Your name is Dave Strider and everyone thinks you’re a nightmare come alive.
But you really aren’t. You’re far from it. You think you’re a pretty nice guy. On a scale from zero to ten on the sunshine and daisy scale, personality wise, you give yourself a seven at the very least. But no one realizes that.
There was just that one time at the beginning of Freshman year when you were sick of everyone’s shit so you brought a blade to school. One of Bro’s nicer katanas. One that had been hanging on the wall in his bedroom. You waited all day to strife the fucktruck who was causing you trouble. The two of you were in the middle of the football field, ready to have it out. And then you went and pulled your blade and cut the guy up. No one expected it and you got into a hell of a lot of trouble. Even after a year of alternative school and anger management classes, people were still scared of you.
Now, as you pace through the halls with your head angled downward ever so carefully, you hear the usual string of whispers that follow you around.
“There’s that one kid…”
“Remember that fight a few years ago?”
“I can’t believe he hasn’t been locked up.”
“The other guy still has a big scar.”
No one talks to you. No one has the balls to. You’re pretty alone for the most part and you kind of like it that way. Time not spent dealing with other people is time spent on other, more important things. Your grades are top notch and when it comes to sicknasty rhythms, you’re the fucking king. If only you hadn’t been so lonely lately.
A comeback would be simple. You could link up with a clique and make yourself fit with a crowd that you really didn’t belong with. You’d seen it done before and it didn’t seem too hard. But something in you told you that it just wasn’t worth the time. You’d just deal with being alone.
You round the corner into your first class of the day a moment before the tardy bell rings. You lope to your seat and plop down, placing your backpack on the ground to rummage around for that night’s homework. First class of the day was advanced calculus. Something not many Juniors could handle. But with your natural skill, Bro’s fondness for numbers (because of his coding habits) and the help of internet tutorials, you’re passing with a high B.
Your thick book bangs a little louder than necessary on your desk and it makes even you wince. People glance nervously at you and when they catch you looking back their eyes widen and they whip around as if nothing had happened. Fuck if you could do anything without making yourself look like a homicidal maniac to your peers.
The tardy bell rings and teach shuts the door. Without warning, her hand twitches and there’s a complex problem on the board as a review from last night’s homework. From the groan of the rest of the class, you can tell none of them did the work. You, however, have got this so hard that Archimedes would be jealous. With a smirk fixed in place and your long bangs swept behind an ear to keep it out of the way, you begin.
It may be a bit of a nerdy thing to think, but you’re kind of glad that math is the first class of the day. It gives you something else to think about besides dreading how the rest of your eight hour school day will go.
Your name is John Egbert and you have planned the most choice prank. It’s so good that you can hardly contain your laughter as you wait for Rose to get to class so she can fall for your awesome trick.
This would get her back for making a better grade on the paper you worked together on. Your teachers never believed that you did your own work, even though you actually tried really hard. There was something about the way you goofed off and could never answer a question on the spot that made them think that all you did to get by was cheat your ass off.
Normally, you wouldn’t prank someone for a bad grade… But she’d rubbed this one in your face. So it was time for payback.
“My apologies.” Came Rose’s voice from the door. Her books were held in her arms and her backpack was swinging from one arm with the zippers undone. “It’s just that I had a lot of work to do and no one had written their part of the stories and-“
“Ms. Lalonde. It’s alright.” The teacher gave your friend a tired smile. “There are still a few minutes to until the tardy bell.”
Oh yeah. It was sixth period and her writing club met in fifth. No wonder she looked so stressed. It almost made you want to cancel the prank… but nah. Why ruin this awesome timing?
Rose nodded at the teacher ever so politely and made her way to the back of the class where she usually sat, right behind you.
“Tough meet?” you ask, leaning back in your chair to fight the urge to whistle nonchalantly. God, you are such a mastermind. Pure Trickster fluid runs through your veins. Genius.
“Eridan’s writing has yet to stray from anything other than completely horrifying. Karkat had at least 200 pages on the complication of human romance that no one really has the concentration to read through and I have no idea how to shorten it. He’s upset with me about that. Kanaya was fine with not having her poetry put in the publication, but without her work we get no feedback. I have no idea how this month’s issue is going to get finished…” she trails off. Her hair had come loose from the thick black band she usually pulled it back with, and the black of her lipstick was peeling off from where she’d nervously been biting her lip.
She’s standing in front of her desk, neatly placing her papers and books back in her bag so she can find them easier later on. You furrow your brow in concentration and eye her seat. “Why don’t you sit down, Rose?” you ask.
“Just give me a moment.” She tucks a piece of light blonde hair behind her ear and shuffles through the front pocket of her pink and black bag. Knitting needles fall to the ground and she curses softly under her breath.
“Come on, have a seat. It’ll make you feel better.” You place a hand on the back of the small desk and jiggle it just as she wrestles the needles back in their place.
“Why do you want me to sit down so badly, John?” she asks, raising and eyebrow. She gives you a scrutinizing stare while pushing her hair back behind its headband.
“No reason. Just thought you might want to take a load off.” You lie. This time the whistling almost comes by itself. Your lips are pursed and everything.
“John Egbert is there a whoopee cushion on the seat of my desk?” she interrogates.
“Why the actual fuck would you think tha-“you try to throw her off, but she’s giving you that stupid look. “It’s not a whoopee cushion. It’s a mouse trap. Vriska said that mouse traps work better.” You give in. She gapes at you and walks around, removing the small rectangle from its perch on her desk. It even had a little piece of Swiss cheese on it and everything.
A snort comes from the other side of the room, but all you see is a kid with shaggy blonde hair with his back to you. “What are you-“ the bell rings, intent to interrupt you, just like everything else today.
“I can’t believe you intended for me to sit on a mousetrap, John. How stupid do you think I am?” Rose shakes her head good-naturedly. With a flick of her fingers, she’s disabled the trap and slipped it back into your open bag.
“You have to admit that it would have been a cool prank though.” You sulk, crossing your arms across your chest and flicking your hair out of your eyes with a scowl.
“Yes. The coolest.” She rolls her eyes at you and sits down in her chair. You really had to find a way to get her one of these days. The class is murmuring to themselves as the elderly history teacher fights with her computer to try and get the attendance submitted. After she accomplishes that, she is almost honor bound to tell a story about how different this school had been when she taught here five hundred years ago.
“So what are your plans for tonight?” You ask, leaning your head on the small desk in front of you to face Rose. The longer portion of hair in the middle of your head hangs down in your eyes and you puff out your cheeks to blow it back into place. The guys kept telling you to shave the sides again, but there was no way in hell that would be happening. Mohawks were cool for some kids, but on you it looked plain dumb. Luckily, a choice prank involving a slime filled bucket on top of the locker room door had gotten back the guys who’d bet you to get the stupid haircut in the first place.
“Let’s see, it’s a Tuesday, so I think I’ll be staying home doing what normal kids do on a Tuesday.” She scoffed in her own Rose way.
“You’re far from a normal kid, Ms. Lalonde.” You can’t help but laugh. The corner of her black painted mouth curls up, too. “So I assume that means you’re going to be knitting something ridiculous and writing about homo-wizards?”
“Naturally.” She bows her head with a deepening smile. “Isn’t that what you do while at home?”
“Oh, all the time! My hidden notebooks are full to bursting with hot magic yaois and every teapot in my house is complete with a cozy. But tonight I think I want to go down to the skate park. Just to fuck around a little.”
“What you really mean is that you’re the best at biking, swimming, running, playing football, basketball and baseball and you’ve gotten bored enough to try skateboarding.” She confirmed. And she was right. You were the best at everything. Why not add rolling around on a plank of wood with wheels to your repertoire?
“And there’s that, too.”
“Gosh darned thing. Back in my day…” the overly cheerful voice of the history teacher began on her ancient tangent and the class collectively faced front to pretend to pay attention. You make sure to actually hang onto every word this time. Because there is no way Rose is getting another grade better than yours.
“Little bro! Get the door!” a shout breaks through your homework concentration. You had to analyze the shit out of some old poem that really made no sense, even when you tore it apart like they brainwashed you to do in school.
“You fucking get it!” you yell back with a smirk. Of course, you’re glad for a reason to break from rotting your brain with corporal English lessons, but messing with Bro was half the fun you had in life.
“Busy! You don’t fucking understand!” he snarled back. That was universal code for he was watching some sort of obscure anime without the subtitles. You tried joining him one time, but all the characters seemed to do was dance around the screen swinging overly decorated swords at each other while screaming ‘Baka!’.
With an unnecessary grunt, you push yourself away from your desk and lope into the hall. When you pass the living room, your bro is indeed hunched over on the couch, his pointed glasses pushed up so he can concentrate more on the screen.
“You’ll go blind if you stare at it too long,” you warn. He flips you the bird without his face even turning the slightest degree to face you as he does so. There’s no point in returning the favor.
You reach the front door and wrench it open, the old metal screeching.
“Hey Tav. Didn’t expect you.” You force yourself to smile at the neighbor from a few doors down. The two of you had been acquaintances since you moved in here. You used to hang out all the time. There were late night Pokemon sessions and trips to malls and everything. The two of you could have been considered best friends at one point. He was there for you when you had surgery on a broken arm. And you were there for him when he lost his legs in the car crash that killed his mom. At one point, he’d even talked to you at school. But after the whole sword incident in ninth grade, your interaction was limited to pesterlogs and random encounters like this one. You know it isn’t his fault… He just can’t handle confrontation. Really, Tavros is nicest person you’ve ever met. Nicer than you, even. But there is an almost crippling shyness that is hard as hell to crack.
“Hi, uh, Dave.” His voice cracked like it always did and you exhale. He’s like a spooked little bunny rabbit. Nervously, he runs a hand along the thick strip of black hair on top of his head. He’d had a carefully maintained mohawk for as long as you can remember. The bullring was new though. You’d never seen that before.
“Nice ring,” you point out, rubbing a finger underneath your own nose to emphasize the point.
“Oh, uh, thanks.” He gives you that crooked little smile of his. “Hey, uh, I was wondering if maybe you’d like to go to the skatepark with me?”
“Skating?” it had been ages since you’d ventured out to a decent skate ramp. You’d probably fall straight on your ass if you tried. “I don’t know.”
“That’s cool, I mean, if you don’t wanna.” He shrugs, averting his eyes as his tan cheeks blush.
“Tav, bro. What have I all up and told you about being all bashful?” another voice joins in. An impossibly long arm drapes itself over Tavros’s shoulder. The arm is accompanied by the tallest dude you’d ever seen before. He had to be close to seven foot. Maybe eight. His big brown eyes are set into half moons with droopy lids and wild, thick, dark brown hair is tied back into a ponytail. No way this guy went to your school. You’d notice him in a heartbeat. “It gets me all hot and motherfuckin’ bothered.” He buries his face into Tav’s stripe of hair like a puppy nuzzling its mother.
If there were a single drop of blood left anywhere in Tavros’s body other than in his cheeks, you’d eat your own hand. “G-gamzee.” Tavros bites at his bottom lip and pushes at Gamzee’s arm. A pitiful attempt.
“Uh, how’s the weather up there, bro?” you lean back to look him in the face. His thick lips stretch into the happiest grin you’ve ever seen. He’s a lot of stuff you’d never seen before, apparently.
“Looks like there’s a hundred percent chance of you going skating with us my brother.” He reaches out a balled fist and you bounce yours against it, shaking your hair back into your face. It was a habit really. When you did happen to meet new people, the first thing to freak them out was your bright red eyes. “Name’s Gamzee Makara.”
“Strider. Dave Strider.” You nod your approval, shoving your hands into your pockets.
“Who-o-oa, Strider, Dave Strider.” He laughs, craning his neck to rest it on the top of Tavros’s. The last thing you expected was for him to have a boyfriend. Let alone anyone like this dude. Not that there was anything wrong with him. It was just… unexpected. Odd that someone as shy as Tav could get someone and you, the pinnacle of perfect people to date, were left with no one. “So what do you say, motherfucker? Coming with?”
“He doesn’t mean it!” Tav interjected, elbowing Gamzee in the ribs. “Calling you, uh, a motherfucker. It’s just a thing that he does. Please… don’t take any, uh, offense to it.”
“Aww, bro. He all up and knows I don’t mean it, don’t you, my brother?” he gives a creepy grin that almost makes you shiver.
“Whatever.” You shrug. For some reason, your head is caught up in a battle between staying home to do your homework and actually hanging out with these guys. Social interaction really wasn’t your thing. It always tended to end badly. Most of the time it was your own fear of people fearing you that made any attempt at friendship fail, but that didn’t matter.
“So do you want to come with us? I’m the best skater on no legs.” Tav smiles and gives you a wink. The cuffs of his black jeans are rolled up to display the his metal made calves. They’re shoved into thick black army boots with the tongue lolling out happily. Gamzee makes some sort of honking-slash-cooing noise and buries his face in his hair again. As if he just can’t handle Tavros being any kind of cute.
After a moment of contemplation, you give in with a nod of your head. “Sure. Why the hell not?” Another shrug is given and Tav grins. “You wanna come in for a bit? I’ve gotta dig up my board and shit. Haven’t used it in ages.”
“Oh, we can, uh, just wait out here if it’s too much trouble. “ Tav scratches at his arm nervously. You smirk.
“No, it’s perfectly fine. Bro will be happy to see you.” You step aside, pushing the door open further to allow them entrance into your messy ass apartment. Gamzee bends over to fit through the door and pushes Tav along by the small of his back. “Make yourself at home.” You gesture to the living room where your Bro had just started another episode. “Tav’s here!” you shout, breaking him from his Sugoi Stare. Something you’d named his anime watching face ages ago.
“Oh! What’s up little guy? Still makin’ it happen?” he asks when the couple joins him on the couch. Fists are bumped and Gamzee gives his introduction as you make your way to your room to find your skateboard amongst the clutter.
“No, John. God damn it you’re so stupid.” Vriska slaps a hand on her forehead in exasperation. You thought you’d done pretty well with that little board flip thing, but apparently it had sucked majorly. “Like this,” she says, placing her feet just so to flip the board over with a leap to land neatly on top of it with her arms crossed in the most condescending way possible.
“I thought I’d done it right!” You pout. You hadn’t fallen or anything. It was just a little sloppy, but what else was to be expected from someone who’d never done it before?
“It lacked poise. Style, John. You need style!” She stomps up and slaps you in the forehead, too. Automatically you swing your arms around, grabbing her wrists and twisting one arm behind her back. Her messy black hair is pulled back into a sloppy ponytail, but there was still a hank of it falling over one of her eyes. She flicks it out of the way to shoot you a death glare over her shoulder.
“I’m as stylish as they come.” You smirk. She growls at you like some sort of animal. “Say uncle.”
“Not in your lifetime.” She tries to fight back, but she’s only a girl and her womanly strength is no match for your highly trained, masculine strength. She knows this is what you’re thinking and she groans again writhing to get away.
Vriska is your best guy friend, even if she is nothing but a girl. She can hang with your teams and kick most of their asses and when it came to pranking she may even be better than you, sometimes. The two of you wrestle and fight and punch each other out of pure best-bro love.
“Come on, Vris. Work for it,” you mock. That really pisses her off. You’re digging yourself into an early grave. But it was worth every second of misery it caused her.
“Gog damn it, Egbert. You’re such a weak, pathetic excuse for a human body. I’m going to rip your fucking arms out of their sockets if it’s the thing I do with the very last breath I ever-“ you grip her arm tighter to quiet her down. Most people would think it was wrong to treat a girl like this… But most people didn’t know Vriska.
After a long moment of her growling at you with her nostrils flaring, you start laughing and let her go. This earns you a hard punch in the shoulder that is most definitely going to turn into a big blue bruise.
“Worth it.” You grin, rubbing at your injured shoulder. She paps you a little harder than necessary on the right cheek before storming away in a rage.
“Yo. Yo! Hey! Hey dude! Heads up!” Suddenly there is a skateboard. And it’s flying straight towards your face.
“Fuck!” The only thing you can think of to do is cover your face with the thick of your arms and pray it doesn’t hurt too bad. With your eyes shut tight, you hear the sound of a board being knocked out of the way and landing with a hard crack on the ground.
“Don’t you know to move when someone says heads up?” A condescending, slightly husky voice sounds in front of you and you move your arms out of the way.
It’s a blonde kid, around your age. His hair is shaggy and light blonde and it covers most of his face in a thick sheet. You can hardly make out his eyes underneath the thick mop, but his angled chin and long nose are perfectly visible. Something about him seems oddly familiar. Like an actor you know you’ve seen in a different movie than the one they’re in now. His skin is pale and there is a thin spattering of freckles across his cheeks. He’s holding a chipped and worn out board underneath one arm.
“Don’t you know not to throw boards at people?” you shoot back, dusting yourself off, even though nothing had even happened to you. He shoves his hands deep into the pockets of his tight black jeans and angles his face away.
“It wasn’t me. It was my friend.” He jerks his chin in the direction the board came flying. “He doesn’t have any legs. So sometimes it’s a little hard for him to skate properly.” Sure enough, in the direction he’d nodded there is a short kid sitting on the ground with his arms wrapped around two thin, metallic legs. A long, lean guy is hovering over him like some overprotective mother checking for booboos on a toddler who’d just bit the dust.
“Oh. Uh, shit. I’m sorry.” You scratch at the back of your head, tugging at the long center piece that falls across your neck. He shrugs. Goddamn it that jawline is familiar. And the easy slouch of his lean shoulders underneath the thin, gray material of his T-shirt. Not that you always paid attention to guys jaws… or their shoulders. This was the first time. You clear your throat a little louder than you should. “I’m John. John Egbert.”
“Yeah. I know who you are.” You know he’s looking at you, but you can’t really tell because of his hair.
“That’s not creepy at all.” You kid, raising an eyebrow.
“I go to school with you. I mean, with a school that’s so sports minded, it’s impossible to not know who you are.” He shrugs again, his shoulder rounding even more. You fight the urge to pretend to dust off your shoulders. Because you aren’t that conceded. Not when Vriska wasn’t around.
“Oh.” Is the only thing you can think of to say. And when you realize how dumb that sounds you add, “What’s your name?”
“Dave.” He answers, flicking his hair away from his face to look you over. His eyes are visible… and holy shit. They’re red. Dark, swirling red like his body is filled with molten lava and it was ready to spill over. The crystal clear rubies shine with compassion, love and wit. But there’s also a secret. Something hidden deep that he was trying to hide.
Well, he wouldn’t keep it from you.
“Well, Dave. What do you say we hang out a bit? I pissed off the girl I was with and now I’m all alone. I’d sure like to learn a thing or two from someone who can skate with no legs.” It’s your turn to nod in the direction of his friends.
His red eyes widen in surprise before he relapses into his cool cover. “Whatever.” He mumbles and turns to head that way. You tag along behind him.