The human, as it turns out, is just as stupid as Karkat thinks he is.
The human: Dave Harley. He goes by tribetranceSunsets online, and it is a stupid, stupid, stupid name. Karkat is used to being treated like the emperor-to-be, and Dave does not treat him like the emperor-to-be. Dave treats him like a casual friend, a cool guy, a person to pal around with.
He meets the human on the human’s island, and the sun is bright and hot and yet, strangely, not as hot as the suns of Alternia. This sun does not burn his skin. This sun is almost invigorating. Dave’s island is lush and full of wildlife, as far as he can see. There are volcanoes rising out of the mist. The air is humid and he can hear the soft sounds of the ocean, breaking and falling, breaking and falling.
He’s not sure where to go, where to find the human (not that he even wants to find the human, because he’s terrible dumb bad), so he stands in the ocean, waves coming up to the bottoms of his shorts, and waits. The water is cool, and it feels good against his skin.
Waiting for Dave doesn’t seem to be getting him anywhere. Karkat is impatient. He does not have to wait for things, should not have to wait for things. He takes double handfuls of water, splashing them on the gills on his ribs and the frilly fins surrounding his face, and sits in the surf.
Good thing his laptop is waterproof.
—verdurePharmacist [VP] has begun trolling tribetranceSunsets [TS]!—
VP: WHERE THE FUCK ARE Y6U.
TS: in my house dude! :)
TS: ha ha why are you even asking? lol
VP: 6H MY FUCKING—
VP: DAVE. I KN6W Y6UR ATTENTI6N SPAN AND MEM6RY ARE F9EETING IN THE BEST 6F TIMES. BUT TRY AND THINK.
VP: WHAT DID I TE99 Y6U W6U9D BE HAPPENING T6DAY?
VP: THINK, DAVE.
TS: ha ha you are xtremely weird karkat :)
TS: i’m just playing with my doggy!!!
TS: oh wait
TS: oh no!
TS: i’m sorry karkat i am so late!!!! :(
VP: I’M AT THE BEACH, FUCKASS.
—verdurePharmacist has ceased trolling tribetranceSunsets!—
Dave is stupid. Dave is dumb and stupid and moronic and retarded and he is also stupid, and he forgets things all the time. He forgets absolutely everything, and he can’t pay attention to anything long enough to commit it to memory. Karkat is not surprised that Dave forgot that they were supposed to meet up, but he is kind of disappointed.
The human comes jogging down a hill a minute later, followed by his barkbeast. The barkbeast’s white, with black eyes and a black nose, and it also looks like it probably weighs more than Dave does, and it comes up to his hip. Dave is…
Karkat’s seen a human before. He’s seen John Lalonde, who had black hair and glasses and pale skin. He can’t say that their interaction was friendly, but he’s still seen him, had to talk and plan and fight with him. But Dave looks different. He’s not sure if he likes it.
Dave is tall and thin, with gangly arms and legs. He’s got skin shades darker than John’s, probably from being in the sun. He has hair the color of cornsilk, from what Karkat’s seen of cornsilk. His outfit is bright and flashy in a way that rivals Karkat’s own, and he is not, as far as he can tell, royalty. His thin wrists are crowded with bracelets and watches, in every color of the rainbow. He has red sunglasses, and he is grinning.
Karkat frowns at him, and doesn’t stand up. The barkbeast, his name is Bec, Bec-something, woofs once and stops at the shore, ears alert and tail still. Dave stops at the shore too, that big goofy grin on his face, and his teeth are nicer than John’s, all regular and straight. They’re still nubby, but there’s nothing to be done for that: it’s a human thing.
“Karkat!” he yells, and his pronunciation is all wrong. The name, from his lips, is softer than it should be. It’s car cat, the way he says it, with none of the crisp syllables that should be used. Karkat’s name sounds like a noise a crab would make, or it’s supposed to. It’s supposed to sound like the clicking and snapping of pincers.
It doesn’t, because Dave is terrible, but Karkat stands up anyway. “Dave!” he yells back. “You fuckass!”
Dave runs into the water (he’s not wearing shoes, Karkat notices) and stops in front of him. He’s a few inches taller than Karkat, and he scuffles in the water, kicks some the troll’s way. “Haha,” he laughs, except it’s not exactly a laugh, it’s just kind of like he’s saying the words ‘ha ha’. It sounds like how he types. It’s weird. “Bro, that is not even how you say my name!”
“Shut up,” Karkat says, glaring at him.
“Wow. I cannot even figure out how you said that. That is so not cool!” he says, and grins, and then, almost randomly, hugs him. Karkat stiffens, about to pull away, and then hugs him back.
Dave is dumb, really dumb, but he smells like seaspray and leaves. His arms look puny but they’re surprisingly strong. He pulls away after a second, and ruffles Karkat’s hair with one hand.
“Oh, dude, look at your little horns!” He says, and taps one with his finger. Karkat shows his teeth, a grimace of anger, and Dave just laughs it off. “These are sooo cute and tiny!”
“Dave human,” Karkat says, stepping back a bit, “I’m going to bite your fucking hands off.”
“Bro.” Dave moves his hand, and then notices his fins. “Bro. These are the most radical!” He touches them before Karkat can stop them, tugs the filament between his fingers. “They’re pink! What are they. Do you need them?”
“They’re my fins, you jackass,” Karkat says, glaring at him. He grabs Dave’s hand, pulls it away. He, for some reason, does not let go.
Dave doesn’t let go either. He twines his fingers around Karkat’s, and they are officially holding hands. Harley doesn’t even fucking look down.
“And,” Karkat adds lamely, “they’re not pink. They’re purple.”
“They look kind of pink to me, dudeski!” Dave says, and does that weird laughing thing again. Karkat wonders what kind of shitty lusus he has, to allow him to do that, to not even teach him how to laugh.
“Yeah, ha ha.” Karkat says, and sticks out his tongue. They are, and this is important, still holding hands. Moirail handholds usually do not last this long. Moirail handholds usually do not involve one partner gently rubbing the slight webbing between the other partner’s fingers. Moirail handholds do not involve hands being laced together, at all. “Laugh at me, fucker. Dance, you puppet.”
“What does that even mean!” Dave says, and pulls Karkat out of the surf onto the relative dryness of the beach. Dave’s barkbeast yips once and circles around them both, keeping an eye on Karkat the whole time. “You are the weirdest person I have ever met.”
“Oh my God,” Karkat says, finally, and leans in to kiss him.
Bec barks frantically, running around them again, but neither of them cares. Dave grabs his other hand, lacing his fingers through Karkat’s again, and the human’s mouth is so soft and sweet that Karkat doesn’t particularly care when he does it. He’s careful not to cut Harley, keeps his teeth behind his lips, but Dave’s less cautious. He slips his tongue into the troll’s mouth, giggles (a real giggle, not a weird one, as far as Karkat can tell) as Karkat pushes his tongue out with his own.
His mouth tastes like soda, human or troll. Like cola. Like spit and the sea that surrounds his tiny island. Karkat doesn’t know what his own mouth tastes like, doesn’t really care. Troll, whatever that tastes like, and salt, probably.
Dave pulls away first, and he does not let go of Karkat’s hands. “Oh, man.” he says, and looks down at Bec, who is keeping up a quiet growl. “Becquerel, get out of here!”
Bec whines at him, tail between legs.
“I am so serious, Bec! I will bring you out behind the waterfall!” Dave lets go of Karkat to crouch beside his barkbeast, staring at it from behind his sunglasses. “I am a serious dude!”
Bec gives in first, barking once before retreating up the hill, and Harley watches to make sure it’s gone for good. He looks up at the sky, while he’s at it, and suddenly grins, turning to Karkat.
“Shit, bro, look!” he says, and Karkat squints up at the sun. It’s getting darker, glowing a dull pink, flaring at the edges. The sun is going down. He sees the bright points of early stars and the white edge of a moon. Only one.
“You’re missing a moon, dumbass,” he says, and gets a look in return. Even with sunglasses, it’s not hard to see that there is a definite look there, and it’s also not hard to see what it’s supposed to mean, i.e., 1) shut up, that isn’t the point and 2) you’re weird. Karkat scowls in return and returns his gaze upward, trying to figure out what the hell Harley is so excited about.
“The sun is going down!” he says, in explanation, and wraps an arm around Karkat’s shoulders, face almost radiantly happy. “It’s beautiful, Karkat.”
Karkat gently, ever-so-gently, rests his head against Dave’s arm. Dave doesn’t move his arm, but he leans his own head against Karkat’s.
The sun is going down, indeed, and it paints the island in shades of purple and pink and peach, shades of lemon and strawberry and grape juice. Dave kisses the top of Karkat’s head, and Karkat leans into it, eyes half closed.
As the sun sets on the tiny island, Karkat feels his heart exploding with red.