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A New Kind Of Romance

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“And with that, Karkat Vantas flew off into the pitch-black darkness of the veil, accompanied only by a select few of his unfortunately handicapped acquaintances. The sole bastion of sanity in this den of lunatics and murderers, Karkat had three years to sift through the romantic detritus left behind by the catastrophic actions of his friends, but with the lovely Terezi Pyrope by his side, he knew that he would have no probl-”

“Oh my god, what's that?!”

Karl looked up from his computer with a jolt, whipping around to see that someone had walked in on him writing shitty romantic prose yet again. Thankfully it was the same person who had always caught him on these sort of romantic escapades, but at the same time it wasn't really reassuring at all.

“Naomi. How the everloving fuck do you keep doing that?!” he growled.

“Haha, I can't tell you my secrets, kitten! The huntress nefurr gives away her secrets,” she almost purred as she slinked around to Karl's side, leaning on his shoulder. Her little cat earrings dangled obnoxiously close to Karl's face, and her “purr”-fume assaulted his nostrils, making him light headed as if the scent itself had kicked him in the back of the head.

“I swear to god you must have some sort of sixth sense for the worst times to walk in on people doing anything,” he muttered, trying to wrap himself around the computer screen to prevent her from sneaking a peak. “Is there anything you wanted other than to have more embaressing blackmail against me?”

“Of course there is, silly,” she giggled, something that would have seemed odd from a 26-year old woman if not for her youthful features. Naomi could easily pass for someone much younger than her, in their mid-teens at least. Which was why Karl always felt a little dirty when she tried to dress provocatively. Especially since he knew it was intended for him. “I came to see if you had come up with a new column yet! The deadline's in an hour, you know.”

“Of course I came out with a new column, there's never an end to the romantic atrocities that people commit on a day to day basis. How about you? Come with any divine alignments for the next major celeb fling yet? Have Brittney and Lady Gaga hooked up yet?”

“Ew, Karl, you know I'm not into that sort of thing!” she cried. “I was just going to comment on Beyonce and Jay-Z and how they're a beeeeautiful couple!”

The way her eyes seemed to sparkle at that comment made his insides curdle. How anyone could actually approach this business with genuine interest and passion was beyond him. It probably involved varying degrees of mild autism.

“Oh god, spare me. You know they're never going to last,” leaving out any sort of comment that could have been racist or insulting to the black journalist. Columnist. Bullshitist. Same deal.

“You know, you really shouldn't work for People magazine if you're going to be so jaded to every relationship the stars get into,” she said, wagging a finger playfully at him.

“I do it because I loathe myself more than I loathe J-Lo and Halle Berry, Naomi. I consider this a just purgatory for whatever atrocity I must have committed in my previous life.”

“You mean, as Karvat Kantas, the most esteemed romantic counselor on the alien planet Ternzia? Courter to the lovely Teresa, I mean, Terezi?” she said with a giggle.

“Oh my god, you did read it. You bitch. And it's Karkat, not Karvat.”

“Whatever! I just find it really amusing that you have to express all your sexual tension with Teresa in the form of a sci-fi romance novel!”

“THAT IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING CONCERN,” he shouted, far above the accepted noise level of the office they worked in. His face immediately got beet red, and for a few seconds both him and Naomi cowered in a silence so awkward and tense you could cut it with a knife.

“If it helps,” she whispered. “I've done the same thing with some of my exes, too. I was Nep-”

“I think now would be a good time for you to leave,” Karl hissed. “Or this stapler might wind up conveniently lodged where the sun doesn't shine.”

****

After Karl had wrote his third and final romantic advice for the issue, and after he submitted his snarky and unexpected column analyzing the merits of longstanding star relationships using Branjelina as a case study, he had about thirty minutes to kill before he could go home for the evening. He probably should have worked on the next issue, maybe even set up an interview with one of Hollywood's stars, or some New York hotshot if wanted it a bit closer to home. But after dealing with Naomi earlier, his tolerance for bullshit had taken a staggering blow, and now all he wanted to do was stare at funny videos of cats set to the tune of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song until his brain went numb.

As he was clicking on video number four, his phone went off. He wish he could have set his office phone, like his cell phone, to the theme song as well, if only to make it less of a pain in the ass to pick up. Bracing himself for some vapid “hot tip” from a tabloid crazed soccer mom or for one of the guys a few desks over to ask him to bring him more paper, he picked it up.

“Karl Ventris, People magazine. How can I help you?”

“Uh, hi, Mr. Ventris. I was wondering, if, uh, you could help me?”

“Look, man, just write it in an email. I don't give advice to every asshole who finds out my office phone.”

“Uh, no, Mr. Ventris, that's, uh, not it. I was wondering if you could, um, help me with my girlfriend.”

“I already told you. Write me an email. Is that really so hard to understand? Oh, and right off the bat, have you tried Viagra?”

“It's not that, Mr. Ventris. She's been murdered.”

Oh, fuck.