life, then turn it over and do it again, all with a gleeful smirk on his face.
It was Karkat Vantas’ second year of college. It was supposed to kick the first year’s ass. Unfortunately, after switching majors (why the fuck did he ever think being a biology major was a good idea), he was technically a freshman computer science major. On top of that, he had spent the last year hiding in his hoodie from his psychotic roommate, whom he shared a 14-foot block with. Gamzee was a very fervent admirer of clowns, Faygo, and horns. The kind that honked. Karkat would regularly wake up at 3 A.M. to the guy standing over his bed, just…just smiling at him, holding a horn. Just smiling. Karkat had thought about complaining to the residence life office multiple times, but the people who worked there had some kind of vendetta against him, obviously. He guessed the important thing was that he was getting away from Gamzee, and just in time, really. Their last night together was nightmarish.
But that was then, and now, months later, he had arrived at his dorm. After getting the key from the R.A., he stood in front of his door and took a deep breath. Just then, the door opened. He found himself face to face with a (thankfully) normal looking guy- except for those weird multicolored glasses, what the fuck- wearing a black tee and cuffed jeans. And…mismatched shoes. Oh boy.
“Oh, hey. You must be Karkat.” Woa. What was that?
“Um…hi. Yeah…you’re, uh…”
“Sollux Captor. Nice to meet you.” It was a huge lisp. Oh god.
“Thollukth?” Ok, he was being a jerk, but he couldn’t help it. Never let it be said that Karkat couldn’t be a master of bitchery. Sollux’s eyes narrowed, and his smile became a little forced.
“Yeah. Kind of. I have a lisp, sorry.” Karkat rolled his eyes, and stepped forward, pushing past Sollux to check out the room.
“Yeah. Wow, um, you’re kind of a…never mind. Anyways, I just picked a bed, sorry if it’s…the one you wanted or something.” Karkat, rolling his eyes, pulled his hoodie off, throwing it on the bed. Sollux had apparently been here for awhile, and had already set up his computer and a ton of other equipment hooked up to it.
“I’m gonna go. Get my stuff.” Sollux was already sitting back down at his computer.
“KK.” Oh my god, this guy…was that a stutter, or was he just…f-fabulous?!
After Karkat had come back from finding all two of his bags left on the sidewalk- thanks, Dad- he began trying to figure out how to arrange his small amount of belongings in a way that didn’t suck. He straightened at the feeling of eyes on his back.
“Can I help you?” He turned to Sollux, who was watching him with a raised eyebrow.
“Uh…nothing. Just…is that all you brought? Seriously?” Karkat suddenly felt self-conscious.
“Uh, yeah, it is. What.”
“…nothing.” Sollux turned back around in his chair. He seemed to change his mind suddenly though, and spun back around. “No, I mean, you brought like…a DVD, four posters, a computer, and..." Sollux's eyes landed on his ~ATH guidebook. "Oh, you do ~ATH?” Karkat grimaced at the tone of voice Sollux’s voice suddenly took.
“I’m a computer science freshman. Second year, though.” Sollux nodded.
“Yeah, that’s what the thing said. I’m in the same major as you. But a sophomore.” Ok, Karkat really didn’t like the tone of voice going on here. Die. Die in a fire, Captor.
“That’s nice. Really. Wow.” He went back to arranging his things, satisfied with the awkward silence. FEEL AWKWARD, ‘THOLLUCKTH’. EMBRACE IT. Until he didn’t.
“If you need any help with that…well, I’m actually helping the teacher figure out a better way to teach it, since no one else seemed to get it, so I can give you some pointers if you get stuck.” Karkat threw the DVD under the bed, and whirled around to face Sollux.
“Sollux. Just listen to me for one second. When did I say I wanted- or needed -your help? When did I ever hint that I wasn’t at the top of my game in programming? If I wanted your help- newsflash- I’d fucking ask.”
“Jegus. Okay, calm the fuck down, Vantas. I never even said half that stuff. Obviously we've started off on the wrong foot, or something. You know what? I’m being charitable here. If not for that, I wouldn’t waste my time on an asshole like you.” He turned his chair back to face his computer. “Have fun with your DVD, KK.” What the fuck, is that…a nickname? Karkat’s flush rose with anger, before suddenly becoming tired of the whole conversation. He settled for a derisive snort.
“Sure.” The room was silent again, as Karkat opened his laptop and jumped on the bed, squirming until he got comfortable on his stomach. The A/C started blowing out freezing air for some reason, despite the brisk chill outside. Karkat grumbled and burrowed into his hoodie while waiting for the laptop to turn on. Great, somehow I managed to make my roommate hate me in two minutes. You are a huge idiot, Karkat Vantas. He watched the startup screen with detachment, and all the little icons and windows pop-up. Pesterchum, his instant messenger of choice, happily beamed at him, informing him that a couple of his ‘chums’ were online: Gamzee (fuck no), Harley, and...oh, John was on. Jade Harley and John Egbert were cousins, and Karkat felt a grudging fondness towards the two, despite the fact that they were annoying as hell. He decided to say hello to John.
ectoBiologist: oh man! are you at your new dorm? how is it?
ectoBiologist: uh oh, did you get a creepy roommate again?
carcinoGeneticist: UGH, NO. WELL…YEAH, NO.
carcinoGeneticist: HE’S JUST ANNOYING AND I KIND OF HATE HIM. THE HATE IS DEFINITELY THERE.
ectoBiologist: wow, you’re always so lucky with roommates
ectoBiologist: speaking of roommates…rose and dave are here! they want to see you!
ectoBiologist: video chat?
John and he had met online through a game, and had become friends with two other players, Dave Strider and Rose LaLonde. The three eventually ended up going to colleges in the same area (or in Dave and Rose’s case the same one), and decided to pool their money and get a place together. Karkat glanced at Sollux, still absorbed in whatever he was doing.
carcinoGeneticist: NO, MY ROOMMATE WOULD PROBABLY GET MAD. MADDER. WE’RE ENEMIES.
ectoBiologist: uh, i’m sure he doesn’t hate you already. you just moved in today, right?
ectoBiologist: oh man, karkat, what did you do to make you hate him that much?!
Karkat sighed, giving up. He didn’t really care if his roommate couldn’t handle him talking with his friends, since there was bound to be talking at some point. He clicked the video button. A little black box popped up, and the blackness brightened to show John’s grinning face. Rose was sitting next to him, a wry smile dancing across her lips. He could make out Dave’s feet in the background, propped up on a couch.
“Put your roommate on!” John yelled quickly. Karkat dropped his face into his arms, not wanting to look at Sollux. Fuck you, Egbert, seriously, fuck you.
He looked up when he felt the bed dip with someone’s weight, and tried to swallow his feelings of wanting to simultaneously scream and punch someone. Sollux was leaning over him, peering at the screen.
“Hi there,” he said to the camera, waving.
“Hi!” John waved back excitedly. “What’s your name? I’m John, Karkat’s friend, and this is Rose-” Rose smiled, and hell if there wasn’t a very pointed intention in the curve of her lips, aimed directly at Karkat. “- and Dave.” Dave’s foot kicked lazily.
“Hey, John, Rose…Dave. I’m So-“ Karkat interrupted him before he could say it.
“Sollux. His name is Sollux.” Rose was raising an eyebrow, and Dave had sat up to get a better look at the monitor.
“Can Sollux not say his own name?” Rose asked. Karkat cursed her annoying propensity to delve right into what she shouldn’t.
“Nah. I have a lisp. It seems to offend KK here.” A snort escaped from Dave.
“I like him. Oh my god...’KK’.” More snickering. Karkat felt the anger rise to his face. Fucking great. He could tell by the giant grin on John’s face that they wouldn’t be forgetting that nickname any time soon.
“Ok, fuckface, now go away, the adults are talking.”
“Aw, Karkat, come on. Sollux, I think we should share some tips on dealing with dear KK.” Karkat collapsed back into his arms. Sollux snickered above his head.
“That’d be helpful.”
“Fuck you. Fuck this. You guys have your party, I’m going for a fucking walk.” He pushed Sollux out of the way, and much to his annoyance, Sollux settled in front of his laptop, ignoring him. After staring for a second, he stormed out.
As the sun set, a bitter chill started to blow over the darkened campus. Karkat shoed his hands in his pockets and trotted across the large stretch of grass separating his dormitory from the other buildings on campus. In warmer seasons, students would be scattered around on the grass, studying or playing between classes, but right now, the place was empty. He figured he should go to his mailbox and check it out, and headed towards the mailroom. Cutting through the alley formed by the library and the horticulture center was the quickest way to get there. Unfortunately, it was cold as a bitch in between, the wind funneling through the narrow channel. Karkat cursed to himself and shrugged further into his hoodie. Winter was going to suck.
Karkat had opened his mailbox to find -surprise!- nothing, and was reluctantly making his way back to the dorm when he heard a sound that made his blood run cold.
He noticed he was shivering quite a bit more than he had been. Stop being a fucking pansy. Yes, he goes to the same school as you. Doesn’t fucking matter.
“How’s the new room, best friend?” Karkat jumped, and whirled around. Indeed, the person he wanted to see the least stood there, smiling smugly. Gamzee Makara- fucking unstable piece of-, the entire reason why the first year of his college experience nearly gave him post-traumatic stress disorder, stood there, smiling that fucking smile.
“Makara. What the fuck do you want, shitsponge?” Karkat was never very good at reconnecting with old buddies.
"Aw, there’s all what I miss. I miss you, bro. New roommate isn’t nearly as motherfuckin’ funny as you.” Honk. Karkat thought he would shatter his teeth with how hard he was gritting them. He was also very aware of the precarious balance between exploding with rage and having a nervous breakdown his mind was maintaining.
“Gee, that’s too bad. Maybe you should’ve used your brain and thought about that before you decided to tie me to a fucking chair and-“ Okay, let’s not go there, Karkat. “You know what, never mind. I have shit to do, so bye, Gamzee.” He turned around, tensing when Gamzee honked his horn again.
“Come on, man. When are you going to let that go? A motherfucker apologized, didn’t he?” Gamzee seemed too stoned to be truly menacing, and even sounded a little remorseful, but Karkat couldn’t help imagining that dangerous edge in Gamzee’s voice.
“Maybe when a ‘motherfucker’ lets me go so I can do whatever a ‘motherfucker’ does.” Gamzee chuckled at Karkat’s angry tone.
“Okay, okay, you got it, brother. I’ll see you around,” Gamzee said nonchalantly. Karkat held in a huge breath of relief, opting to wait until he wasn’t around Gamzee.
“Okay…bye then.” Karkat turned to leave, but was stopped by Gamzee grabbing his arm.
“What the fuck?!” He tore his arm out of the grip.
“Woa, woa, calm down, bro. Just wanted to let you know…there’s a big party going on at Zahhak’s next Friday- lots of fun shit going down- and I’m inviting yourself.” Karkat grimaced.
"Equius would flip his shit if I showed up, Gamzee, we all know this.” Gamzee shrugged.
“Said I could invite whoever I wanted. Couldn’t leave my best motherfucker out.” Karkat opened his mouth to inform Gamzee that his ‘best motherfucker’, would, in fact, not be attending, when-
“Sure we’ll go,” a familiar voice interjected. Karkat’s head snapped to glare at whoever had spoken.
“The fuck-“ Ah. Terezi. Gamzee visibly faltered, staring at someone behind Karkat. There was only one person that could throw Gamzee off his game in the past, and apparently, she hadn’t lost her touch. Terezi Pyrope slung her arm around Karkat’s shoulders, leaning forward to grin at Gamzee.
“How about it, Mak?” All of her teeth were showing as she spoke. Gamzee laughed a little, but his displeasure was evident in its weakness.
Chapter 2: Notorious
“Wow. You and Karkat still date, chica?” Gamzee's voice was very calm. Terezi’s grin probably took up her entire face, like the maniac she was, as she rubbed Karkat’s shoulder with her thumb.
“Yup. Long and strong," she said casually, not missing a single beat. Gamzee shrugged.
“Motherfuckin’ miracles, everyday. Well, my offer still stands, bro. Even if she comes too.” He turned, arm flying up for a lazy wave as he sauntered away. Karkat watched him go, holding his breath until Gamzee disappeared around the corner. It was then he turned to Terezi.
“Terezi. Fucking- …thanks,” Karkat said, torn between hugging her and killing her. Terezi’s grin got wider.
“My pleasure. I will never grow tired of rescuing you, milady.” Karkat scowled.
“Shut it.” Terezi just pulled on his arm and he began to lead them out of the gloomy alleyway. Terezi was a blind art major. Someone who could somehow pick colors without sight definitely didn’t need his help, but she let him so he didn’t feel completely useless. She had glasses, a cane, and a crazily sharp set of senses, and sometimes Karkat swore there was no way she couldn’t see. Until she licked his face, claiming it helped her ‘smell him better’. Their relationship had always been filled with a strange sort of give and take that had never really gone away. Terezi had told Gamzee they were still dating, knowing it would repel him for at least a few days. The romance had run its course that summer, but in its new incarnation, it was probably much stronger. Did ‘exes’ spend every night talking to each other for hours? The pair strolled along the green, a comfortable silence settling between them. Terezi had to break it, of course.
“You sure you don’t want me to report him, Karkat? It wouldn’t be traced back to you at all.”
“That’s not even the issue. It doesn’t matter if I did it or if fucking, uh, fucking Zahhak did it- not that Zahhak would ever snitch on his precious king of golden fucking whatever- it would still get back to ME somehow. He knows. Or just doesn’t care. Who knows.” Karkat gave up trying to explain it. Gamzee was a mystery. Terezi was quiet for a minute.
“…so are we going to the party?”
“ARGH. Do you want me to die or something?”
“Aw, Karkat~ I’d be there, there would be nothing to fear,” Terezi cooed, slinging her arm around him.
“Okay, the fact that a psychotic blind girl keeps coming to my rescue is fucking embarrassing. I have to watch my reputation, okay?” All Karkat got in response was a cackle.
“Because it’s so spotless. Oh, by the way, how is the new roommate?” Karkat jumped, suddenly remembering the whole thing with Sollux.
“FUCK! ON MY COMPUTER.” Terezi raised an eyebrow at his sudden outburst. “HE’S ON MY COMPUTER, TALKING TO FUCKING JOHN.” She nodded.
“Yeah. I talked to him on Pesterchum before I came to find you. That’s how I knew you were out. He sounded …nice. Uh…why is he on your computer?” Karkat pulled at his hair. He talked to Terezi! Arghhhh! What did he say?! What did she say?!
“HE IS NOT ‘NICE’. Okay, my roommate is fucking retarded. Like, he…he…”
“THANK YOU. YES, HE’S ALIVE. I think he hates me.”
“I totally agree with you. Sounds really bad,” Terezi said sarcastically. “And he’s on your computer because…?” Karkat felt the sudden need to eat something breaded.
“Ugh. I forgot to eat today.” No sooner had the words left his mouth than Terezi suddenly began to drag him sideways, in the direction of the cafeteria. “Fuck, Terezi, will you ever warn me when you do that?”
“Nope. Time for wickle Karkles to eat shum pasghetttiiii!”
It was three hours later when Karkat stumbled back into his dorm, holding his stomach in discomfort. It felt like he had eaten nine pounds of spaghetti. He stopped short at the door. Sollux was sitting with a pretty girl on his bed. They both had turned to look at him, and the girl had a curious look on her face.
“Uh, sorry,” Karkat said, feeling his face getting hot.Great, Sollux is one of those guys whose girlfriend stays over every night. “I’ll, uh…go.” The girl shook her head and giggled, earrings clinking together.
“Oh no, Crabsnack, we’re fine. I was just about to leave.” She turned back to Sollux, and they were fucking smiling at each other. And what’s with that fucking nickname? Karkat took a deep breath. If he started yelling now, he was going to throw up.
“Whatever.” He walked over to his bed and checked his laptop. At least the jerk had signed him out of Pesterchum. He wondered what Sollux and his friends had talked about. He wondered why he had to wonder what Sollux had said about him to his friends. He didn’t have the energy to think about that, and collapsed on the bed, narrowly missing his laptop. He heard whispers from behind him, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He heard Sollux call the girl ‘Feferi’. After a while, she left, and Sollux began to type on his laptop. A few hours later, the typing stopped, and there were some rustling noises, until Karkat guessed Sollux had gone to bed. Karkat eventually pushed himself off the bed, feeling like crap. He hadn’t slept, just dozed, listening to the sounds of the past…he checked the clock. God. It’s 3 AM. Why can’t I sleep? Glancing at Sollux, Karkat felt a little jealous that he could sleep so soundly. He flopped onto his back, gazing at the ceiling. Pesterchum would be dead right now. He could work on coding, but…he laid there quietly. This time of night was the only time he felt mildly calm. It was also when his most overwhelming and unsettling thoughts could get past the angry ones and rise to the surface of his mind. Nighttime was the worst.
Eventually, the sun rose. Karkat didn’t bother to set his alarm, so when Sollux’s went off, he pushed himself up groggily. He needed a shower. Sollux woke up fairly quickly, and turned his alarm off. He grabbed his glasses and squinted a little bit, before his eyes landed on Karkat.
“K…KK? Did you sleep in your clothes?” His voice was thick with sleep, but the lisp was still prominent. Karkat gave him a tired glare, grabbing his towel out of his backpack.
“Wake up before you talk to me.” He left Sollux to get ready. The dorms shared showers, and they sucked as badly as he remembered. After a quick, freezing shower, Karkat went back to his room to change. Do I even have an early class? According to the schedule he pulled up on the laptop, yes. It was just a liberal arts class, and then he had a intro class afterwards. He grimaced when he saw the instructor. Student teacher Equius Zahhak- Anatomy. What was I thinking when I signed up for that? Wonder if they’ve heard about Mr. Zahhak’s exciting party this weekend.
“What class do you have?” Sollux asked from behind him. Karkat snapped his laptop shut and threw it in his backpack, finally turning to face Sollux. Sollux looked well rested, a sharp contrast to himself, Karkat figured.
“Anatomy, then intro to computer sci.”
“You have a liberal arts class for a morning class? That majorly sucks.” Karkat rolled his eyes.
“Sure does.” He made his way to the door after checking himself quickly in the mirror. I look kind of dead. Great.
“I just have discrete mathematics today,” Sollux offered, following him out the door. Looks like we’re walking together, fabulous. Sollux didn’t say anything else until they were walking past the alleyway that Karkat had been in yesterday. Karkat was avoiding it for obvious reasons, but Sollux didn’t know any of them.
“You know, if you cut through there, you can save some time-“
“I know,” Karkat snapped, and didn’t bother to further elaborate. Sollux just figured it was a ‘thing’. John had helpfully shared with him some survival tips for living with Karkat yesterday, one of them being the ‘things’, weird conversational fire starters that made sense to no one but himself. Karkat had a lot of ‘things’ (‘all of the things!’), and it was best not to push them. Sollux hadn’t decided if he wanted to be someone who would start those fires or not, but figured he’d play it safe for now. The two made their way to class, and separated when Sollux reached his building. He waved goodbye to Karkat, who grunted. Karkat continued on until he reached his classroom inside the liberal arts building. A quick survey of the small, dingy room gave him little hope for a pleasant class. There were about ten students scattered about, most of whom Karkat didn’t know. Equius Zahhak stood in the front of the room, looking at him with an expression between a glare and a grimace behind his cracked sunglasses. A bead of sweat rolled down his face, surely the first of many. A student in the front row- oh fuck no not her- turned to see who had entered with a curious look on her face. It lit up when she recognized Karkat. Nepeta Leijon. Nepeta giggled and waved at him.
“Hiya, Karkitty~” Karkat waved unenthusiastically. Jegus, what was with these females and their stupid nicknames lately? Equius glanced at Nepeta, sweating more as he reprimanded her.
“Nepeta! We have discussed this. You will stop…stop cavorting with that delinquent.” Karkat had never really figured out where Equius got the whole ‘delinquent’ thing from- not that he cared. It probably had something to do with the fact that he had changed majors and effectively stayed a freshman. Equius had a superiority complex bigger than his stupid overgrown muscles, and once he found something to lord over you…he would latch on it. Or it might just be that he was a sycophant jealous of the attention Karkat got from the rich kids- the most prominent being Gamzee Makara, one of the richest kids at school. Not by choice, not my problem, Zahhak. Nepeta’s attentions were the cherry on top. Nepeta, who had turned back around after shooting an apologetic smile at Karkat, was Equius’ best friend-slash-super obvious crush. She, unfortunately, had quite the gigantic crush on Karkat. This did little to help Equius’ and his relationship blossom. Not my fault your psychotic spaz friend has the hots for me, Zahhak…trust me, I’m just as unhappy about it as you are. Karkat glared at Equius, then checked out the other students. He noticed Sollux’s girlfriend- Fef…Feferi was it?- chatting with the other girls in the corner. When she noticed him looking at her, she waved. The other girls turned to look at him, and he waved weakly. Among them were Kanaya Maryam, Aradia Megido, and Vriska Serket. Kanaya smiled at him, motioning to her shirt. She had probably made it herself recently. Kanaya was a fashion design major, and was very good at what she did. Karkat had a surprisingly easy friendship with her, and had introduced her to John, Rose, and Dave last year. He didn’t know Aradia very well, and he knew Vriska far too well. She grinned at him predatorily. Yeah, well stupid smile at you too, Vriska. Crazy bitch. Karkat rolled his eyes and continued his survey of the class. No one else stood out as familiar.
“Class. We will go back to our seats and take attendance now,” Equius announced with an uncomfortable strain in his voice. Oh, here we go. This will be hilarious. A sheen of sweat was prominent on his brow (and his everything else) when little attention was paid to him. “You…you will stop.” Karkat propped his head up with his hand, enjoying the show. Equius was getting upset. He finally slammed his fist on a chalkboard behind him, which cracked. A silence fell over the classroom. Equius cleared his throat, brushing the chalk dust off his fist. “Uh…yes. I guess I forgot to temper my STRENGTH. Anyways. This is anatomy. It fills your liberal arts requirement. This course will be equal parts academic and artistic. I assume everyone bought the required text, ‘The Definitive Guide to Anatomy, Physiology, and MUSCLE.” Equius continued to drone on about how amazing muscles were, working up quite a sweat. Karkat was suffocating in boredom, and possibly the stale air hanging in the room. He perked up when Kanaya slid into the desk next to him.
“Hey, Karkat. Did you have a good summer? I missed you,” she whispered. Karkat’s scowl dropped a little bit.
“Missed you too. I did a whole lot of nothing. How are you liking this joke?” He motioned towards the ranting Equius.
“He is not that bad. I think he is just nervous about teaching.” She leaned closer, tone quieting. “Why are you going to his party?” Karkat looked alarmed.
“What the actual fuck. How did you know about that?”
“I heard it from Tavros, who was wondering if he should tell Nepeta, but Nepeta already knew from Terezi, so they were trying to decide if they should tell Equius or just let you kind of show up, but he invited Aradia, who says she’d give up her inv-“ Karkat interrupted her verbal flowchart.
“Okay, stop now. Why does fucking everyone know about my party schedule? Who the fuck is Tavros?”
“Tavros Nitram. That guy over there,” Kanaya said, gesturing at a boy in front of them hunched over a notebook.
“Why is he talking about me at all? I’ve never even met him.” Kanaya looked at Karkat silently for a second.
“That’s Gamzee’s new roommate.”
Chapter 3: You're a Jerk
Karkat was, for once, speechless. He began to feel very, very uneasy. Gamzee was…Gamzee was talking to his roommate about him. What the FUCK. Karkat looked at Tavros again. At second glance, he noticed Tavros was in a wheelchair.
“Karkat?” He turned to Kanaya, who looked concerned.
“I’m gonna…what the fuck is Gamzee’s game?” Karkat’s voice was an angry hiss as he scooted his chair out violently. He stood up, preparing to stomp over to Tavros and have a little chat.
“Is there a problem, Vantas?” Oops. He had almost forgotten that this was a class. Equius stood at the front, arms crossed in front of his chest. Nepeta sparkled admiringly in his direction. Karkat just sat down and sulked. Note to future self: Mondays will suck. Monday continued to suck after class, when Nitram fucking booked it out of there.
“Where the fuck did he go?” Karkat pulled at his hair in frustration. Kanaya patted his shoulder.
“You’ll have another chance,” she said, before her hand stiffened ever so lightly on Karkat’s shoulder. Karkat looked up at her, then looked in the direction she was currently gazing in. Oh. Vriska Serket was walking over, this time without Aradia. Karkat positioned himself slightly between them. Kanaya and Vriska had once dated, but Vriska was just a huge bitch and didn’t disappoint when it was her turn to act like one. Now, the two just tolerated each other, because they ran in the same social circles, and Kanaya was too nice for her own good. Vriska was too sadistic to care. Karkat’s opinion may have been a teensy bit biased, but he had it on good record that he wasn’t alone in his opinion.
"Kana~ya!” Ugh, even the way she says her name.
“Yes, Vriska?” Kanaya’s tone was admirably level. Karkat’s eyes narrowed in irritation.
“Honestly, I would have thought that keeping Karkat around clashes with your outfit…that’s usually a big concern of yours, right?” Vriska tossed her mass of choppy hair back over her shoulder.
“Hey to you too, Vriska,” Karkat ground out. “Glad to see you haven’t totally lost your touch at being a total bitchface.”
“Oooh~! Same to you, Karkles! As always, you are a little peanut butter cup of sunshine,” she cooed. Karkat had to hold back as Kanaya pulled at his shoulder in warning. He stood up.
“It’s been nice talking to you, but the tiny part of me that puts up with your shit just died.” He turned to Kanaya, who was failing to hide a tiny smile. “Pester me later. I need to go find Tavros Nitram.” A huge smile crept across Vriska’s face.
“Ooh. What. What do you want with Tavros Nitram?” The way she had suddenly loomed over him made Karkat feel really uneasy.
“…To talk?” Vriska stared at him expectantly. Karkat side-eyed Kanaya, trying to figure out what Vriska was waiting for.
“...WELL?! Details, Vantas! Keep up!” she finally blurted out. Karkat narrowed his eyes.
“Did any of that sound like it was your business, Vriska?”
"Ok, Karkles, try to wrap your brain around this. If you just want to talk to Tavros…I have his number. I just want to know why you want to talk to Tavros. It’ll be like a little trade!” Karkat and Kanaya looked at each other. Kanaya nodded slowly.
“They are dating…” she confirmed. Karkat gritted his teeth. Vriska, you HUGE BITCH.
“I want to know what else Gamzee’s fucking told him about me.”
“Hmph. You would. That’s nowhere near as interesting as I expected. But…” Vriska grabbed his cellphone, tapping something in. “A deal’s a deal, Karbaby! Good luck, Tavros is a slippery one. Now if you’ll excuse us, Kanaya and I are going to the cafeteria.” She looked expectantly at Kanaya. Karkat was fuming as he grabbed his phone, but Kanaya just motioned for him to leave. He obeyed reluctantly.
Karkat found himself outside, the same chilly breeze as the day before slicing through the campus. A wave of annoyance washed over him as he checked his phone. Sure enough, there was a new address in his contacts- Pupa Pan. Crazy bitch. He pressed call and waited.
“Hello?” The person on the phone sounded confused.
“Hi, Tavros,” Karkat kept his voice calm.
“Uhh…who. Who is this?” Karkat could hear the familiar sound of a dorm door opening. Fuck. How did he get to his dorm so fast? …Fuck. If Gamzee’s there…Karkat let his voice get low and mocking.
“Oh, Tavros, I’m fucking heartbroken. That’s damn right. You don’t know me. Or you shouldn’t, at least. Our friendship is news to me. But apparently, you’re pretty damn knowledgeable about me. You even knew I was going to Zahhak’s party before I did!” There was a sharp intake of breath on the other end, followed by a few seconds of silence. Karkat raised his eyebrow. Guess I’m more intimidating than I thought. He felt a little proud.
“…UHHH. HANG ON. HANG ON, OK?” There was a lot of racket, and a familiar, low mumble in the background that sent a chill down Karkat’s spine. The door closed again, and a buzzing noise that was presumably Tavros wheeling down the hall.
“This is...this is Karkat Vantas, right?” Tavros asked after getting outside.
“Yeah. Yeah it is. What the fuck is going on, Nitram? I heard from Kanaya…whatever. What’s the deal with this party? I know Gamzee is your roommate.” Karkat leaned against a wall as he spoke, the cold stone sapping his warmth.
“Ok, Karkat, listen. I…you can’t tell. Anyone. I’m telling you this. Not Vriska, not Equius, not Gamzee. Es…especially not Gamzee.”
“No shit. If you’re gonna beat me up, though, tell him to call off his boys. I mean, seriously, does he want you to run me over?”
“Haha! …ha. No. No, Karkat, okay. I really…don’t know much. Gamzee seemed really nice, and he still does, but…he’s like. Talking. Uhh. About his old roommate. You. And what happened the last night of school-“
“Fucked up, ain’t it,” Karkat drawled. “What the fuck though. Why is he talking about that, which, by the way, if you tell anyone about that I will shave your fucking eyebrows off and send them to your mother when you go missing.”
“Hahahah, don’t worry. I won’t. I just…wondered why you didn’t tell anyone. Gamzee wants to know too. I think…I think he thinks you’re his best friend. Even if you’re not.” Tavros sounded a little nervous now. “Uh, I need to go back to my dorm now. Whatever you do, don’t go to the party. Just skip it.”
“Wait, what? Why? …he really is trying to kill me, isn’t he?”
“Uh, I gotta go. Just. Just don’t go to the party. Bye Karkat.” Tavros hung up. Karkat stared at his phone. Well fuck. Everything’s so clear now. That wasn’t useless at all. He started to head back to his dorm. The noon sun was trying its hardest to give him a headache, and he suddenly felt pretty hungry. Breakfast…never happened. There was an hour before his next class, so he decided to hit up the café after grabbing his wallet back in the dorm. Feferi was walking down his hallway, away from Sollux’s and his room. He averted his eyes when she waved. A giggle followed him to the door, which he pushed in angrily. Sollux straightened up from rummaging through a drawer.
“Hey, KK,” he greeted offhandedly, before disappearing into the drawer again.
Karkat grunted, and checked out the room. Where the fuck did my wallet go? He toed the towel he had used that morning to the side, and his wallet shone happily up at him. He grabbed it.
“See you,” he mumbled to Sollux, who looked at him, pushing his glasses up.
“Are you going to get food?”
“Cool, I’ll go with you,” Sollux said, abandoning whatever he was doing. Uh. What? Why is that even happening? Karkat searched for a reason to decline, but…there was none. He just stood for a minute, mouth attempting several times to make a word. He ended up looking like a fish with a gaping mouth. Sollux stood in front of him expectantly. “Ok? Ready?” Karkat snapped his mouth shut, then stormed out. He walked the entire way quickly, hoping Sollux would get lost or something, but he kept up annoyingly well, making small talk on top of it. Step on a rake, Sollux. They made it to the cafeteria in one piece, and stood in line. No sooner had Karkat opened his mouth to disagree with something stupid Sollux had said, that the person in front of them in line turned around.
“Kar?” Oh my fuck. What. Eridan Ampora, the king of hipsters, looked down at him. Eridan was clad in his signature vintage clothing, black-framed glasses resting on his nose and scarf wrapped in a way that totally negated its warmth-giving properties. Despite his second-hand appearance, he was practically the richest kid at school. He and Karkat had a very odd friendship. It had started on a city bus, Eridan riding for the ironically poor connotations, and Karkat because Karkat didn’t have four cars like Eridan. Eridan had just broken up with his girlfriend. Karkat happened to be sitting next to him, and even more luckily for Eridan, Karkat happened to be a fucking expert on relationships. Not so luckily for Karkat, it began the veritable avalanche of awkward sleepover invitations, lunch offers, and random tickets to everywhere that Eridan apparently gave to those he deemed ‘friends’. However, Eridan was now looking with annoyance at someone behind Karkat. That someone happened to be Sollux.
“Hey, Eridan,” Sollux said casually.
“Captor. Long time no see. How’s datin’ Feferi going for you, jerk?” Eridan’s cheek jumped with anger. Karkat stepped to the side a bit. Sollux and Eridan know each other?
“I’m going to tell you for the fiftieth time, Eridan, we’re not dating.” You’re not? Okay, so Feferi wasn’t Sollux’s girlfriend. That was…surprising.
“Yeah. Sure. I’ll believe that when-“
“When Feferi wants to date you? Guess you won’t ever believe it then,” Sollux said coolly. There was very little malice in his tone, just mild disinterest. Eridan was fuming now. Karkat felt unsafe at this close of a distance.
“Captor. Don’t. Fucking. Push it,” Eridan ground out. “Kar. I need to talk to you.” He grabbed Karkat’s arm.
“Actually, KK and I were just about to eat lunch. It’s your turn to order.” It was true. Eridan was next in line, and the person at the front was grabbing their food to leave. Eridan’s eyes were nearly slits.
“Fuck you. Kar, pester me later. I need to talk to you.” He whirled around, scarf swooshing. After looking disdainfully at the confused cashier, he stalked out of the cafeteria without ordering.
“…What just happened?” Karkat asked blankly. Sollux stoicly stepped forward to order.
“I’ll tell you when we sit down. Yeah, two burgers, please.”
Chapter 4: Hate You Now
Karkat stared at his withered burger. Thanks for ordering for me, jerkass. He was going to order a burger anyways, but maybe he would have changed his mind at the last moment. Sollux came back with two drinks, setting one cup in front of Karkat. Karkat peered into it curiously. Pink lemonade. He glared at Sollux.
“Okay, wait, before you tell me a bunch of useless stuff about why Eridan hates you, how the fuck did you know I liked pink lemonade?” Sollux looked at him, then gave him a funny sort of smirk.
“You just seem like a pink lemonade kind of guy,” Sollux offered, shrugging.
“Bullshit,” Karkat said flatly. “What are you, psychic?”
“Okay, okay, John may have mentioned it.” Sollux sat down, then noticed Karkat’s suspicious look. “Really!”
“Jegus, what else has he told you?” Karkat asked, sipping his drink moodily.
“All your deepest secrets.” At the deeply alarmed look on Karkat’s face, he fumbled to take it back. “Joking!”
“Whatever, ‘Matilda’. You’re not allowed to read my mind about those either. So what was that thing with Eridan all about?” Sollux didn’t reply until he had finished pouring a liberal amount of mustard on exactly half of his burger – gross, Karkat thought as painted his own with ketchup – and then ketchup on the other half.
“Well, you met Feferi. She and Eridan used to be best friends. They even applied to marine biology together. One day, he told her he liked her, but she turned him down. He got all emo and shit and switched to philosophy. Then, I met her at a science club. We became really close friends, but Eridan thought we were going out or some shit. He tries to start fights sometimes, but…eh, he’s really not that bad. Just kind of an idiot.” Karkat snorted. Understatement of the century.
“So…you and Feferi aren’t dating?”
“No. Eridan kind of screwed that up,” Sollux said, dipping one end of a French fry into ketchup, then dipping the other into mustard.
“So you might have dated?” Karkat tried to keep the curious glee out of his voice. He might come off as a nosy asshole, but he was totally addicted to the subtleties of college romance. It was one of the few things he’d never get tired of. Watching frantic relationships, finding out which would flourish…and more exciting- which would crash and burn. He had become somewhat of an expert on the subject.
“For a variety of reasons, that would never actually happen.” Sollux’s tone was rather stiff. Karkat could barely keep a smug smile off of his face at the self-deprecation lacing the terse reply. That’s too bad, Sollux. Love hurts, huh? Tales of others’ misfortune comforted him, like they were reminders that he was not alone in being a total screwup.
“What the fuck are you smiling about, KK?” Sollux’s eyes were narrowed behind his glasses.
“Nothing, just thinking about something funny.”
“Gee, thanks.” Sollux looked annoyed.
“No problem.” Karkat finished his burger, and began drowning his fries in ketchup.
“KK…you are disgusting.” Karkat looked up with mild surprise. Sollux was watching him eat, one eyebrow raised. He didn’t miss the way Karkat’s face fell.
“Glad you finally realized it, fucknuts,” Karkat said lowly, very real darkness in his voice. Sollux blinked.
“I meant the ketchup, you idiot. That’s fucking weird.” The two scowled at each other. Sollux watched as Karkat’s face reddened from embarrassment.
“Look who’s talking, freakshow. Are you trying to have some kind of weird polyamorous relationship with ketchup and mustard? Will they get jealous if you eat too much of one?” They began picking up their garbage, arguing the entire time.
“Fuck you, Vantas, it tastes better than the bloodbath you end up with.”
“That bloodbath is a delicious pool of ketchup that vastly triumphs over the nasty taste of mustard.” The two left the cafeteria, striding across the lawn. They bickered until they reached the building that Karkat’s class was in. Sollux waited for him to finish the rather lengthy insult he was spewing.
“Have fun at comp. sci. for children, imbecile.” Sollux muttered.
“Step on a rake, Sollux.” It was silent for a moment.
“...I can’t believe we just had an argument about ketchup.”
“Yeah…that was kind of embarrassing,” Karkat admitted, looking away uncomfortably. “Uh…I’ll…see you after class?” He paused, then waved. Sollux waved back and began to walk towards wherever he was going.
Karkat stumbled out of class, barely awake. The teacher had spent the first day of ‘Intro to Comp. Sci.’ pointedly avoiding computers. They had played every stupid icebreaker game ever invented, plus a few more that had never been invented, probably for good reason. Karkat now knew the names of forty people he kind of didn’t care about, and the lack of sleep from the night before (and the night before that…and the night before that…) was making him even more tense and irritable than usual. He made his way slowly back to the dorms. If Feferi pops up I’m going to kill her. Feferi didn’t seem to be around, however, so he leaned on the door, trying to unlock it. After a few minutes of struggling to get the key in the fucking slot get in there YOU FUCKING METAL ASSHOLE GET IN YOUR HOME- the door opened, and Sollux was standing there.
“Are you drunk?” Sollux asked, brow furrowing.
“Listen, standing up is not really working for me right now. Can you just shut up and let me get to my bed?” It was only three in the afternoon, but Karkat was pretty sure that didn’t matter to his sleep cycle. Seventeen hours of sleep sounds real good right now. Sollux stepped out of the way, and Karkat immediately went to his bed to fall on it. He heard Sollux judging him behind him, but could care less.
“Eridan asked for you,” Sollux said after sitting back down at his computer. Karkat rolled over to gaze blearily at him.
“W-what? Fuck, why?” I just want to sleep. Why won’t people just die so I can sleep?
“…in the cafeteria today? He said he needed to talk to you?”
“I thought he hated you, how did he …guh.”
“Pesterchum. If he’s asking me, must be real important.”
“…Fucking…is he online?”
“Tell him…tell him ‘what’. Tell him that. Tell him ‘what’.”
“Done.” They waited for a moment. “He says ‘get online’,” Sollux finally said.
“Tell him I’m on it, totally on it. So on it.”
“He asked you to stop being an asshole, and that you need to go over to his house. He’s going to be in the parking lot in ten minutes.” Karkat rolled over and yelled into his mattress. Sollux smiled helplessly.
“FINE. FINE. I’LL GO. ” He pushed himself off his bed violently. He stormed over to Sollux’s computer and leaned over him, typing rapidly into the message box.
twinArmageddons: SLEEP WITH ONE EYE OPEN ERIDAN
caligulasAquarium: aw kar come on it’s important
caligulasAquarium: im leavvin now, be ready
Ten minutes later, Karkat was shivering in the parking lot, trying his hardest to warm up his neck with a complicated heat transfer process involving his hands. It wasn’t working, and when Eridan pulled up in his purple Mercedes-Benz, Karkat flung himself at it furiously. Eridan raised his eyebrows and unlocked the door.
“What the fuck Kar, you ok?” Eridan asked when Karkat flopped on the seat, then huddled next to the air vent.
“Fuck no, it’s colder than shit out there. People who aren’t in a Benz would know this.”
“W-well, I had to walk to the car too, y’know.”
“Poor baby,” Karkat scoffed. “What was so deathly important that you drove back here to tell me?”
“I’ll tell you when we get to my house.”
“What? Hell no, you can tell me here, then I can go back to sleep.”
“It’s…it’s like three thirty in the afternoon, Kar.”
“Then I can go back to sleep. The end of that sentence isn’t going to change. I’m very tired. Sitting here is taking a lot out of me, so just tell me what you want.” Eridan didn’t reply, then sighed and put the car into park. He seemed to be collecting his thoughts.
“Sollux is your new roommate, huh?” He muttered, picking at the logo on the steering wheel.
“Uh, yeah. Sorry if that offends you or something, but he’s way better than my roommate last year.”
“Yeah, I know. Well, he’s an annoyin’ bitch, but…yeah, he’s no Makara.” The conversation dropped into awkward silence. Alright, something’s up. Karkat could tell Eridan was figuring out how to tell him something.
“Eridan. What,” Karkat demanded. Eridan looked at Karkat, and the expression on his face was unusual for him. What’s with that weird face?
“You seen him around? Makara, I mean. Or Vriska?” Karkat didn’t follow.
“Yes? Vriska was in my class today, and Gamzee…well, I’m sure that guy sees me more than I see him, if you get my drift. …wait. Is this about Zahhak’s fucking party?” Karkat asked. Eridan looked surprised.
“You know about that?”
“Aren’t I fucking invited? What the fuck is up with this party?! Are they going to kill me or drown me in the river or what?!” Eridan’s eyes were big, at least compared to his normal squint.
“You know about that?” He repeated.
“Kar, remember, if anythin’ happens, well, I know you can’t usually tell but I got your back-“
“ERIDAN. WHAT. THEY’RE PLANNING TO KILL ME?” Karkat interrupted him.
“I dunno. No. Not kill, maybe like…seriously maim? There was this kid a while back that Vriska got her hands on, she liked ‘im a lot, ended up paralyzing him...”
“Paralyzed?” Karkat’s eyes got wide. “Tavros? Tavros Nitram?”
“Yeah I dunno the name, kind of a timid guy-“
“Tavros Nitram! She paralyzed him?! Wheelchair?! Oh god whatthefuck-“
“Kar!” Eridan turned fully towards him. “Listen. Like I said, I got your back. Just…stay away from those guys. Makara, Vriska, Zahhak…bad news. I’ll be at the party, gotta maintain my rep, but you should prob’ly skip this one. Not much I can do three against one.”
“Thanks. Fucking thanks, I planned to. Sounds like a seriously fun time, but I think I’ll have to miss this one, shit. Sounds like so much fun, but I don’t feel like getting triple-teamed by the horrorterrors,” he babbled, opening the door and backing out of the car.
“Wait! Don’t ya wanna come over?!” Eridan called after him.
“Sorry, Eridan, not really feeling up to that right now. I’ll call you when I feel the need to have a really gay sleepover.”
“Aw, fuck you, Kar!” Eridan slammed the door, and Karkat tossed him a wave. The Benz drove away with a honk. As he stood in the biting cold, he realized he wasn’t really in the mood for sleeping anymore. He was tired. He made up his mind and took off in the direction of another set of dorms. He needed to see Kanaya.
I'm a tiny bit concerned about the characterization in this chapter.
Sollux- I'm trying to give him a balance between his psionic and blind personalities (clever/self-deprecating/easy going)
Karkat- It's very hard to keep his self-hate without making him totally stereotypically emokid. Working to handle it in a detached way similar to canon.
Gamzee, Vriska, Equius- these guys are tough, because in a human setting, their evil-ness needs to be toned down.
Chapter 5: Up All Night
Kanaya answered the door after a considerable delay. Karkat was kicking the wall impatiently when the door swung open.
“Oh, hello, Karkat,” she said, a barely perceptible sniffle punctuating the greeting. Oh shit, has she been crying? Her eyes were the tiniest bit glossy. Crap, yes. Crying girls were not his strong point. Especially not a crying Kanaya. She wasn’t one to cry easily, despite her flair for the dramatic. Karkat stepped past her and into the dorm. Kanaya owned a single dorm, so despite being barely eight feet across, the room was completely her. Brightly colored fabrics and posters hung from the walls, making it infinitely more charming than Karkat’s own cement block. A dressform stood in the corner, a rough cut of muslin hanging from it in an unfinished design, and pillows were scattered all over the floor in random piles. Somehow none of it looked crowded. Kanaya sighed deeply, stepping over to the largest pillow pile and draping herself across it. Karkat looked at her, crossing his arms.
“Ok, what’s the matter?” He moved to sit behind Kanaya, leaning back on the pillow pile so their heads almost touched.
“Nothing is the matter. I am just…” Kanaya didn’t continue, stretching her arms behind her head so they dangled above Karkat. He grabbed them lightly, tugging.
“Come on. You’ve been fucking moping around since class ended, right?” Kanaya closed her eyes.
“I have started to…admire a mutual friend of ours,” she finally said, the words careful and hesitant. Karkat tilted his head as he processed the new information. Why is that a problem? Kanaya probably wouldn’t appreciate that train of thought, so he kept it to himself.
“Why is that problem?” Goddammit, didn’t we just discuss why that wasn’t what you would say? I hate you. Kanaya made a noise of frustration.
“Because…of Vriska, of course. She might still-“
“Kanaya. First. Fuck Vriska. Wait, fuck, no, I mean like…figuratively, jegus. But yeah, stop letting her fucking whims control everything you do. Secondly…who is it, you usually don’t get to this level of Vriska anxiety unless it’s serious. I haven’t even noticed you liking anyone.
“Uh…please do not tell anyone. Especially not John or Jade. Or Dave.” Huh? What do they have to do with…wait.
“John, Jade, and Dave? And…” Karkat trailed off. Oh. Kanaya Maryam had started to admire a mutual friend. Kanaya Maryam had started to admire one of a quartet of friends that they both knew. Kanaya Maryam…had a lady crush on Rose Lalonde.
Karkat hurried back to his dorm around seven, hoodie a tiny bit damp from where Kanaya had been pressing her face against his shoulder. He felt a little bad that she had been at that level of frustration without him noticing, but it was kind of Vriska’s fault that she was freaking out so bad, anyways. Guilt tripping bitch. All of it was Vriska’s fault. The dampness had become an ice cube on his collarbone, and it made him move faster. He didn’t mind physical contact with Kanaya. The knowledge that the other was ‘safe’ from misunderstanding gave each of them the freedom of touch they avoided with others. Karkat wouldn’t give up Kanaya for the world. She was one of the few people in it that he didn’t hate. If Terezi was the storm that forced him to move on, Kanaya was the rock he could take refuge on for a little longer. He had reached his dorm, and began to fumble with his keys. He jammed the key in the lock and tried to turn it without much success. Why do these always make me feel so retarded? The room was empty once he got inside. Sollux, who was still decidedly on Karkat’s hate list (sort of), was out. Karkat was mildly curious for all of two seconds, before giving up. Ruffling his hair, the tiredness set in. Finally, he’d probably be able to sleep through the night. He let himself fall onto his bed. The ceiling is so fucking ugly. After a few blinks, his head lolled to the side. Karkat was finally asleep, at seven p.m. on the second day.
"Hey there, motherfucker,” Gamzee called to him from his place on the floor. Karkat set his backpack down, raising an eyebrow.
“Gamzee, what the fuck are you doing?” He asked with a snicker. Gamzee smiled up at him.
“I got something real nice today. Now I’m organizing my m&m’s, bro. Alphabetical order and all.” Karkat rolled his eyes.
“I’m gonna do you a favor and tell you they’re all ‘m’.”
“Aw no, man, that’s cheating.” Gamzee turned to face Karkat fully. Something was…off about his expression. “I like that shirt.” Karkat looked down at his shirt, which had the zodiac sign for Cancer on it.
"Uh, thanks…Terezi got it for me,” he said. Gamzee’s expression flattened momentarily, then turned into a leer.
“Looks like sixty-nine.”
“Ugh! It’s fucking Cancer, you incredible shit. Fuck you for saying that.” Gamzee’s only response was laughter.
He couldn’t move when he came to.
gamzee’s been getting weirder these past few weeks
He felt something on his wrists. Pulling on them experimentally…tied to…arm rests. He was tied to a chair. He tried to call out, something was stuffed in his mouth, blocking his tongue from working. Panic set in. He was finally able to take in his surroundings.
ever since i told him i was out of here
The dorm. Almost pitch-black, except for the light from Gamzee’s desk lamp.
last day of school
Gamzee himself sat on his bed in the pool of light.
last night at school
something in his hands
IT’S THAT FUCKING SOPOR SHIT
He began to struggle against the ties, when Gamzee looked up, eyes glassy, and smiled.
A loud yell woke Karkat up. Ears ringing, his body tensed painfully for a few seconds. Sollux’s face swam into view, leaning over him.
“Who the fuck yelled,” Karkat slurred, sleepy alarm making him panic. Sollux’s hand was on his shoulder. Karkat rolled away from it, rubbing his eyes. “What the fuck, Sollux. Why’d you…why’d you wake me up?” Sollux shook his head.
“You were having one hell of a nightmare. You started flipping out, saying shit and stuff.” Karkat stared at him, his dream sinking in and angry embarrassment coloring his features.
“What….what the fuck did you hear?” he hissed, sitting up to get closer to Sollux.
“Don’t worry. Nothing that made sense. Are…are you ok?” Karkat’s anger was…not going away. He fell back on the bed, hands going up to fist in his hair. Why am I so STUPID? FUCK.
“What time is it?” He ground out.
“Eh, like one-thirty in the morning. You’ve been out since I got back around eight.” Sollux sat on the bed next to him. “KK…calm the fuck down. You’re twitching.” Karkat looked at Sollux furiously.
“Can you please shut the fuck up? You don’t know fucking anything about me.” Karkat tried to shove Sollux off his bed. Sollux grabbed his arm alarmingly fast, holding Karkat’s wrist tight. “What the f-“
“You’re right. I don’t know anything about you. All I know is that you have a real bad anger issue and you act like a fucking war veteran. What the fuck is wrong with you, KK?” Karkat stared at him. Sollux waited patiently, watching Karkat’s face. All of a sudden, Karkat went limp, arm held up only by the wrist Sollux was holding. He let go of it, and Karkat rolled over, facing away from Sollux. Karkat’s back was a curl inward, and he looked smaller than before in his oversized hoodie.
“It was just about my old roommate.” Sollux thought as much. John had told him a few things about Gamzee Makara. Karkat didn’t say anything else, so Sollux got up and returned to his computer. Karkat mumbled something to the wall then, but it was too quiet to hear.
“What did you say?” Sollux asked. Karkat huffed in aggravation.
“I asked…are we still friends?” Sollux rolled his eyes.
“Of course, KK.”
Karkat woke up early the next morning, sure of one thing. He needed to get to his house. He checked his schedule and saw that he only had an even class at seven. That’s enough time. He needed a ride, though. After rummaging through his backpack, he emerged with his cellphone and scrolled through the contacts. He didn’t want to call the number he was searching for, and usually never did, but this time he had no choice. When ‘Eridan’ appeared on the screen, he pressed call. Despite it being…7:23 A.M., apparently, Karkat knew he’d pick up. And…bingo.
“Hello? Kar, what the hell, it’s so late,” Eridan’s voiced blared from the speaker.
“Early, fuckface. It’s seven in the morning.” There was silence on the other end for a moment.
“Damn. I’ve been playin’ Pokemon all night. Didn’t even notice.”
“Good job, idiot. Listen, I need a ride. To my house.”
“…Oh my god, your house? Really? Um, sure, wait, where is that?” Eridan sounded ecstatic, much to Karkat’s annoyance. The guy had been desperate to ‘hang out’ for the entire time they’d been ‘friends’, or whatever they were.
“About three hours from here in a really terrible town.” Karkat was starting to doubt Eridan would be up for this. His words were slurring already. “Actually, maybe tomorrow or something. You sound stupid.”
“No Kar seriously, I can take you! When do you-“
“You need a ride somewhere?” A sleepy voice asked from behind Karkat. He turned to find Sollux, clad in boxers and a shirt, looking down at him.
“I-is that Captor? Tell him to fuck off, I’m driving you!” Eridan protested.
“No, but thanks, Eridan, just go to sleep. I’ll see you later.” Karkat hung up, and turned back to Sollux. “You have a car?” Sollux nodded.
“Yup. You need to pay me gas money though. I’m not rich like Eridan,” he said. Karkat snorted.
“No one is ‘rich like Eridan’. Do you have class today?”
“No, I have today off.” Sollux Captor, owner of the perfect schedule, everyone.
“I have an evening class, so let’s go soon-ish. Before my parents are around,” Karkat said vaguely.
“That’s fine.” Sollux shrugged, then paused. “Uh, hey. Any reason why you’re always sleeping in your clothes?” Karkat looked down. He was wearing the same hoodie and jeans as yesterday. He changed each day, but Sollux was right- not once had he changed into clothes more suitable for sleeping.
“I guess I just don’t want to bother. I don’t sleep through the night so it doesn’t matter anyways.”
“Insomnia?” Sollux offered, looking symphathetic for once.
“I don’t even know. Whatever, it’s not a huge fucking deal. Get ready and let’s go.”
Sollux’s car was a respectable Honda Civic, about ten years old but in good condition. Karkat threw himself in the front seat, trying to avoid stepping on any of the numerous CD’s scattered on the floor and seats.
“Jegus, got enough CD’s, Sollux?” he asked with a sneer. Sollux didn’t respond except for a shrug. Karkat was getting sick of that. He twisted around to look in the back, noticing the entire backseat was removed, replaced with speakers. “Holy fuck those are huge.” Sollux turned the key, smiling.
“Installed it all myself.” The car beeped once, Sollux turned a dial, then the volume increased on the loudest speakers Karkat had ever heard. He yelled something at Sollux, who took his time turning it down. “What was that, KK?” Karkat seethed.
“Thanks for the warning, fucknuts. Really appreciate it.”
“Anytime, KK. Now where are we going?” Karkat explained the directions to his city, and they started driving. Thankfully, Sollux kept the volume down in favor of talking, and Karkat actually felt talkative enough to make use of it. The two traded stories and insults for the duration of the ride, until the exit for Karkat’s house rose in the distance.
Exit 13B, 1 mi.
Chapter 6: Sooner or Later
Sollux Captor was standing outside of a fairly normal looking two-story house. It was located in the suburbs, about a mile and a half off the highway. A car was parked in the driveway, but the house itself seemed empty. He wasn’t there alone- he was with a friend of his, a resident of the house. That friend was carefully trying to climb through a window, presumably the one to his own bedroom.
“Uh, KK, I still don’t understand why you’re breaking into your own house,” Sollux said, tearing his eyes away from a really ugly dog staring intently at him from a window across the street.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t expect you to. All families have their own way of doing things, ok? This is how my family does their things. It’s much easier than running into my parents, trust me, fuck,” Karkat struggled with the window, then gasped in triumph as it suddenly slid upwards. “Yes!” He clambered inside. Sollux stood there awkwardly, eyeing the open window. The dog across the street barked behind the glass. Karkat waited for a minute, then popped his head out the window. “Jegus, Sollux, get a move on.” Sollux sighed, and planted his foot on the frame, pulling himself through. Karkat stayed put until Sollux was on the ground, adjusting his glasses, before he began to move to the door. Despite it being a bright morning, the house was dark and quiet. Sollux figured that maybe his parents had gone to work. Karkat flattened himself against the wall before cracking open the door to peek out.
“Why are we being quiet?” Sollux whispered, still pretty confused. Karkat rolled his eyes.
“I am being quiet. You aren’t. Luckily, my parents aren’t here, I guess. I didn’t know if they were.” He flipped a light switch, and a lamp brightened the room. “Okay, this should be quick and painless. You can sit on my bed, I guess.” Sollux sat down, watching Karkat curiously.
“So this is your room?” He asked, looking around the small gray room. Movie posters were stuck on the wall and several knick knacks were on the dresser, but for the most part it was just as sparse as his side of the dorm.
“Yeah. Sorry, it kind of sucks.” Karkat was collecting something out of his closet and throwing them into his backpack.
“Yeah, it’s just…really empty. What are those?” Karkat stiffened.
“Mind your own damn business, it doesn’t fucking matter what they are,” he snapped.
“Oh, KK, that language of yours- such a turn-on," Sollux said flatly. Karkat flushed bright red, sputtering.
“What part of ‘shut the fuck up’ do you not understand!” Sollux was smirking as he examined a magazine that he had picked up from the floor.
“I dunno, probably all of it. You talk too fast. Like a freaking Chihuahua.” Karkat looked like he was going to have an aneurysm.
“It’s nothing compared to your giant LIS-“ Suddenly something made a loud bump above them. Karkat’s voice dropped to a harsh whisper. “FUCK. My mom is home. Let’s just get out of here, I got what I needed.” He held up his backpack. Sollux looked confused.
“I still don’t get what’s so bad about your mom.”
“Nothing, just that we aren’t gonna get back by seven if she finds out I came home. More like ten. Or possibly tomorrow if she thinks I look hungry. Come on, out the window.” Raising an eyebrow, Sollux complied.
“Not gonna lie, KK, I was kind of curious about what your parents must be like, seeing how much you hate the world, they must be special. Turns out they just loved you too much or something.” Karkat scoffed.
“Special, sure. You’ll just have to wait until open house or some shit to see all their love. Let’s go.” Sollux grudgingly climbed up.
“Just saying, I want to meet my in-laws at some point-“ Karkat shoved him, ignoring his cry of alarm.
“If you like your teeth you’d shut the fuck up and MOVE.” Karkat wasn’t far behind, and soon they were in the car, driving away from the house of Vantas, one bag of mystery richer than when they arrived. Karkat clutched the bag in question tightly. Fuck yes, finally. Maybe now I can sleep. Sollux eyed it when they got to a red light.
“Okay, KK. Seriously. What’s in the bag? You owe me for coming all the way out here.” Karkat sighed, then opened it. Sollux took a second to identify the numerous flat boxes. “Are…are those movies?” Karkat pulled the bag shut, scowling.
“Good job, idiot. Yeah. I sleep better with them running, in case you haven’t noticed my problem with that.”
“Oh…I see. I guess I understand. I sleep better with computers running and stuff.” The two were silent for a few minutes, until Sollux checked the time.
“Hey, do you wanna get something to eat? I didn’t really eat breakfast.” Karkat realized he hadn’t either.
“Uh, neither did I. Yeah, I guess. There’s a burger place about five minutes ahead.” Sollux likes burgers, right? Yeah. Sure enough, seven minutes later, Karkat was sitting on a sticky booth seat while Sollux ordered for them with Karkat’s money. Stop ordering for me, you freak. Sollux eventually came back with their food, and after Sollux’s freakish bipolar condiment ritual, they ate in silence. They were both so hungry that there was no room for conversation, so the burgers were short work. Sollux balled up his wrapper, wiping his mouth with a napkin.
“That was way better than the school’s burgers,” he sighed, content. Karkat finished the last bite of his burger, nodding.
“Probably because they don’t leave it outside for week to make sure it’s dry enough to wipe the floors with,” he said, mouth full of food. Sollux grimaced.
“Thank you for the attractive visual aid, KK.”
On the way back to school, Sollux’s cellphone rang; it was Feferi. As Sollux explained where he was, Karkat checked his own phone. The display told him he had a stupid amount of missed calls: Eridan, Eridan, Eridan, Jegus fuck you Eridan, Mom, Mom…Terezi? He pressed the call button on her number and waited. Sollux was laughing at something Feferi said, and Karkat listened with half an ear until Terezi’s voice chirped at him. Dammit, voicemail.
“Terezi. Hi. Did you call me? Call me back when you get this. Or maybe leave a message maybe? God. Uh…bye.” He hung up, then stashed the phone in his pocket. Sollux’s conversation with Feferi didn’t sound like it was ending anytime soon. Karkat rested his forehead against the window, ignoring the slight burning from the sun’s rays. After a few minutes of listening to the timbre of Sollux’s voice, he dozed away into an unsettling dream about blind witches, hammers, and Faygo.
…Until Sollux shook him back to the land of the living.
“Up and at’em, KK. Come on, we’re back.” He waited until Karkat had gotten out of the car, then checked his phone. “I’m gonna go meet Fef. I’ll see you after class, kay?” Karkat waved in a daze, watching him leave. I wonder if Terezi’s at her dorm…ugh, I don’t want to see Vriska though. Terezi had the bad luck of being roommates with Vriska. How she put up with her fuckassery was beyond him. He decided against risking it and trudged towards his dorm, feeling pretty…pretty okay. There was a drool dried on his cheek and the remaining drowsiness was somehow making him feel blurry, but he didn’t feel like passing out for once. Maybe he could get on a normal sleep schedule now, when the homework hadn’t started pouring in yet, and be a real person. ….yeah right. Well, the movies would at least help with his sleep problem…sort of. If he didn’t try to marathon all eighty of them first. Actually, that’s not a bad idea.
That’s exactly what he was attempting two hours later when his phone rang and Terezi’s name blinked on the screen.
“Karkat! Do you have class tonight?” Terezi asked. She sounded excited.
“Fuck, I almost forgot. Yeah, I do. Why?”
“Darn. Ok whatever whatever! Can you meet me by the lake right afterwards? There’s been some…new developments I think you should be aware of,” she said. It still sounded like she wanted to end that with a cackle, despite the ominous tone.
“…Devel…? Wait, is this about Gamzee and Vriska and shit? IF IT’S ABOUT THEM TRYING TO MURDER ME, ERIDAN BEAT YOU THE FUCK TO IT.”
“Calm down, Kar, I knew you’d know what Eridan knows! This is new, different!”
“Oh boy. Can’t wait.”
“Do you know Feferi Peixes?”
“Well, Nepeta told Feferi about the beatdown that Vriska was orchestrating – Feferi wants to report it!”
“WHAT?! FUCK NO, TEREZI. This is fucking stupid, if I was gonna report it, might as well switch schools. KARKAT VANTAS, SWITCHED SCHOOLS BECAUSE HE WAS AFRAID OF BEING KILLED OR WHATEVER THE FUCK VRISKA SEKRET PLANNED. Wait, actually, I probably wouldn't go to school ever again, my mom would put me in the Witness Protection Program and make me live in a pillow box. Do you not- my dad would disown me! ‘KID, I’M SO DISAPPOINTED IN YOU. IT WAS JUST A MURDER PLOT, YOU KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH ASSASSINS. GET OUT OF MY HOUSE.’ NO. We have to deal with this…under the table. So fucking under the table, food will fall on our heads. Tell Fefer- no, you know what, I’ll tell her myself. She’s always hanging all over my roommate, she’ll probably be here tonight.”
“…hey Karkat. You do know that Sollux-“
“Yeah, they aren’t dating? Whatever, they totally are. Anyways, thanks for telling me, Terezi. I’ll talk to you later. “
“Wait, I mean-“ He pressed the ‘end call’ button and bit his thumbnail. Feferi was becoming a problem. He really did need to talk to her, level with her- if she told the administration there was a bounty on his head or what the fuck ever, they’d notify his family. Which unfortunately consisted of the most overprotective mother and the most emotionally absent father in the history of college students. He tried to think about how she would have found out. All his thoughts led to one person - Sollux Captor. The problem was that he didn’t know if Sollux knew….what…everyone else knew ugh fuck this sentence. But there was a possibility- Kanaya knew about the party. Kanaya talked to John. Terezi also talked to John. Terezi talked to Sollux. John talked to Sollux. John told Sollux an unknown quantity of information, and Sollux may or may not have been told about the freakish party where Karkat may or may not be meeting an untimely demise. This huge tangle- bitch spiderweb- of information was making him even more annoyed. He was just not cutout for investigation and timeline analysis and all that forensic shit like Terezi. And…
“SHIT. CLASS.” Grabbing his backpack, Karkat flew out of the room. Hopefully, when he returned, Sollux and Feferi would be making out on Sollux’s bed – okay wait fuck, SITTING, sitting on his bed- and he could interrogate both of them at once.
Can anyone guess who Karkat's parents are yet?
Chapter 7: That's What I Thought
Karkat was late to class, but not for any sort of good reason- he totally forgot to check where whatever class he had was being held. After running around like an absolute freak trying to find a computer he could check his schedule on, he found one halfway across campus. The entire incident resulted in his being about twenty-five minutes late to class. That must be a new record. Excellent work, douchebag. The teacher was giving him an exaggerated stank-eye for a little while, but eventually got over it. The class, some sort of complicated computer math course, was boring as hell. Karkat was never too strong at math. Words had always been his forte. Insults were just where he really shined. Eventually, he found himself opening Pesterchum on his laptop. A message from Terezi popped up, sent when he was offline.
gallowsCalibrator: K4RK4T YOU HUNG UP ON M3 >:[
gallowsCalibrator: L1ST3N, TH3RE’S SOM3ON3 YOU SHOULD T4LK TO
gallowsCalibrator: SH3’S SPY1NG ON VR1SK4 FOR M3- R34L D33P STUFF
gallowsCalibrator: YOU SHOULD D3F1N4T3LY H34R SOM3 OF 1T
gallowsCalibrator: SH3 US3D TO D4T3 SOLLUX TOO, H3H3 >:]
gallowsCalibrator: 4NYW4YS, 4PP4R3NTLY VR1SKA ST1LL H4S H3R 3Y3 ON YOU 4ND 1S D3F1N4T3LY COLL4BOR4T1NG W1TH G4MZ33
gallowsCalibrator: FURTH3R BULL3T1NS 4S 3V3NTS W4RR3NT!!
Jegus, Terezi was almost incomprehensible when she typed. Was it just a thing? Karkat admitted he got a little capslock crazy sometimes, but Terezi’s random numbers and shit…he copied the screenname she had given him and added it into Pesterchum. Despite being borderline psychotic, her intel was never wrong. She got way too into it, maybe, but her accuracy was like a sniper’s rifle. He’d have to thank her later. The screenname appeared on the list of online contacts, so he clicked on it. apocalypseArisen’s box popped up, and he wondered if they even knew Terezi had mentioned them.
apocalypseArisen: d0 i kn0w y0u?
carcinoGeneticist: UH, NO. NOT REALLY. I’M TEREZI’S FRIEND.
apocalypseArisen: me t00, i guess
carcinoGeneticist: HA. YEAH. LISTEN. I NEED TO ASK YOU ABOUT VRISKA.
apocalypseArisen: …i see
apocalypseArisen: is this karkat vantas?
carcinoGeneticist: LUCKY GUESS. JUST CURIOUS, WHO EXACTLY ARE YOU?
apocalypseArisen: we have a class t0gether
apocalypseArisen: its aradia megid0
Okay, Karkat definitely knew who that was. The dark-haired girl who had been talking to Vriska and Kanaya in Equius’ class that day- wait, does this mean Kanaya is in on it?…okay, no jumping to conclusions, idiot. Yet.
carcinoGeneticist: OH WOW, SERIOUSLY? NO WAY. THE ARADIA MEGIDO?
carcinoGeneticist: SARCASM. BUT YEAH, WE HAVE ANATOMY TOGETHER. LISTEN. ARE YOU AND VRISKA FRIENDS?
apocalypseArisen: s0rt of
apocalypseArisen: 0kay n0t really
apocalypseArisen: she thinks we may be
apocalypseArisen: 0r maybe she kn0ws we arent
carcinoGeneticist: WELL THAT MADE A LOT OF SENSE. MOVING BEYOND THAT RIDICULOUS SENTENCE, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT VRISKA’S PLANNING FOR EQUIUS’ PARTY?
carcinoGeneticist: WAIT, IF YOU’RE FRIENDS WITH HER AND ARE JUST GOING TO BE A FUCKING TATTLETALE, THEN IGNORE THIS CONVERSATION AND WE CAN PRETEND IT NEVER HAPPENED.
apocalypseArisen: i wanted t0 tell y0u anyways
apocalypseArisen: but y0u need s0me backgr0und first
carcinoGeneticist: UM, OK, WHATEVER. GO FOR IT.
apocalypseArisen: vriska thinks i am g0ing al0ng with her plans
apocalypseArisen: well actually i am sort of g0ing al0ng with them i guess
apocalypseArisen: but 0nly because i d0nt really care what she d0es
apocalypseArisen: i gave up 0n her ever since she messed up things with my last bf
apocalypseArisen: i think y0u kn0w him
carcinoGeneticist: WOULD THAT HAPPEN TO BE SOLLUX?
apocalypseArisen: i heard he was y0ur r00mmate
apocalypseArisen: anyways that d0esnt matter
apocalypseArisen: vriska made sure that ended
carcinoGeneticist: I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW WHAT I HAVE TO DO WITH ANY OF THIS. AND MAYBE I WOULD ALSO ENJOY LEARNING WHY THE FUCK SHE’S TRYING TO KILL ME.
apocalypseArisen: shes g0t a few reas0ns f0r being after y0u
apocalypseArisen: just wait a minute
apocalypseArisen: its n0thing pers0nal
apocalypseArisen: its all f0r her 0wn gain
apocalypseArisen: 00ps, gtg
apocalypseArisen: tavr0s can tell y0u
carcinoGeneticist: WAIT NO TELL ME NOW WHAT THE FUCK
Aradia’s screenname signed off. Karkat rubbed his face in frustration. What the fuck was the point of that? Great, now I know for sure Vriska’s trying to knock me off, and that ladies love Sollux. What about Gamzee? He was also getting really tired of being passed off to different participants of this idiotic little dance. He attempted to focus on the homework the teacher was assigning, but just ended up dwelling on his frustration more. I’ll stay up all night to catch one of these fuckheads if I have to.
After class, Karkat stood outside for a few moments, unsure of where he should go. Back at the dorm, Feferi and Sollux might be available for some hardcore questioning. He wanted make sure Feferi wouldn’t report the entire thing to the school administration. He could also track down Aradia or Tavros, although he figured the latter would be with the psychotic roommate in question, which…sounded kind of unappealing. Terezi might have more information from her stalktastic ‘investigation’, and even Kanaya seemed to have been holding back on some important knowledge that everyone but he apparently knew. You can all step on a rake. Is there ANYONE at this school not involved in this stupid mess? Even Sollux is all up in it. Well, there was one person whose involvement seemed minimal. Sort of. As far as he knew. Karkat’s mind was tangled in knots from overexposure to the matter. He felt a headache threatening from behind his tensed forehead. Surely this was a good enough reason to swallow his pride just this once. Karkat flipped out his cellphone and searched for a number.
“I can’t believe you called me to hang out. That’s a first, usually you’re just a slippery bastard who ignores the shit outta me.” Eridan leaned back in his seat, sipping from a huge plastic cup filled with some kind of frappucino thing. The two had hit up Starbucks and were now parked overlooking the beach, moon hanging above black water. A couple, probably drunk, played in the water, near where Eridan had pointed out a shark circling underneath the mild surf. Karkat didn’t spend long wondering how the fuck he saw it, and watched them from above with detached interest, ignoring his chocolate milk.
"Yeah, well, I needed to get my mind off things. I figured listening to your idiotic babble usually helps with that.”
“You’re such a fuckhead, Vantas. …uh, what kinda things, if you don’t mind me askin’? Maybe I can give you some advice or somethin’,” Eridan said, trying to mask his curiosity. Too bad I can see right through you, you nosy fucker.
“Oh, you know, the usual Vantas shit…remember when you mentioned that I was going to be killed a while back? Yeah, things have been developing nicely on that front.” Karkat tilted his head back and closed his eyes, exhaling deeply. “I’m just working on my will and shit.” Eridan didn’t reply. Karkat opened his eyes to look at him. He was a little surprised at how intensely Eridan was looking out at the ocean.
“Kar. I’m gonna tell you a few things. Just some stuff I think you should be aware of.” Eridan’s voice was flat and serious. Karkat stared at him, waiting for more. “Vriska Sekret…is a bigger problem than you think. She’s dangerous. Real dangerous. Like I said, she paralyzed a guy. She can do a lot worse if she wanted. I should know, we uh…used to be pretty close.”
“As in, dating close?” The stupid couple was making their way off the beach.
“Nah, more like…we were real tight. We lived on the same island, so we’d just go off into the water for ages, and I guess…yeah, I kinda liked her, maybe. Too bad she’s got no room in her heart for anyone that’s not herself.”
“She dumped you.”
“Wow, Kar, don’t hold back or anything. Yeah, she dumped me. Okay? Happy? Anyways, I’ve been watchin’ her a bit. Don’t look at me like that, Kar, you know what I mean. As you know, she’s been hangin’ with Equius, which is just annoyin’, since he’s a huge freak. But she’s also been hangin’ with Gamzee.”
“Tell me something I don’t know, Eridan,” Karkat said, rolling his eyes.
“Goddammit, hang on a second. Okay, well, I was kinda curious. Like, why is she all up on you? Besides you know, Gamzee being a total freak about all things Kar. No, I figure…I figure she’s jealous. Of me. Hangin' with you.” Karkat burst out in derisive laughter.
“OH MY GOD. ERIDAN. STOP. That’s rich. That’s absolutely amazing. You are amazing. She wants to kill me because she’s jealous of the beautiful thing we have together?”
“Jegus Kar, can you take this seriously for like, three seconds? You hafta admit, it makes sense! More sense than she just randomly wants to kill you, I mean.” Karkat’s laughter slowed to a stop.
“There has to be some other reason. Oh god, I’m too young for this murder shit,” Karkat moaned, hands dragging down his face. Eridan sipped his drink.
“Maybe you should call your parents or somethin’?”
“FUCK NO. No, on so many different levels. All possible levels, no.” Eridan shrugged.
“Okay, okay. …Guess I’m just a little bit worried. I mean, you’re actually kinda cool sometimes, Kar. Not too many people I consider good enough to hang with me.” He shook his drink to point at himself with the straw. “And you got me, Eridan Ampora, willin’ to take you to Starbucks at like 10 at night.” Karkat rolled his eyes.
“You picked up your phone after the first ring, loadstain.”
“See!? That’s my point!”
Karkat trekked through the dark campus towards the dorms, enduring the incredible ass-freezing temperatures, eventually arriving in his own warm room. Today was a good day for learning unsettling information about sociopaths. Sollux turned from his computer and waved.
“Hey KK.” Karkat beelined for the amazing bag of awesome he had harvested earlier that day.
“Hey,” he mumbled, preoccupied.
“Have fun on your date?” Karkat whirled around.
“Saw you with Eridan. Haha, Fef and I were down on the beach. Don’t worry, I’m not stalking you or anything.” Karkat narrowed his eyes.
“There was a shark. Too bad it didn’t eat you guys.”
“Yeah, Fef mentioned that too. Have to say, you can tell they grew up together.” Karkat resumed rummaging through the bag.
“Mmhm. Mind if I put a movie on?” Sollux got up and sauntered over.
“Not at all. Actually, mind if I watch it too? What do you have?” Karkat felt a little embarrassed for some reason.
“Uh, probably nothing you’ll like,” he said, frowning. Sollux knelt beside him.
“Dude…these are all romantic comedies,” he said, sifting through a few cases. “Wow, KK. These are all romantic comedies.” Karkat grabbed the ones he was holding out of his hand.
“No shit! You don’t have to repeat yourself, if you have a problem with it, don’t watch it, fuckface!” Sollux snorted.
“Calm down, crazy, I’ll watch it! Jegus, you have the temper of a dishrag. I just didn’t peg you as the light-heart romcom type. …at all.” Karkat ignored him, selecting one of his favorites (I will never get tired of you, Will Smith), and popping it into his laptop. He stared at his bed awkwardly for a minute. How is this going to work? Sollux decided for them, hopping up on Karkat’s bed and making himself comfortable sitting against the wall. He and Karkat stared at each other until Sollux patted the space next to him. “You sit here, and put the laptop there,” he said, saying each word slowly like Karkat was an idiot. Karkat scowled and jumped up, making sure to ‘accidentally’ elbow Sollux in the face. After setting the laptop down, he awkwardly settled back against the wall, making sure to keep some space in between him and Sollux. Unfortunately, the bed was terribly undersized, so there was still a level of closeness that made Karkat feel edgy until he was properly absorbed into the shenanigans of Will Smith.
oh man. Exposition dump. Sorry, but it needs to happen at some point. Having twelve people running around independently is so hard to keep track of sometimes!
BTW- Commenters were right with the parents! Jack Noir and Crabmom. Just a little bg trivia.
Chapter 8: Maneater
The next morning Karkat woke up in a position he didn’t remember falling asleep in, from a sleep that he didn’t remember falling into. He groaned and rolled over. Check cellphone. Well fuck that’s kind of late. I hope I didn’t have a morning class. He vaguely remembered falling asleep around halfway through the second movie in. Sollux had surprisingly sat through most of the mini marathon, only getting up once or twice to stare at his computer and type something. Just as Karkat thought, the movies killed his brain enough to ensure a dreamless sleep. The room was empty- it was about nine in the morning, and Sollux probably had a morning class. Karkat almost felt bad for keeping him up that late…almost. It’s fucking college. He sat up, rubbing his face and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. A growl cut the silence, and Karkat decided some breakfast was in order. After quickly checking his schedule- good, just afternoon classes- he began to get ready.
Karkat was busy eating a gigantic muffin near the library when a hand clapped on his shoulder. He jumped, and turned to see Vriska grinning widely at him.
“Well hello, Karkat. How are you doing this fine morning?” She steered him with her, arm reaching behind his back to simultaneously trap him and have a vice grip on his upper arm. Fuck.
“Hey, Vriska. I’m not doing too well this morning. Some things are pissing me off, and I can only punch one of them. Isn’t it kind of early for huge bitches to be awake?” Karkat eyed her warily as he spoke. He half-expected her to chloroform him or something. Does a sociopath care if their victim dies now or later? ‘Oh darn, this is all terribly off-schedule. I do fucking apologize but could we resume this whole murder thing in about five hours from now’?
“Oh Karkat. It’s actually kind of refreshing to be hated this much. I just wanted to say hi to my favorite little crabcake,” Vriska said, sighing dramatically. What the fuck is wrong with this chick. Her face got contemplative. “Actually. I wanted to have a little chat with you.” She suddenly steered him into a space between the buildings and manhandled him up against a wall.
“What the fu-“ Her face was very close.
“You’re the curious type, huh Karkat?” She hissed, teeth still showing in a mad grin. Karkat swallowed.
“What, does it bother you, Vriska?” Vriska wasn’t touching him apart from a hand on his shoulder, but she leaned over him in an unnerving way that reminded him of a spider trapping its prey. A huge, crazy spider.
“You’re asking an awful lot of questions. I’m just saying, don’t ruin the surprise for yourself. I’m actually pretty curious myself- who told you. Tavros? Not Kanaya. Maybe Nepeta?” Karkat’s heart was pounding away.
“Told me what?”
“…Nevermind. You know what? That’s the difference between you and me, besides the obvious ‘I’m not a idiotic trash baby’- I don’t ruin the surprise. And the other thing I know, Karkles? You don’t have shit on me.” She drew out her words with a widening smile. Then she took her hand back. “See you, Karbaby!” Karkat watched as she flounced away. Karkat had an unnerving feeling that his wallet was missing. More pronounced was the feeling that Vriska knew that he had been asking around. And if Vriska and Gamzee were working together…Gamzee knew too. He shuddered and tossed the other half of his muffin in a garbage can. Vriska had ruined his appetite.
His attempt to find a place to brood alone failed when he ran into Nepeta. For a second, she looked like she wasn’t sure what expression should be on her face. Karkat didn’t even care. I’m so sick of everyone looking at me like I’m some kind of walking terminal illness. In the meantime, Nepeta had settled on ‘ecstatic’.
“Well hey there, Karki-“
“No. Fuck that, Nepeta. You and I both know I’m not in the mood,” he snapped, pinching the bridge of his nose. Nepeta pouted. Karkat felt a headache coming on.
“I just wanted to chat- you seem a little stressed lately!”
“Really? How do you figure that? I’m not stressed, I’m feeling goddamn great. I’m just waiting on some buddies of ours to mug me and throw my body in the ocean with the damned shark. I’M FEELING FUCKING FABULOUS.”
“Uh…what? Shark? Kitkat, what are you talking about?” Nepeta gasped a little. “Oh…is this about Equius’ party?” Karkat rounded on her.
“What the- what do you know about it? You know what, I shouldn’t even be surprised that you know. Equius is your little boyfriend or whatever.” Nepeta shook her head, flustered.
“We aren’t a couple! No…but I overheard something while I walked by the kitchen one night. He was hanging out with Vriska again…I know I shouldn’t eavesdrop, but it’s not my fault I’m so darn stealthy!” She fidgeted. “Want to uh, go to the garden and I can tell you?” Karkat grit his teeth. At least she’s not telling me to go talk to someone else.
“You can tell me right now, and I won’t be as pissed off.” Nepeta smiled.
“Deal! Ok, so,” her voice dropped conspiratorially, “Vriskers said…she said she was trying to make sure someone didn’t squeal about something...I think she meant Sopor.” Okay fuck. It’s a drug thing. Gamzee’s after me because I know what he’s doing, and Vriska’s probably in on it or getting a cut or something. His thoughts were interrupted by Nepeta’s concerned voice. “Um, Karkitty?” He turned to her, holding up a hand.
“I’m good. No. Thanks, Nepeta. For once you’ve actually been kind of helpful,” he said. Nepeta squealed. Creepyyyy…“Okay, I need to go do some stuff. See you later.” Nepeta pouted, but nodded her head.
“Bye bye, Karkitty!” Karkat rolled his eyes and started walking away. Well well well. This stupid little mystery game is getting really, really old. He was also getting a little worried. The presence of Sopor changed everything. He had heard stories of the effects of the drug on those who got addicted- after the brain melting shit got into their head, it was basically over. Their world narrowed to getting more Sopor through any means necessary. If Gamzee was selling- like I know he is -, it made sense that he would be very protective of his stock. If Gamzee was addicted- like I know he is as well-, Karkat was shit out of luck, ‘cause that kind of crazy would be all over the fucking walls. Karkat brooded all the way back to his dorm, and began to get ready for his next class, some bullshit comp. sci. history class.
That night found him sitting on his bed, hugging his knees to his chest and biting his nails absentmindedly. A romcom played on his laptop in front of him. Sollux had come in a while before, and was typing rapidly on both his laptop and desktop computers, probably doing homework. If Karkat wasn’t preoccupied with the thought of a drug lord obsessed with physically harming him, he’d think to himself that maybe Sollux looked the tiniest bit cool as he worked, calm gaze checking the code over his glasses as his fingers clacked away. Karkat stared at him.
“What else did John tell you. About my old roommate,” he suddenly blurted out. WHAT THE FUCK did I tell you to say that? Sollux was silent for a second, then turned in his chair to face him.
“Not much, honestly. I know he used to be okay when you first met, but then he got really fucked up,” he said, leaning back in his chair. Karkat nodded.
“Yeah.” It was hard to figure out where he wanted to go with that sentence, so he gave up, going back to his movie. Sollux watched him briefly, then returned to his coding. After a while, Sollux came over and sat on the bed next to Karkat, his laptop in his lap. Of course the guy obsessed with twos would have two computers. They watched the last half of the movie together, Sollux looking up between strings of code. It was still early evening, so Karkat popped another disc in. As the opening credits rolled, Karkat decided to tell Sollux the story. At the very least, he’ll understand why Feferi can’t report me. And why everything’s going to get really fucked up. And why I’ll be dead soon.
“Once, when I was a lot younger and stupider, I made a lot of stupid decisions. All of the decisions I made were stupid- choice of major, choice of housing, roommate- well, that was the school’s goddamn fault, not mine. Gamzee was actually not that bad when we first met. My past self will insist that he was terrible, but I know there is no way in hell his old self was any worse than how he got later. Annoying, yes; worse than a sadistic psychopath, no. Gamzee was constantly high. That was fucking annoying, but I could care less. He got really attached to me- always calling me ‘best friend’, ‘best motherfucker’, ‘my brother’,” Karkat said each of these in a low drawl, imitating Gamzee. “Probably because I was the only one who called his bullshit. Anyways, he started getting very deep into whatever he was on. He started getting creepier than I thought possible. I’m talking batshit crazy. Weird people started knocking on our door at like 4 AM, Gamzee himself started going to a shit-ton of real shady parties. I started getting weird looks from complete fucking strangers. It was incredibly hard to focus when you have crazy druggies clawing at your shirt thinking you’re your roommate, but what the fuck ever. So he was selling, obviously.”
“And probably getting more fucked up as time went on,” Sollux murmured. Karkat nodded.
“The real problem- God I wish I had fucking seen this, I was so stupid- I should have just fucking left him alone to rot. But no, I had to fucking try to help him. Get involved. It just made everything worse. The last night I stayed at school…” Karkat felt his pulse race at the memory. “The motherfucker used that shit on me. After everything I did for his sorry ass… I woke up tied to a chair, hallucinating crazy shit and burning up. I was there for like ten hours, before Terezi busted in and threatened to call the cops. I had to go to the hospital and get my fucking stomach pumped, and Gamzee got off scot-fucking-free. We got a slap on the wrist for ‘drug abuse’. I just fucking got out of that room as soon as possible.” Sollux’s eyes were wide for the last part.
“He tied you to a chair and drugged you? KK, why the fuck did you not call the cops?!” Karkat scowled.
“Okay, listen, I have a fucking reason or several alright?”
“Yeah? Give me a good reason not to call the cops myself. I’m listening,” Sollux said, flatly. Karkat snarled.
“What the fuck. Sollux. Please. Do not. Tell anyone. Tell Fef not to tell anyone, cause I know she’s already all up in this. I am asking nicely. So nicely.” Sollux crossed his arms.
“I just don’t get why you have to be such an incredible fuckhead about this.”
“I just don’t get why you have to be such an incredible fuckhead about me being an incredible fuckhead.” The two glared at each other for a while. Karkat sighed. “Can we just watch the goddamn movie?” Sollux settled back against the wall, obviously still annoyed from the way he was chewing on a corner of his lips. They spent the next hour or so in relative silence, Karkat watching as Heath Ledger danced around the screen with Julia Stiles and Sollux tapping away on his keyboard.
At some point, Karkat felt his eyelids get heavy, and after two blinks, they didn’t open again. He vaguely felt himself slump over onto something kind of hard and uncomfortable, but he didn’t feel like prying his eyes open to see what it was. In any case, it moved to accommodate him, and everything was comfortable. Karkat Vantas drifted into a troubled sleep.
annddd the eighth chapter is named for Vriska, look at that. This was a tough one to write, mostly because nothing happens in it but talking, ugh.
Chapter 9: Just Like You
Karkat stumbled into a smoky room past the front door, the cloying smell sticking to his skin and airways and making him cough. He grabbed someone’s shirt next to him and dragged them, tripping over their own feet, so they were face to face. The guy looked out of it and stunned.
“Where is Gamzee, bumblefuck?” Karkat snarled, baring his teeth and punctuating his words with a harsh shake. The guy smiled stupidly.
“Wha..what?” he chuckled out, eyes vapid and unfocused. Karkat shoved him away, growling.
“Fucking useless…where the fuck is he?” The haze in the room made it impossible to identify the figures scattered around, silhouetted by crappy yellow lightbulbs that cast a weak glow to the room. He stepped over someone lying on the ground, before a hand grabbing the hem of his shirt and pulled him back.
“Look- it’s, it’s Gamzee’s little boyfriend!” a giggling girl on the couch said, tugging at Karkat. The other couch dwellers looked up from whatever they were doing- some awful combination of sopor and other shit, probably- before breaking out into terrible sounding laughter. Karkat grit his teeth and tore his shirt out of her grip.
“You know where he is?” The girl just laughed some more, then raised an eyebrow at him.
“You could have a lot more fun with me, you know. Gamzee don’t mind sharing!” She was doing something vaguely obscene with her mouth. Karkat sputtered for a second, temper already lost.
“You look like you’re thirty, shitface, and Gamzee’s my goddamn roommate, why would we even- never fucking mind, you can shut the fuck up and tell me where he is and maybe I won’t call Chris Hansen on your predator ass.” There were a few snickers, and someone pointed towards the back of the house.
“He’s probably in the kitchen or back room, baby.” Karkat rushed in that direction, leaning into the kitchen, where the only people inside were a couple making out. No Gamzee. He ran through the kitchen into a back hallway. There were a few people talking lowly, who glanced at him dismissively. He lunged into the first door he reached.
“Gamzee!?” No luck. He finally found what he was looking for in the third room. Gamzee was laying across a bed, arm over his eyes. Two girls sitting on the bed were passing something between them. They scurried away when Karkat stormed over and grabbed Gamzee’s arm. “Gamzee! Wake the fuck up, asshole, shit.” Karkat crawled onto the bed, slapping Gamzee’s face and shaking him. Gamzee just laughed a little. Karkat turned to the girls, who were watching. “What the fuck’s wrong with him!? What did he do?” Gamzee finally woke up a little, focusing on Karkat.
“…Kar? Heyy motherfucker. What’s goin’…what are you all doing here?” He was slurring his words. Karkat glared at him.
“You’re fucked up on some shit, that’s what. You called me an hour ago. Come with me, right now, I had to pull so many fucking favors with Eridan, you have no fucking idea.” Gamzee’s head lolled to look at the girls. “Gamzee, are you okay? Fuck, what did you take?”
“S-sopor, I think. Shit’s good.”
“Shit is not good, idiot.” Karkat tugged Gamzee up, struggling with the much taller body. He finally got Gamzee up, and they staggered out, past all the druggies and drunks and party people. Karkat sucked in fresh air as soon as they escaped the stagnant atmosphere of the house, and locked on to Eridan’s car, waiting outside. He dragged Gamzee over to the back door and shoved him in, then crawled over his legs and slammed it shut.
“Kar, shit, you didn’t tell me you were bringin’ someo- is that Makara?!” Eridan had turned around in his seat, eyes narrowing when they landed on Gamzee’s dazed face.
“Eridan, not right fucking now. Hold off on the inquisition for five goddamn minutes and get us out of here. Oh my god. Fuck, I don’t know if he needs to go to the hospital or not. God…GAMZEE, STAY AWAKE.”
“You’re a damn fool, Kar,” Eridan muttered, stepping on the gas. Gamzee hit Karkat on the shoulder to get his attention. Karkat focused on his friend, slumped down in the seat next to him.
“Thanks for coming after I called, my brother. Can you do a motherfucker one more lil’ favor?” Karkat stared at Gamzee’s face intensely, until Gamzee held something out for him to take. A little plastic bag filled with a weird green gel. “Keep this all for me…it’s kind of bad if anyone catches me with it right now.” Karkat’s eyes were glued to the bag. Eridan glanced at it in the mirror and did a double take.
“Shit.” Don’t take it.
“Just for a little while, motherfucker.”
“Oh my god, Kar, is that-” Don’t take it.
“You’re a motherfucking miracle, Karkat.”
Karkat felt like someone shoved him back into his head, and jerked as he woke up. Looking right at the side of Sollux’s sleeping face. Karkat shoved himself back away from Sollux at the speed of light, only to slam his back and head hard against the wall behind him.
“ARGH, FUCK. SHIIIIT!” Karkat ground out, clutching the back of his head. Sollux scrunched up his face and finally opened his eyes, turning to glare sleepily at whatever the racket was.
“Jegus, KK, do you seriously start bitching the second you wake up?” he asked, sleepily rubbing his eyes. Karkat grit his teeth and focused his anger on Sollux.
“WHAT. THE FUCK. ARE YOU DOING. IN MY BED.” Sollux rolled his eyes.
“Well, I was sleeping until some fuckhead woke me up.” Karkat pushed himself up, and he felt his face getting hot, for no fucking reason.
“Why were you sleeping in my bed, you idiot?!”
“KK, seriously, it’s your own damn fault. You fell asleep on me, and you’re so fucking clingy that I just gave up and let you sleep.” Karkat stammered uselessly, before scowling.
“Then you can fucking get out now.” Sollux shrugged, and threw a leg over the edge of the bed. Karkat stayed where he was, feeling aggravated and tired. He was pretty sure a headache was forming as well. Sollux, still stretching his arms and neck by Karkat’s bed, looked back down at him.
“…You okay?” Sollux asked after a moment. Karkat snorted, closing his eyes again.
“What, hear something interesting?”
“Just you, whining like a baby.”
“Fuck you, Captor. Fuck you.”
“You’re in an adorable mood today. I’m gonna go shower. I have a class in an hour,” Sollux said, sauntering over to his closet to grab a towel.
“Bluh.” Karkat rolled over. He had a class soon as well, and seriously did not feel like getting ready for it. He pushed himself up onto his elbows and squinted at the bright rays shining through the window blinds. Fuck whatever day it is. He rolled out of bed and began to sift through his clothes for something clean. Need to do laundry soon, all two pairs of pants I have won’t last forever. By the time Sollux was done with his shower, Karkat was done and had already left the dorm. The weather was getting colder and colder, and the student body was wearing more layers by the day. Karkat would need a new jacket soon. His old one had ripped at the end of the last winter, and thanks to his mom’s overenthusiastic cleaning tendencies, had been lost to the garbage truck almost immediately afterwards. Guess I need to buy a new one.
After class, Karkat hurried to exit the campus. The sun had warmed up the air considerably, but there was still a frigid bite that seeped through his hoodie and shirt. He caught the crowded city bus just as it was leaving, and hung onto a pole as it swerved and jerked through the midday traffic. He finally got out on a street lined with stores, only to immediately lose his shit when a car he was passing honked at him.
“KAR! HEY!” Someone was yelling.
“OF COURSE THERE’S FUCKING CARS HERE, YOU FUCKING MORon-“ Karkat whirled around, words rapidly flying out of his mouth, before seeing who had stepped out of the car. “Oh my fucking god, are you seriously STALKING me, Eridan?!” Eridan closed the car door and jogged up, indignant expression all over his face.
“Of course not, that’d be fuckin’ creepy. I’m just checkin’ out the shops. There’s a few new collections that a been put out since I went shoppin’ before school started, an’ I wanna look at ‘em.” Eridan said, then looked curious. “What’re you doin’?”
“I just need a jacket so I don’t die over the winter.” Eridan looked excited suddenly. “A normal jacket,” Karkat said suspiciously. “I’m not having some retarded shopping montage with you while you spend stupidly huge amounts of money on unnecessary shit you already have.” Eridan tugged on his arm, pulling him towards an expensive looking shop.
“Aw, Kar, come on. We’ll just look. I mean, buyin’ clothes is awesome, and besides, you wear the same damn stuff everyday.”
“So the fuck do you! Wait- I thought you buy your clothes from the thrift store. They seem…used,” Karkat said, letting himself be pulled along. The pair entered the store and was greeted by a bored looking shopkeep.
“Naw, they only look that way. They’re actually kinda expensive, to be honest. Not that I care, but it takes a lot a’ money to look this good.” Eridan held a double-breasted coat up to Karkat. “You know Kar, you could look pretty fuckin’ okay if you weren’t so lazy.”
“Gee, thanks. You could look pretty fuckin’ okay if you pulled your head out of your ass,” Karkat mumbled. He pushed the coat away, and Eridan hung it back on the wall.
“I’m helpin’ you look good an’ you insult me, real nice of you.”
“You’re not ‘helping me look good’, you’re making what should take five minutes take potentially hours.” The two argued lightly from store to store, Eridan buying a few things, until finally they got to a place that seemed fairly affordable. After going through about five jackets- ‘At least buy something that doesn’t suck, Kar’- Karkat finally found something that met both his requirements and Eridan’s standards (sort of). It was plain, knee length, black, and had a stupid fur trim on the hood that made him look like an idiot, but it was the only way he was getting out of the store if Eridan was with him. He put it on after paying, and left the store, Eridan following behind him. They both looked at the grayish blue sky as they walked back to the busstop and Eridan’s car.
“You want a ride back to campus or Starbucks or somethin’?” Eridan asked as they approached the place where they had started and the bus pulled up. Karkat was about to accept the offer when he noticed a familiar head of long hair with two distinctive hair clips against the window. Aradia Megido was sitting on the bus, looking blankly ahead.
“No, I’m gonna go on the bus. Thanks anyways,” Karkat said in a distracted tone.
“Suit yourself. Seeya, Kar!” Karkat waved and jogged to catch the bus. After swiping his card, he made his way back to Aradia. She looked up after a minute, and they stared at each other for an awkward few seconds. Karkat finally sat down next to her.
“So you’re getting an award for what was possibly the most unhelpful pesterlog ever conceived in the history of college drug wars,” Karkat said, breaking the silence. Aradia didn’t turn to face him. Karkat’s frown grew deeper. “Okay, I know you’re really into the whole mysterious spooky thing, but it would be really cool if you told me everything you know in relation to Vriska being a sociopath and anything else that might have something to do with my death. It’s so fucking riveting.” Aradia finally looked at him, and seemed to be thinking about something.
“Well, there might be some way that what I tell you can help you…I’m going to the cemetery, though. It’s the next stop.”
“…why the…you know what, never mind. I’ll go with you, and you can tell me everything you know, and everything will be beautiful and not so incredibly stupid, and then I’ll leave you to whatever shit you need to do in the cemetery.” Karkat said, crossing his arms and leaning back. Aradia nodded.
“That’s okay, I guess.” She paused, before clarifying,“I’m going to do some research. I’m a history major.”
“…oh. That’s not as depressing as I was expecting.” Aradia didn’t respond. Karkat looked at his feet uncomfortably. Ugh, this is pretty fucking awkward…is she seriously Sollux’s type? Actually, never fucking mind, I can totally see that. Finally, an announcement for the next stop interrupted his thoughts. Aradia looked at him again.
“That’s us,” she said, grabbing the strap of her bag and standing up. Karkat followed suit, and after getting off the bus, they walked the short distance to the cemetery gates.
ARGH this chapter was like pulling teeth. I was traveling for a few days, sorry for the wait.
On another note, is anyone interested in a Dormstuck FST? I love FSTs. But I don't know if everybody else does.
Chapter 10: Doing Things
The sun was shining, the air was clean and cold, and the midday rush of the surrounding city was reassuringly present among the uneven gravestones Karkat currently found himself stomping through. Ahead, Aradia was focused on her work: making rubbings of random motifs and dutifully recording specifics in a notebook. Karkat was more interested in working to pull the information he needed out of her.
“So is Vriska selling Sopor or something? Why did she break up you and Sollux? Is this some kind of weird revenge, killing your ex’s roommate?”
“Karkat, what is the name on that gravestone you’re sitting on?” Aradia asked, crouched a few plots away. Karkat shifted his leg to see the gravestone he was perched upon.
“Mindfang,” he read, tilting his head back in exasperation. I’m bored out of my skull and you’re avoiding the question. “Why is she trying so hard to get under your skin?”
“Because she’s Vriska, I guess,” Aradia said, scribbling the name down. She set the pencil down for a second, and gazed out past the gravestones. “I think it’s just a thing she does. She hates getting close to others, so she sabotages herself.” Karkat squinted down at her.
“I thought you guys were like worst enemies. You were friends?”
“You could call it that. We were actually pretty close. At least, I thought so. I didn’t know she had that much distaste for me until I found out it was she who…well. There was a thing that she did that really upset me. I guess you could say all of what happened was a vengeance war. ” She toyed with her pencil thoughtfully, then looked up at Karkat. “She paralyzed an old friend of mine- Tavros Nitram. He’s in our anatomy class. She said it was an accident, but…the circumstances were suspicious. In a cloud of bad judgement, I reported it to the administrators. I forgot how long Vriska holds grudges. Somehow…in the week that she was suspended, she managed to ruin my life. Sort of. It’s not so bad, looking back on it. I’ll never regret getting back at her for Tavros. Sollux and I would have broken up at some point anyways. It’s a common eventuality.”
“What…what the fuck. This is batshit! She paralyzed a guy and got suspended? She should have been arrested so she doesn’t go try to paralyze guys like me! And…and ’common eventuality’? What the fuck kind of thinking is that? You said it ruined your life!” Karkat found himself ranting. “Did you like Sollux or not?” Aradia stared evenly at Karkat for a minute, before speaking.
“I was happy when we were together. And we both liked each other a lot. I can say that much. But the thing is…Sollux isn’t the type to be tied to one person. Or one type of person, you know what I mean?” It was Karkat’s turn to stare at Aradia.
“…No. No, I don’t know what you mean. Please fucking enlighten me, Megido,” Karkat said slowly.
“Sollux is bi.” There was a short period of silence before she elaborated. “Uh. I mean, in addition to being bipolar, he’s bisexual. He’s got medication for the first one, though.” Karkat didn’t say anything, working the information into the mental file he had for Sollux Captor. It made a twisted sort of sense. Of course, this guy does everything in twos. Aradia made a few notes before looking back at Karkat. “Did you really not know?”
“No, I really didn’t know. Fuck.”
“It’s not really a huge deal. Does it bother you?”
“N-no, I could care fucking less about what side of the spectrum my roommate’s romantic preferences lie- I just didn’t, uh, didn’t give it much thought,” Karkat murmured. A ‘ribbit’ noise suddenly cut through the darkening cemetery. Aradia dug through her bag and pulled out a cellphone.
“Terezi and Kanaya are going for Chinese food over at the square. Do you want to come?” she asked after flipping it open and reading a text. Karkat jumped off of the gravestone and stretched.
“Yeah, I guess I’m kind of hungry,” he said, mind still going over the information helplessly.
“Okay. I just need to find a few more names.”
Twenty minutes later, they hopped back on the bus and rode it to the restaurant their friends were waiting at. It was a hole-in-the-wall sort of place, but Karkat knew that those usually had the best food. More importantly, they were cheap. Aradia seemed to appreciate that aspect too. Kanaya waved when she saw them. Terezi, despite not facing them, turned in her seat as they approached and frowned.
“Oh man Karkat, I invited Aradia, not you!”
“Fuck, how do you do that,” Karkat said, grimacing. It’s like she can smell my blood.
“I always know when you come around, Karkat, you smell like candy,” Terezi cackled, before turning to Aradia. “How goes the graverobbing, ghost girl?” Aradia shrugged.
“I found what I needed,” She said as she and Karkat took their seats. Kanaya smiled, sitting across from Karkat.
“I like your jacket. Did you go shopping?” she asked, kicking his foot a little under the table. Karkat grabbed a menu and scanned it, nodding.
“You seem happy,” he said, prodding her foot away. Terezi’s foot stomped on his and stayed there. He glared at her, getting only a huge grin in response.
“Do I seem happy too, Karkat?” Terezi asked, trailing her foot up to his ankle.
“You’re always fucking happy, positively tickled retarded, I fail to see any difference in your face between watching puppies cuddling and watching someone fall off their skateboard and crushing their junk on a railing.” Terezi cackled at that, and tugged his menu down.
“What are you getting? I don’t wanna order the same thing.”
“I don’t know, don’t rush me,” Karkat grumbled.
“What were you two doing together?” asked Kanaya, who had set her menu on the table. “I do not recall you being a history fanatic like Aradia.”
“We talked,” Aradia said, glancing at Karkat before elaborating. “About the thing with Vriska.” Kanaya nodded, and Terezi leaned forward.
“I told you I was on that!” she said, almost indignant. “The evidence is piling up!” Karkat snorted.
“Then maybe you could actually show me some of it, you incredible psychopath.” Kanaya sighed and Aradia flagged down a waiter before the two could start arguing.
Dinner became substantially longer after somebody ordered a few rounds of some kind of alcohol. The party found a bus to stagger onto afterwards, and collapsed upon the seats, mostly giggling (Terezi) and a little grumbling (Karkat). By the time they got back to campus, Karkat was ready to go back to his room and pass out. Kanaya invited them back to her room to continue the whole ‘get-drunk’ process, but he and Aradia passed. Terezi gave them a look like ‘suit yourself’, and went with Kanaya in the direction of the room. Karkat and Aradia watched them go, silence falling over them. Karkat turned to Aradia.
“So, uh…thanks. For the…you know,” he said clumsily, syllables falling out of his mouth through the haze of mild inebriation. Aradia shrugged.
“No problem. I hope she doesn’t succeed-“ she paused, “- …She won’t. We’ll think of something.” Karkat nodded.
“Yeah. So. …bye, I guess.” He began walking back to his dorm. Aradia waved after him. The last thing Karkat wanted to have was a conversation, but it seemed like that’s exactly what he was going to get when he opened his door only to nearly get plowed into by Feferi. Her face seemed like it was torn between anger, surprise, and…guilt?
“Oh, sorry, Karkat.” She looked back in the room behind her, to Sollux, who was sitting on his bed with a frown on his face. He nodded, and she turned back to Karkat. “See you later!” She giggled, but it sounded forced. She was gone in a breeze. Karkat stood there, still processing what just happened.
“…Hey,” he finally managed to say, eyebrows high on his forehead. “What the fuck was that?” Sollux rubbed his face.
“Just…forget it,” he mumbled. Karkat didn’t feel like arguing with him while impaired, so he decided to take his advice for once. He flopped down on his bed.
“I have no clue how you do it, Captor.” Sollux looked up at the mention of his name, confusion all over his face.
“Uh, sorry? What are you referring to?” Agitation laced Sollux’s tone.
“How you keep managing to get chicks like it’s nothing, then it magically just ‘doesn’t work out’.”
“…wow, so tell me, why are we bringing this up?” Sollux was still in the same position, but his eyes were on Karkat.
“Hung out with Aradia. I needed some information on the whole ‘gonna die’ thing, the same fucking thing I’ve been doing this entire goddamn week. I’m starting to feel kind of impatient.” Karkat let out a humorless laugh. “Anyways, we weren’t talking about my fucktastic people skills, we were talking about yours. Aradia finally helped me figure out what the deal was with you.” He rolled over to pin his gaze on Sollux.
“You wanna know why I broke up with my exes,” Sollux clarified flatly, regarding Karkat with a creepy sort of scientific observation look. “You know…when Fef was here…she asked me if I knew who was orchestrating that ridiculous shit. She wanted to report it.” Karkat shot up, anger shooting through his limbs, train of thought abandoned.
“She can’t. That’s not going to help anything, it’s just going to make it worse.” Sollux rolled his eyes.
“I still think your logic is fucked up, but don’t worry. You can do whatever the hell you want, KK. That’s what John said to do, anyways. But I can’t do much about Fef. She’s got her own thing going on.”
“Wait a fucking second. John? What the hell did he say that for?”
“He told me a few things about you, told me you could be a little difficult, so he gave me some pointers.”
“What the shit did he tell you.”
“What did Aradia tell you about me?”
“…she told me you’re bi.”
“John told me I have a pretty good chance with you.” For a second, all Karkat saw was red. He stood up and flew to Sollux’s bed, leaning over him furiously, one knee on the bed.
“Don’t make me kill you, fucker, I will make you regret ever rooming with me, if you ever tell anyone-“ Sollux grabbed his arm and stood up, getting way too close for comfort.
“Nobody hates living with you more than me, KK.” Sollux’s voice was a low hiss. “Don’t move. Just stay still for one goddamned second.” He pushed Karkat so that he was sitting on the bed, reversing their previous positions, then swooped in for the kill.
Karkat sat on the bed, eyes a little wider and lips a little redder than before, murderous intention high on his cheeks. The room was empty, the other occupant having strode out moments before.
“SOLLUX YOU GIANT MOTHERFUCKER.”
Wow. Okay, I have decided I am definitely not a romance writer. I put this off for a really long time, in case you couldn't tell.
My personal thoughts on Karkat in this story- to me, hiding a huge thing is a really essential part of the Karkat we know. So couldn't a potential parallel be an alternative orientation? ...just let me have my theories.
Chapter 11: No Hands
Sollux, you giant motherfucker.
After the brief kiss, Karkat had sat in a daze, furious expression slowly forming on his face. Sollux had taken those few moments of disorientation to affectionately tap Karkat’s cheek, then get the hell out of dodge. Thus, he was safely out of Karkat’s range when Karkat began to explode. The other occupants of the dormitory were less than pleased with the sudden increase in noise, and shouted annoyed responses back. After screaming himself out of rants, Karkat sat on his bed, hands fisted in his hair. Elsewhere in the building, somebody yelled ‘FINALLY’. Karkat sucked in huge breaths as he tried to figure out what just happened.
Sollux is bi. Sollux is bi and he just sucked face with you, you spineless shitstain. The worst part was, he wasn’t even sure what he was angry about. This sucks and I hate everyone. Karkat flopped backwards on Sollux’ bed, arms crossed over his torso. He rolled to the side, his face disturbingly close to Sollux’ pillow. He stared at it angrily for a moment before grabbing it and yelling into it. That was… satisfying. The room was calm for a minute before he flung it at the wall. Then he rolled over and was still. Fuck everything.
Karkat was rudely awakened about four hours later by Sollux hooking a hand on his hip and dragging him to the edge of the bed.
“MMgnh what the FUCK, why are you ALWAYS in my FUCKING bed?!” he screeched, flailing. He stopped when he saw Sollux’ serious expression.
“Shut the hell up. You’re in my bed, retard, so get up. Aradia’s in the hospital,” Sollux said, grabbing his wallet from his desk and shoving it in his pocket.
“What?!” Karkat shot up from the bed, fully awake. “What happened?! When?!” Sollux shook his head, then grabbed Karkat’s arm.
“I’ll explain on the way, come on. Equius took her, and I don’t think she wants to be alone with him for very long.”
Sollux strode quickly out of the room, pulling Karkat along with him. Karkat felt the rapid awakening catching up to him and stumbled over his own feet a few times. Sollux looked back at him over his glasses.
“Sorry, are you okay?” Karkat realized for the first time that his eyes were two different colors. He barely held back a snort. Figures.
“I’m fine. Come on, don’t slow down now, fuckass,” Karkat said with a look of disdain. Sollux laughed through his nose, and threw him a shaky smile. Yeah, Sollux needed this as much as he did.
“Yeah, well, maybe if I wasn’t practically carrying your sorry ass, KK…” Sollux was rolling his eyes as he talked, but it was a halfhearted effort. Karkat fell into step with the other as they neared the parking lot.
“Yeah, yeah, I could run to the hospital faster than your crappy car could get there,” he shot back, squeezing the hand that still grasped his own. Sollux scoffed in disbelief.
“Oh screw you and the horse you rode in on- now you’re insulting my car? Get the fuck out, idiot.” The two got in the car. Karkat felt like he might be doing a good job calming Sollux down.
“Maybe I would, if somebody would let go of my hand…” Karkat said, pointedly looking away from their still entwined hands.
“Shut it, bro. Both of us know you’re the one who’s clinging to MY hand like a baby.” The car revved to life, and Sollux peeled out of the parking lot.
“Okay, wow, I haven’t even been able to feel my circulation this entire fucking time. You need to reevaluate your life choices, Captor.”
For the rest of the ride to the hospital, Sollux’s hand remained on Karkat’s over the center console, fingers rubbing idly over the other’s knuckles.
Sollux’s ‘emergency driving’ was…an experience, for lack of a better word. As the car weaved and skidded it’s way across town, Karkat occupied his time trying to convince his stomach it liked where it was in life. The hospital wasn’t much better. Karkat was starting to remember why he hated the doctor’s office so much. He gulped, feeling a strange panicky sensation rise in his stomach as they passed a man clutching a wet, red towel to his stomach. In the middle of children with broken arms and adults with blood gushing out of their face, Kanaya was sitting on a bench in the emergency room wait area. A strange expression was sitting awkwardly on her features. Karkat recognized it seconds later as pure fury, although far more subdued than his own.
“Kanaya, what are you doing here? What the fuck happened?” He ran over to her, Sollux not far behind. She turned away from them in the chair, and when she spoke, her voice was horse.
“Sorry, Karkat…I am not really in the mood to talk to anyone at the moment,” she warned, cheek resting on her fist.
“Well that’s goddamn nice and all, guess what? Neither am I, where the hell is Aradia?” Karkat asked, already on edge. Kanaya looked down at the floor at the mention of Aradia.
"She is behind those doors,” she said, gesturing to a set of double doors across the room. “We are not permitted to see her yet.”
Karkat was about to ‘fuck permission’, only to find that Sollux was already doing so with gusto. He had run across the room, and slipped through the doors just as Karkat looked up. Shit. He followed, busting through the doors and immediately feeling disoriented. So many people. It took a few minutes, but he finally found Sollux, leaning over someone on a stretcher parked in the hallway. A few locks of long, dark hair hung over the edge. Suddenly, Karkat felt very, very out of place.
What the fuck am I doing? Aradia’s in the hospital, why the hell would she want to see me?
He stood there for a moment, feeling pretty fucking useless, before stepping slowly forward. You numbfuck just do it, say hello to your hospitalized friend. He noticed there was an I.V. next to her, the tube leading presumably to her arm. …well shit. It’s okay, you can do it. The stomach churning was slowly being replaced by a fluttery, lightheaded feeling as he tried to forget about the I.V. needle and approached the stretcher. Sollux looked up when he noticed Karkat, frown heavy on his face.
“KK…this is pretty bad.” Karkat finally got to the point where he could see Aradia, and-
As he took in her appearance, several thoughts ran rapid fire through Karkat’s head, which felt like it was full of fizzling soda.
“Karkat?” Aradia’s voice cut through the sudden nausea.
…what the FUCK is wrong with her arm? Did the paramedics even DO anything? It’s still basically covered in red, and- …seriously, arms aren’t supposed to bend there- There was a sudden sensation of rushing air, and then a crack.
Karkat woke up in an unfamiliar backseat strewn with empty vitamin water bottles and random broken electronics and fitness equipment.
“W…where-“ It smells like piss and old socks in here, god. He sat up, groaning. “Shit, it’s like I mugged myself.”
“I assure you, that’s not entirely dissimilar to what happened,” an annoyed voice from the front seat commented. Shit.
“Equius?” Karkat pulled himself forward, narrowing his eyes. “What the fuck…where the fuck did you come from? What happened, and why the hell am I in your car?” He asked, leaning on the back of the passenger’s seat. They were parked near the E.R. carport. Equius’ frown grew.
“I am the one who brought Aradia here after the incident. And the only reason I am out here with you is because I cannot be present during the procedures. Relatives only. After sneaking behind the doors- against the rules- you lost consciousness. I assume it was due to the sight of Aradia’s injury. I took pity on you, and carried you out as per her wishes. In addition, I would watch my tone when speaking to a teacher.” Equius sounded fairly calm, but his eyes were hidden behind the stupid scratched sunglasses he wore constantly.
Karkat rolled his eyes. “Oh, fuck that noise, Zahhak. You’re not a teacher, you’re a student, just like the rest of us. So drop the ‘high and mighty’ shit.”
“You will…you will treat me with respect,” Equius said shakily. His forehead was becoming shiny. Gross.
“I’ll treat you with respect when you stop being such a gigantic tool. Uh… so what happened to Aradia’s arm?” Karkat asked, kicking aside some bottles to reposition his knee.
“An unauthorized, illegal dog was brought on campus by a student. For one reason or another, it attacked Aradia as she returned to her dormitory. I happened to…realize what was happening, and was able to find her before she lost too much blood.” …Wow. Equius was definitely avoiding some key details there.
“Really, you just ‘happened’ to ‘realize’ what was going on? Yeah, because the owner of the dog was over at your dorm, loadstain,” Karkat said, leaning forward. Equius turned around in his seat in a flash.
"I would never hurt Aradia! Ever!” Equius’ voice shook, and now sweat was dripping down his face. “It was extremely likely that she would have gone unnoticed where she was if I hadn’t found her and brought her here!”
Something suddenly didn’t sit well with Karkat. He thought of Kanaya, waiting angrily in the E.R.
“Wait…then what is Kanaya doing here? Didn’t she come with you guys?”
“Kanaya Maryam? Aradia told me to call her, but even so, she arrived quite a time later, about twenty-five minutes after Aradia went in for treatment.” Karkat sat back after a moment, eyes narrowed. Kanaya, knowing Aradia was in the hospital, took her damn sweet time coming here? It wasn't even like she was asleep or anything- she was with Terezi. She was in Vriska and Terezi’s dorm. She wouldn’t have left in half an hour.
Karkat shoved the door open.
“Where are you going?” Equius asked, drops of sweat hitting the window as his head turned to see Karkat.
“To find out what the fuck’s going on,” Karkat growled as he slammed the door shut. When he entered the waiting room, Kanaya was sitting in the same place as she was before, with a smoldering look directed at a fake plant. “Kanaya!” She looked up, slightly startled.
“Karkat, are you alright now? What happened back there?”
“Not really a thing right now, Kanaya- what did you do before coming here? Aradia called you half a fucking hour before you came, don’t tell me you were changing into some sort of retarded special hospital-visiting dress,” Karkat said, desperate to hear- tell me you’re not a part of this, tell me you weren’t helping Vriska ruin someone’s life again. Kanaya looked at the ground, a frown on her lipsticked lips. She licked them to moisten them, then looked up.
“After Aradia called me to tell me she was coming here, I…knew immediately who had done it. Vriska had probably overheard Terezi and I talking. So I went to Vriska’s bedroom and…punched him,” she finished lamely. Karkat stared.
“Pun…punched ‘him’? Who the hell is ‘him’?” Kanaya gave him a withering look, clenching and unclenching a well-manicured fist.
“Tavros Nitram, of course. It was his dog.” Karkat suddenly felt fucked up.
“And…and Vriska was there?” he asked slowly. Kanaya nodded.
“She didn’t seem to mind- as usual, she seemed…curious,” Kanaya said, sighing deeply.
“Is he okay?” Karkat’s eyes were wide. Kanaya shrugged.
“It was a misunderstanding. He didn't mean to hurt anyone. I helped him clean up some of the blood afterwards.” Karkat stared at her, then backed up until his knees hit the seat across from her. He flopped down, and let his forehead drop into his hand.
“You ‘helped him clean up ...the blood’, oh my god. This is getting too complicated. Fuck. You punched…you punched Vriska’s boyfriend, who also happens to be Gamzee’s roommate. Fucking shit, Kanaya, I need graphs for the amount of fuckery that is going on right now and how badly I’m going to be-“ he stopped, noticing the silence emanating from Kanaya. “Uh…sorry.”
There was an awkward few moments, before Karkat spoke up again.
“At least we avenged Aradia,” he offered. Kanaya snorted, before chuckling. Karkat watched her as her laughs became louder and more frustrated, and if her hands were wet and smeared with black where they smushed up against her eyes, he wasn’t going to say anything.
Finally. This story is becoming pretty tough to keep track of. I feel like Karkat wakes up 90 billion times.
Also…Dormstuck FST, sans pretty cover: http://www.mediafire.com/?w97z6pgtf5u83ha
Hopefully somebody likes it.
Thanks for all comments!
Chapter 12: Turn It Up
The car ride back to campus was quiet and awkward. Kanaya had elected to ride in Sollux’s car, and he had nodded at Karkat to let Kanaya have the front seat. Karkat slumped in the backseat without arguing, too wrapped up in his racing thoughts to put up any fight. Kanaya spent the ride staring blankly out the window. Karkat was just…confused. Lost. Kanaya had put to rest the suspicion he had about her involvement in Aradia’s ‘accident’, but he still had the feeling that he could trust no one. Someone had known Aradia was becoming involved…someone who was talking to Vriska- or maybe it was Vriska herself. His eyes landed on the back of Sollux’s head with that stupid haircut that looked like he was trying to crop it, then lost interest towards the front and just pushed all his hair forward. The stare turned into a glare. Stupid fuckhead, making me want to touch your hands for stupid reasons like a fucking girl. He kicked Sollux’s seat, and was promptly ignored- except that might be lips quirking into a tiny smirk. Karkat threw his head back in frustration. The campus lights moved into view, and Karkat never felt so much dread.
It was only an hour later that Karkat waited by a lamppost for the Benz that swung into the parking lot.
“You called?” Eridan asked, almost cheerful.
“Yeah. I don’t wanna sleep here right now,” Karkat said, hanging onto the doorframe and leaning into the car. Actually, I do. I really fucking do want to sleep here right now, considering someone I would very much like to beat up and then kiss is here, but whatever.
“Shut the fuck up, Eridan.” Karkat swung into the car, throwing his backpack on the floor. “Let’s get out of here.”
They ended up at the beach again, this time empty of any late night beachgoers- considering it was only about two hours until sunrise, not too unusual. Eridan once again displayed his ability to pick up his phone awake and ready any hour of any day, as well as the additional talent of always managing to have Starbucks in his hand when he showed up. Karkat crossed his arms against the early morning chill, staring out at the murky gray expanse. Eridan was poking his straw around in his drink when Karkat decided to just get to the point and see if Eridan had any information.
“Do you know anything about what happened to Aradia?” Eridan’s hand stilled, before resuming the stirring with renewed vigor. The early morning light creeping into the sky made his rings glitter with purple. He tilted his head back and side-eyed Karkat, who was watching him closely.
“What do you mean?” Eridan asked, a weird lilt to his voice that wasn’t there before. Karkat snorted.
“Yeah, okay, that’s believable, shithole. Since you totally have no fucking clue what I’m talking about…Aradia’s in the hospital with a piece of fucking beef jerky for an arm. Apparently some conveniently located dog with a taste for freaky goth chicks decided that 3 AM was a great time to act on its insatiable urges and try to fucking eat her. Coincidentally, that dog happened to belong to Tavros Nitram. The current boyfriend of one Vriska Sekret.” He leaned back and glared at Eridan. This is fucking suspicious as hell. “You usually seem pretty well-updated on stuff, but I guess it can’t be helped, it did just happen a few hours ago, right?”
Eridan flexed his hand and took a long sip of his drink.
“Yeah. I didn’t know that. That she would go after Aradia. It’s not like she was a big deal or anything,” he said, shaking his head.
“It must be how close we are. I mean, we’re always hanging out, it’s pretty obvious.” Karkat’s eyes were narrow. Eridan’s eyebrows furrowed.
“I thought it was just that day in the cemetery-“ he began, then stopped short. His eyes were nervous. “Not that I wouldknoworanything-“
…you fucking son of a bitch. Karkat lunged forward, fists rolling in Eridan’s collar as he shoved the other up against the driver’s side window. The drink fell to the floor of the car, oozing out onto the carpet by Karkat’s feet.
“IT WAS YOU, YOU TOLD HER, YOU FUCKING FOLLOWED US DIDN’T YOU YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT,” Karkat punctuated each word with a harsh shake. “NOW SOMEONE’S IN THE GODDAMN HOSPITAL! You realize this makes you just as much of a psychopathic tool as Vriska, you fucking idiot?!” Eridan put his hands up defensively before curling his fingers around Karkat’s wrists.
“Kar, please, I’m sorry, let me explain, calm down and let me explain!” Eridan’s voice was quick and frantic, whether from the unappealing position or true desperation. “It was stupid, Kar. I was stupid.”
Karkat stopped and waited for a moment, breath still seething and short, then finally released his grip. He immediately turned towards the passenger side window.
“Take me back. Right now, you fucking douche,” he hissed. Eridan ran a hand through his hair, then fisted both hands in it as he leaned over the steering wheel.
“Kar, I…I’m really fucking sorry. I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt, I just wanted-“
“You just wanted what? Congratulations, you just made the biggest bitch ass move I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in years. Never mind, I’m going to walk home.” Karkat sneered as he went to open his door, but was stopped by Eridan’s hand on his arm.
“Wait, man, please. Just let me take you back, and we can just forget this happened.”
“It’s not that fucking easy, you moron. I’m not just going to smile and make up with you then put up with the mess your stupid ass decisions about the veracity and integrity of your fucking sociopathic former crushes create, I’m going to return the gesture with a nail bat to your face. Damn straight I’m going to hold a grudge here. You have no idea what a great fucking job I’m doing in dealing with this thing that you did, and you better hope to God you never do. Now take me the fuck back and maybe I’ll consider ever speaking to you again.” Eridan seemed speechless from the amount of syllables that just left Karkat’s mouth. Good. Pathetic shit.
It might have been because everyone seemed to be laying low, but the few remaining days before the week of the party went quickly. Nothing notable happened, and his interactions with his friends were infrequent and unremarkable. Kanaya was nowhere to be found, and Terezi seemed just as amused with events as always. Things seemed disappointingly normal with Sollux, who had reverted to his pre-kiss behavior. They grabbed lunch together a few times, but things were rather non-intimate. Karkat wasn’t sure if this was relieving or infuriating. He didn’t really have time to think about it too hard when classes started picking up, but he still found himself sleepless, staring at the other’s back across the dark dorm room, glaring like Sollux’s old t-shirt could tell him what its owner couldn’t. He also felt a weird urge to be where he was resting his eyes. Sollux’s posture was just as bad as Karkat’s own, but his back was longer. Probably bonier, too. Would curling up against it be anything like curling up against Terezi, whose deceptively thin frame hid a solid wall of a physique? Or would it be more robotic and artificial- unnatural? It was on Sunday night, five days until the party, that Karkat stood up and walked over to Sollux’s bed. He stood by the bed for a second, wavering in his indecision. One knee found its way to the mattress, then the other followed. He kneeled over Sollux, tiredness seeping in past his eyes and settling behind him. Karkat fell asleep that night against the curve of Sollux’s spine, and five minutes later, pulled up against his chest.
In the dark hours of Monday morning, Karkat woke up in a haze of disorientation. He felt warm and…happy? Content? Karkat couldn’t remember the last time he woke up without a complaint or annoyed thought about something. He rolled over- or tried to. What the fuck? Something was wrapped around his waist.
Lanky arms against his t-shirt-
A shot of panic shot up Karkat’s body, and he shoved the arms away from him, breaking the hold. Sollux’s confused groan snapped him back to actuality. There’s no psychotic roommate here, there’s no fucking personality swaps- well, apart from the regular ones at least. Sollux was sitting up now, looking at Karkat as he rubbed at his eyes.
“KK?” Sollux mumbled as his hand drifted up to reach out to Karkat lazily. His other hand fumbled for his glasses on his desk next to the bed, and finally put them on when he found them. Once he could see Karkat after blinking and squinting a few times, he frowned. “Oh. Uh, so, hey, what’s up? Everything okay? Did I, uh, say something in my sleep or …” Karkat realized he must look pretty stupidly upset, so he worked his features back into his usual scowl.
“Shut the fuck up,” he started, then realized that probably wasn’t the best choice of response and tried to think of what to say. His eyes fell to their knees, centimeters apart from each other. Sollux seemed at a loss for words as well, but his eyes were locked on Karkat from behind an oddly calm expression. Or maybe he was just tired. Either way, Karkat didn’t know what to think about it, or more importantly what to do about it. So he bared his teeth at Sollux and slapped him on the arm. “Go back to sleep, fuckass.”
Karkat woke up ten minutes before his morning class, way too hot from two blankets (human and otherwise). He shoved both off of him (one of them groaned), and hurriedly pulled on some jeans over his boxers.
“Get the fuck up! Class is in ten minutes! Goddamnit, why are you so fucking lazy all the time, it’s because you stay up too fucking late then-“ Sollux cut off the beginning of Karkat’s tirade with a hand over his mouth.
“Hey, it’s your fault, jerkass. My professor doesn’t care as long when we show up as long as we do the work. So if I were you, I’d get running,” Sollux said blandly, finally removing his hand. Karkat just glared and grabbed a tshirt off the floor, pulling it over his head and checking the mirror.
“God fucking dammit, I smell like ass and have terrible bedhead. I hate you.”
“Love you too,” Sollux said, rolling his eyes. Karkat grabbed his backpack and ran out of the dorm, slamming the door. Sollux didn’t move, examining a piece of thread springing up from the blanket. The door flew open a few seconds later, and Karkat poked his head in.
“Okay, what the fuck, I don’t hate you. I just didn’t want you to think that maybe I did all day and get all fucking emotional and weepy, you fucking- fuck, bye, fuck this shit,” Karkat blurted out. Sollux just made a ‘go, you overwhelmingly cute little fuckhead’ gesture with his hands, and Karkat made sure to slam the door again on his way out.
Equius’ class was strange the moment Karkat stepped in the door. For one thing, Equius wasn’t even there, another student teacher in his place. Nepeta was absent too, which was odd. Tavros was sitting in the same seat as last time, sitting up ramrod straight and facing the front of the room. Aradia was gone, of course, and next to her empty desk, Vriska was lounging. She smiled at Karkat, getting a middle finger in response. Karkat went to go sit down. He wondered if Kanaya would show up, or keep up her low profile until the party. Generally, she had perfect attendance, but with all the crazy shit happening, he couldn’t blame her if she fucking transferred schools. Maybe she had been kicked out any class Tavros was in? The student teacher called for everyone’s attention, and barely got it. Some other students filled the replacement in on what they had learned so far (not much), and the lesson got underway. Karkat spent the class staring at the back of Tavros’ head, trying to decide if all of this qualified as the guy’s fault or not. Should I beat him up, or apologize? He was a direct link to both Vriska and Gamzee. Not like that’s any different than half the people I hang out with. Karkat found himself directionless again, looking out the tiny window that showed a slice of sky and thinking about Kanaya and Eridan- devoted friends, and also totally unpredictable elements. Fuck. No one could be trusted.
Yay. Sorry for the wait, guys. Summer job is tough. It made writing this chapter awkward and kind of hard.
On the plus side, I got this totally adorable fanart:
Thank you SO MUCH!
After class, Karkat decided to avoid talking to Tavros. Part of him was screaming with rage, demanding bloody vengeance. Another part seemed…hesitant. Don’t play all your cards yet. You mess with him, you get in Gamzee’s spotlight again. Kanaya said he seemed apologetic too. Not that ‘apologetic’ means he doesn’t deserve to get his face beaten in. Speaking of Gamzee…despite being on the top of Karkat’s FUCK THIS NOISE list, the guy had been positively scarce ever since the first day of school. What the fuck did that mean? Blueprints, that’s what.
Karkat headed to Kanaya’s dorm. When he got there, his knocking went unanswered. Alright, that was pretty predictable. He stood outside her door for a moment, trying to figure out what the next step would be. A few girls came in through the hallway door, giggling. He stepped aside, letting them past. Two of them looked at him, one smiling awkwardly, and one…sneering, raising her eyebrow at his less than put together appearance. She tossed her hair and turned to her friend. Karkat glared at the girl’s back. Step on a lego. You have no idea about the shit in my life and how well I’m dealing with it. The group’s chatter blurred together in his ears, but suddenly the word ‘pizza’ floated to his ears. Well…he was kind of hungry. He wasn’t really hungry for the overpriced pizza from the cafeteria, though versus the fare for a taxi (R.I.P.: one overly attentive friend with a car), the former seemed more practical. That was the worst part about college- getting food came out of your own money, and if you didn’t have any of that, you were shit out of luck. To the cafeteria it was, then.
When Karkat stepped into the cafeteria, the first thing he noticed was the lack of people. That is, the lack of people sitting at tables and lounging on the couches. There was a huge mob in the middle of the room, making a huge ruckus as they surrounded something. Some students had phones held up over the crowd, recording whatever was in the center of the circle. Others stood in the back, hands over their mouths and necks craning to get a better view. While Karkat was deciding whether he wanted to go see what the problem was or take advantage of the confusion to order a slice of pizza that actually came quickly for once, a hand grabbed his arm suddenly. He flailed, trying to pull his arm back.
“Woa, motherfucker, calm the motherfuck down!”
Karkat froze when he heard the slightly raspy, sluggish voice of his least favorite person. He turned, wide eyes looking right up at Gamzee Makara.
“Probably shouldn’t go all up over there, brother. Seems like there’s some motherfuckin’ shit goin’ down.” Despite the (fake) concern in Gamzee’s tone, a lazy and wicked smile was pulling the corners of his mouth up. Karkat hated it. He wrenched his arm out of Gamzee’s grip.
“Yeah, wow, really? I never would have guessed that there might possibly be some point of interest over there, where everyone is gathered around AS IF THERE IS SOMETHING INTERESTING THERE. Jegus, Makara, I didn’t think you could state the obvious any better, but there you go, outdoing yourself again and again,” Karkat spat, ignoring the frantic voice in his head: drop it oh my god what are you DOING get out, don’t pick a fucking fight you douchetard. “What else are you doing that’s terrible and stupid, besides being generally awful?”
Gamzee didn’t seem to be all that bothered by Karkat’s irritability/total stupidity. On the contrary, his smile grew.
“Not much, motherfucker. Heard you met my new roommate. Tav says you’re pretty okay- a little hotheaded, though. Tone it the motherfuck down a lil’ bit next time, maybe. You are coming to the party this weekend, right, brother?” Karkat stared at the floor, avoiding Gamzee’s eyes. His face felt hot, but a cold sweat seemed to be breaking out on his skin. He looked up when Gamzee gestured to the crowd, now parting. Karkat stared as Vriska stormed out of the crowd, holding one eye with a badly scratched arm covered in blood. A fight? She didn’t spare him a glance as she pushed past him and left the cafeteria. A hushed ‘ooooh’ rose from the crowd when another person staggered past the broken ring of people.
What the fuck.
Eridan slowly walked towards the door, where Karkat and Gamzee were standing. His glasses were off his face, broken halves clutched in his fist. The rings he wore were covered in blood, as well as his nose. He stopped when he reached them, and grit his teeth.
“Get the fuck away from Makara, Kar. He’s trash walking. A dreg,” he said, narrowing his eyes. Karkat stared at him in disbelief.
“Eridan, what the fuck-“ Karkat was interrupted by Gamzee’s measured drawl.
“I could be saying the same to you, motherfucker. I’m not the one getting my rings all bloody, bro.”
“Cute. You just take your time with all a that pretendin’, Makara. Your hands are fuckin’ drenched in blood. You just wash ‘em a lot,” Eridan hissed. Karkat felt like the situation was elevating. Wasn’t this the kind of situation they usually said to avoid? Or say ‘fuck no’ and back away, hands outstretched in a clear signal that you’re not read to engage in combat, this isn’t a self-defense book you fucking retard.
“Both of you shitheads get the fuck out of here,” a voice said calmly from the doorway behind them. The three turned to look at the speaker.
What the FUCK is going on.
Sollux stood in the doorway, Terezi slightly behind him. Sollux’s arms were crossed, and Terezi had a straight face for once. She stepped forward, a certain swagger in her step that sent a chill down Karkat’s spine.
“I think you’re breaking probation, Gamzee. Remember our deal?” She asked, looking down to somehow inspect her nails, like she wasn’t blind. Oh right. Terezi’s stupid deal. Gamzee’s lips twitched downwards a little. He turned to Karkat, smile renewed as it flitted back.
“I didn’t forget, chica. Don’t worry, I’ll be leaving now. You’re going to the party with Karkat, right? Motherfuckin’ righteous, I’ll look forward to seeing you two.” Gamzee finished with a lackadaisical wave, then sauntered past the little group and left. Sollux never took his eyes off him, calmly watching from behind his glasses. Once he was sure Gamzee had left, he turned to glare at Eridan.
“What the fuck are you doing, getting in fights? I thought you’d be above that, or something,” he said, sounding oddly exasperated. I figured Eridan would be punching Sollux right now, while he’s at it. Eridan almost flinched, eyes flickering to Karkat’s.
“I had…a good reason. For a friend. You gonna take him away from me too?” Sollux stared a little longer, then exhaled, uncrossed his arms, and turned to leave.
“You’re lucky Feferi guessed what was going to happen, or we wouldn’t even have known you got in a fight,” he called back to Eridan. Eridan’s face fell.
“F…Fef told you…told you I was gonna do somethin’? She wanted to help me?” He was stammering. Sollux’s lip curled.
“Don’t flatter yourself. She was worried, yeah. But she said it’s still your stupid decision, and your fault if you get hurt. She’s just a normal person who doesn’t her back on people.”
Terezi spoke up. “I’d leave if I were you, Eridan. I think security will be here soon, sniffing around for the troublemakers.” She said ‘security’ in a sing-song voice, her grin growing big. Eridan scowled.
“Mind your own business,” he spat, then pushed past to the door. He turned to Karkat for a moment, and looked liked he wanted to say something. Karkat glared expectantly, but Eridan just huffed and left, scarf billowing slightly. Terezi and Sollux were quiet, looking at Karkat curiously.
“What the fuck is going on, KK? Why was Gamzee bugging you again?” Sollux asked after no one said anything.
“Drugs?” Terezi offered helpfully. Karkat’s eyes flew to hers, daring her to say one more fucking word.
“Okay, I don’t fucking know, alright?” Karkat said, gesticulating with an exasperated arm wave. “I don’t even know where I am half the time. That shit? That ‘come to my party motherfucker, a motherfucker has questionable motherfuckin intentions for you’ shit, that’s all he ever does.” He grit his teeth and made a frustrated noise. “I’m going to fucking die, he’s going to kill me, and there is nothing I can do about it.”
“KK, shut the fuck up! Just tell the goddamn school administration!” Sollux said, smacking Karkat’s arm.
“And they’ll do what, exactly? I have no evidence of anything, just a stupid scar and a retarded testimonial that sounds more like minor sexual harassment at most. ‘HE SAYS THINGS TO ME!’ Yeah, fuck, if there’s one thing I learned from my parents, it’s that you need a real strong case for action to be taken.”
Terezi cleared her throat. “Your intriguing and mildly worrisome comments about your dysfunctional family aside, you could take it to the cops. Somebody has to start the file on a future serial killer, might as well be you, Karkat. Gotta build up the small stuff.”
“Maybe if someone had reported a hostage situation last year…” Sollux said, trailing off purposefully.
“Maybe if someone shut the fuck up so I could think about this in peace…” Karkat mimicked. Sollux rolled his eyes.
“You’re retarded,” he said simply, then looked over at Terezi, who was waiting, leaning against the walls. “Well, you seem like you’re used to this fool’s stupid shit, Terezi. It’s your call.”
“Die in a bucket, Sollux, it’s my damn call,” Karkat muttered.
“My expert advice is that we get some help from the authorities, but if Karkat wants to be a wannabe macho mafia baby then he can just wait for someone to corner him in a dark alley and offer him some concrete shoes and a nap in the river,” she said. Sollux leaned back against the wall opposite from hers and crossed his arms.
“Fine. Hands off. For now. But if that guy tries to hurt you or something, you have to call for help, fucking dumbass.” He didn’t sound completely satisfied, but it did sound like his interest had moved on. After his gaze hadn’t moved from Karkat for a few seconds, Karkat nodded, just to get him to stop. Sollux finally looked away and began to walk down the hall. Karkat watched him go, stomach flopping in a weird way. He felt eyes on him, and turned to find he was face to face with Terezi’s scrutinizing gaze.
“Can I help you?” he asked, face feeling a little hot.
“Oh, nothing. I just remember when I was the one your face turned a delicious candy red for, while your insides were all a’fuzzin and you broke out into an amazingly gross cold sweat-“ Karkat growled and swiped at her. Terezi just laughed and hopped away.
“You’re going to die alone, Pyrope. Get out of my sight, since I can’t get out of yours or anything,” he sniped halfheartedly. ‘Cause it’s all true, and everything about it is awful. Fuck.
“You’re so cute when you’re being stubborn, Karkles. I can practically hear ‘Dreamweaver’ seeping out of your head when you’re around that guy.” The sounds of security guards running towards their location prompted them to start walking away from the cafeteria, still bickering amicably.
“Jegus Christ, Terezi, are you enjoying your pain medications? Sollux would definitely not be assigned ‘Dreamweaver’, goddamnit. He’s like fucking…fucking…I don’t know, some other terrible power ballad. Stevie Nicks. Have you ever seen a woman taken by the wind?”
A peal of laughter erupted from Terezi. Karkat had a scowl on his face, but inside his spirits were lifting immensely. He let himself push aside, at least for the time being, the terrible developments of the day, instead focusing on Terezi’s stupid stupid jokes and her annoying, kind of contagious cackling. Not like he would laugh too, but he almost felt a smile twitch into existence, and he realized that the last week or so had been hanging on his lips, making an already prominent frown into an outright permanent scowl. They walked side by side, hands brushing each other. Terezi leaned into him as she insulted his haircut, and he felt pretty sure that if he hadn’t already tried and found that he couldn’t, he would love her.
I'm sorry this took so long to write. It's been tough finding time to do anything, let alone write. Actually, it's getting pretty close to the end! Maybe another chapter or two? Anyways...enjoy.
Chapter 14: Who's Next
The second Karkat got back to his dorm, he pulled his laptop out and flung himself onto his bed. He needed to cauterize some veins- veins full of information and secrets, veins who were totally okay with cheerfully doling out those secrets to whoever they so chose. Signing onto Pesterchum, he quickly scanned his chumroll.
“Fuck,” he whispered. Of course you wouldn’t be on, you punk.
He needed to talk to John- stop him from telling Sollux (or Terezi, or Kanaya for that matter) anything else about the situation with Gamzee. Karkat leaned back in his chair, bringing a thumb up to his mouth to chew on the nail. He had mostly broken out of the habit, but it still popped up every once in a while, especially when his temper tried to twist his tongue. His mind kept landing on Tavros Nitram. Why had Vriska even paralyzed him to begin with? Vriska had provoked the generally calm Aradia into revenge. If Tavros and Aradia were close enough friends to prompt that kind of action, why would he take part in hurting her? Even if the attack on Aradia wasn’t his idea…the dog had been his. Was it because they were dating, Nitram holding a twisted notion of fondness for the girl that had ruined him? That didn’t seem like Nitram’s game. Then there was Kanaya, who had mentioned Tavros looking ‘apologetic’…right before she punched him. He couldn’t count Eridan out either, who was now on the list of possible triggers for the attack on Aradia. Something was still missing, not fitting into the lopsided puzzle. It all seemed so…pointless. So Aradia told Karkat some unsavory kibbles about Vriska’s past- why would Eridan care, and why would Vriska? The addition of Gamzee brought the stakes higher. It was starting to make unsettling amount of sense- pointing to the one answer that had been lurking since the beginning.
Either Gamzee or Vriska are dealing Sopor Slime.
A pinging sound snapped Karkat from the mobius loop of thinking. He glanced at his chumroll and leaned forward immediately. Fuck yes.
turntechGodhead: who gave you this number
carcinoGeneticist: OKAY BEFORE YOU START YOUR STUPID HUMOROUSLY IRONIC THING
carcinoGeneticist: JUST TELL ME WHERE EGBERT IS, IS HE HOME?
turntechGodhead: listen just because i run the partycube doesnt mean i know of its residents whereabouts all the time
turntechGodhead: i have some side hustles to distract me from being a single mom
carcinoGeneticist: WHAT THE FUCK IS A PARTYCUBE
Karkat tried not to talk to Dave Strider too often, because it was nearly fucking carcinogenic. He never answered your questions, like some sort of terrible sarcastic piñata that never stayed still long enough to blindly smash the everliving fuckcandy out of. He had been a major stick in Karkat’s mud patch ever since John had first introduced them to each other in a terrible, terrible pesterchat.
carcinoGeneticist: ACTUALLY NEVERMIND. DON’T START. DON’T START DOING THE THING YOU’RE DOING, I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOUR AND JOHN’S ‘HILARIOUS’ FAKE FAMILY ROOMMATE DYNAMIC.
turntechGodhead: youre unusually infuriated for this early in a convo, did you get into an argument with your boyfriend
carcinoGeneticist: WHO TOLD YOU
turntechGodhead: ...wow that was just shitting around didnt know it was actually a thing
turntechGodhead: jk john told me
carcinoGeneticist: …FUCK YOU SO HARD.
turntechGodhead: yeah not everyones into that carry on tho
carcinoBiologist: LISTEN CAN YOU JUST TELL JOHN TO STOP TELLING SOLLUX THINGS HE DOESN’T NEED TO KNOW? HE’S GETTING STUPIDLY INVOLVED AND IT’S NONE OF HIS BUSINESS, AND JOHN’S JUST MAKING IT WORSE BY TELLING HIM AND EVERYBODY THINGS.
turntechGodhead: you make it sound like someones gonna die or something
carcinoGeneticist: REALLY? GOOD FUCKING GUESS.
turntechGodhead: no i already know about that thing too
carcinoGeneticist: …WHAT THE FUCK.
turntechGodhead: yeah still dating your ex chick
turntechGodhead: and shes all over this episode of true crime
carcinoGeneticist: SHUT UP, STRIDER, I KNOW. I KNOW TEREZI’S DATING YOU AND SIMULATANEOUSLY INCAPABLE OF A) MINDING HER OWN GODDAMN BUSINESS AND B) NOT SHARING MY BUSINESS WITH EVERYBODY WITHIN A 10 FOOT PESTER RADIUS.
carcinoGeneticist: YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO TALK ABOUT IT TO ANYONE ANYMORE. NOT ROSE, NOT JADE, ESPECIALLY NOT JADE, JUST TELL EVERYONE TO STOP TELLING EVERYONE ELSE STUFF.
turntechGodhead: okay the conversation gestapo stuff is not gonna work just sayin
turntechGodhead: people are gonna talk thats how life works
turntechGodhead: also pretty sure rose knows everything already
turntechGodhead: shes got some romantics going on tho so i dont think she cares
turntechGodhead: gf came over a few days ago
turntechGodhead: she hasnt been online since
carcinoGeneticist: WHO’S HER GIRLFRIEND?
turntechGodhead: wow you need to listen to all your mind yo business talk
turntechGodhead: and also your friends apparently
turntechGodhead: its kanaya
carcinoGeneticist: …HOLY SHIT THEY’RE DATING?
carcinoGeneticist: I MEAN I KNEW KANAYA LIKED HER BUT I DIDN’T KNOW THEY STARTED DATING…WHEN THE FUCK DID THAT HAPPEN?
turntechGodhead: when kan got suspended for decking the paralyzed kid
turntechGodhead: thats what you miss when youre way too self involved
turntechGodhead: it’s not all you
turntechGodhead: in the story here
For the next two nights, Karkat displayed an impressive case of insomnia. Sleep eluded him, and he spent the nights and early hours of the morning in a haze of typing and homework, letters streaming into each other on his laptop screen. The second night, Sollux smothered him from behind, manhandling him down onto the bed and forcing him to lie there, trapped in the other’s wiry limbs. He spent that few hours zoning out hardcore, focusing on the pattern marching across his blanket and toying with Sollux’s fingers. When a gray light began to filter into the room, he felt Sollux stir behind him. Karkat rolled over with some effort to glare at his face, attempting to remove the arms still loosely wrapped around him.
“Mmrg…yes, dipshit?” Sollux mumbled, eyes still closed and make no effort to open them.
“Wake the fuck up,” Karkat said, narrowing his eyes. His head hurt.
“I’m great, KK, thanks for asking.” Sollux withdrew his arms to rub his eyes, groaning. “What time is it?”
“Some hour that shouldn’t exist right now.” Karkat found himself reaching for Sollux’s hand.
“Holding hands in the morning? That’s uncharacteristically affectionate for you,” Sollux said with a grin. Karkat’s lips curled back in a snarl as he felt tiredness creep up behind his eyes.
“I’m not trying to hold your hand, I’m trying to break your fingers,” he muttered, rolling away from Sollux. He sat up, stretching. Behind him, Sollux sighed and got out of bed. He headed straight to the computer.
“How’d you sleep?” he asked Karkat after the computer booted up.
“Like a kid whose ADD medication wore off.” Class at noon. Time to get my mediocre on. Sollux squinted at the screen.
“Jegus, it’s seven. Good thing you woke me up with your ridiculous mouthiness, KK. Gotta go to class,” As he pulled his shirt over his head, his voice was muffled.
Karkat leaned against the wall, feeling fucked up as usual. Once Sollux had his shirt on, he turned to eye Karkat.
“You look like shit,” he supplied helpfully.
“Thanks, you too,” Karkat muttered. He looked up nervously when Sollux gave him a long, considering look. “W-What.”
“Wanna go to the beach tonight?” Sollux asked. Karkat stared at him for a few seconds before speaking.
“…Sollux. I am not one of your numerous girlfriends. Is that supposed to be you asking me out on a date? It’d probably work better without the ‘you look like shit’ part.”
“Yeah, I guess it’s kind of a date… it’s nice at night. You seem to like going with Eridan.” Sollux sounded a little nervous under the veneer of nonchalance.
“Okay firstly, don’t bring up that useless nubtard unless I say it’s okay. Secondly…I fucking guess so. My class ends at three thirty, where will you be?”
“Ehehe, I’ll be right here.”
Two days until the end of your life, Vantas.
Around eleven, Karkat finally snapped out of his torpor and grabbed his cellphone. He balanced a pillow on his lap and waited as it rang. Right as he was prepared to leave an abrasive voice message, a click signaled the other end picking up.
“Hello?” A gruff voice demanded over a static connection.
“…hey,” Karkat said hesitantly. I never have any idea what to say to this guy.
“Who the hell is this?”
“It’s your son.”
“Oh, shit. Hi. What’s wrong, you need money? “
“No, I’m good for now.”
“How’s uh…school going?”
“Stunning. All of my classes are like magic.” Karkat paused, trying to figure out how to say the next thing. “Listen, I need to tell you something.”
“…wait, let me get out of here, your mom is hovering – goddamnit, woman, give me some space! Fer Chrissakes,” his dad said, grumbling as he moved into a different room. Karkat heard his mom quietly screeching about speakerphone. Note to future self – talk to Mom before you hang up.
“Yeah okay, shoot, kid.”
Karkat swallowed. How do I tell him I’m up to my ears in a fucking drug war?
“I’m up to my ears in a fucking drug war.” …Good job, idiot.
“Language, kid, you know your mom hates profanity.” His dad’s voice got muffled, like he was shielding the receiver. “HE JUST HAD A FIGHT, IS THAT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU? Jegus, from the way she worries about you, you’d think you were dead or something.”
“Dad, I might be…close to dead in the near future. This isn’t a schoolyard scuffle, there’s some people who for some reason, are extremely interested in seeing my unmoving-”
“Kid, shut up and listen for a second. The one thing I’m gonna tell you here is something you should probably remember for the rest of your life, however long it is. Get over yourself, and slip out the back. No one cares enough about anyone else that they’re going to notice when someone just isn’t there anymore. Until it’s too late, anyways. If this thing gets too big, you shut your mouth, you wait for a back door, and you get the fuck out of there. Got it?”
Karkat bit a thumbnail absently. “Yeah. Got it.”
“Good. I need to go buy some crap at the store so- WHAT?” His dad covered the receiver again. “WHAT DID YOU- …NO I’M NOT GOING TO TELL HIM THAT, I’M NOT RAISING A GODDAMN FAIRY, WOMAN.” There were some shuffling and clicking noises and his dad finally sighing before he was on the phone again. “Your mom…your mom says she believes in you.”
“…uh. Tell her…tell her thanks, and I miss her,” Karkat said, trying hard to avoid his voice cracking. Thanks for making me fucking tear up in front of Dad, Mom. Jegus.
“So we done here?” his dad asked after an awkward silence.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll see you later.”
“See you, kid.” Click.
In his noon class, Karkat spent fifteen minutes staring at a text message. He was debating the benefit of sending it versus the benefits of saving the ten cents on his crappy nonexistent texting plan and deleting it. The teacher eventually made the decision for him, plucking the cellphone from his hands. Karkat glared at her.
“Honestly, Karkat, I wouldn’t have to take this from you if you hadn’t been fooling around with it for so incredibly long,” she said, raising her eyebrows and giving him a stupid little smirk. He fought the urge to mimic her expression, instead leaning his chin on his hands.
Kanaya wasn’t going to receive his awkward attempt at a comforting text message, but maybe she wouldn’t care. Maybe she was having fun with her new girlfriend, enjoying the break from the hyperdrama surrounding her friend…Karkat buried his head in his arms.
Wow, hi guys. I'm still in the land of the living...sorry for the long wait.
I have a feeling this and however many chapters that remain are going to be a struggle, though a valiant one, haha.
I love all of you still hanging on there!
Chapter 15: No One Believes Me
Rich text editor is not working for me- currently, paragraphs are indicated by a new line. Sorry!
“You need to go show this to Vriska, and ask her about it.”
Karkat took the note from Aradia’s shaky hand, where it was somehow wedged into the edge of the thick bandages. He was sitting beside Aradia’s bed in her dorm room, where she had decided to convalesce during her recovery. If it were Karkat, he would’ve jumped at the chance to go home, but he guessed absences piled up pretty quickly in the event of an injury like Aradia’s.
He raised an eyebrow. Where had he heard that name before?
“Okay, any particular reason? I just have this mildly unsettling feeling that you just gave me a delicious piece of grubloaf to dangle in front of the giant psychotic spider that is Vriska. Just sayin’.” Aradia settled her head back down on her pillow, her gaze not flickering from Karkat.
“You don’t have to do it. It would just get things moving faster if you would,” she said.
“Woah- what path of logic did you follow where I wanted things here to go faster? The end is…is the place you ended up a few nights ago. Possibly with a few less organs or a hole in my head. That’s what I have to look forward to.” Karkat leaned back in the chair, jiggling his foot nervously. “So what does this-,” he held up the slip of paper, “-do for that.”
“I just thought you were trying to figure out what’s going on. That’s probably the most relevant piece of information you’ll get if you decide to go to the party, which like you said- greatly reduced mobility for several months.” She scratched her nose with a stiff hand.
Karkat considered the name on the paper, before biting his lip.
“Tell me- in your opinion and experience with these honors students, what will happen if I don’t go to the party?”
“They’ll just find you in some place with a lot less people able to call 911,” Aradia said flatly, shaking a piece of hair away from her eyes.
“Like they found you,” Karkat offered.
“…like they found me. Yeah.”
“So spill. Who is it. What does this doctor person have to do with anything?”
“Not ‘doctor’, ‘doc’. Doc Scratch.”
“Gee. Okay, thank you. Everything makes so much sense now. I’m gonna go, and using the correct pronunciation of this name and the power of love, be a fucking legend and save the day! Yayyyy, go Karkat!” He punctuated by throwing his arms up in the air. Aradia seemed unimpressed by his theatrics. He crossed his arms. “Yeah, okay, now that we’re on a first name basis, is there anything else you can tell me?”
“I don’t know the details, but I know that name has a lot to do with this whole mess,” Aradia said. Her voice was getting a little more tired sounding.
“…Alright. Fine. I think I can go on this. Uh, thanks. I owe you one.” Karkat stood awkwardly for a minute. “When do you think you’ll get the cast off?”
“No time soon. Good luck, Karkat.” Aradia closed her eyes, and exhaled softly.
“Thanks. Feel better.”
After an awkward wave, Karkat stalked through the dormitory hallway towards the exit, clutching the slip of paper in his pocket with nervously twitching fingers. He pushed through the doors and emerged into the bright mid-afternoon sun. A familiar figure at the edge of the green caught his eye. Sollux was right where Karkat had told him to be, leaning against a lamppost and checking his phone. Karkat beelined towards him and caught his arm, pulling him toward the exit.
“Hey there, KK,” Sollux said when Karkat jogged over to him. He looked uncomfortably at Aradia’s dorm. Ever since the night at the hospital, he’d been essentially avoiding her. “Visiting Aradia?” His voice sounded guilty.
“Yeah…she’s sleeping. You should probably go see her sometime. She, uh, doesn’t blame you for…not being around. I mean, it’s not like you weren’t at the hospital.”
“…the worst part is, I know that. I really do. I just…I mean, I hate seeing her like that.” Karkat furrowed his eyebrows. Something about the way Sollux said it made a little alarm bell in his head go off.
‘I hate seeing her like that’.
“Vriska broke you guys up, right? How did that happen?” Karkat blurted out. Sollux glared at him.
“You need social skills, you realize that,” he muttered.
“I have fucking excellent social skills, YOU realize that,” Karkat shot back. He didn’t feel like pursuing the obvious avoidance to the topic, or paying attention to the little gears squeaking in the back of his head. The two walked together, hands bumping each other, before Karkat sighed dramatically and grabbed Sollux’ hand. I’m too fucking tired to be disgusted at myself.
“I’m not a fan of you. At all.”
Sollux snickered, tightening his grip. “Could’ve fooled me. You act like one of the fairies from Ferngully every time I show up.”
“Fuck you! You’re just as gay as me! And Ferngully was an awesome movie!”
“Technically, I’m only half as gay as you, Sir Prancelot. I still like girls.”
“Well fuck, pardon my error. I’ll remember to keep that distinction in mind next time we’re exchanging harsh words.”
“So Aradia’s okay?” Sollux asked after a minute.
“…yeah. She’s gonna be alright.” Karkat snuck a glance at Sollux’ face. It was hard to read. He was almost afraid that Sollux wouldn’t trust him, and run back to Aradia’s dorm.
Sollux just turned and smiled at him though, all stupid teeth, and asked, “Ready for our beach date, KK?” Karkat sighed, rolling his eyes and doing his best to ignore the little stumble of his heartbeat and the rising temperature of his face.
“So ready. Readier than you will ever be.”
Sollux pulled Karkat a little closer as they reached the parking lot.
“You just take your time with all of that pretending. Has anyone ever told you you are way too competitive?” Sollux released Karkat’s hand to unlock his car and pull the door open. Karkat glared at him over the roof.
“I don’t see you doing much better.”
“Competitive. Competitive and defensive.”
“Oh my fuck, Captor, shut up. You’re the one who’s…who’s dating me.”
“Did I ever say I didn’t like it?”
For once, Karkat didn’t have a response, so he just slouched in Sollux’ passenger seat with a burning face and his foot tapping away on the dashboard, not caring if his sneaker left scuffs. He didn’t say we weren’t dating.
He would find himself was still thinking mainly the same thought twenty minutes later, except his back would be sticky from damp sand soaking through his shirt. He would be flat against that sand, shadowed from the afternoon sun by his roommate just above him. There wouldn’t be anything nice about the sand creeping up into his hoodie, but Sollux’ fingers would be running down his face reverently, and Sollux himself would be muttering something (stupid) about Karkat and Karkat looking gorgeous. Karkat would also find the (equally stupid) protests spilling from him lips interrupted by something nicer, until his preoccupation with dating and he said was blasted into a million tiny pieces all over the beach.
The day after the next, Karkat Vantas was gonna die.
But Wednesday night, he set the record for not caring.
Karkat bit a huge chunk off the top of his granola bar, chewing it grotesquely.
From his perch on a trashcan, he watched as a stream of students passed by, waiting for one in particular. When she finally emerged from the building, he jumped off and threw the half-eaten granola bar into the bin. She paused at a bench to arrange her belongings, looking up when he stopped a few feet away from her, arms crossed. She smirked, mirroring the gesture.
“Well well well, if it isn’t my favorite hot mess! Hiya, Karbaby! It’s been a while. I almost missed you!”
Karkat snorted. “I’ll believe that when you get the fuck out of my business and stop trying to put a hit out on me.”
“Oooh, so you’re getting ready for the party tomorrow night, then!” Vriska cooed happily, as if she wasn’t talking about some kind of murder mystery dinner party.
“I’m mostly wondering how the fuck you think you can even get away with it, considering everyone and their grandpa has heard the rumors by now,” he bit out, hating Vriska’s stupid face and her stupid hair and the fact that she had the gall to look surprised.
“Why, I have no idea what you’re talking about!” Her voice was overly pleasant. Liar. She knew he really didn’t have solid proof beyond the unreliable rumor mill. What does Tavros see in her?
“Listen. I’ve done the rounds. I know what you did- or you made happen- to Aradia.” He felt a tiny bit of satisfaction by noting a different expression flashing on Vriska’s face. “Same with Tavros, even though he’s apparently a spineless googly-eyed idiot who’s still retarded enough over you that he’d sic his dog on his friend.”
“Don’t talk about things you know nothing about,” Vriska interjected, smile gone from her face.
“How does it feel knowing you’ve fucked so many people over, Vriska?” Karkat asked, returning her glare.
“Pretty goddamn bad, Karkles.”
Karkat tilted his head, trying to better process her statement.
“What?” he finally blurted out.
“What’s wrong, didn’t expect that? That maybe I didn’t want them to get hurt? That I’m not a terrible person? I didn’t think…it would…ugghh, I don’t want to talk to you about this.” Whatever shred of regret that was present in Vriska’s voice and face slipped away. Karkat suddenly remembered what he had meant to ask from the beginning.
“Who the fuck is Doc Scratch?”
The effect it had on Vriska was instantaneous.
“Who told you that name?” Vriska asked slowly.
“Doesn’t matter. Just tell me who it is. What they have to do with Gamzee, with you, with the fucking party.”
Vriska didn’t answer. She looked like she was internally debating something. Suddenly, she was very close to Karkat. Signature move. She pushed on his shoulders to force him to sit on the bench, and leaned over him.
“I’m gonna tell you something, because maybe I kinda wish someone had done this for me. You don’t mess with that name. You don’t mess with Gamzee, because that name is in charge of him. And Gamzee is dealing with some dangerous things. Gamzee is also dealing with keeping you, little clueless Karkat, off the radar. He fucked up last year, almost signed you away to some terrible luck. But contrary to what you think, I’m not a bad person. So I am going to tell you this: Take the gift Gamzee is giving you, and shut the fuck up. If putting you in the hospital is what keeps you out of their sight, why wouldn’t he do it? If you could keep someone safe…someone who’s stupid and cowardly and could never protect themselves, just for the cost of an arm and a leg…wouldn’t you do it?” Vriska stared into his face, before letting go of his shoulders and stepping away. She looked uncomfortable as she grabbed her bag. “Just…forget it. I’ll see you at the party, Karkles!” She skittered away to god-knows-where, leaving Karkat stunned on the bench.
He looked at the ground, neurons firing rapidly in his brain, making connections. If it would keep them safe, wouldn’t you hurt them? ‘Even if it cost a leg?’
Karkat had a pretty good idea of what happened to Tavros Nitram and Aradia Megido and why. It only quickened his fluttering pulse.
Firstly, apologizing severely for my disappearance. Schoolwork combined with some deep thinking about the new updates and their impact on this story, as well as just good old-fashioned writer's slump, made this chapter a beast to get out. But it's finally done and behind me, and I think the next chapter will be the last (if all goes according to plan). THANK YOU for your encouragement during my unplanned hiatus, and sorry if this chapter doesn't quite make up for it. It was a rough one. See you (hopefully) soon.
Chapter 16: We've Got a Good Thing
Sollux was Karkat’s entire world at the moment. The rest of the dark beach was obscured by all of the person above him. Sollux’ hands, clammy and covered in sand, were creeping up his sides, sliding under his damp shirt, and Karkat squirmed with impatience. Sollux laughed above him. Karkat could feel cold seeping further down his body.
He opened his mouth to speak- hey, idiot, the tide’s coming in and we’re going to- but when he opened his eyes to shoot a fond glare at Sollux, he choked in shock. Instead of his stupid, smiling boyfriend, Gamzee was perched above him, huge and overbearing, caging him with his arms and hair and entire body.
“Something wrong, my best motherfucker?”
I’m going to THROW UP
Karkat began struggle in earnest, but in addition to Gamzee’s weight on his hips and hands by his ears, there were two more freezing hands clamped in a vice grip around his wrists. He snapped his head back, craning his neck to see who was above him, and there was Eridan, half-immersed in the rising surf, apologies dribbling from his lips.
“I’m sorry Kar, I never wanted this-“
STOP APOLOGIZING JUST HELP ME YOU INCREDIBLE FUCK
“I missed you, Karbro,” Gamzee, murmuring from above.
Shit fuck fuck fuck
Karkat couldn’t get enough air, the water was up to his cheekbones, the back of his head was underneath already-
“I just want you to be safe,” a nightmare of two voices pleaded and assured him-
“SHIT!” Karkat awoke with a massive jerk, and took big gaping breaths of air. Sollux was cursing and rubbing his jaw, where apparently Karkat’s head had been nestled before it headbutted him. One huge breath turned into several- great, hyperventilating, fucking awesome –
Sollux got over his annoyance admirably fast and clapped a hand on Karkat’s back.
“Hey, calm down, KK. You’re okay. You’re okay, you’re here.”
It took several minutes of deep breathing, an amazing wade through a mental swamp of terror, and Sollux rubbing his back, but Karkat finally returned to reality, a cold sweat quickly evaporating on his skin. He pushed away from Sollux, who blinked at him, for once not behind those dumb tinted glasses.
“You alright?” Sollux asked, pulling Karkat towards his side. Karkat kind of hated him for not being grossed out by his clammy skin.
“I’m fine. It was just a bad dream. Oh my fuck, a seriously bad dream.” Deep breaths, Heart, I’d fucking appreciate you quieting down in there so you don’t punch a hole through my chest, thanks.
“So…” Sollux’ tone bordered on conversational, but for the most part was decidedly awkward. “It’s, uh…Friday. Do you have class?”
“Not any that I’m planning to attend,” Karkat muttered, pulling his sweat-damp shirt over his head. He scowled when he noticed Sollux trying to hide the once-over he was giving Karkat. “Way to be a total creep.”
“What the hell, KK, there’s nothing wrong with appreciating the view.” Sollux leaned forward, pushing Karkat down with him as he returned to his pillow. Karkat growled, but acquiesced to the arms wrapped around him. One of Sollux’ legs slipped between his own, and a hand trailed up his side.
“What did you dream about?” Sollux asked, his breath warm against Karkat’s ears.
“Eridan.” Sollux pulled back, face rumpled in displeasure
“That is a nightmare. Way to ruin the mood, KK.”
“You’re the one who asked,” Karkat said. He frowned at the ceiling for a few seconds.
Sollux waited through an awkward silence before rolling his eyes and pulling Karkat close again.
“Still in the mood. Don’t worry. Anyways, since you’ll be skipping class, maybe I can interest you in some alternative activities this morning?” What’s that noise, Karkat? Oh, nothing, just my fucking heart beating a hundred miles per minute in a nearly successful attempt to burst out of my chest.
“I…I dreamed about you too. It was pretty nice, until that idiot showed up, I guess.” Sollux pulled back to look at him again.
“’Pretty nice’, huh? What kind of thing would that entail? Actually wait, I’m feeling conflicted because you said Eridan showed up.”
Karkat snarled and clapped a hand over Sollux’ mouth.
“If you’re just going to say stupid shit, don’t talk, please.” Sollux grabbed his wrist and moved in close to his face.
“Ehehehe, it’s good thing I wasn’t planning to say much after this.”
Karkat felt the morning had gone fairly well. After some unmentionable activities with his boyfr- boy-….roommate, they had gotten ready, and Karkat managed to trip him on the way to the bathroom. He purchased a fat muffin, eagerly anticipating with shining eyes the moment when he could shove the caloric chunk of carbohydrates down his throat- fuck you, it’s the only thing they have that isn’t completely inedible.
Now he was settled on one of the grubby couches in the student building, gnawing on it semi-mindlessly and watching students pass by intermittently outside. It was amazing how…normal everything seemed. In however many hours, he’d be facing Gamzee’s bizarre pseudo-romantic overtures (delivered with the flourish of a baseball bat) and potentially pulling Vriska’s nails out of his face as she cackled about how eassssssssy he was to take down. Maybe he’d also be dealing with Eridan’s backstabbing ass, whaling on him with a fire extinguisher, blubbering apologies and ‘I thought this would be better, Kar, cross my heart!’s all over the place.
This was the view before the fall.
Karkat took out his aggression on the last of the muffin, which crumbled to pieces one too many bites into it. It was time to face the music, try to go out in the most blinding supernova he could muster- but his dad’s words weaved through the self-indulgent fantasies about beating the shit out of everyone at the party.
“Get over yourself, and slip out the back. If this thing gets too big, you shut your mouth, you wait for a back door, and you get the fuck out of there. Got it?” The words rang like a bell, but they were accompanied by an image of Aradia, looking used up and tired in her sickbed, and for some reason Tavros was in there too, pushing his wheelchair up the ramp to their classroom.
“Yeah,” Karkat murmured, eyes focused on nothing in the distance. “Got it, Dad. Easier said than done.”
He didn’t notice the person approaching until they cleared their throat.
Karkat couldn’t help but do a double take. Tavros sat before him in his wheelchair, looking…worn.
“Tavros? What’s up?” Tavros wheeled a little closer, eyeing Karkat warily.
“It’s Friday…are you, uh…going to Equius’ party tonight?” Tavros asked, not breaking eye contact.
Karkat sighed, rolling his eyes.
“If you’re the guy I have to RSVP with, then yes. Against my better fucking judgement, I will be at your terrible party.”
“And against my advice, I guess.” Karkat’s eyes snapped to Tavros’, only to see a very…strong expression there. If Karkat could come close to naming it, he’d call it pity. Pity laced with a strong feeling of ‘you incredible dumbass’, hard as it was to believe Tavros could ever express that in a straightforward manner. First time for everything, I guess.
“Yeah. Yeah, I figured that delaying it would accomplish fuckall in the general scheme of things- through various instances, I’ve learned that if my psychotic ex-roommate and his bizarre little crew want to fuck me up, they’re going to do it whether I make it easy for them or not. I thought you’d know that better than anyone, considering you seem fine with siccing your dog on anyone Vriska deigns worthy of her awful little ‘protection’ agency-“ Tavros almost didn’t flinch, to his credit, “-which SUCKS, by the way. What a goddamned stupid idea. ‘Hurt them before they get hurt’? That sounds almost as solid as Eridan’s entire fucking social agenda. So the short answer, Nitram? Yeah, I will be at the goddamned party.”
There was a long pause before Tavros spoke.
“If you…gave them a chance, you’d understand that they’re trying to make up for their mistakes.”
Karkat was seething now.
“What the fuck, Nitram, you’re so fucking brainwashed you can’t even see it-“
“You just don’t get it. This isn’t about revenge. It’s about having faith in people. And forgiveness,” Tavros said, his voice raising a pitch in conviction.
“Bullshit. You know it’s deeper than that. Who is Doc-” Karkat trailed off before he could finish. Tavros was shaking his head, as well as making a, frankly, stupid-looking facial expression.
“That can only mean I’ve been noticed, I guess,” a familiar voice sighed from behind him.
Karkat whirled around, to see the one person he probably wanted to be involved with this the least stepping closer.
“Terezi, you cannot possibly fathom how little this situation has anything to do with you. ANYTHING,” he ground out, hoping for once in their relationship she’d actually take his ever so generous offer to get the fuck out and do so.
“Karkles! Was that even a sentence?!” Oh, fuck me.
“Were you spying on us?!” he asked, in a poor effort to distract her from the previous topic. Terezi was sharp, but she her curiosity made her surprisingly easy to bait around. Unfortunately, Karkat sucked at that just as much as he sucked at being a normal college student.
Terezi tapped her way over to him and Tavros, making a bigger show than usual with her cane. Of course, Tavros probably didn’t know that. Karkat eyed her with one part suspicion and fifteen parts ‘please leave, you incredible douche’. She brought her cane up to tap on Tavros’ wheel, face suddenly alight with exaggerated (FAKE) understanding.
“So it is Tavros! I almost thought it was Makara, with that weird scent, but I smelled the distinct presence of hand sanitizer and hair product, so you were my final deduction!” Terezi exclaimed. She was in fine form today, it seemed. Tavros smiled.
“Uh, hey, Terezi…I guess you start to smell like the people you live with after a while…”
“So what delicious secrets were you two talking about? I think I almost heard a name.”
In some form of benevolence from the gods, Tavros laughed and shook his head.
“It’s nothing you have to worry about, Terezi. I was just, uh, giving Karkat some good advice. ‘Put on a good show’, you know? I think it’s good to remember, myself.” Tavros pulled out a cellphone, and checked it. “But, uh, listen…I have the party later that I need to get ready for. I’m gonna head out, if that’s okay with you.” He wheeled away from them, then stopped and spun a little to look at Karkat. “Um…you don’t have to believe it, you just have to make everyone else believe it.” Then he hastily made off.
Karkat stared at Tavros’ as he wheeled away faster than Karkat would ever give the guy credit for. Put on a show? What the fuck does that mean?
“What interesting parting words, wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Vantas?” Terezi waggled her eyebrows expectantly at Karkat.
“Not now, Terezi,” he ground out, a headache gnawing at his skull.
“No, of course not now, we have preparations to make, a party to attend, and apparently a show to put on, as well!” Karkat sighed shakily and massaged his temples, letting Terezi grab his arm and tug him along with her.
There was the tiniest inkling of comprehension dawning, growing, reverberating in Karkat’s head.
If it would keep them safe, wouldn’t you hurt them?
Put on a good show for Doc Scratch, and maybe he’ll leave you alone.
Sorry about the uh, five month wait, guys. School hit me, and it hit me hard. I'm still buried under an avalanche, but I won't bore you with my life story.
One more chapter! I actually meant for this to be the final one, but I felt bad withholding nice stories from you all, and it was getting long.
I feel kind of worried that it's dragging a bit.
So...next chapter. The party. You're all invited.