Dave Strider thought he'd known everything there was to know on the subject of John Egbert. He considered himself an expert, with a PhD in Egbertology. He knew the details of which movies John liked and why, the thought process behind every bad joke, the way he choose which video game to buy next.
Upon meeting the self-proclaimed pranking master face to face, Dave discovered he had barely touched the tip of the iceberg. For every one thing he learned about John online, there were ten things to learn about him in person.
He didn't seem to be able to sit still, for one thing. He was always twitching, messing with his nails, picking at a loose thread on his pants, leg jumping like he was a 13 year old girl on her first date. And while Dave thought the aversion to confectionery foods was a joke, John seemed to take it quite seriously. They had gone grocery shopping the first day he was there, and he'd refused to go down the baking aisle entirely. He also talked a lot. More than Dave had expected. John had always been talkative online, but it had been easy to interrupt him with his own tirades without feeling rude because it was just text. In person, it was hard to get a word in without just interjecting his own ideas into the middle of a sentence.
The worst part, though, was the fact that John had a very bad habit of licking his lips when he was concentrating. And he seemed to concentrate on everything. His awful movies, video games, making a sandwich, doodling scribbles on Dave's arm when he got bored of all that. At first, it was a little annoying, then vaguely distracting, and now it was all Dave could see, all he could think about. The tip of his pink tongue darting out to wet chapped lips. He couldn't carry on a conversation with John without staring at his mouth, almost trembling in anticipation for him to do it again.
John didn't notice at first, but he really wasn't as slow, no matter how much Dave teased him about that. He caught on to the lack of attention Dave was giving the rest of him, and stopped talking in the middle of a sentence one day. It took Dave several moments to realize sound had stopped coming from his mouth.
“Sorry, what?” Dave asked. Had he asked a question? Was he awaiting an answer?
It was neither. “You keep staring at me,” John said, eyes stitched together in worry and confusion.
“Can't help it, bro, you're just so attractive,” Dave said nonchalantly. Truth was always the key to sarcasm. “I'm memorizing every inch of your face to keep in my mind photo memory book. Right down to every freckle on your nose.”
John laughed at that, no longer taking this conversation seriously. Good, that was just what Dave wanted. “Whatever,” he said. “I always knew you were weird, but it's worse in person!”
“Imagine that,” Dave said, giving John a little half smile. God, was his heart seriously skipping at the sound of that stupid, snorting laugh? “You're way dorkier than I ever thought you'd be.”
John snorted and shoved Dave before picking up a controller. “I bet I can kick your ass in Mario Kart,” he said, and Dave picked up his own controller as acceptance of the challenge.
In the end, John did end up winning, but Dave swore he was cheating. He had had his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth the entire race, and his knee kept bumping into Dave's thigh, making him jump at every bit of contact. Had they been sitting this close earlier? Dave felt his mind going fuzzy again as he crossed the finish line in fifth place.
“Geez, Dave, there is such a thing as going too easy on me,” John said, grinning. Dave glanced over at him, relieved to see his tongue back in his mouth.
“Even Striders are allowed to have an off day,” Dave said, dropping the controller again. He wasn't much interested in playing a game if he couldn't even concentrate.
John was still smiling, but he looked a little odd, like he didn't quite understand the words Dave was saying. He opened his mouth to talk but Dave was quicker.
He grabbed John's face and pulled them together, their lips meeting harshly. It was definitely awkward; their lips weren't quite meeting correctly, and neither of them seemed to know what to do next. They just sat there, Dave's hands still on John's cheeks, his eyes squeezed shut, their glasses pressing together.
Then there was a moment of clarity, when Dave felt John's hand on his shoulders, not to push him away, but to pull him closer. He dipped his head just slightly so their mouths met properly and Dave felt sparks up his spine. All the breath left his lungs in one moment and he wondered how he had lived without this, how he had lived so long without kissing John Egbert on the mouth.
They broke apart, and John was grinning and laughing and Dave felt himself grinning too, just a little.
Dave Strider knew everything there was to know about John Egbert. He knew about his awful taste in movies, the planning behind every stupid prank, the way he chose his video games... the way he smelled, the way he tasted, the way his fingers felt when they squeezed his shoulders from pure nerves.
He knew everything there was to know, and he knew there was so much more to learn, but he was willing to spend the rest of his life learning.