Actions

Work Header

Five Weeks in May

Work Text:

It’s a dumb idea like most of Terezi’s ideas. For one, they don’t tell anyone they’re going. They leave a note and Dave’s cellphone number, but he purposefully forgets his charger. He also empties his bank account and maybe “borrows” a couple hundred from Rose- anything else, they can make on the road. Another thing that’s stupid about it is that they don’t tell themselves where they’re going. It went down like:

“You ever think about driving your shitty four wheeled vehicular box into the horizon?”

And then he was all: “You hear that in a movie or somethin’, Tz?”

And she was like: “Yes, but do you?”

So he said: “All the fucking time.”

And she grinned: “Let’s do it.”

When he sighed “Okay.” their fate was sealed.

- and now it’s just open air on the 59 outta Houston trying to listen to terrible 80’s power ballads over the sound of the wind whipping through their hair because the shitbox doesn’t have AC. Sun glimmering a mirage-reflection off the asphalt and not another soul in sight, just the yellow grass and the sound of Terezi getting all the words to ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ wrong.

“It’s ‘Tossed around like a ship on the ocean.’ Not... whatever the hell you just said about a blip for demotion.”

“Demotion was the nice way of saying culled back home,” she reminisces pleasantly, “And I thought you hated this song!”

“It’s shit, Tz. This song is composed from the ballsweat of men shoved into the back of a station wagon dreaming of mustangs.”

It feels right somehow, right in a way Dave hasn’t felt in a long time. A blur of heat and haze with Terezi’s presence a comforting but admittedly annoying constant. A sentimental dude might tell her ‘this is a lot like we first met i guess minus my corpse’, but Dave Strider is not sentimental. Dave Strider is just on an ill-advised road-trip with his favourite alien and he is determined to make it the best fucking ironic road-trip $887.62 can buy.

 

 

week one

“We’re headed for Intercourse.”

“Oh, Dave, you move so fast. Slow down or I’ll be eternally cursed with these vapours.”

“No, dumpass, it’s a town in Pennsylvania. Even better, it’s a goddamn Amish town. This is gold, Terezi.”

“What is Amish?”

“Actually, you know what? Don’t let me ruin the surprise.”

The first week is spent taking the pick-up truck equivalent of a leisurely stroll through Oklahoma while plotting the shittiest possible course North. It’s a hard decision between snaking a route through the shitty deep South or just barreling through the also really shitty Midwest. He deliberates poetically on the unique but opposite shitty natures of either extremity but Terezi is no help with her head dangling out the window like a golden retriever, sniffing the great wide everything outside the truck, also like a golden retriever. The one time she looks at the map she licks down the west coast and demands they make a pit stop in Oregan because it “tastes the best”.

Dave catches himself staring at her instead of the road once, twice, thr- okay a few times, who fucking cares it’s Oklahoma. There’s something sad in the set of her shoulders, the way her horns are hidden by that ridiculous head-dress Kanaya made for her, the way even Oklahoma is like this mind blowing assault on her senses. Skaianet doesn’t let the trolls out much- Dave wouldn’t be surprised if this was the most of Earth Terezi had seen beyond Skaianet’s backyard and the view from his roof once a year.

At night they park the truck off road and huddle under his worn old comforter in the truck’s bed and hope no bored cops or cannibal hillbillies wander by while they sleep. That’s actually how he makes the final decision.

“We gotta do the Midwest, ‘Rez,” he mumbles. Their backs are aligned under the blanket, each greedily clutching their share of the edge.

“Yeah?”

“Less flesh hungry, inbred rednecks trying to put us on meat hooks.”

“Oh,” she yawns and yanks way too much of the blanket over her side, “You have those on Earth too?”

“Yeah.”

Troll hearts beat faster than human ones, even when they’re asleep. Oklahoma is so desperately boring that this is the most exciting discovery of Week One.

 

week two

The most exciting discovery of Week Two is ketchup.

Terezi discovers ketchup at a truck-stop diner called “Lou’s” and empties the entire bottle onto her plate; Dave pities the limp french fries struggling to keep afloat in the tomato apeshit apocalypse as she drinks it like a soup and scrapes the remnants off with her fingers, licking each sharp digit thoroughly just in case she missed some. It’s something a five year old would do, but here is Terezi Pyrope- six solar sweeps and four earth years old- cheerfully lapping processed tomato sauce from her palm while Dave tries to think of ways to describe this girl without being disrespectful.

The waitress gives them the stink eye so he gives her the helpless shrug girl is loco finger spin one-two combo and tops it off with a coy tip of his shades and a wink as he slides her a generous tip. Terezi only quirks an eyebrow when the waitress slaps his ass on the way out.

“Dave has the sugar that all the human ladies want,” she teases as she swings into the truck’s cab. He’s rolling his eyes under his shades and knows that she can tell. It’s her eighth sense: Dave’s gently condescending irritation, “Are we going to leave a string of broken hearts behind us?”

“How can I possibly get laid with you breathing down my neck the whole time?” he means that literally too, summons the mental image and everything.

“Get creative,” she challenges, “Besides, would it be so awful to give a demonstration to further my cross-cultural understanding?”

“Yes. The more you understand anything the more trouble we’re all in.”

She gets all the lyrics to ‘More Than a Feeling’ wrong too.

I see my marionette walking awaaaay.”

The second most exciting discovery of Week Two is Hazard Nebraska, a town so depressing they have to stop at the local convenience store and use the one computer in town to look up the stats on Wikipedia because Terezi used all the phone batteries up on the first day posting terrible photographs of their “RO4DTR4P” to 4chan. Hazard has sixty-six people, 100.0% of them caucasian (“This place is white as columbian crack.” “White as a smooth muscelbeast’s behind.” “Whiter than Vanilla Ice.” “Whiter than your pasty ass, heheheheh.” “So white the local KKK shriveled up like an eighty year old dick while playing games of checkers with all the black pieces removed.”) and was famous for having a Rest Stop sign consisting of a toilet propped up on three bales of hay. For ultimate ironic purposes Dave picks up a cassette of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska from underneath some Garth Brooks tapes and a single Toby Keith CD.

The thing is the Boss is a little too sombre and a little too quality for this trip and Terezi starts to wilt in her seat around the fourth time they listen to ‘State Trooper’. She turns her head towards the despairingly dark sky and says- quietly- “I can smell the stars here.”

Dave reflects momentarily on how not weird a thing to hear that is anymore. He flips the tape out when they cross the state line and fiddles around futilely for a radio station.

“We should get Karkat some ugly souvenirs. He hates those.” Terezi says finally.

“A sad, half-deflated football with ‘Ohio’ written on it in toll paint.”

“A cup with a deformed milkbeast on it.”

“A pin shaped like Indiana.”

“Exactly like that. He’ll be so mad. I can hear him ranting obnoxiously right now.”

“Nah, Tz, that’s just the radio static.”

There’s unspoken words dangling between them and Dave gulps the question down before he can be so dumb as to actually ask it. We even planning to go back? Her face is tipped away from him, the moonlight making a hazy, pale outline of her angular profile that he has never once thought beautiful. She looks ethereal in this light, like maybe she’ll dissolve if he doesn’t yank her out of her malaise. Where are we going if not back? is the other question he doesn’t ask. He drums his fingers on the steering wheel for lack of words and she starts humming.

Everything dies and that’s a fact, but maybe everything that dies someday comes back-”

Dave grins and finishes the verse (in dead flat, atonal monotone), “Put your makeup on, Rez, and fix your hair up pretty. Gonna meet me tonight in Des Moines City.”

“Who’s getting the lyrics wrong now?” she snickers

“Yeah, I take that back. Des Moines is fucking terrible.”

Des Moines is pretty shitty, but it’s also the third most exciting discovery of Week Two. Terezi drags him down the entire colour-dappled stretch of Kruidenier Trail at two in the morning, eyes bright and steps light.

“Perfect, perfect,” she mutters in heady contemplation, “It’s just missing one thing.”

“What’s that?”

She holds up a stick of chalk and every part of her face glitters in the green light.


 

week three

They put seventy-five whole dollars into their ‘Karkat Souvenir Fund’, which currently contained a stuffed cow with unevenly sewn eyes, four garish pins shaped like various smiling fruit, a fridge magnet that played ‘God Bless America’, a pewter spoon with the state crest of Iowa on it and three postcards with guys that looked John grinning on the front. They signed each postcard ‘Gl4d you 4r3n’t h3r3? ‘

By the time they get to Illinois the novelty wears thin.

“Let’s do something fun,” Terezi huffs, “Stop the four wheeled vehicular device.”

“Fuck no.”

“It’s stuffy in here, can we at least roll the windows down? As much as I love the smell of your silky vanilla skin and the grainy licorice dashboard, the air is starting to get kind of thick.” she sticks her tongue out distastefully for emphasis.

Fuck no.”

Dave.”

“Things I’m not excited about: smelling four metric tonnes of cow shit for the entire three hours between here and Chicago.”

They pull up to a truck stop for some fresh air and Terezi skulks around the store like a particularly pallid predator animal, filling her arms with frenetically coloured candy and basic amenities like tooth paste and playing cards. Dave waits at the counter in his red pashima and his ironic trucker-plaid button up shirt, all utterly calculated chill, six foot one and a hundred and fourty four pounds of undiluted Texan cool. He’s downright phlegmatic in his tranquility, the pitch-perfect image of disaffected youth in his shades and with his carefully mussed hair. The girl at the register is looking him up and down a little sparkle eyed. Dave watches her muster her courage before asking in hushed tones:

“She your, uh, girlfriend?”

“Nah, my half sister from Kazakhstan.”

“She don’t seem, uh...” a delicate pause, “- healthy.”

“Yeah. She ate a whole rack of collector spoons as a child and now she has argyria. so tragic.”

“No, I meant-” before she can clarify what she meant, Terezi sashays to the cash and drops off her candy load and hoists a 24-pack of Old Milwaukee onto the counter with her thousand watt grin beaming out mischief at the speed of light. The poor clerk is startled by the presence of ten thousand shark teeth on the tiniest grey girl but she begins ringing in the twizzlers and sour-pops dutifully, pausing only to look so suspicious about the beer that it’s breaking Dave’s heart.

“No offense, but neither of you look twenty-one.”

Dave whips out his ID casually- the important thing when faking out a midwestern clerk just trying to do her job is to act casual- and yawns. Casually.

“I know, I got a baby face.”

“Thirty-six?”

“Fuck yeah. If I were actually seventeen why the hell would I have a fake ID that read thirty-six. That would just be downright careless of me.”

Terezi wraps her arms around the case when they’re back in the truck and looks worryingly pleased with herself.

“Overkill.” Dave comments, “We can’t keep that shit in the truck, Tz. We gotta drink it all before we even think about getting close to civilization. No fancy city cop is going to be charmed enough by my scrawny jailbait ass to let it slide.”

“Fine,” she leans her chin on the case and the bottles rattle like windchimes, “We’ll drink it all tonight.”

“Beer even work on trolls?”

“I have no idea. Let’s find out.” Terezi’s cackle is too much for one truck cab to contain so Dave finally agrees to roll down the windows. When night falls, they park the truck off road and set up camp in the back with the bottles divided evenly - twelve and twelve - between them.

"Oh fuck this, Terezi, I don't think I can drink twelve beers."

She cracks her first one open (literally, not quite getting her head around the very complex concept of the "bottlecap") and snorts derisively, “Is Dave Strider backing down from a challenge?” she chrugs the beer down, shards of cracked glass and all.

“No I mean I don’t think I can drink twelve beers. Mathematically. This is only gonna end with me on my back drowning in my own piss and vomit as you consume my intestines.”

“Don’t be melodramatic, I’d eat your eyes first.”

“I know.”

Two beers in and the night air feels crisper, the stars burn brighter, mostly because each of them gains a hazy halo in the glittering heaven of tipsy. Four beers in and Terezi crawls the space between them to rest her head on his shoulder. Five beers in, he stops trying to shove her off. Six beers in, her sharp fingers are tracing the inseam of his jeans lazily.

“They smell terrible, but I like milkbeasts. They remind me of Alternia.”

“I always imagined that Alternian cows had spiked hooves and were fifteen feet tall. When you milk them, the blood of innocents comes out.”

“No. But they did have a humanoid torso and face. They were very strong.”

“Somehow that’s even more horrific than whatever I just described.”

“No, no. It’s good because it’s horrific.”

“Yeah wow, I’m so jealous I didn’t grow up on your fucked up survival of the fittest thunder-dome planet, using the severed limbs of my neighbours to construct a nest for my giant bird dad or whatever.”

“You should be,” Terezi waves her half-empty bottle at him like she’s tyring to prove a point with it. There’s something wound up inside her, ticking down to what Dave hopes won’t be an awkwardly emotional outburst, “There are things I don’t miss about Alternia, true, but at least it was an even playing field. There’s no justice on your world, Dave. Everyone gets to live, but they don’t get a fair chance. It should be like-” and she holds out her hand, spreading her fingers towards the sky, “- two sides of a coin,” she turns it over to show her palm, “The highbloods were disdainful of the lowbloods, but both got an equal chance to prove themselves. There was balance.”

Dave can’t do drunk philosophy but he can do drunk reach-out-and-take-Terezi’s-hand and he can also do drunk ignore-the-curious-look-on-her-face when he does it.

“I’m... sorry,” he says distantly, curling his calloused fingers over hers.

“What are you sorry about, Dave?”

“That you have to be here, I guess.”

Her mouth twists inquisitively and she rolls her body drunkenly, straddling his torso between knobby knees, “Are you really sorry that I’m here, Dave? Are you sorry that I am here right now, with you?”

It’s easier than he thought it would be to slide a hand up under her chin, trailing his knuckle over her jugular to feel her hummingbird heartbeat. She meets the kiss halfway and it’s not so much chaste as it is tentative, indecisive, terrified. He pulls away first and her empty eyes are iridescent in the dark, the only goddamn bright thing in the whole blurry universe right now.

“Wanna go tip a cow?” Dave asks huskily. Terezi’s grin goes ear to ear, not even a metaphor, it actually does that.

“Hell fucking yes.”

Unfortunately the cow dies but Dave is pretty sure that it was no one’s lusus.

 

week four

They don’t kiss again after the hangover.

What they do instead is argue about road games.

“Whoever smells the most red cars before Ohio wins.”

“Yeah, that sounds completely fair.”

“Fine, fine, the Grand Judicator of crappy road games will allow for the human’s handicap and modify the rules so that “seen” cars are also applicable.”

“How magnanimous.”

“The Grand Judicator of crappy road games is always fair in her adjustments. You should be thankful that she has taken mercy upon you.”

“So thankful, so grateful, Tz I’m down on my hands and knees feeling a goddamn benediction, the holy spirit burning in my eyes over your every ruling here.”

“As it should be!”

“But I gotta point out here that I have more important things on my mind here than playing your retarded I spy with my left nostril games. Like, you know, driving.”

“Oh, as if driving is so hard! I bet I could drive and still smell every red car on your planet!”

“Then maybe I should let you take the wheel for a while.”

“Maybe you should!”

So he lets Terezi take the wheel for a while.

Apparently trolls enter the world with inborn skills relating to murder, architecture and the operation of complex machinery. She “follows the lemon stripe” and sure, okay, they’re swerving all over the damn place, but the highway is empty and it’s like seven in the morning and Terezi is laughing harder than he’s heard in literally years. Not that sharp, tepid hyena cackle, but a full-blown-this-is-the-laughter-that-burns-planets-whole guffaw. Dave Strider is man enough to admit that Terezi Pyrope is his favourite alien and he likes it when she’s smiling.

- and that’s how they end up in a stuffy sheriff’s office in Randolph Country, Indiana at seven thirty eight on a sunday morning. Terezi is bouncing her feet nervously, hands knotted as she emits a low, feral hiss that’s gotta be freaking the poor guy at the desk out. Her complexion is chalk-dust in the white light and Dave does not want to answer any of these questions at her expense.

“This Driver’s license isn’t real.”

“No,” Dave admits honestly. It’s not even trying to be real.

“Says here on your ID you’re thirty-six?”

“Yeah, no way that’s true.”

“ ‘David Strider’. What’s your real name?”

That one is true.”

“You expect me to believe that?”

“Pretty much.”

The cop is young and exhausted, sipping his coffee tiredly with so much ‘it’s too early for this crap’ weighing down his shoulders that Dave decides not to give him too much shit, “And who-” he waves his pen vaguely in Terezi’s direction, “... who is this?”

“My sister.”

“Half sister,” Terezi corrects.

“Half sister from Azerbaijan .”

“What he said.”

The cop frowns so hard his mouth looks like it’ll fall right off his face. He tops off this champion grimace with a helpless hair ruffle and a long-suffering sigh.

“Look, I’ll be right back. You kids don’t go anywhere, okay?”

“Fuck, Tz, we gotta get outta here.” Dave says the moment the door swings shut.

“He kept looking at me weird.” she scrunches up her nose, rocking forwards in her seat as Dave springs to action and begins searching the room for the keys to the truck.

“Probably thinks you’re like my illegal mail-order bride from Eastern Europe. Gonna get me up on charges of human trafficking. Shit.”

“Mail Order Bride from Space,” Terezi chuckles.

“Wow, don’t joke about that. We don’t even let gays marry in America- don’t wanna think how illegal inter-species unions are.”

“Almost as illegal as your smooth moves, so subtly snooping through all those drawers. You know that he put the keys in his pocket, don’t you?”

Dave stops, one hand deep in a rusted-filing cabinet, “Fuck,” he mutters eloquently. He doesn’t even shut the cabinet before yanking Terezi to her feet and dragging her out of the station-house, “You ever hot-wired a vehicle before?” he wonders, his tone a little strained.

“No,” she replies flatly.

“Kay, let’s hope for a miracle here. Dave Strider and Terezi Pyrope miracle express or whatever clever fucking thing it is I usually say in tense situations like this.”

“Actually,” Terezi points out calmly, “You tend to reliably fall apart at times like this.” and with unearthly grace and poise, she smashes the truck window in with her cane and unlocks the door, “C’mon. Time to be a Hero, Dave.”

If the definition of Hero was: hotwire a truck and make a madly successful dash for the state line then Dave Strider was elven shades of noble Lancelot crusader. Knight of Time? Knight of Fucking Petty Crime Swag. He was lucky that Terezi didn’t think much of Earth Justice. Right now he felt so great about himself the last thing he needed was her looking at him all disapproving like ‘oh Dave were we on Alternia I’d have had you in a noose for that’. Instead she’s howling alongside him and, obnoxiously, flipping between radio stations for something appropriately “reckless” and “illy behaved”. Unfortunately, the only thing on is church sermons and Christian Rock so by the time Dave pulls the truck to a stop to catch his breath, they’re hearing some monotone fossil espouse the parables of Isaiah or some other biblical shit Dave can’t make out because his blood is rushing in his ears.

“Let’s do that more often,” Terezi says breathlessly, not even being a little bit sarcastic. She’s sitting by the broken window and the wind has dislodged her head-scarf, exposing her horns and tousling her hair; she is so bug-eyed and knife-boned and alien and Terezi in this moment - his Terezi: his guide, his muse, the anti-thesis of his conscience, best friend, worst thing that even happened to him - that when he kisses her this time, it’s with intent. Palm ghosts a trail from knee to thigh to hip, hooking around her waist and pulling her close. Her claws scrabble for purchase on his shoulders and he’s gonna have scabs from the marks they’re leaving. She murmurs his name pleadingly between each kiss and he asks her, “Terezi, goddamn Terezi, will you be my illegal mail order bride?”

“Yes, yes, of course I will.”

“Gonna cover you in stamps, girl.”

“That better be a metaphor for kisses, Dave.”

“I have no idea what the fuck I’m saying,” he admits blearily, “I just want-” she cuts him off mercifully, because the Grand Judicator of crappy road game is always merciful and her hands go under his shirt. Her hands go everywhere which is all well and good except that when he tries to pull her into his lap, either her ass or his elbow or some other awkward piece of teenage anatomy hits the gearstick and they go reverse right into a fucking ditch.

By the time they’re on the road again Dave has cooled his jets and the radio pastor is talking Jeremiah. Terezi, on the other hand, is wringing her hands and biting her lips teal, breath coming in barely controlled puffs every time she readjusts her shirt hem or her head-dress or her fucking sunglasses. She spends the better part of the day a tightly wound ball of twitchy troll lust and it takes Dave the words shit tz can trolls just get turned on indefinitely coming out of his own, treacherous mouth to realize he’s an idiot for not taking full advantage of the situation

Dave stops the truck in front of the first motel they’ve seen since Indiana, “Let’s, uh,” she whips her head around at the sound of his voice, her eyes wide and ringed with tension, “I mean, do you want to...” he gestures weakly. Suddenly his voice is catching in his throat and his palms feel numb and damp. Terrible. Terribly undone and uncool.

“No, Dave,” she shudders out, “I do not want to engage in complicated human courtship rituals with you. That is why I have been earnestly engaging in this agonizing flirtation routine for years. Augh. What do you think?”

“Damn, girl, why didn’t you put it that way before?”

The motel’s owner is a perfectly nice middle aged man in a dumpy sweater vest and horn rimmed glasses. He notes Dave’s (very mild!) Texan drawl and starts on about how he isn’t like most folks up here, he really likes southern folks. Knows lots of good ol’ boys from down south and oh, you look young and fresh and like you need me to cut you some slack, ect. No one has ever taken so long processing a cash payment and fetching a key in the whole history of the human race, Dave swears to troll Jegus, and he keeps offering the same fucking three day autumn equinox deal with such a droning list of perks that Dave finally blurts out, “Holy shit dude it’s like you’ve never rented a room to a guy trying to get laid before.”

Owner hands him the key numbly after that and Dave feels kind of bad so he takes the autumn equinox three day deal.

They don’t turn the lights on. They don’t unpack their single dufflebag of travel necessities. They don’t even lock the goddamn door. Terezi reaches up with trembling hands to remove Dave’s shades while he gently pulls the kerchief from her brow and runs a thumb up the length of one of her horns. It’s a blur after that- she tackles him against the dresser and he manages to guide her to the bed, hands on her hips and mouth on her neck. They both say some really stupid things: he mutters into her collarbone, “You are six thousand exacto knives made into a girl. No one’s a bad idea like my girl, Tz. Why would I ever look at anyone else?” She trails a claw up the length of his bare chest and whispers, “Cut you open here and hollow out your chest cavity. I’d lick up every drop of candy red suffering and then wear you like a cape.”

“A fashionable one I hope.”

“I’d have the coolest cape. It would incite the sickest jealousies.”

“Fuck. Yes.”

It isn’t until they’re sticky with afterglow and miscellaneous colourful alien fluids that he really thinks about everything that’s happened, “We are gonna be in capital T trouble when we go back, you know.”

“Then we’ll keep going as long as we can.” her answer is elegant in its simplicity, “You didn’t really think I had anything else planned, did you?”

“Actually I did. Pretty much you always have a plan is how it goes down and pretty much it always ends badly for me.”

“Yeah,” she sighs, circling the marks she made on his throat with two fingers, “That’s the problem, isn’t it?”

He wouldn’t have her any other way, he thinks but doesn’t say it out loud. Mostly because it’s not true- he could do with less chipper alien girl chess theories played out over his grey matter, he really could.

They have the room for three days and two nights, but mostly they waste time watching cable.

 

week five

Week Five is the week Terezi declares their “Illegal Mail Order Bride Honeymoon Party”.

Week Five is also the week they run out of money.

Week Five is the week they drive carefully through the misty back-roads of Pennsylvania with a garbage bag taped over their broken window and minimal gas in the tank because they’re labouring under the delusion they can bus back to Texas, sneak into Dave’s room in the middle of the night and pretend that they were just sleeping the whole time, they didn’t go anywhere, honest!

Week Five is the week they walk two miles in the rain for gas only to return and find the truck gone, either stolen or towed.

Week Five is the week they end up stranded on a park bench in a town called Blue Ball, huddling under a soaked comforter as Terezi despondently munches on a stick of neon green chalk. Dave looks at her in the glare of the street lights and says blandly, “Terezi Pyrope, I am in love with you.”

“Ha ha,” she responds, “Great joke!”

“I know. I got a better one though.”

The better joke is that they have to call Rose.

They spent literally their last dime on a strawberry slushie. Fortunately Terezi has this really great blind, terminally ill beggar girl act that earns them $5.78 in small change thanks to the sweet siren call of doubl3 luk3m14. Dave feels a death toll chiming ominously in the distance as he dials the number, but it must be a real fucking funeral because Rose does not sound furious.

“You’re where?”

“You what?”

“You... why?”

Of course.”

“GPS this shit, Rose. We ain’t moving from this park bench. Our asses are about to become one with it, the great ass-iron-grate merger of the century. We’ll have made ourselves a park bench cyborg by the time you get here.”

“Be that as it may, try not to perish in the five hours it will take me to reach you. If you feel hypothermia begin to set in, don’t be a hero and please seek out shelter.”

“For fucks sake, Lalonde, I am not dying in a place called Blue Balls.”

Salvation assured, Dave slithers back under the wet comforter and wraps a gangly arm around Terezi’s shoulders. “You know,” she begins conversationally, “In trollish literature, allowing you matesprit to eat your carcass after you’ve died of exposure is considered the greatest of all romantic tropes.”

The thing he should say is stop bringing that up you cannot consume any part of my flesh hopy shit. What he says instead, “So we’re matesprits now? So glad losing my virginity was not only a harrowing blur of alien physiology but now also comes with a deceptively innocuous name to describe the horror.”

Dave.”

“But are we?”

“I don’t know. For a long time I assumed I was waxing pale for you,” she admits coyly, “But a moirail would never have let me talk them into something this abysmally stupid.”

“Yeah, this is the stupidest thing we’ve ever done just about.”

“We are going to be in so much trouble.”

“The trouble’s gonna fall like shit from the monkey cage and it’s not gonna stop.”

“Disgusting.”

“But give it a few years, Tz, and I bet we can top it.”

“I am going to hold you to that, Dave.”

She does.

And they do.