Chapter 1: John: Move in.
I feel like I should apologize for this but nope. Fucking gr8 things ahead.
When John first moved in with Vriska, Karkat had been bitterly sure they were a “thing”. John had the same opinion of Kanaya and Karkat, although Karkat would have been viscerally offended at the idea. Karkat didn’t date classy Asian lesbians.
Or any lesbians.
John knew Karkat’s name only because Vriska used to date Kanaya and Kanaya and Karkat had some sort of “special relationship” that involved a lot of tea and blankets, according to Vriska. John was pretty sure that was one of Vriska’s weird metaphors, but as he’d find out months later this wasn’t the case. Karkat Vantas could only be calmed from his frequent man-child meltdowns by Vietnamese tea therapy. John is still sure this isn’t an actual therapeutic method.
It works, though.
Karkat never used to use the elevator, being mildly claustrophobic and also due to the huge events that always seemed to take place there. However, once John moved in, Karkat was made aware of the amazing convenience of the elevator. There was no way he still refers to it as a death shaft to this day. Nope.
Apparently they’d moved in overnight, because Sunday the apartment next door was unoccupied and Monday there was a stack of shredded cardboard in the hallway, two idiots knocking on the door with a casserole, and muddy footprints on the living room carpet.
By Tuesday the fridge was stripped down to a Tupperware of canh and six bottles of Arnold Palmer, which neither of the new neighbors liked, as evidenced by the fact that in the twelve times Vriska had let herself in for food she left the drinks and soup there. Karkat supposed he should be thankful for this courtesy. Tuesday night there was a sticky note on the door-
Karkat wasn't entirely sure he would have counted their encounter at 7:23am in the elevator as an actual meeting but if John said it was, then well, who was he to argue? They had exchanged exactly fifteen words, most of them John, because Karkat was still offended that Vriska had stolen all his fucking food and also John was roughly nine hundred percent friendlier.
One suspicious look, no words, check.
"I'm John, from 6b. You're Karkat, right?"
"Oh, well, sorry about that, then."
One wretchedly beautiful neighbor looking vaguely disappointed, check.
John found himself pleasantly surprised to find himself waiting for the elevator at the same time as Karkat the next morning. He had figured out he had been lying because he asked the old lady in 6d if that was Karkat. And it was! John was ecstatic to meet another trickster and couldn't wait to discuss pranking techniques and advice!
Apparently Karkat wasn't a morning person because when John greeted the scarf-swathed man, he just received another angry once over. John didn't get the hint however because he tried to continue the conversation the entire ride down to the lobby with no luck. For the entire day John was afraid Karkat may be a mute and he was just horribly offending him!
"Oh my gosh!" Karkat couldn't tell if it was cute or just plain dumb that a grown ass man was still using the phrase gosh and he couldn't help but lean toward the cute end of the spectrum. "You're not mute are you? Vriska didn't say you were but she has a tendency to sometimes forget things like that..."
Karkat almost spit his tea out. "What the fuck? No! I can talk just fine, dick." His glare was so fierce John couldn't bring himself to apologize, he was so scared. And John didn't often fear people more than a foot shorter than him. Except Vriska because she's bat shit insane. Vriska was so pretty. Pretty fucking scary.
Karkat moved his tea thermos up under his chin like it was a fucking battle axe or something, hoping the smell of Kanaya's perfume and black tea would calm him. The smell did nothing for his mingled rage and jumpy nerves.
"What's in your cup?" John asked after a few seconds of flat silence and a rustling noise, wondering if that sound was static or Karkat's cup. Neither of them turned to face the other. The doors pinged and opened; as Karkat stepped out, he said only "Piss."
John snorted the rest of the way down.
Chapter 2: John: Ask questions.
"So, Vriska... I was wondering..." John started, trailing off as he tried to find the exact words he was looking for. Vriska didn't even look up from her self-pedicure.
"I'm sorry, John, but I can't have sex with you. I'm not ready for that step in our relationship!" she cried, narrowly missing the couch cushion (the actual cushion, not some sissy-ass pillow) John clumsily threw at her. He did manage to smudge her blue nail polish and that was enough of a victory for him.
"No! Ew, that'd be gross! I was just, uh, wondering if Karkat and Kanaya are a thing," he finished, deciding that the 2004 November issue of some fishing magazine on the ground was a lot more interesting than Vriska's answer. Wow, who knew haddock raised a woman's chance of ovarian cancer? Vriska snorted. John took a moment to wonder why there was so much snorting in his life.
"Hardly! They're just a couple of fussy babies. They're 'special friends'," Vriska said, making air quotes with her fingers, "and that isn't even a euphemism. Mother Fussy makes Baby Fussy tea when he has a bitch fit and they snuggle under blankets. No sex at all. Fucking boring!"
John couldn't help but think he wouldn't mind being a Mother Fussy. He then decided he would never think those words again. He also was oddly relieved that there was no sex involved. Whoa, wait. What?
"Why? You interested?" Vriska asked slyly. John sputtered incredulously.
"What? No! That's stupid! Not that being gay is stupid-- I just-- I'm going out." John stiffly turned and grabbed his keys. Vriska picked up a q-tip to swipe at the blue smudge on her toe, dropping it back onto the floor into a little pile of smeary q-tips. As the door shut behind her roommate, she cackled in the way only Vriska could cackle. A sort of cross between mischievousness and completely insane.
John was pulling out his cell phone from his back pocket when he heard a door behind him open and shut with a small slam. Looking up from phone, he inwardly groaned. Not him, not now.
“Hi, Karkat!” he greeted cheerfully anyways. Karkat, used to John’s huge grins and loud voice after several weeks of meetings, raised one hand in a halfhearted hello. “Going down?”
“No, I’m going to the pool on the fucking roof,” he snapped. John theorized Karkat was so grumpy all the time because his incessant drinking of tea caused him to be awake literally all the time. It also explained all his scarves; he couldn’t use actual pillows and blankets at night so he had to use the next best thing. That or he was trying to sweat the tea through his pores.
"That doesn't sound like a good idea. It's kind of cold outside." John pointed out, a little concerned for Karkat's well-being, even though he was little and probably warmed with the fire of his fury. Also his scarves. Though those probably wouldn’t help while swimming. Karkat actually facepalmed.
“John, you’ve lived here for, what, a month and a half already? And Vriska used to live with Kanaya, here. Why are you not aware we don’t have a pool? What are you doing? Are you ignoring me?”
"God, no, that'd be so rude!" John flushed, looking down at Karkat. "Can you even hear me through the yarn?"
"Well, look at me when I'm speaking, you dentistry deprived man-child. Don't say you're not being rude when you're practically glued to your phone!" he scolded angrily. Though it's redundant to mention his anger, Karkat is literally always angry.
"Sorry, Karkat! I'm just texting my friend, Rose! We're going to get coffee!" John says, holding up his beaten phone as if to prove he was indeed texting Rose Lalonde. Karkat hit the down button with the flat of his palm.
"The fucking thing is so far up in your grill you'll need to get it surgically removed; trust me, I'm a medical professional."
"I don't think a biology major qualifies you to diagnose me, Karkat," John said, a little thoughtfully, a lot seriously. Karkat gave John the same expression he did, uh, ninety five percent of the time they spent together: suspicious, narrowed eyes, deep frown. He was a grown man that still sort of looked like a petulant six year old.
“If you keep making that face, your face will freeze that way,” John sort of sang, skipping lightly into the small cube that Karkat knew was only being held but some metal wire that could snap at any given moment and send them to their spiraling doom. Why did he start risking his life again?
John sent him a toothy grin, blue eyes almost sparkling under his square frames, a hand held out to keep the doors from closing. Oh, right.
Chapter 3: John: Meet Rose Lalonde.
You can't tell but this is currently in the color scheme of purple and yellow in GDocs and it is beautiful. Please imagine this as you read. It really adds to the tone of the chapter. (No it doesn't)
This whole cute-neighbor-in-the-elevator thing sort of sucked, and the sucky feeling mostly came from two weeks' worth of John being almost unable to sleep. Only almost, because if he was too obviously tired, Vriska
drugged his dinner and he'd pass out at the dinner table and sometimes he woke up with a curiously sore ass. This was all on account of every time John lay down, he'd start dozing off, okay, good start, and then whomp! punch in the feelings. If only Karkat wasn't so shouty. If only his ass wasn't so nice.
It was all really fucking distracting and John wanted to actually be able to think about something other than touching Karkat's butt.
John loved his apartment, and the old lady in 6d who baked raisin cookies every Tuesday, and Vriska, and the way the apartment next door always smelled like cinnamon, but sometimes he needed to retreat to one of his oldest routines: passing lingerie magazines back and forth with one Rose Lalonde to the sultry sounds of frigging Dave Matthews Band. God, they sucked.
"Oh, look at her abs," John said, tilting the catalogue to show Rose the vaguely South American looking model. Rose clicked her tongue approvingly and showed John the page under her thumb.
"She's really rocking this push up, although it's a little photoshopped looking."
John looked closer. Something looked major league familiar-oh no!
"She lives next door to me! Kanaya, she's completely lovely and her roommate is like an adorable cactus. And that is definitely not photoshopped, damn."
"Oh." Rose said faintly and they returned to paging through the catalogues. After what felt like an hour but was actually not even ten minutes, John dropped his catalogue and stared directly through the wall in front of him.
"Oh, no! Rose! Karkat's hot!" he wailed, fingers digging into his scalp. Rose calmly let John drag his fingers down his face before questioning him.
"Who?" It was only one word but it made John groan and cover his face in embarrassment.
"My neighbor, Rose! He's only like five foot five but he's got so much passion balled up in! And he's always wrapped up in scarves because I'm pretty sure he never sleeps; his eyes out mask a racoon! But, Rose! His butt," he finished with an awed whisper and wide eyes.
"Hmm, John. I do believe you suffer from a case of the homosexual disease," she answered matter of factly. She folded her hands across her lap and looked at him pitifully.
"Shut up! I have not! I still think girls are hot and it's only him! I don't think finding one guy pleasing to the eyes makes me gay, Rose," John defended with a pout. Rose merely tutted with her tongue lightly and picked up John's forgotten catalogue, flipping to the page with Kanaya.
"Is she the one who dated Vriska?" she asked thoughtfully. "Know if she's single still?"
"Rose! I'm having a sexuality crisis and you're sitting here, trying to get me to hook you up! Rude!"
"No, don't you see, John? If I get close to Karkat's roommate, what's her name again, then you can get close to Karkat. And I get information on him and see if he's interested. Also, I'd get a hot date," Rose explained as if it were simple.
"Yeah, but I don't want to date Karkat, it's just a, a butt...watching...thing," he finished lamely. He was tripping on all these adverbs, is how lamely.
"A butt watching thing."
"Yes, okay! I think he does deep squats." John sighed then. Maybe he was a little bit gay for Karkat and maybe he did want to date Karkat. He wouldn’t mind being close to him because he was sure Karkat smelled like a fresh summer breeze or some sort of flower. Also, he would fit right under his chin and how cute and perfect would that be? John wondered what kind of shampoo Karkat uses. Probably some lady shampoo. Pfft, yeah, definitely.
“Rose, I’m so gay.”
“I know. So, are you going to introduce me or what?”
"Yeah, I guess so, " John sighed, "even though you're not really helping me out here. I'm a man in crisis and I'm inviting you over for dinner tomorrow."
"Look," Rose says, somewhere in the ball park of soothingly, "is this really as big a deal as you're making it? Sexuality is hard, I know, but if you want to identify as heterosexual but touch a cute guy on the gluteals then it's no one's place to say otherwise. Okay? John. Look at me."
He does. She takes his hands. This is getting really terribly emotional and honestly they're both maybe tearing up a little.
"Yeah, okay. I guess if we went out for coffee or whatever and it didn't work out then no harm, no foul."
"Wonderful!" Rose says with a knockout smile. "I'll be over at six."
Chapter 4: Karkat: Be the star.
This Keurig thing was the work of the devil.
I would apologize for taking so long but it's been a stressful two months and sometimes there are more important things in life than Johnkat fanfiction. Hope you're all still with us!!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Karkat was a busy man. He was a biology major in his senior year and balancing a more-than-part-but-less-than-full-time job plus he was very busy making a very intricate Sims family. It used to be his main form of getting his violent impulses out but now he used it as a means to carry out his romantic fantasies that may or may not involve the cute buck toothed neighbor from the elevator.
"I just adopted another baby and this one's actually not buttfuck ugly," Karkat said to Kanaya, sounding rather pleased, "He'll probably end up my favorite, I can feel it."
Kanaya hooked her chin over Karkat's shoulder to look at the laptop screen and tried valiantly to hold in her laughter. "You named the poor thing Reed Jackson Piper Vantas, Karkat, how could you?"
Karkat shrugged as he directed his sim-self to read Reed Jackson Piper Kanaya-sim's romance novel Eerie Calls From the Void. It was probably about plant sims fucking, but Reed Jackson Piper needed to be introduced to his future early if he was going to be the heir instead of his four sisters. John-sim looked on with a vacantly pleased expression and promptly pissed himself. He didn't...actually react to pissing himself. This happened rather a lot.
"Fucking shitbucket," Karkat said fondly, "Clean that the fuck up, Reed Jackson Piper is watching."
When Karkat had begun this family of John and Karkat Vantas, Kanaya wasn't so surprised. She found it endearing that Karkat had such a crush on their neighbor even if he was Vriska's roommate and a bit too much of a morning person. She was, however, deeply offended it took her a week to convince Karkat that a Kanaya-sim was indeed crucial to the home life because she wasn't going to move out just because he got married and like hell Karkat would move out first. He was entirely too dependent on her cooking for that.
Karkat was very much not a cook, and left to his own devices ate raw pasta and Listerine. Not together, of course. That would be disgusting.
...Not that he hadn't considered it. Strictly offhand, strictly hypothetical. He'd almost done it once and Kanaya had held him under the faucet for like ten whole minutes. His apology had been more ice water and choking than anything.
Karkat put his laptop beside him on the couch and stood to unkink his back. His back made several rather alarming gunshot cracks and when he straightened he was a solid inch taller.
"I think they've caught on fire again," Kanaya said, tapping at the track pad until the volume went up and the room was filled with little Sim cries of pain.
"That's like the third time today!" Karkat watched in horrified silence as four floors crumbled to piles of ash and the five children were taken away. That was a sign. That was absolutely a fucking sign.
Luckily he was saved from dwelling too much because he had plans to meet with his stupid cousin, Gamzee. Somehow the stoner had been trusted to actually get an apartment in the small college town, but couldn't be trusted to not be seen over by Karkat. Thus, the already busy grump was forced to babysit at least once a week. He practically ripped his scarf from Kanaya's hands and shoved his feet into his boots. God he hated boots. He hated boots and snow and the cold. As far as Karkat was concerned, all of winter could be whisked away by global warming and he wouldn't give half a damn. Except maybe for the polar bears.
"I'll be back later tonight. After dinner since he can't make anything for himself. And Cheetos and ham sandwiches don't count," he grumbled as he gathered up his keys and wallet. Kanaya didn't bother mentioning that Karkat wasn't much better himself. One day he'd learn.
Kanaya wasn't halfway to her room when she heard the frantic pounding on her door. Worried Karkat had terrorized the downstairs neighbor's toddler, Nicki, again, she turned back with a sigh ready. Instead, the boy from next door, Vriska's roommate, stood in her doorway.
John Egbert was taller than she, towering at six foot two, but it was clear he was younger. While he had to be at least twenty one, he still held the bright, curious eyes of a boy half his age. He was looking around Kanaya, as if searching for something. Or someone. He finally met Kanaya's eyes and his face split into a killer smile.
"Hiya! I'm John! And you're Kanaya, right? Please say yes, because it'd be awkward otherwise. Plus it'd be a cheap trick since Karkat pulled it himself last month. Anyways, hi, Kanaya! I was wondering if you wanted to have tea or coffee or something with me and my friend, Rose? Karkat would be invited too if you don't want to be overwhelmed by new people. Rose always says to bring a friend when meeting someone new for the first time! So what do you say?"
John barely paused while speaking. Kanaya would think it was nerves but he had such a confident smile and voice, she deduced it was just how he always spoke. She was impressed; she wondered if he pulled in air through his skin. She tilted her head to the side to look at him, blinked a few times, and smiled at him.
“I’d love to. Karkat’s gone out, actually, but if you give me a minute I’ll be right over.”
John flashed the thumbs up sign. Kanaya shut the door, put biscuits on a plate, put on her shoes, and went next door. They’d left the door propped open so she toed it shut on her way in, putting the plate on the table. John was wearing practical, comfortable clothing, and this was only notable because Vriska wore what was apparently cut-off men’s button down with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows and a pair of boxers. Kanaya was very reluctantly turned on. It wasn’t her fault that Vriska was built. Built kind of like a mermaid, half beautiful girl, half smelly creature.
"Cookies? Wow,you didn't have to, Kanaya!" John failed to notice her cringe. "Okay, so you know Vriska obviously. She wasn't going to stay but I thought you'd be more comfortable with someone you knew. She refuses to put on pants. Sorry. You're lucky she even put on boxers, though, to be honest. And this is Rose Lalonde! She's a junior majoring in.... uhm...."
Kanaya now noticed the slight blonde lounging on the worn armchair. Her hair was styled into a retro bob, classed up with a purple headband. Her entire outfit was fashionable enough that it was clear she kept up with the fads, but not so much that it seemed she was reading Seventeen magazine tips.
"Psychology, to put it simply. Pleased to meet you, Kanaya. John has spoken fondly of you," Rose filled in, gracefully rising to her feet to offer a hand. Her dark skin was a contrast against Kanaya's own cream colored hand. She lingered her hand maybe a moment longer than necessary, but if Rose noticed, she made no comment.
"Likewise. I, myself, am currently in an accelerated master program in textiles. Fashion designer here. And model," Kanaya added as an afterthought.
Rose merely nodded, slightly disappointed Kanaya didn't seem like more of an intellect. But mommy dearest always did teach her to not judge a book by its cover. Even a trendy Asian cover.
John was busy fighting with the Keurig machine she had given him as a Christmas gift while Vriska seemed to have disappeared. Hopefully to return with proper pants. Rose was left to talk with Kanaya. How perfectly romcom.
"I wasn't aware textiles was a major offered. Do you attend AU?"
"It's newer, we work closely with the theatre program. It began as a minor for theatre but a few dozen students pushed for a major. I'm quite relieved, I am not much of a thespian."
“I’d say! You don’t even like Teagan and Sara!” Vriska said, returning from her bedroom, still only in boxers. Kanaya gave an exasperated sigh.
“Thespian, Vriska, not lesbian. I trust even you know the meaning of the word. And I must insist you put on pants. You have guests,” Kanaya returned, all too used to this banter.
“Whateverrrrrrrr,” Vriska drawled, “It’s just you and the snarky broad.” She then laughed quietly to herself as she took the cup of coffee from John’s hands. His face wilted as he turned back to the machine to try and conjure up a new cup for himself and the guests. Who knew making coffee could be so difficult? He suddenly had newfound respect for Starbucks baristas. This Keurig thing was the work of the devil.
It took John another half hour, but he finally admitted defeat and decided to pour everyone a glass of something alcoholic. Kanaya and Rose sat on the navy loveseat, Vriska was draped across the armchair, forced into pants, and John stood in front of the three of them before pushing Vriska to the side and perching on the arm of the chair. In the course of that half hour, Rose and Kanaya had become a tag team of snark and sass, switching out comebacks against Vriska. Furius and flustered, Vriska began to throw pieces of popcorn at the two of them (John and her constantly had popcorn ready just in case they were in the mood for a movie marathon). It didn’t take long before Rose, Kanaya, and John were all involved.
“Shhh, shhh! Hold on this is the best part!” John yelled, holding the entire bowl of popcorn, ready to pour it down Rose’s back. A sudden hush fell over the four college students and everyone’s attention was on the tv.
“I’m gonna steal it. I’m gonna steal the Declaration of Independence,” Benjamin Franklin Gates announced, causing an uproar. Vriska sneered and threw a pillow at the tv.
“This movie is a piece of shit and you know it, John. Why the fuck is it on?” she complained with a whine. It was getting late and this was the second movie they had put on, the first being Avatar before they decided it was not nearly as pretty on their outdated boxy tv as it was in the theatre.
Kanaya was sprawled out on the floor under the tv, the pillow now resting on her stomach. Her Bloody Mary was gone and she was starting to feel more than just a little tired. She tried to sit up but her head decided that wasn’t a good idea and instead her vision swam.
“I think I should get home, John. It is getting late and Karkat should be home by now. He has a ten...ten... oh what’s the word? I know it but uh, whatever. I need to swaddle him up and feed him tea and rock him to sleep as he tries to tell me all about the elescalter. No wait that’s not right. Elesuitor? Yeah, sure.” In the middle of her mumblings, she managed to get up, teetering on the red leather pumps she seemed to think were a good idea. Well, they matched her outfit at some point in time. John gave her a sloppy hug and cheek smooch as she walked out the door and Rose reached out for a handshake but ended up giving her a hug because Vriska tripped her. Vriska didn’t say goodbye, too busy cackling at Rose and Kanaya’s flustered blushes.
Kanaya managed to unlock her door, only dropping her keys once, and tip toed into her living room. Karkat was nowhere in sight so she breathed a sigh of relief. Throwing her shoes onto the couch, she fell to the ground, deciding she would be much quieter if she crawled to her room. It worked because fifteen minutes later (crawling is a slow process when you’re trying to figure out if you’re moving or if the floor is carrying you along) she was curled up in a ball on top of her blankets. She knew Karkat was standing in her doorway, shaking his head with crossed arms, but she wasn’t going to bother with him right then. Maybe in the morning. Now was sleepy time.
I'm sorry this wasn't more plot driven but it set up a lot. UuU
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
guess who motherfucker
When Kanaya’s alarm went off at 9 am, as it always did on the weekends, she promptly threw it to the ground and hoped it would stay quiet. She continued to sleep for another three hours because she felt like she was going to throw up and her head was pounding and to be honest, she couldn’t really think of any reason to exist before noon anyways.
Karkat, on the other fucking hand, was awake at the ass crack of dawn. Somehow, he had been convinced that taking the opening shift was a great idea. Aradia told him that no one would even come in and he could get so much more done later in the day! Wow, what a fantastic deal! Too bad she lied her ass off and just wanted to go out with her friends Friday night. When he arrived that morning, he had to take down all the stools and start all the coffee pots and clean the tables and put in like ninety eight percent more effort than he usually ever does. And then the morning rush arrived and Karkat was this close from writing his last will and testament in the coffee grinds.
It was twenty minutes before Aradia was supposed to come in when they showed up. The bell chimed over the door and there was a cacophony of clacking. Terezi Pyrope stood precariously on black pumps, her walking stick waving around dangerously as she marched up to the counter, dragging along an indifferent Dave Strider.
"Karkat? Karkat, darling, is that you? I can smell your anger from outside," she said, her voice grating to Karkat's ears. It was clear she had a case that morning; her outfit was business casual and she had heavy bags under her eyes from staying up late, going over case notes, and waking early. Her good mood was a sure sign that she had won.
"Stop pretending you have a hypersensitive nose and tongue just because you're blind. It's fucking weird," he complained, pushing her face away from his own. She responded by licking his palm and cackling at his loud protest. "Can I help you or are merely here to spread disease?"
"No, no. Get me one of those Twix coffees. In a hot cup," she demanded, then she looked up to Dave with a toothy grin. "And what do your friends want, cool kid?"
Dave pulled his phone out from his pocket. He quickly tapped into it with one hand.
"Okay, I'm gonna need you to hook me up with one black, a Butterfinger with extra whipped cream, and okay, hold on. You ready for this? Milk with eight creams, eight sugars,
whipped cream, and a shot of syrupy poison. Because apparently Serket wants to throw up for the rest of eternity. Jesus fucking christ, who wants that much sugar when they're hungover. Whatever. Chop chop, barista boy." He slipped his iPhone back into his jeans pocket and snapped his fingers.
Karkat bared his teeth at Dave and then proceeded to spill syrup all over his awful fucking black and pink shirt. He hated his job. He hated his job so fucking much.
“Serket takes it with fifteen sugars because she uses it to power her hatred,” Karkat informed Dave as he put the coffees down on the counter. “I can’t fault her taste in sweets.”
Dave coolly gathered up the tray of coffee, rolling his shoulders to balance the tray and the weight of Terezi hanging off his arm. She still had a wicked grin on her face as she stared Karkat down with her blank eyes.
"Do you need a ride home, love? I'm sure Dave can make room in his backseat," she offered sweetly as Dave let out a snort. She also winked.
"Fuck that noise, no, fuck that cacophony! There is no way in hell you are getting me to sit behind the driver's seat like we're some dysfunctional family where I'm the red headed stepchild no one wanted, " Karkat sneered. The door opened with a too cheery bell chime and in came Aradia with bright red cheeks and nose. A rush of an icy breeze carried in snow behind her. She had a smile on her face nonetheless.
"Okay, Karkat! You're now off the clock! Hi Dave! Hi Terezi! Oh, did Karkat charge you again? Karkat, I'm telling you. Nothing will happen if you give coffee to friends," Aradia chided, sliding behind the counter and removing her coat and scarf. She wore the pink shirt that Karkat refused to wear over a black long sleeved shirt and yoga pants. She ignored Karkat's claims that they aren't his friends and that there aren't many people he hates more than them.
"C'mon, kid. You have a soccer match to get to and you know if you're late the coach will make you do laps. And last time that happened you almost passed out! Who knew you had asthma, huh?" Dave said, balancing the tray on an open palm as he wagged a finger on his free hand. Karkat refused to answer him and just threw on his coat and scarf and stomped out to Dave's beat up clunker of a car. If he was gonna be subjected to this humiliation, he was going to at least make it hell for Dave too. There was no doubt in his mind that he was going to kick the back of his seat the entire ride back to his apartment building.
He did, and when he stepped out of the car and planted his foot in slush, he swiped up a handful of it and slopped it onto the back of Dave’s head as he shut the door. The slam cut off Dave’s cursing.
Karkat ran for, probably literally, his life across the parking lot. Skidding to a stop at the door, he shoved his keys into the lock. He was turning the knob when Dave grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him to the pavement. Karkat did not screech when Dave ground his face into the ice. Nope, of course not.
"Fucking enough! Jesus Christ, why do you have to always be the king of the assholes? Get off!" Karkat spat, rolling out from under Dave's Vans. He lunged for his foot but Dave was faster, issuing a swift kick to Karkat's jaw. Karkat hissed in pain, standing up and shoving past inside.
Dave stuck his foot in the door as it shut, elbowed his way past, and pulled Karkat into a headlock.
“You little douchebag,” he said roughly, catching his breath, “You fucking asshole. That shit was colder than the gears of your dick mechanisms, I hate you so much, you can buy your own strudel tomorrow morning.”
“No, not the strudel!” Karkat threw his elbow back into Dave’s stomach, ducked under his arm, and caught him on the jaw with his shoulder. “You’re buying my fucking strudel, that was the deal, ass licker, I give you ten cents off your stupid shitty Twix coffee and you buy me strudels on Thursdays.”
“Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck!” Dave said brightly, driving his sneaker into Karkat’s shin. “Some nights I kick your ass!”
“This is the worst banter I’ve ever heard!” Karkat shouted as he wrenched Dave’s forearm between his hands. They tussled for several minutes.
They were finally broken up by Terezi dumping her leftover ice on their heads. They snarled but stood up. No one was about to fight the blind chick. Because they'd lose.
Terezi hurried in front of them, her cane swinging wildly in front of her. Dave and Karkat limped behind, clutching their broken pride.
"Honey, I'm home!" Dave shouted as he hip checked open the door to 6b. There was a yell of protest and a pillow tossed out into the hallway. Karkat paused to glance in. Vriska was sprawled across the loveseat, shirtless with her arm thrown across her eyes. John was nowhere in sight but he was yelling at Dave to shut the hell up or so help him.
Terezi cackled as she sauntered in, managing to knock over the empty (and not so empty) cups from the coffee table.
“Vai se foder,” Vriska groaned, clapping her other arm down over her face as well. “Vai tomar no cu, palhação.”
“Yo, language,” Terezi said as she sniffed delicately at one of the rings on the table. “Is this whiskey and grenadine I smell? Classy!”
“Shut up and get out of my apartment,” Vriska hissed, groping beside her for a can to whip in Terezi’s general direction. It clattered to the floor several feet to the left. Terezi snickered, but went after Karkat, slamming the door after her. Dave came out of John’s room, coffee dripping down the side of his face, and went into the kitchen. This was presumably to make breakfast as noisily as possible, from the banging noises over the next half hour. Vriska made sad retching noises into one of the cups on the floor.
John eventually lurched out of his room, blanket slung around his head like a spectacularly ugly, eagle-printed burqa. He made sad noises at the banging from the kitchen, pulling the blanket tighter, and didn’t so much sit on Vriska’s legs as slump backwards and hope he hit the couch. Vriska yelped when he hit her knee joints and pulled her legs up to kick him off the cushion.
“Stop kicking me,” John said, muffled by the blanket and his current face-down position on the carpet. It was a pretty nice carpet, concentric rings in bright primary colors, and it felt pretty nice on his face, too. Vriska tapped him on the back of the head with her heel. John waved behind him, gripped her ankle, and pulled. Vriska popped off the couch with a furious hiss.
“You both can stop acting like you’re about to die,” Dave said, setting a bowl of tortilla chips down on the coffee table, in the only six-inch square clean space. “John, you have the mass of an ox, there’s no way this shit was enough to make you this dramatic. Buck the fuck up, cowboy, we got a herd to wrangle and if you can’t sit up long enough to wear a ten gallon, I’m leaving you on the ranch with the womenfolk and taking Vriska instead.”
“I’d be a great cowboy, fuck you,” Vriska said into John’s upper back.
“There’s no way I’m moving from this spot. The floor is my mother and she loves me.”
“There’s always a way. It usually doesn’t work. Don’t make me haul you up, my womanly figure is too willowy to heft your manly self upright.”
“Wasn’t even funny.”
“They can’t all be winners.”
Lured by the siren call of potato fried with salt, John flapped a hand onto the table, reaching for the bowl. Dave slid the bowl farther away, knocking more cups to the floor. John groaned and sat up, dislodging Vriska. It was obvious how much of his hangover was theatrics with his face visible: his eyes were bright, if exhausted, and he didn’t have the pinched look of a truly horrible Jägermeister hangover.
“Gimme the chips.”
“Use the force.”
“I can’t, gimme the chips.”
“Reach with your mind, Padawan.”
Dave’s face said I feel this, it hurts me, but the chip bowl in John’s lap said I forgive you your trespasses. Tostito’s were probably what the Greek pantheon meant with the whole nectar and ambrosia thing.
“Assuming direct control,” John said through a mouthful of chewed chip. Vriska jabbed him in the ass cheek and pushed herself upright. John looked like he could get through his day like normal with a bottle of water and some bacon. Vriska, on the other, had zipped so far backwards on the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed scale that she was likely setting off earthquake warnings in China. Dave told her so. His response was a middle finger and the chip bowl stolen off John, then thrown at his face.
“I’m so fucking done,” Dave said without changing his expression, crumbs falling off his mouth. He then proceeded to actually get up and leave without turning away from Vriska, despite his keys, sneakers, and coffee all being in various places behind him. Vriska maintained the eye contact with a terminally hostile look on her face, like she might actually have lunged off the floor and gone for his knees with her teeth.
Slowly, life in apartment 6b creaked to a start. John managed to get Vriska to put on a vest, which at least had the advantage of covering her nipples, and he held her hair back while she puked up the corn chips and pastry coffee. That, too, had an advantage; Vriska was forced to sit still long enough for her hair to be brushed and braided in one of the elaborate braids John had learned from Dave’s weird friend Aradia. They proceeded to clean up, or John put the gross dishes in the sink and ran the water while Vriska picked up her thrown chips. John then went to his second Saturday class, Physics 1201, and Vriska went next door to bother Kanaya.
Karkat, predictably, was in the elevator when John got on. There was a splotch of syrup on Karkat’s cheekbone and he gave John’s half-melted coffee an extremely vicious look of hatred.
“Woah, hey, did my Butterfingers murder your family or something?”
“If they slipped on the trigger.”
“Nothing, dumbass, I just had to make that less than an hour ago. Shouldn’t you be comatose? Kanaya is out cold. So’s your friend, the one that sounds like she swallowed a tiny English professor.”
John choked on his coffee, hacking it out through his nose and coughing.
“That didn’t sound-”
“Yeah, I get it, wipe your nose.”
John swiped his sleeve under his nose, returning to chewing on his straw.
“Well, that explains why Rose wasn’t there when I woke up. Not sure why I didn’t notice that.”
“She came in, muttered something about wheat fields, ate an entire jar of pickles, and fell asleep on Kanaya’s bed.”
“She was still more pleasant to be around than most of my friends.”
“It’s a cross I have to bear every day,” Karkat said, flashing what might have been a grin. John grinned back, saying,
“You know, you should smile more. You look less like a grouchy old man.”
“I do not look like a grouchy old man,” Karkat said, looking affronted, despite the two heavy wool scarves wrapped around his neck and his boxy jacket.
John chewed on his straw for another minute, reminding himself of his conversation with Rose. No harm, no foul, right?
“So, uh,” John said eventually, as the elevator passed the third floor. God, this thing was slow. He carefully looked anywhere but at Karkat, mostly as his sneakers or the wall. “Do you want to get coffee later? Maybe at Pumpkin’s?”
“Definitely not,” Karkat said vehemently. John immediately went red as only an Irish kid from New England can.
“Oh, sorry, if you’re not, I guess, it wasn’t, well, anything.”
“Shut your mouth before your tongue makes a break for it, hey? Not coffee. I will take drastic action if we get coffee. Pizza.”
“Everyone likes pizza,” John said, a little strangled.
Chapter 6: Karkat: Be a whiny bitch
"I have a date," Karkat announced smugly as he slammed down his laptop on the desk. Eridan Ampora stared at him with a raised eyebrow. Karkat had his hands on his hips and stood over Eridan with such triumph, a classmate stood up and clapped for him. Karkat promptly flipped him off.
“With who? I told you Kan doesn’t fuckin’ count,” Eridan scoffed. He pulled Karkat down by the elbow into his seat. “An’ sit down, idiot. People are starin’.”
Karkat fell into his seat with a huff. Crossing his arms over his chest, he turned away to glare at his microscope.
“It’s not Kanaya, you inflated swine. I have an actual date, so fuck you. I was going to tell you who with but not anymore. You ruined your chance,” he said. Then he dragged the microscope towards himself, making sure it made a god awful noise to piss off Eridan and everyone in a 15 foot radius. Just as planned, everyone cringed.
“Aww, come on. Don’t be like that. Tell me who it is, please?” Eridan pleaded. Karkat shrugged, feigning indifference. “I know you want to tell me.”
“Look, you blisteringly hot mess, I know I’ve mentioned him to you, and as much of a concession as I can force myself to make here is telling you that much.”
“Kar, why you gotta always be like this?” Eridan asked, slumping back onto his stool and planting his forearms on the lab table. “Think I can remember every ‘he’ you ever told me about? Let’s face it, you kinda look at a pretty face and swoon all over yourself to touch the butt attached a the face.”
“I can’t just give you this information, I need to know that you’re going to file it under top secret. You’re a gossipmongerer and a half and I don’t need every single godforsaken person at AU to know about my date.”
“You’re so dramatic,” Eridan whined, dropping his forehead to his arm. “Cross my heart, alright? Christ, Kar, do you gotta make me into a first grader every time you got news? Just tell me.”
“His name’s John Egbert,” Karkat said, determinedly keeping his face pressed to the microscope lens. “This is definitely not a cephalopod cell, you dithering idiot, did you pick up the wrong slides again?”
“Slander. John Egbert? The one that lives with Serket?”
“Yeah, him. Know him?”
“Dumb question, on account a I know everyone.”
“Knowing who they fucked in high school does not count as actually knowing the person themselves.”
“Whatever, Kar, point still stands.” Eridan lifted his head long enough to imperiously examine his nails. “Yeah, I heard a him.”
“Well fuckin’ what?”
“What do you know?”
“Can’t just be tellin’ you these things, Kar, I got a reputation for bein’ a lockbox.”
“Okay, okay, Jesus, I’ll pay for lunch today, just tell me.”
Eridan allowed himself a moment of gleeful triumph. When Karkat paid for lunch it was so much easier to justify sushi. An unpaid internship in the marine science department tended to make food shopping an exercise in extreme couponing.
“Whole lot a suspicious coincidences here. Went to the same high school as us, got a lot of the same friends as us. Harley, you know, the cute one at the laundromat with the nice ass?”
Karkat’s revolted eyebrow twitch was answer enough.
“She’s his sister.”
“Explains a lot about her, now that I think about it.”
Eridan shrugged, shouldering Karkat out of the way and looking into the microscope.
“Yeah, that’s definitely a liver cell.”
“Like you’d know, asshole.”
The lab writeup would be due in three days, and since the TA focused more on style than factual accuracy, Karkat generally paid Kanaya in laundry to write his for him. Eridan’s only option for getting someone to do it would have been an even worse idea than doing it himself. English was Feferi Peixes’ second language, and verbally, she was fine, but in writing, there were very few words capable of describing her level of suck. She had been in English as a Second Language courses for nearly a decade now, and the only result was that her accent was nearly erased.
"Listen, if you're gonna buy me lunch it's gonna have to be today. It's my only day off for a whole shittin' week and if I put off too long you forget and refuse to take my damn word for it. Which is just rude, Kar. Rude," Eridan complained amiably as he sketched the definitely-not-liver cell with the expensive colored pencils his father had sent him. Mr. Ampora seemed to believe Eridan was still an art major. Karkat suspected Mr. Ampora didn't really keep up with Eridan's life all too well.
"How do you know my date isn't this afternoon?" Karkat asked stealing the pink pencil out of Eridan's hand. He needed it more Eridan did, anyways. "You always call me rude but you're the asshole making assumptions."
"Who the hell has a date at 1pm on a Monday? Just take me to lunch and then we can try getting some of this work done. I won't even get into a fight with Kan this time. Promise."
“I’m not bringing my roommate on my date,” Karkat said, affronted at the idea that he would need moral support. “Wait, no, neither of you are coming on my date, what the hell?”
"No. Oh my fuckin' god. Why did I have to go to school in America? You're all so damn stupid. I meant take me out to lunch today. I know your date isn't today. Jesus Christ, Kar."
“You went to school in America because you were twelve when you moved here, dumbass. Don’t just assume my date isn’t today. You don’t know my life. You are not a calendar upon which I carefully mark down every moment of my daily shame well into the future. You do not mark the days off from an interminable void into sizable pieces of horror.”
“Kar, you shoulda been in drama.”
“I’m not saying anything I could have said in less than fifty words.”
“You coulda said ‘don’t assume shit’ and left it at that. Woulda been so easy, too.”
Karkat narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth to go off on another tangent but decided not to waste his breath.
“Okay, fine, whatever. My date isn’t until the weekend. I’ll pay for lunch but you have to promise you won’t go telling people this is a date like you always do. You’re the sole reason I haven’t been on a date in months. And don’t think you can come up with some sick burn because you can’t. I spent a solid fifteen minutes in a car with Dave Strider on Saturday. You ain’t got shit I can’t deflect. Fuck, I’m even talking like him now.”
What was that about not wasting his breath?
“If you’re about to start quotin’ rap songs at me, I’m goin’ to get up an’ leave,” Eridan said, looking deeply suspicious. “On account a I seem to have hit my limit on people bein’ here for the ladies an’ the drinks an’ suicide doors that open the wrong way.”
“Really?” Karkat asked, already thrown off his train of thought. “What way do they open?”
“Out insteada up. Only time I’ll ever admit to Kanye West bein’ wrong.”
“He’s a musical tour de force,” Karkat agreed, propping his chin up on his hand. “I can’t figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be looking for here. I don’t care that they can change color.”
“Whatever, Kar, it’s science. You’re the worst biology major I ever met.”
Karkat made an indignant noise and raised his shoulders over his ears.
“Whatever, man. At least I wasn’t so bad at art, I got banned from the entire department. Unlike someone I have the unfortunate privilege of knowing.” Karkat threw a pointed glare at Eridan who wilted.
“Wow, too soon. Too fuckin’ soon. I can’t believe you would say that.”
“Eridan, it was almost three years ago. Cut the shit. Can we please just figure out the hell this is so we can leave? I have to finish and print out my essay for English and I have to do it before Kanaya gets back from her class to yell at me like she’s my mom or some shit. God, this class is such a chore.”
Fifteen minutes later, Karkat stormed out of the classroom with Eridan on his heels.
It wasn’t long after that before they were seated relatively comfortably in the Panera Bread on the other side of town, Eridan with a little to-go box of mirugai and cream cheese. Karkat was wisdom-teeth-deep in the pickle that came with his bacon turkey bravo (no bravo sauce, fuck that shit).
“I’m just saying that it probably wasn’t a come-on when Aradia sharpened your pencil. That was not a euphemism! I’m being polite. It definitely was not a come-on.”
“Kar, you can’t just go spoutin’ off base accusations like that, I’m hurt. I know what a euphemism is,” Eridan protested with a squinty look at his sushi. “I think this is still movin’. An’ all I’m sayin’ is that maybe since she’s still bein’ stalked by Zahhak, her standards might drop a little.”
“Unlikely. She’s classy as shit. Like you’d get with an archaelogy major, fishshit. She’s also, like, a nine, and you’re an eight at the outside.”
“Here’s the situation as I’m seein’ it. You’re goin’ to shut your mouth, because no way in Dante’s nine goddamn circles a hell is Megido prettier than me.”
“Yes, okay, you’re the prettiest psychopath, calm down.”
“Woah, you’re minimizin’ experiences there, Kar.”
“Shut up. I’m eating my pickle. Do not snicker at that or I will knife you, so help me God.”
Eridan snickered anyway.
“What the fuck ever, Kar, you can’t even pretend you’re from Southie. Suburb kids an’ shit. Poor bastards.”
“You’re not from goddamn Southie either, shut up!”
Karkat proceeded to furiously chew the pickle and then lay waste to the countries of his sandwich with the armies of his molars.
“Stupid goddamn lettuce. Don’t even understand why it’s in a sandwich.”
“To bring existential horror into a manageable state, probably,” Eridan said, uncomfortably serene about it, and took a long pull off his chocolate milk (organic, children’s size).
Karkat glared at him over his cup of tea that was no where as good as Kanaya's and took two hands to hold. He found himself wishing he was at home where he could turn down the heat and wear his scarves without sweating bullets. Scarves were his safety blankets away from home because he had actual safety blankets. Kanaya would wrap him up when he was especially distraught.
"I don't know why I spend any fucking time with you at all ever. Look at you. You're a fucking mess. I go to you when I feel bad about myself because I am reminded how much better than you I am. I laugh at your existence and your chocolate milk. When are you going to man up and start drinking actual beverages. At least drink hot chocolate, you fish smelling pirate. I'm leaving and whether you choose to come with me or not makes no difference time me at all. I have an essay to write," Karkat sneered. He stood up and scraped his chair to drown out the horrible smooth jazz that was playing over head. He was only mad because this tea sucked and he might have failed his Calc test. God, he couldn't believe he was still taking Calculus his junior year of college.
“No, I’m comin’,” Eridan sighed, tightening his scarf, “I’m stayin’ three steps behind so people don’t think we’re friends.”
“Stop making up excuses to look at my ass and just do it like a normal person.”
“I’m takin’ that as permission, Kar, it’s just who I am.”
“I’m questioning every decision I ever made that led to this shambling mess of a friendship.”
“Do you want to stop at Tedeschi’s an get the little gummy sharks?”
“Hell fucking yes I want to stop and get the little gummy sharks.”