"This is depressing," Dirk said to himself as he listlessly stared out of the window at the endless blue horizon. The calm ocean rippled a few feet beneath the window and made small waves against the black scaffolding that held his apartment aloft. It was a bright sunny day, the sky clear of clouds and a beautiful eggshell blue. Seagulls flew in erratic patterns overhead and squawked loudly. Some of them could be found happily bobbing on the sea surface. A constant breeze that smelled of the sea blew through his apartment.
All in all, it was a rather tranquil moment, but Dirk wasn't in the right frame of mind to appreciate the peace. He was completely bored out of his mind and he had no one to talk to - Roxy wasn't online, no doubt having passed out drunk amongst her pile of empty liquor bottles. Sighing as he put his head down on his forearms, he muttered, "I really need someone to talk to, or I'm going to go batshit crazy."
Having grown up completely isolated in the middle of an ocean with only pop-cultural detritus and Lil Cal for company, Dirk never expected to hear another human voice speak behind him.
"Of course, it's depressing. What's your deal?"
Immediately tensing, Dirk whirled around, his hand flashing to the hilt of his unbreakable katana, and stared at the newcomer. The first impression he got was "that's one sick cape", followed by "that's a lot of red". And finally, "He looks familiar." In fact, he looked eerily similar to his supposed ancestor did in the salvaged digital and print records of him. Wondering if he had finally cracked from boredom (and loneliness), Dirk maintained a poker face and questioned, "Whoa, am I hearing voices now?"
The stranger picked himself up from the floor, having crash-landed on it in an ungainly sprawl, and nonchalantly dusted himself off. He was poker faced and his eyes were covered by round Ben Stiller black shades. He was very pale, his skin parchment white and his hair a feathery white-blond unlike Dirk's healthy tan and sun-bleached blond. The stranger answered sarcastically, "You know how some people have a little angel and a little devil on their shoulders? That's me. I'm both of them and you should listen to what I say without question."
Mistrustful of the stranger and knowing that Roxy and he were probably the only humans left, Dirk raised an eyebrow and flatly replied, "How about no? How can I trust you? How do I know that you're not a troll in disguise?"
The stranger, who seemed to be about the same age as Dirk, took great offence at his accusation. He indignantly straightened up from his slouch and retorted, "I'm entirely too cool to be a troll, you smarmy asshole. Do you see candy corn horns on my head, bro? Don't answer that, of course you fucking don't."
"Well, excuuuse me, princess, if I'm sceptical of your claims. As far as I know, RoLal and I are the only humans left." Dirk kept his hand on the hilt of his weapon as he continued, "You could be one of the Condesce's leftover experiments in making humans with different-coloured blood. A successful one." Then he muttered, "Great, I must be going insane. Talking to myself isn't a good sign."
The stranger heard him and drawled, "Sure it is. Would you rather talk to a lamp?"
"Fuck no." Dirk wasn't going to sink to that level again. He'd already done that when he was five and playing make-believe.
"Play dress up with its lithe little figure - Hey man, just offering."
"Offering what?" Dirk was half-wondering whether he was in a dream. The stranger snorted and crossed his arms. "Suggestions since you're so dead set on not talking to yourself."
Feeling dizzy as though the drop to the sea behind him had become vertiginous (there was another human), Dirk spoke, "Ugh. At least you're being helpful unlike the other fanciful daydreams. I've been itching for a good Strife."
The stranger didn't seem to notice as he rambled on, "Yeah, I've got other suggestions too. You should make dresses out of Doritos bags and jpeg artifacts. You'd be a legend even though it's just you."
"Maybe. But that's not really my thing. It's more my ancestor's thing."
"Well damn, just shoot down all my ideas, why don't you?"
"With his SBAHJ movies. You even look like him in the old photos I salvaged from the sea."
"You won't dress up your lamps and you won't make jpeg dresses. What the fuck is wrong with you?" The stranger continued rambling; not even listening to him, and Dirk had a heavy suspicion that he was going to get tired of his chatter soon. Maybe in less than five minutes even. He was more tiresome than Roxy in her worst drunken moods. Knowing full well that the stranger was a real person, he decided to snipe at him, "That's because I've already done them, duh. How can you not know that if you're my subconscious?"
His snipe landed right on target. The stranger's pale eyebrows drew slightly into a frown and his lips flattened into a thin line. He deadpanned, "Maybe I'm an ignorant subconscious, you insensitive dick goblin. Are you making subtle jabs at my mentality?"
Playing along, Dirk replied, "Nice, now my subconscious is insulting me. No, I'm just talking to myself. You're a figment of my imagination, after all."
"Sure, dude. You've got a damn good imagination though." The stranger seemed to roll his eyes behind his shades. "It was a necessity," Dirk interjected. "Can't blame you for cooking me up though. Damn, I'm fine."
Yeah, he was going to get tired of this self-absorbed tool pretty quickly, never mind if he was the third human in existence right now. The tool continued, "You could've made me taller though. Only not 'Green Giant' tall, I don't want to make it obnoxious."
Humouring him, Dirk quipped, "You want to be tall and you're complimenting yourself. Does that mean I'm narcissistic?"
"You wish. We're not the same person, regardless of whether or not I'm only your imagination." The stranger was offended at the idea of being Dirk's 'subconscious', which amused him greatly. He looked around his Spartan apartment, his gaze lingering on the smuppets with an unreadable expression on his face. He asked, "Hey, can hallucinations eat?"
Raising his eyebrows in mock surprise, Dirk replied, "Okay, so you're real. And you're apparently a human."
The stranger's eyebrows twitched and he hissed, "I'm hungry, jackass. What part of that don't you understand? Apparently you're bonkers and mentally deficient."
Flinging his hands up in the air, he ranted, "No, truth be told, I'm actually a monstrous blob with twelve rows of teeth. When I stand up, I'm fifteen feet tall."
"Don't be so melodramatic, you drama queen. If you're hungry, there's the fishing net over there. You can use that to catch fish." Dirk jerked his thumb at the fishing net hanging on the hook next to the window. Fuck the book of human etiquette; he wasn't going to catch fish for a rude guest.
The unnamed stranger (Dirk really ought to ask for his name soon or think of a nickname to call him. Maybe 'Red Riding Hood' would suffice), sighed and muttered sarcastically, "Sweet, I've always wanted to do some Animal Crossing bullshit, though you don't have many trees for me to cut down."
"No duh. We're in the middle of an ocean." Dirk paused and asked, "What's Animal Crossing?"
"I didn't stutter."
"I haven't heard of Animal Crossing."
"Your loss, dude." Red Riding Hood (RRH) seemed disinclined to enlighten him on what 'Animal Crossing' was as he walked around his flat, taking in his new surroundings. He lifted his head, as though he was remembering something. He turned to Dirk and said, "One thing. No touching my shades. That's a rule."
Dirk was bemused by RRH's over-protectiveness of his shades - they didn't seem all that special and he had no desire to touch them. "Why would I want to touch your Ben Stiller shades?"
"Whoa, turbo back your ass up." RRH placed one hand akimbo and wagged his finger at him like a stereotypical sassy black woman.
RRH sighed dramatically and said patronisingly, "It's common knowledge that everyone wants to touch my shades. They're a Strider legend. They're better than your bullshit anime shades."
Dirk was completely incredulous. "You're a Strider? You're kidding me. And fuck you, my anime shades are awesome; does yours have AI?"
"Yeah, I'm one for jokes. Please find me at the nearest comedy club under the ocean."
RRH's constant stream of rude sarcasm was extremely irritating, much more so than Roxy's inability to sustain a relatively sober conversation for long. At least Roxy had the excuse of being medically handicapped without alcohol but RRH didn't have any such excuse. Dirk narrowed his eyes and said coolly, "I'm really tempted to push you out of the window into the ocean, even if you're the only other human I know aside from Roxy."
RRH flippantly replied, "Go ahead. I can swim. You're going to get my sweet cape wet though and I wouldn't really appreciate that but whatever."
"Your costume looks like a condom."
"I know. It's great." RRH was completely unfazed as he picked up the fishing net and examined it with interest. "I'm the epitome of irony right now. Just look at my shitty robes." Dirk contained a weary sigh and finally said, "Alright. It's high time that I ask who the fuck you are."
RRH turned to look at him. He replied, "I don't see why I should tell you that. Man, I thought I was just your spooky subconscious. Are you going to name me now too?" A pause. "Don't name me Spike or Skipper. That's bullshit."
Although Dirk really didn't want to believe it, there were too many clues and coincidences that betrayed RRH's true identity. As said by Sherlock Holmes, "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth, dawg." He neutrally replied, "I think I already have a pretty good idea of who you are."
"Name me, princess."
Ignoring the insult, Dirk answered to the point, "I'm not sure how you're here, but I know for sure you're Dave Strider. You were supposed to be dead. At least four hundred years ago."
Dave quirked an eyebrow at him, mildly surprised that Dirk had apparently gotten his identity right. He drawled, "I would give you a round of applause but hey, that's not my thing. Good job figuring it out, dude."
Gesturing at himself and the apartment, he said, "Though, truth be told, I'm not sure why I'm here either. Can't help you there, so looks like you'll have to go Sherlock on my ass." Dirk thought that Dave's voice sounded slightly strained, which in Strider terms meant that Dave was under great stress and this close to losing his cool. Deciding not to push Dave on the issue, he calmly replied, "I don't think my input will have much bearing. You just showed up in my flat."
Tilting his head slightly to get a better look at Dave, he said, "But well, you do look younger than the photos of you."
Dave sighed, "Hell if I know what's going on here. Even if I did, I'd just give you more cryptic bullshit."
Dirk was undeterred, "Try me. It'll give me something more interesting to think on than staring at miles of ocean."
"Hey, I never said I had any answers. I was just chilling on a meteor with shitty coffee and some angry alien dude drawing dicks. Don't know how I got here, though." The strain in Dave's voice was now barely perceptible to non-Striders and very obvious to him.
"Hm." Dirk questioned, "An alien dude?"
"Well, there's more than one. It's just him in particular that aggravates me. Who does he think he is even? Grabbing my cape like he owns it." Dave trailed off into disgruntled muttering. Dirk ignored him and pushed, "Okay. Am I correct in assuming that these aliens are trolls?"
"Yeah, you nailed it. Here's your golden star sticker. It's scratch-and-sniff."
Dirk restrained a withering glare at Dave and lifted his head slightly to look imperiously down at him through his shades. "You're surprisingly quite aggravating in person, Dave Strider. I was expecting someone not so grating on my nerves."
Dave seemed disconcerted by his behaviour. He jerkily put back the net on the hook and turned to face him, "Why're you being so formal and shit? My name's Dave. I feel obligated to kick my attitude up a notch though-"
Dirk interjected, "Because you are supposed to be my ancestor, I guess. You, or rather the older version of you, paid for all this and ensured that I would grow up safely and well."
"-mainly because you remind me of Bro." Dave paused and stared at him. He whispered in mortified awe, "Damn. I'm an ancestor now."
Piqued by the mention of Dave's 'Bro' whom there were no mentions of in the historical records, Dirk asked curiously, "Is that so? Who's Bro?"
Dave's lips pursed into a tense line. He replied, "The title should have been obvious enough. Only I'm sure he wasn't my real bro. Treated me like one, though."
"Wore the same pointy ass anime shades you do and kept shitty swords in our fridge." Dave faltered slightly before finishing off with, "He's still an asshole even if he did kick the bucket."
"How did he die?"
"An omnipotent dog with tentacles and wings. For once, I'm not fucking with you." Dave sounded genuinely serious and Dirk nodded once. "Sure. I'll take your word for it. You did show up in my flat unexpectedly from the past, breaking the known laws of physics and time. You're also supposed to be dead. So what can get any more weird than that?"
Dave's seriousness didn't last long. "Maybe you're high or something, dude. Or maybe, I'm the one that's high and following in Snoop Dogg's steps."
Dirk rolled his eyes and swiftly reached out to grab Dave's wrist. He was slightly startled to actually feel real, warm human flesh under his touch other than his own, but he tightly contained his reaction as he rhetorically stated, "Then why is it that I can touch you? You're real."
Dave tensed and tersely replied, "I know. I was mainly just fucking with you."
"Oh come on, do you need training wheels for this encounter?"
Reluctantly letting go of Dave (the first and only human he'd touched in his life), Dirk waspishly replied, "Christ. I just needed someone to talk to. Not have a cryptic conversation laden with sarcasm and metaphors."
Dave smirked. "Unfortunately for you, that's all you're going to get from me."
"Fuck you." Dirk really, really wanted to kick Dave out of the window into the ocean, even if he was his ancestor.
Dirk coldly said, "Hm. Whatever. At least you're not drunk off your ass like a certain lush. You can reasonably maintain a conversation without passing out, so that's good enough for me."
"I don't do the whole passing out thing. What's got you so pissed anyway?"
Dirk had had enough. He snapped. Speaking deliberately and icily, he said, "I'm pissed because I'm fucking stuck out here in the middle of nowhere in an ocean and if I try to leave, I'll be killed by the Condesce. I have nothing else but fish to eat every damn meal. I see no one. I had to raise myself. So yeah, I'm fucking pissed. Why am I here?"
"Shit, don't get all philosophical on me, dude." Dave awkwardly placated him, "At least, you aren't six feet under the sea."
Now calm, Dirk replied, "True. More like miles under the sea but that's a technicality."
Awkward silence filled the air between the two Striders. After a few long minutes, Dirk finally ventured, "So, what are you going to do in the meantime? Are you going to stick around until you manage to find your way back?"
Dave shrugged, "That I don't know. I mean; it's not like I can do anything else."
Knowing that his motives weren't entirely altruistic, Dirk nevertheless politely asked, "Well. You really don't know why you're here?"
"Not really. If this is supposed to be some sort of spiritual journey, it sucks."
Dirk snorted. "Agreed. Who would want to be here?"
Dave hadn't finished answering yet. "To be honest, I'm disappointed though it's for my own uncool reasons."
"Hm? Why are you disappointed?"
"Because I don't have the slightest idea whether or not I'll be able to go back but I'll assume that I will. Plus, I was supposed to meet my best bro and Harley. I wonder how everyone's doing without their favourite coolkid anyways." Dave sounded slightly morose and Dirk felt an urge to console him. He refrained and simply said, "I see. I'm sorry that I can't be of much help to you but you can make yourself comfortable until you figure it out."
"Nah, it's fine. I don't really have the time to mope. Well, technically, I have all the time in the world."
"Yeah, I didn't get these sick robes for nothing. Though this God Tier business isn't all it's cracked up to be. Do you know how many alternate me's are dead?"
"So you're saying that you have power over Time? That's pretty convenient." Dirk belatedly realised that it wasn't the best thing to say and hurriedly added, "And yeah, sorry about the other dead you's."
Dave didn't seem to mind. He replied nonchalantly, "Of course it is. But according to Rose's alien girlfriend, I need to figure out what it truly means to be a Knight of Time. It's chill, dude."
Dirk raised an eyebrow in interest. "Knight of Time, huh. So maybe, you're on one of those quests right now. Save a princess, kill a dragon."
Dave didn't find it funny. He deadpanned, "Yeah, very funny, dude. Real side-splitting."
"Be the hero." Dirk quipped with a slight smirk. "Heh."
Dave scowled briefly. He thought out loud, "I can't tell what Sburb is up to. Either way, I'm not the hero."
"Why do you say that, Dave?" Dirk was genuinely puzzled; the records had definitely depicted Dave Strider as a hero. What was SBURB anyway? Looks like he had another topic to research on a rainy day.
"You sound like my therapist or something."
"I'm bored." Dirk shrugged. It was partially the truth and he was also interested to find out more about his ancestor first-hand. Dave spent the next few seconds thinking carefully before he finally said, "I'm just not cut out for hero business, is all. My bro is. I'm not. Well, best bro since I mentioned two bros."
Dirk wondered who this 'best bro' was and decided that it would be another interesting topic to pursue for a rainy day. He didn't want to run out of interesting things/topics to investigate too quickly. He thoughtfully considered Dave's words and replied neutrally, "I'm not going to be your therapist but it sounds like you've got a bad case of low self-esteem. You have powers over Time and those sick robes. That's got to count for something."
"Look, dude, psychoanalyse me all you want, but you haven't been through even half the bullshit I have, even if you're stranded out in the middle of the ocean. I'm not a hero, simple as that," Dave said tightly, his hands clenching into fists.
"Probably not." Dirk calmly replied.
"I don't have low self-esteem. I'm just being realistic."
Dirk decided not to argue with Dave on this issue, recognising it as a futile endeavour. "Ok, sure." He nodded and carefully said, "I'm starting to think that you're probably here for some quest-related reason."
Dave scoffed. "I don't see what I could be here for."
Dirk carelessly shrugged. "Who knows? You're going to be stuck here for the foreseeable future anyway."
Dave fell into thoughtful silence. He anxiously murmured, "If that's the case, I hope that John and the others can deal with that psycho dog demon without me."
"Let's hope you won't be stuck here for that long then."
Dave mustered a weak grin. "I probably won't. It's just a small worry."
"Good. I'd hate to have to throw you into the ocean, once your welcome wears out."
Dave's grin changed into a smirk. "Man, how could my welcome possibly wear out?"
Dirk shook his head. "Like I said earlier, you are a very aggravating person."
"You'll get used to it."
"Much to my sorrow."
"What's there to be sad about? You're a very depressing person." Dave raised a sardonic eyebrow, the gesture so very Strider that Dirk was glad to see it. He replied, "Hm? No, you just caught me at a bad time." He didn't go into bouts of depression. More like bouts of intense ennui.
"Did you not get your beauty sleep?"
"Of course I did. I get at least eight hours of beauty sleep. I have to stay fresh and perky," Dirk deadpanned.
"Hm. It's been a good deal of time since I've slept so that sounds pretty cool." Dave sounded exhausted, rousing Dirk's concern. He offered, "Go ahead and crash on the futon. I'm not using it at the moment."
Dave looked at the futon longingly before he shook himself out of the spell and refused, "I'll pass for now, dude. I'm just glad that I don't have to drink that shitty coffee."
Dirk scrutinised Dave carefully and saw that he was barely standing upright, his body trembling minutely with exhaustion. He could also see faint hints of dark rings beneath the large shades. Dave looked like he was about to fall apart. Sighing to himself, he firmly told Dave, "You need to sleep. When was the last time you slept?"
Dave was unwilling to answer him. He lifted his chin and hunched over into an aggressive stance. Nope. Dirk didn't have the time for this bullshit. It was all too easy to flashstep behind the exhausted Dave and swiftly knock him out with a Vulcan pinch to his neck. Dave crumbled unceremoniously to the floor in an unconscious heap with a loud thud. Dirk probably should have felt bad about not catching Dave before he fell to the floor but honestly, Dave deserved it for being such a rude dickhead. He should have been grateful that Dirk didn't have the heart in him to throw him into the ocean (committing cold-blooded murder wasn't his thing).
Shaking his head, he easily carried Dave and was startled by how thin and light he was. After carefully tucking his unconscious ancestor into bed, Dirk sat down in his computer chair and contemplated his next step.
How do I break this to Roxy?
Despite having achieved God Tier, Dave still has to complete one more quest to fully grow into his role. Problem is, he doesn’t realise it.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The following events occurred on a meteor millenniums ago - or rather, just a day ago. Both are correct actually, depending on whose perspective you choose to view the events from. If you were looking at it from Dirk's perspective, the events would have occurred eons before his universe came to be and yet for Dave, it was just only a day before, perhaps even less than a day. Are you following? No? Well, never mind. You'll understand eventually.
Damn you Timey-Wimey shenanigans. Don't you know that it makes things so much more complicated when I'm trying to tell a story here? Oh whatever. Let's just get on with the story before we lose half of the chapter to an argument on time paradoxes, time-relativity, time-space issues and esoteric shit that 90% of us won't understand anyway. I'm no Einstein.
==> Be Dave Strider.
You wake up from your nap with a start. Alone in your bedroom, you sit up and swear loudly and creatively enough to put Karkat's best rants to shame. You had that damnable dream again. Glad that you are alone where no one could see or hear you lose your cool; you press your cold fingers down on your feverish eyelids. Your cheeks feel damp.
You say, "Just fuck everything."
The dream had started roughly about a month ago and recurred with increasing frequency. In the dream, you are with another person. You only see his back as a fuzzy white silhouette. The cock-sure manner of his stance is achingly familiar to you. But yet, that isn't your Bro - there is no familiar cap, Lil Cal or his long blade. Angered by the imposter, you would reach out to grab his shoulder to make him turn around, to ask him who the hell he is and why the fuck he is showing up in your dreams. Bro is dead and the person is a mockery of Bro.
The other person would turn and you would be transfixed by the bloody red hole in his chest and in it, the familiar handle of Bro's katana. You are too afraid to look up at the person's face, not wanting to see if it is really Bro. You don't want to see the disappointed look on Bro's face for not being strong enough to not need saving at the expense of his life. He reaches out to touch you and before his fingers touch your shoulder, you tear yourself from the dream awake with a shout caught in your throat; you swallow it in a choking gasp. You aren't ready to meet Bro in a dream-bubble, even if it isn't one - you'd already checked for the signs the first time it happened.
Congratulations. You are now a chronic insomniac. You are also going to turn sixteen in a few hours when your finely tuned clock strikes midnight on this meteor outside of time and space.
"Fuck this fucking fuck of the fucking worst fuck-your-mind-up dreams. Fuck dream-bubbles. Fuck Sburb." You mutter under your breath as you lurch out of bed. Hissing in discomfort as your bare feet hit the icy-cold concrete floor, you shuffle around your room to look for your clothes. "Fuck the lousy heating and icy floors. Fuck everything."
Putting on your red God-Tier outfit and wrapping the cape around yourself for warmth (whoever designed them at least got the materials right - they were warm and snuggly, perfect for the space cold on the meteor. Their aesthetic senses were shit though. Your cowl looked like a damn condom.), you reach for your shades on your bedside table and slide them onto your face, effectively hiding the dark circles and your bloodshot eyes.
You are exhausted. You don't want to sleep and recall the sight of Bro's body. Containing a weary sigh, you slip on your converse sneakers and walk out of your bedroom. You take care to lock the door behind you, fearing that a certain juggalo clown would take up residence in your room (though that was unlikely, as Gamzee hadn't been seen for almost the past two years. Poor Karkat. You wouldn't have liked to be in his shoes, worrying about your best bro and wondering if he was dead.)
You look like a pale ghost in red (lack of natural sunlight on the meteorite had bleached out all the colour from both Rose's and your skin) as you navigate through the labyrinthine hallways with experienced ease. Beneath your feet, the shiny metal floor distorts your reflection. Your footsteps echo sepulchrally, matching your sombre mood perfectly and helping to clear your thoughts of your mind-screw dreams. You bypass the teleports, preferring to take the longer route to the kitchen. You drag your feet, wanting to stretch out each second in an almost zen-calm to infinity.
Soon, you reach the kitchen and you breathe a sigh of relief when you see that it is unoccupied. You aren't sure if you could handle Rose or Kanaya's probing questions right now. Or, god forbid, Karkat's volcanic loud rants that grated on your ears and gave you a ringing headache. Terezi is pretty chill but you don't have the energy to deal with her at the moment.
==> Dave: Get coffee.
You walk over to the coffee machine and bang on the contraption's door hard. It takes you a few more inspired tries before the coffee machine's door finally opens with a small 'ding'. You reach in to grab the white mug of steaming hot coffee. Not caring if the coffee is still scalding hot, you take a big gulp of the thick black brew. You immediately gag, "BLUH!"
"Fuck this shitty coffee. I still can't fucking get used to its awful taste even after nearly two years." You complain to yourself. Nevertheless, you take another swig of the foul black swill. You need the caffeine to stay awake and fuel you for another two hours or so before you finally have to take another power nap when your insomniac body finally collapses. Hopefully, you won't have that dream again but you have the feeling that it will continue to torment you unless you do something about it.
==> Dave: Consult Rose?
Fuck no. You are not going to speak to Rose Lalonde about your fucked up dreams. She will make you lie on a couch and with her manicured hands holding her notepad, make you spill your darkest secrets like the psychologist she pretends she is. You can neither deal with her perfumey presence nor handle her analyses on your psychology. Fuck her love for Freudian theories and complexes.
Besides, you don't feel comfortable with the idea of talking about Bro with Rose. You would feel like a wuss; her Mom also died but she has already come to terms with it some time back. That was a helluva messy period, you recall. It stings your pride to admit that you still haven't really gotten over your Bro's death. Not quite. Why else would you still be dreaming of Bro lately?
==> Dave: Ask Kanaya the rainbow drinker?
You don't know Kanaya well enough to feel comfortable telling her of your sleeping problems. Even if she's good company on the nights she joins you in the kitchen. She's brilliant for providing light with her glowing skin. She's also too close to Rose. It probably will result in the first scenario with you on the couch and Rose attempting to pyschoanalyse you, if Kanaya spills the beans to her.
Anyway, she also drinks blood and you're not looking forward to getting macked on if she feels peckish. Kanaya also bears a grudge against Gamzee and you don't want to be around when she discovers you are partly responsible for his murder-party. She has a damn chainsaw and you are neither eager to test out your blade against it nor test out your ability to resurrect.
==> Dave: Very well, what about Karkat?
You don't even register that as a possibility. You take it, roll it up into a tiny ball and set it on fire. You then take the ashes and put them into a canister before tying it to a rocket. You finally launch the rocket off the meteor to the abyss of the Furthest Ring. The Horrorterrors can have the metaphorical ashes.
==> Dave: Fine. Terezi?
She likes to lick you a bit too much. While Terezi is the Seer of Mind and therefore capable of helping you with your uncool emo issues, she has been busy of late with her dream-quests with some troll ancestor of hers called Aranea. She is also busy dealing with her own issues to effectively help you out. You also are kind of afraid of ending up like one of her scale-mates if you let her see too much of your vulnerability underneath your coolkid image.
==> Dave: You are a very difficult person. You aren't going to tell anyone, are you? Your coffee is going to get cold. Drink it.
You realise that you have been sitting at the counter like a dumb fool with your mug of coffee cooling in your hand. You must have been really out of it and knackered to zone out for so long without your time senses kicking in.
You take a sip of the luke-warm coffee and make a face. If it was shitty earlier, it's now completely disgusting. You wouldn't feed it to the pigs for fear of poisoning them. Sighing, you stand up to pour away the dregs of the coffee into the sink. You rinse the mug with the water and idly wonder for the umpteenth time where the water comes from on this meteor. Sburb sure is well prepared despite its sheer weirdness and its complete disregard for physics and time.
You slot the mug back into the coffee machine and close the door. You wait for a minute. You rap on the door three times, and the door opens again and you retrieve the mug of co-, oh hey, it's now hot chocolate. This is your lucky day/night. Did Sburb know that it was your birthday and presented you with a paltry gift of hot chocolate? You scoff at the notion. It's far more likely that you just got lucky.
==> Dave: Damn, I'm jealous. I haven't had hot chocolate in a while.
You don't respond to the jealous voice muttering in your head. Hot chocolate is fucking awesome.
==> Dave: Shut up. Drink your damn hot chocolate.
You frown as an ominous chill creeps down your spine while your body clock ticks closer to midnight. Shaking your head, you sip your hot chocolate and moan in orgasmic delight as the glorious taste of chocolate spreads over your taste buds and makes them tingle. The beverage is thick with luxurious melted chocolate and creamy milk that sinks right down in your stomach and into your bones, infusing you with warmth. It almost feels like a hug and it's heaven on your tongue.
You cradle the mug carefully in your hands and curl around it for warmth. The warmth seeps into your icy fingers and chest from the mug. The urge to cry suddenly rams you like a train even though you aren't a weepy drunk and jesus, hot chocolate isn't supposed to make you drunk or uninhibited enough to become a blubbering wet mess of uncool.
Fuck. You miss Bro so damn much. You want to be back home in your apartment, to those days when Bro was alive. Sometimes, when the sky blazed orange like Bro's eyes, you would just sit down on the rooftop beside Bro with your respective weapons placed aside, and watch the stars come out and the lights turn on in the city below you. Giddy with euphoria and adrenaline of a good strife, you felt like you were on top of the world when Bro indulged you a small proud smile and bumped your shoulder gently with his. You craved those moments and more.
But Bro is dead. And he's not coming back.
==> Dave: Someone is coming. Stop being an emo.
You hear footsteps approaching. You hastily wipe your wet cheeks dry with your sleeve and stoically pretend that you hadn't been sobbing like an emo bitch over your mug of hot chocolate. A tell-tale white glow betrays the newcomer's identity and you neutrally greet her, "Sup, Kanaya."
The tall and slender troll does not seem surprised to see you in the kitchen. Elegant and composed, she glides over the floor to the coffee machine and makes herself a mug of the black swill. You try your best not to picture her with a stereotypical vampire cloak. Kanaya takes the mug and sits down on one of the cushion piles. She does not show any reaction to the crappy taste of the coffee when she sips it. She finally greets you with carefully enunciated words, "Good night, Dave. Have you been sleeping well?"
"Of course. I've been sleeping like my bed was spun out of the clouds that the angels rest upon and play wicked riffs on their harps. The princess who slept on a pea would fall asleep within a second. It's fit for royalty."
"Your sleeping cycles are quite different from Rose's. She does not keep to such irregular hours of the night like you." Kanaya casually replies as she sips her coffee.
Crap. Did Rose already suspect that something was wrong with you and spoke to Kanaya about her suspicions when she couldn't get her manicured nails into you? She must have foreseen that Kanaya would eventually run into you sooner or later in your nightly sojourns to the kitchen. You freeze for a microsecond before you snort and dismissively wave your hand, "Yeah, that's me alright. Staying up past bedtime like a naughty delinquent while Rose goes to bed early like a good little girl. I already have all the time in the world to catch my well-deserved forty winks thanks to my aspect of Time. Hah, fucking hah."
Kanaya frowns. She tips her head towards you and for a moment, you wonder if trolls ever use their horns for fighting. They sure look sharp enough to inflict fatal harm. Except for Karkat's nubby horns - they're ironically cute in their tiny size and rounded tips. When she finally speaks, her tone is faintly disapproving.
"You should not be so flippant about your God Tier powers. They are not to be used so cavalierly without good reason."
"Says who?" You quickly latch onto the new topic like a terrier and the topic is the terrier's new favourite toy. You would rather talk about your awesome God Tier powers rather than about your insomnia and your dreams. You are also genuinely curious about the apparent 'risks' that using your powers might have. After all, Kanaya had played Sburb longer than you did and had finagled out the finer subtleties that you may or may not have discovered through your rushed session. It was rather purely by luck that Rose and you had been standing on your Quest Beds when the Tumour exploded and achieved God-Tier in a fiery blaze.
Kanaya makes a noise that strongly reminds you of an insect chittering. It's the equivalent of a human clucking his tongue and you raise an eyebrow. She replies, "You are foolhardy. It is clear that you still do not understand what it means to be the Knight of Time. Otherwise, you would not abuse your ability to manipulate time for such frivolous pursuits."
"Hey, I don't-"
"Yes, you do. Do you remember the time when you pulled a prank on Karkat and you used your ability to give yourself an alibi? That was a very reckless deed."
You stop to recall that occasion. Best prank ever. John would have approved.
"Yeah well, I was only fourteen at the time. I like to think that I've grown a bit more mature and I've been more careful about using my powers." You carelessly shrug. It is true that you haven't really been using your powers much recently. Not even to snatch precious sleep. You've had quite enough of seeing multiple you's.
Kanaya eyes you and you finally notice that her yellow eyes are beginning to take on a jade tint. Whoa, does that mean Karkat's eyes are going to turn red? She nods and says, "Very well. You have indeed matured a little since then, Dave. It would ease my mind if you continue to be mindful about your use of your powers. Time is a powerful aspect not to be meddled with, like my aspect Space is."
"Gotcha. I'm gonna sleep now. See you around." You quickly down the rest of the hot chocolate and clean the mug before returning it to the depths of the coffee machine. The conversation between you and Kanaya is clearly over. Kanaya kindly offers, "Would you like me to light your way back?"
"Nah, I've got it handled. I practically know the layout like the back of my hand now and I can literally walk the way back with my eyes closed." You sleepily reply as you walk out of the kitchen. The hot chocolate has effectively nullified the caffeine in your system and your brain is flooded with dopamine and serotonin. You can feel your eyelids drooping against your will as you slink back to your bedroom. By the time you open your door, you are too fucking wasted to bother taking off your clothes, not even your shoes. You simply collapse face-first onto your bed, uncaring of the shades painfully digging into your face. You close your eyes and begin to drift off. The clock is ticking closer to midnight.
==> Be the other Dave Strider.
You are now Dave Strider from the future. You are already sixteen and you feel years older. You have just returned from your quest and you have appeared in your bedroom. The surroundings feel unfamiliar now to you, no doubt because you have been away for many months now. You are just in time as the clock strikes midnight (of course, you are always in time now.)
Using your well-honed stealth, you creep on tiptoe to your bed and look down at your past self. For a moment, you feel jealous of him; he would get to spend the next few months with the person you just left in order to save them. But the moment quickly passes as you are filled with purpose and determination. Besides, you know that he will become you eventually. You also know that this must happen in order for you to properly grow into your role.
You lean over your past-self and to yours and Bro's credit, your past-self's finely honed instincts has him snapping awake in milliseconds despite your carefulness. But you are faster and at your peak while your past-self is still sluggish from lack of sleep. His eyes are wide behind his shades as you clap your hand over his mouth, muffling his yell. Your fully-grown powers activate around the both of you in red. You meet his glare with a determined gaze and you advise him, "Follow your heart." With a pop, you forcefully send your past-self to another universe, another timeline.
You finally take your past-self's former position on your bed and before you fall asleep, you pray that your past-self will take your advice. (Now that you realise it, it was really cliché. Unfortunately, you are already unconscious to really care.)
==> Be the current Dave Strider.
You have just arrived in a very familiar apartment. Your quick reflexes save your nose from being smashed against the floor. As you struggle to get your bearings, you notice another person leaning against the window with his back to you. You can smell the sea and you think you heard some birds. There's actual sunlight filling the apartment. How the fuck is that possible?
Wondering if you have finally cracked from the lack of sleep and this is all a hallucination (no, you're pretty sure that you just saw your future self before you ended up wherever this place is), you hear the strange mutter, "This is depressing. I really need someone to talk to, or I'm going to go batshit crazy."
Too dazed, you inadvertently reply, "Of course, it's depressing. What's your deal?"
When the stranger turns around with his hand on his katana, you can't breathe as his strong resemblance to Bro slams you right in the face with a cold iron. But he is too young to be Bro. Your exhaustion is suddenly dispelled with the energy of your confused anger and grief and you are amazed to find that your voice is steady as you sarcastically snipe back at the imposter. You nearly freak out when you try to use your time powers and find that you're powerless.
You are very disappointed when the stranger reveals himself to be a descendant of yours and not Bro. You are too exhausted to ponder the strange discrepancies such as why Texas' now an ocean and why your descendant is so much like Bro instead of you. You try your best not to feel angry with your descendant for looking and acting so much like Bro; after all, Strider genes are strong and it makes sense that one of your line would eventually breed another Strider like Bro in the four centuries that have apparently passed since your future self's death.
Your anger finally leaves you and you nearly sway on your feet as exhaustion finally catches up with you. But you catch yourself upright - Striders don't show their weaknesses. You are tempted to take your descendant up on his offer to sleep on his familiar futon, the exact same futon where you used to curl up with Bro during the nights. The nostalgia is overwhelming as you look around the apartment and you control your shaking with iron will.
But somehow, your descendant easily sees through you much like Bro always could and demands to know when was the last time you slept. You bite back the automatic reflex to answer the stern question honestly (fuck, fuck, fuck, why is he so much like Bro?!) and bullishly prepare to argue. Your descendant frowns and he's gone in a flash.
Then something pinches the nerve cluster at the base of your neck and you immediately fall unconscious, crumbling to the floor with a loud thud. You have just started your final Quest in a very unceremonious and painful way.
Writing in 2nd person perspective and keeping present perfect tense is kind of tricky when you've been used to writing in 3rd POV and past perfect tense for a long time. Thanks to Beta-reader Tab. Tumblr Link
Dave gradually woke up to the sounds of squawking birds. He was warm and comfortable in bed and he had never felt any better. It was the first time in ages that he had slept so well. He was tempted to simply roll over and fall sleep again but the infernal sunlight streaming through the window and landing on his face in the process prevented him from doing so. Grumbling in annoyance, he got up and swung himself off the bed, grabbing his shades from the bedside table.
Unconsciously and easily navigating the apartment in a sleepy haze, he got to the kitchen and opened the pantry to get his breakfast of Fruit Loops. He frowned slightly when he saw that the pantry was empty. A white seagull squawked from the window, catching his attention. He froze as his brain finally slammed into full gear.
What the actual fuck.
He was supposed to be on the meteor. Not back in this apartment, which was supposed to be on the Land of Heat and Clockworks, which was currently in Jade’s possession. Easily dodging the litter of sharp blades and smuppets, Dave rushed to the window, scaring off the seagull in the process and stared out of it in speechless shock. The sky was so blue, instead of red. A damn ocean surrounded the apartment instead of other high-rise apartments. There was bright sunlight, the first that he had seen in years. It felt warm on his skin and in moments, he could already feel his pale skin start to get sunburn. Dave had never seen so many fucking white seagulls that were not the black crows he knew so well.
What the actual fuck. Is this a dream-bubble?
Immediately, Dave fell onto his tried-and-tested method of checking if it was a dream-bubble. He concentrated and visualised red Nakodiles doing the luau on the kitchen counter, singing “Hot Problems.”
No Nakodile appeared. Dave was both relieved and anxious – the former because it would have been truly awful to see the spectacle even if it was for ironic purposes and he would have felt guilty about putting his consorts through that just for his own means, the latter because it wasn’t the result he was expecting.
Okay, it was not a dream-bubble, probably a normal lucid dream then. Dave had gone loopy, imagining a topsy-turvy version of his apartment. It’s still better than the nightmares he had though. He equipped his Royal Deringer and cut his finger with it – it always woke him up straight away from his dream, as quickly as one would drop it like it’s hot. But nope, instead of waking up in his bed on the meteor, Dave’s finger stung sharply and a bead of blood welled up from the cut. Surprised, he stared at his bleeding finger as it quickly healed up before his eyes (one of the convenient perks of God Tier was quick healing).
Dave was not in a dream. He was awake. He was also apparently in a replica of his apartment. Fortunately, his memories of yesterday soon returned and he suddenly understood Karkat’s enmity with his future self. He definitely wanted to eviscerate his future self for putting him in this position. For what purpose, Dave irritably wondered. But for now, he was curious about his apparent Strider descendant who resembled Bro to an uncanny degree. It was a much more productive use of his time than cursing a storm at his future self and getting zero results. He also wondered with some consternation why his ability to control time was blocked.
Unbidden, Dave’s descendant’s words came back to him and he thought that he might be correct. Was this one of his quests? Was this why his douchebag future self tossed him here without warning? Fuck, he would not be getting his answers any time soon. He decided to go and find his descendant, as there was nothing else better to do.
As Dave navigated the apartment, he found himself sliding back into nostalgia almost against his will. Nothing quite like having to side-step smuppets piles and sharp pointy objects as part of the Strider welcome. He wondered if his future self (not the douchebag, the one who’d apparently made some new Striders with a chick) had instilled it as a Strider tradition. He certainly would have, minus the smuppets piles.
Dave took care to move quietly and stealthily. He was as silent as a shadow. He was a motherfucking ninja (though no one could best Bro at it, including him). He wanted to see how good this Strider was and he was going to test him out by surprise-ambushing him like Bro did to him. Dave was also quite curious to see what the new Strider was like in person.
Within a few minutes, Dave had systematically scoped out the entire apartment and was unsuccessful in finding any trace of the mysterious Strider. He couldn’t help but feel annoyed as his gaze landed upon a smuppet pile, the familiarity of the situation grating on him. Bro had always been very good at hiding himself when he felt like it and it was disconcerting that the new Strider also shared the same skill. Derisively snorting, Dave refrained from stomping like a petulant child as he made his way to the window once more and looked out, admiring the novel view of the ocean. He hadn’t seen the ocean before outside of photos and Sburb.
Enjoying the mild breeze, Dave soon felt something land in his hair and stiffened. Desperately hoping that it wasn’t seagull droppings, he tentatively reached up to fish out the mysterious object and discovered much to his relief that it was a shiny fish scale.
Huh. That’s it. The roof.
Dave could have smacked himself in the forehead with his hand for forgetting about the roof. Though granted, the last time he’d gone up to the roof was rather chaotic, what with entering the Medium and having to fend off enemies. Bro had definitely not hung around the apartment or the roof during the game before he…died on the Land of Wind and Shade, but here, things were different and relatively normal, even if it wasn’t quite the same. His heart was beating a fast tattoo in his chest as Dave calmly made for the stairs and slowly ascended. Finally reaching the door that separated him from the roof’s expanse, he put his hand on the doorknob and twisted it open.
…Holy shit my eyes. They hurt. Why is it so fucking damn bright – it is insane.
Good god, Dave could almost feel tears of agony spring to his sensitive red eyes as the bright glare of the sun burned through his dark shades. Squinting his eyes, he scanned the rooftop, searching for the elusive Strider, his face expressionless despite his rising anticipation and nervousness. Not seeing anyone but hearing unusually loud noises of feathers rustling and squawking birds, Dave stepped away from the door and walked round to the other side of the roof towards the noise.
When he rounded the corner of the rooftop exit, he saw a large flock of seagulls clustered at the edge of the roof. The crowd of birds was so thick that he barely made out the solitary figure of a person sitting on the edge of the roof through the cloud of white feathers gently drifting in the breeze. Dave halted, suddenly unsure of what to do next. He was too wired with nervous energy and for once, he was at a loss for words, his tongue heavy and a lump in his throat.
As he stood there like an idiot, some of the seagulls noticed his presence and a brave seagull ventured closer, cocking its head at him. It flapped its wings and squawked quietly before it suddenly flew up at him, right at his face, startling a loud yell from Dave as he tried to shoo the pest away from his head.
As Dave flapped his hand like a crazed maniac at the persistent avian pest that seemed determined to pluck his shades off his face, he ranted, “What the hell is up with you, you crazy bird. Have I accidentally stepped into Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’? Man, fuck my life. Go away, you’re not taking my cool Ben Stiller shades!” He kept his other hand protectively over his shades, not wanting to risk them being stolen by a rogue seagull.
He now officially hated seagulls more than crows.
Distracted by his battle with the seagull, Dave did not notice that his loud ruckus had caught the attention of other person on the roof. The said person was now making his way towards him with an amused expression on his face. He placed two fingers in his mouth and whistled sharply. The piercing whistling noise seemed to work like magic as the seagull attacking Dave stopped and complacently glided over to perch on Dave’s new saviour’s shoulder. His saviour raised an eyebrow and greeted him, “Hello, Dave. Did you sleep well?”
“…I suppose.” Pretending that a seagull hadn’t harassed him, Dave straightened up from his protective slouch, still keeping one hand on his shades, paranoid that another enterprising seagull would attempt to steal them. He asked, “So. What’s your first name, fellow Strider?”
“I’m Dirk.” He simply replied. Dave curtly nodded, “Cool. It’s just one letter away from being Dick Strider, just saying.” Glad that his shades prevented Dirk from seeing the naked curiosity in his eyes, Dave took the opportunity to eyeball Dirk Strider in front of him.
Dirk Strider was taller than Dave and his hair was a sun-bleached blonde compared to his pale blonde. He wasn’t wearing a cap like Bro did and there was an orange hat on his white shirt. He had an althletic swimmer’s physique, broad shoulders and slim hips that caused Dave to feel a twinge of dissatisfaction with his skinny frame. Dirk’s skin had a golden tan, no doubt from being exposed to the sun. Dave assiduously suppressed the pang of nostalgia at the familiar pointy shades and Dirk’s strong resemblance to Bro. As his gaze dropped lower, he observed that Dirk was carrying a bucket filled to the brim with freshly gutted fish in his right hand and his hands were covered with blood and scales.
“I take it that you were fishing earlier and you have just finished scaling your bountiful catch?”
“Yes, I was.” Dirk replied as he walked past him to the open door. He shooed the seagull away from his shoulder. His voice was completely deadpan and little could be read from his face. Goddamn, he was way too much like Bro who was the master of the art of poker face. Irritated and feeling completely out of his depth, Dave followed Dirk back down the stairs to the flat, determinedly not hurrying like an eager puppy at his heels.
“So. Where am I? The last time I checked, I was in my room on a meteor.”
Dirk plonked the bucket down in the sink and began to clean out the fish. He replied, “You’re in my flat in Houston, Texas.”
“Yeah okay, but as I recall, Texas didn’t look like an ocean.” Dave’s cool was dwindling rapidly in Dirk’s presence at an astounding rate. There was just something about Dirk that got under his skin and rubbed his nerves the wrong way so damn easily. (Maybe it’s because he’s like Bro.) In reply, Dirk merely plucked a fish from the bucket and threw it at him. Dave squawked in disgust as he reflexively caught the slimy fish before it smacked him in the face, “DUDE. Warn a guy before you start throwing fish at them.”
“Help me clean the fish first, then I’ll answer your questions. Nothing’s free.” Oh, he could just hear the smug smirk in Dirk’s voice. (He sounded slightly awkward as if he wasn’t used to speaking much.) Grumbling to himself, Dave grudgingly joined Dirk at the sink and began rinsing the fish out, inwardly cringing at how slimy and squishy the fish felt in his hands. Having no idea what he was doing, he simply ran the water over the fish, not wanting to touch the fish more than necessary.
Dirk tsked and grabbed the fish from him, “Not like that. You’ve got to get your fingers in deep and scrape out the remaining offal.” Demonstrating, he held the fish belly up and plunged his fingers into the slit on the fish’s belly. Holding the slit open, he pulled his bloody fingers out, removing a glob of dark red tissue that splattered onto the grey metal sink. Dave flinched. Dirk noticed his reaction and asked, “Are you alright?”
“Yeah. I’m fine. Just give me the fish.” Dave noncommitally replied, unwilling to share the fact that hewasn’t comfortable with seeing so much blood, especially on someone who looked so much like Bro. “It’s a trade, right?”
Thankfully, Dirk didn’t press the issue and nudged the bucket towards him. At any other time, Dave would have have cracked a lewd joke about someone passing the bucket to him – troll hangups about buckets were bizarrely amusing. But he wasn’t in the mood for humour. He was too drained and upset at being forced into living with a stranger who reminded him too much of Bro. This was shaping up to be the shittiest Quest ever. He dipped his hand into the bucket and took out another fish and cleaned it the way Dirk showed him, trying his best to contain his roiling nausea at feeling the innards squish and slide under his fingernails. It didn’t help that the fish also had a strong smell.
“You know, this would have been a lot messier if I hadn’t removed most of the offal on the roof and fed the seagulls.”
“Huh. Good point.” Dave belatedly realised that there was actually very little mess in relation to the size and quantity of the fish. Damn, he was never helping Dirk out in gutting the fish on the roof. The devilish seagulls only cinched his decision. He remembered that he still hadn’t gotten his answer and repeated his question, “So, how did Texas turn into a big pond? Care to enlighten your guest whom you’re bench-pressing into cleaning fish?”
Plop, plop, plop went three cleaned fish into the other sink. Just how fast was Dirk at cleaning fish? Dave narrowed his eyes behind the shades. Dirk casually replied, “Simple. It was global warming. Ice melted, ocean levels rose, cities drowned.”
“Ah.” There wasn’t anything much Dave could say in response to that and an awkward silence ensued. Wow, this was so painfully awkward. He desperately searched for a new topic to fill the air and not come off as a total lamer in the process. On the other hand, Dirk didn’t seem perturbed by the silence and continued to methodically clean the remainder of the fish.
“So. What’s the world like now?” God. That was such a lame question. Dave would have facepalmed himself if not for the fact that his hands were covered with fish blood and guts.
Dirk motioned for him to hand over the fish. He did so and Dirk placed them back in the bucket, leaving one on the counter. He pulled out a drawer to take out a wooden chopping board that looked very well used and placed it on the counter. As Dave cleaned his hands and watched him, Dirk put the fish on the chopping board and began to fillet it with his katana in a flash of steel. He answered, “It’s a boring place aside from the fact that it’s now mostly occupied by the Troll Empire and almost completely covered by ocean.”
Dave had been too absorbed in admiring Dirk’s expert swordmanship that he almost didn’t catch his reply. He was now confused and stated questioningly, “The Troll Empire?” As far as he knew, troll and humans did not exist in the same universe; so how was it that trolls had invaded Earth? He was missing a lot of details.
“Yes. The Troll Empire led by Her Imperious Condescension, otherwise known as the Batterwitch.” Dirk paused and glanced at him, his lips drawn into a tense line. “…She’s the one who’s responsible for the eradication of humankind.”
“What.” Dave flatly said. That was so fucked up. Dirk shrugged his shoulders, “I know right? But that’s already old news. All of this,” he gestured to the apartment around them and the sea, “is already the norm for at least the past four centuries. It’s a long time to get used to it, and being one of the only two, well ok, three, humans left, there’s not much I can do about it.”
“You sound defeatist.” Dave leaned against the counter, crossing his arms. He was starting to see the differences between Dirk and Bro already. They ran deeper than just physical age disparities. While Bro wasn’t an idealist or an optimist, he wasn’t a pessimist, well, more like he hated to lose. Dirk already seemed resigned to his fate and it rubbed him the wrong way.
“I’m not a defeatist. I’m a realist.” Dirk seemed offended at his insinuation that he had given up. He placed the chopping board aside and walked around him to wash his hands in the sink, “You try being in my shoes and see what you can do.”
Dave arched an eyebrow and replied, “Seeing that I’m a god with powers over Time, I think I can do a fair lot more than you.”
Dirk smirked, “Yeah, a god who’s lost his powers and stuck here for the foreseeable future.”
Dave scowled, not happy to be reminded of the fact that he was now powerless. At least, he still retained the power of regeneration. Huffing to himself, he muttered, “Yeah, well. They’re probably on the glitch because I hadn’t had enough rest. Just give me some time to recover and they’ll be back. Then, we’ll see who’s laughing.”
“Be my guest.” Dirk sardonically said as he opened a cabinet and retrieved a cooking pan and spatula. Dave stared, unable to reconcile the domestic items with Dirk.
“You can cook.”
“Of course, I do. Why else was I cleaning and filleting the fish? To feed the sharks?”
Dave shook his head slowly; as far as he could recall, Bro didn’t cook. They usually ate takeaway food or ate out. He restrained his reflex to jump when a plate suddenly appeared in front of him with some slices of raw fish on it. The fish was a pale cream colour and Dave stared at it.
“Eat. Hamachi or Yellowtail is also pretty good as sashimi.”
“…Is it safe to eat?” Dave reluctantly took the fish slice in his fingers and eyed it dubiously. He’d never eaten raw fish before and wasn’t keen to get food poisoning. Dirk sighed and replied, “Considering that I pretty much subsisted on a diet of raw fish when I was younger and didn’t know how to cook, it’s perfectly safe. It’s even delicious.”
“Fine. If I die from explosive diarrhea, I’m blaming you. It’s a good thing I still have god-like healing powers…”
“I’m eating.” Dave quickly popped the sashimi into his mouth, not keen to have Dirk suddenly flip out on him and go Bro-ninja on his ass for failing to eat his fish. Goodness knows how many times Bro had done that in order to make him eat his vegetables. Then he paused as he chewed thoughtfully. The raw fish wasn’t that bad. It actually tasted kind of…sweet and slightly salty. It wasn’t even as slimy he’d thought it would be.
“It’s good right? The fish is incredibly fresh and the only way that it’s even better, is to eat the fish while it’s still alive.”
“Have you actually eaten a live fish?” Dave couldn’t help but ask, both grossed out and intrigued by the idea. He ate another slice as Dirk started up the fire on the stove.
“I tried once. It was far too messy and too much effort to pin the goddamn fish down while I was trying to eat it.”
“Lemme guess, much blood was spilt?”
“Oh yeah. Right all over the linoleum.”
“…” Before he’d realised it, Dave had already finished the plate of sashimi. He held out the plate and asked, “More?”
Dirk silently observed his new reluctant flatmate wolf down his lunch. Dave had a prodigious appetite for someone so skinny. Dirk was already full and he was feeling lethargic from the combination of a good meal and the afternoon heat. He once read that it was enjoyable cooking for someone who enjoyed your cooking, but to be honest, he thought it was a load of bull. It was way too much trouble and already, Dirk could tell that he would have to catch more fish just to feed both of them comfortably (more Dave really).
“Dude, stop staring. You’re ruining my appetite,” Dave spoke through a mouthful of food. “Yes, I know that I’m one handsome guy but there’s a limit to how much one can stand to be gawked at like a cow at a zoo casually grazing on vegetation and defecating. Why don’t you take a photo and stare at that to your heart’s content instead?”
Dave pointed his fork at Dirk and smirked, “I warn you that it will cost you a thousand boonbucks if you want to take a photo. I don’t come cheap.”
Dirk was puzzled by Dave’s behaviour. His words did not match his actions – although he had proclaimed that he was not comfortable being watched eating, he’d still continued eating without any trace of discomfort. But then again…Dave was far too ‘relaxed’, as though he was ready for a fight to break out any moment; his limbs deceptively loose enough to make a quick move.
Dave’s fondness of using archaic metaphors only made it even harder for Dirk to understand him as he was not familiar with the jargon from four centuries ago. Dirk sighed to himself. His new flatmate was turning out to be quite a headache and he talked far too much. Shaking his head in bemusement, he said, “You’re very strange.”
Dave pursed his lips at him, his brows dipping into a frown. He said, “Same to you, Dirk. You’re like that creepy silent pyscho who stares at people in the parks, planning out their horrible deaths.” A thoughtful pause. “And by the way…I definitely hope that you don’t have cannibalistic tastes.”
“Dude.” Dirk said, his eyebrows shooting up in disbelief. “Is this the thanks I get for hosting you and cooking you lunch? I get baseless accusations from you that I’m a psychopath who has designs on devouring your human flesh in a cannibalistic feast?”
“Hey, I didn’t say that your cooking sucks! I just said that you were creeping me out!” Dave protested.
“That wasn’t what I heard you say.” Dirk coolly said as he crossed his arms. Dave copied him and he sneered, “Maybe you should check your hearing. Only hearing yourself speak must have spoiled your perception.”
Dirk narrowed his eyes at Dave. He smoothly stood up and cleared away the plates in silence, ignoring him at the table. From the corner of his eye, he could see Dave looking at him with a stubborn frown. But as he washed up the plates, he could see Dave’s expression growing more uncertain as the silence dragged on. When Dirk had finally put up the plates on the rack to dry, he walked over to the window and beckoned Dave to follow him.
Dave reluctantly followed him to the window. He had his hands in his pockets and he looked slightly nervous. But when Dirk turned to look at him, his expression turned rebellious once more. Dirk said, “You’re a complete insensitive boor. Perhaps, the ocean will do you some good.”
Before Dave could react, Dirk pushed him out of the window.
When a sopping wet and shivering Dave finally managed to climb back up the scaffoldings and hauled his body through the window, he collapsed with a wet splotch on the linoleum. His muscles felt like limp noodles – his God-Tier clothes were surprisingly heavy when wet and climbing up at least 30 feet with them on was sheer hell. Rolling onto his back to wearily look up at Dirk, he groaned, “Fuck. You.”
“Have you learned your lesson?” Dirk asked as he stood over him with a towel in his hands. He squatted down beside Dave’s head and raised an eyebrow, “Well?”
“Yeah. I’ll never insult your shitty cooking again.” Dave muttered.
“Not the point I was getting at. But that will do for now.” Dirk dropped the towel on top of Dave’s head and said, “Go take a shower.”
Dave grumbled under his breath as he snatched the towel away from his face. He pushed himself off the floor but fell clumsily when his wet cape wrapped around his legs and tripped him. Weakly flailing against the weight of his heavy sodden clothes, Dave swore. The sight heavily reminded Dirk of a crab he saw once when a seagull had brought it to his roof to eat. The crab had been flipped on its back and squirming much like what Dave was doing now.
Snorting in amusement, Dirk decided to take pity on Dave and pulled him to his feet. He suggested, “You should start wearing lighter clothes. Your current clothes are unsuitable for the climate.”
“…Yeah okay. What would I wear though?” Dave sullenly replied, as he unclipped his wet cape. His cheeks were flushed with embarrassment, exertion or a mixture of both. Dirk shrugged and replied, “I have some clothes that you could use.”
“Cool.” Without any further words, Dave hastily absconded with the towel in hand for the bathroom. Dirk was rather impressed by his speed.
While Dave was off taking a long shower (it appeared that a love for long showers was a Strider trait), Dirk preoccupied himself on his computer. He saw that Roxy was finally online. Good. It meant that she hadn’t died from alcohol poisoning yet. One of these days, she was going to kill herself by drinking so much damn liquor. (Actually, he had sometimes wondered if it was Roxy’s attempt at a slow suicide of sorts.)
- timaeusTestified [TT] started pestering tipsyGnostalgic [TG] -
TT: Hey. Are you awake?
TG: whats all his messages i got from u last night
TG: did something happen??
TT: In a manner of speaking, yes.
TT: But before I go into the details, I need you to be sober. This is very important.
TG: im sober dont worry
TG: what IS it? youve got me curious like a cat, a thousand cats more like
TT: Fine. Can you spell that long word from Mary Poppins? The word that starts with a ‘S’.
TG: i hate u
TG: you ALWASYS pick that word when you know that i cant spell it even when im sober.
TT: So you are not sober right now?
TG: NO i mean YES I AM SOBER
TG: argh just get on with the oh-so-important news u have to tell me
TG: and btw that was not an unintentional typo dirk
TG: it is an insult to ur face
TG: just so were clear
TT: Fine. You’re quite irritable when you’re sober. Hangover?
TG: Yes. Now get on with it.
TT: Ah there it is. Perfect punctuation and capitalisation. You’re perfectly sober alright.
TT: Alright. Brace for yourself for the news.
TG: what what what is it??
TT: Another human arrived at my flat yesterday. His name is Dave Strider.
TT: He’s also our age and my ancestor.
TG: another HUMAN?
TG: r u drunk
TG: did u steal my liquor
TG: cos that would explain why i noticed some bottles missing
TT: Roxy. I did not steal your liquor. You live in a Carapacian colony miles away from where I am and I do not possess an appearifier.
TT: It’s probably one of the Carapacians who stole it or your cats.
TT: But we’re getting off-track. We need to talk about Dave Strider and what this means for us.
TG: how do u know that this davey is a human and not u know…
TT: I checked.
TG: so u…
TT: Yes. Let's not go into the details of that right now. We need to discuss what the appearance of a third human means.
TG: that theres another human?
TT: No. It means that there are other humans from where Dave came from. We’re not alone.
TG: i dunno…it seems too good to be true. are you really SURE?
TT: You’re right. He seems to have come from the past, judging from what he has said so far. He was rather confused to see the Earth so changed from the one he knew 400+ years ago. So technically, there are still humans from where he came from. Just not in our timeline.
TG: sigh so whats the point of telling me all this then?? its not like we can travel back in time
TT: Well, what if I told you that Dave Strider happens to be that famous Knight of Time?
TT: According to Dave, he can travel through time. He could take us.
TG: idk. i just. I. Don’t. Know. i need to thikn
TG: see you later
TT: Okay. See you.
- tipsyGnostalgic [TG] ceased pestering timaeusTestified [TT] -
With a beep, Roxy went offline. Dirk leant back in his chair with a sigh, lacing his hands behind his head. The conversation had gone better than he thought it might, but at the same time, it had not given the results he had been hoping for. Perhaps, Roxy needed more proof of Dave’s identity before she could be convinced.
He heard his bedroom door open. Swivelling in his chair to face his door, Dirk saw Dave come in, wearing plain white clothes with only a spinning black disc on the front of his shirt for ornamentation. The clothes fit his guest well. He saw that Dave was still wearing his shades and for the umpteenth time, wondered what his eyes looked like behind those opaque black lenses.
Dave plucked at his shirt, looking at his icon with interest and said, “Technology’s become quite advanced these days, huh. The Wardrobifier is pretty cool.”
“I suppose.” Dirk said. “Is there something you need?”
Dave slouched his shoulders and shrugged. “I was wondering what’s there to do around here. It doesn’t seem like there’s much to do and I’ve had quite enough of the ocean, no thanks to your impromptu defenestration.”
Dirk considered his answer; there were actually many chores that needed doing or fixing around the apartment. For instance, the communication tower needed its weekly maintenance. Laundry, cooking, house cleaning were just some of the minor chores – most of his time was spent on the upkeep of the flat’s scaffoldings and utilities. Of course, amid all the chores, he enjoyed his hobbies of robotics, puppets, programming and sparring. Actually, he really wanted to try his hand at sparring with another human instead of a robot.
But would Dave agree to a spar? Dirk glanced at Dave and mentally shrugged. There was no harm in asking.
“Do you want to strife?”
Dave looked at him in unreadable silence. He finally replied with a sharp nod, “Hell. Yes.”
Dirk did not smile. He only said, “Meet me up on the roof in half an hour,” before disappearing from Dave’s vision.
When Dave met him on the roof in thirty minutes, there was no exchange of pleasantries. He only asked, “What are the rules?”
“The spar ends when either one of us yields or is physically incapable of continuing.”
“It’s the same huh.” Dave muttered as he retrieved his sword from his sylladex. Dirk fetched his katana as well. They walked to the opposite ends of the roof and examined each other in the distance. The sun was still high and fiercely blazing. The breeze faded.
A seagull suddenly squawked, signalling the start of the spar. Dirk bent low to the floor and sprinted into action, meeting Dave in the center of their impromptu arena with a loud clash of steel. Dave was stronger than he looked, actually standing his ground despite his slender frame and pushing him back with his significantly heavier broadsword.
Dirk immediately disengaged from the sword-lock, not wanting to break his katana (even if his blade was unbreakable, he had the feeling that it would break on Dave’s weapon). Dave kept even pace with him as they darted back and forth over the roof, probing each other’s defences and skill with quick jabs and thrusts of their swords. Startled seagulls scattered to the air, shedding their feathers whenever the Striders came near.
This was exhilarating. Fighting Dave was a completely new experience, filled with unpredictability and challenges that even his best robots could not bring, subject to their internal logic and rigid patterns of their programming. Dave was also fast. There was no room or time for thought. It was pure instinctive action, his arms and legs moving to attack and defend.
But yet, there was an underlying dissatisfaction that grew as the spar went on. It seemed as though Dave was hesitant to commit himself fully to the fight despite his initial ferocity. Dirk frowned when he realised that Dave was actually slowing down. Knowing that it was a bad idea to let the spar continue when his partner was so distracted, he put a stop to the fight. With a deft flick of his wrist, he disarmed Dave and caught his sword. In a split second, Dirk had his katana at Dave’s throat and he demanded, “Yield.”
Dave stilled, wary of the deadly blade at his neck. His hands twitched for his weapon. If he still had his powers, he would have been able to escape from this situation with the help of his time clones. But as he was now powerless, there was nothing else he could do. He reluctantly said, “I yield.”
“Would you care to explain why you are so distracted?” Dirk lightly asked, lowering his katana. He returned the broadsword back to Dave and waited for his answer. The only signs of Dave’s discomfort were his white knuckles as he tightly gripped his sword and the tense tendons in his neck as he clenched his jaw. Dave remained mulishly silent as he looked at him with a carefully blank face, enhanced by his inscrutable black shades. Dirk gazed back at him and wondered what exactly he was thinking.
“…What colour are your eyes?” Dave mumbled half to himself and half to Dirk.
“Pardon?” Dirk raised an eyebrow, not expecting the question. Was Dave distracted because he had been wondering what colour his eyes were? It was an amusing thought. Dave’s shoulders hunched defensively. He muttered, “Never mind. It was a stupid question anyway.”
Dirk’s other eyebrow rose to join the other as he continued to stare at Dave in curious fascination. His reactions were so bizarre and he was hard-pressed to figure out the exact reason why Dave kept flipping between hostility and awkwardness towards him. Was he still resentful about being dumped in the ocean earlier or was he embarrassed by his subsequent fall?
Deciding to see how he would respond, Dirk put his hand to his shades and offered, “I don’t mind showing you what my eyes look like but I’m not doing it unless you return the same courtesy.”
Dave shifted on his feet and his adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. His hand hesitantly hovered over his shades as he considered Dirk’s offer. He finally lowered his hand and shook his head, “Nah. It’s no big deal. Who even cares what your eyes look like when I’m not going to stay around for long.”
Dirk dropped his hand from his shades, disappointed by his response. He hid his disappointment and asked matter-of-factly, “Then why did you even ask in the first place? Were you really so distracted by the mystery of my eye colour that you just got your ass delivered to you on a silver platter?”
Dave stiffened and he snapped, “It doesn’t matter. Drop it.”
“Make. Me.” Dirk challenged. Dave stepped closer, his grip tightening on his sword. His lips were grim as he flatly said, “Fine.”
Dave moved even faster than he had earlier during their spar. Before Dirk could even see it, his fist had slammed into his jaw. He instinctively rolled with the blow, lessening the force of impact to his jaw. His throbbing jaw kindly informed him that it still wouldn’t prevent him from developing a sore bruise later. Dirk quickly recovered, jumping back in the nick of time to dodge Dave’s following slash to his stomach.
Dave was much more aggressive and faster now as he harried Dirk with his relentless attacks. It was almost like being caught in a violent storm. After a few seconds, minutes, a relative eternity in this ferocious fight, it was clear that Dave was used to fighting a more experienced opponent and Dirk’s inexperience in fighting with non-robotic combatants was beginning to take its toll, evident in the numerous small cuts he had gained.
But at the same time, Dave was unused to Dirk’s movements. Catching a reprieve, he began to notice that Dave kept moving to defend against blows that did not come in the direction he expected and had to scramble to defend against the ones that did come. Dave’s experience was beginning to foil him, much like Mark Twain’s statement:
“The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do; and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.”
Keeping it in mind, Dirk patiently waited for Dave to make a fatal mistake. He just needed another push to make him lose more of his cool. He needled Dave, “Are you afraid of me because I look like someone you know?”
“Is it Bro whom you said I reminded you of?”
“Shut. Up.” Dave swung his sword down and Dirk met him with his sword with another loud clang of metal. Straining against each other for dominance, Dirk met Dave’s eyes through the shades and while he could not tell what colour they were, he could see fury in them. It was amusing how easily he could rile Dave up and vice versa. It could even be considered ironic. His wry amusement must have shown on his face because Dave’s glare was now livid enough to ignite him on fire.
“You aren’t anything like Bro.” Dave hissed. Dirk’s smirk grew a notch wider as he quoted, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
Dave made an inarticulate noise of rage. Pushing Dirk back with a newfound strength, he dropped his sword and lunged for his neck. Gotcha, Dirk thought. Quickly returning his katana back into his sylladex, he grabbed Dave’s wrists and swept his legs out from under him, pinning him down to the floor. Dave snarled and bucked, kicking him in the stomach, forcing Dirk to loosen his grip. From that point, the fight went downhill.
“Damn.” Dave said as he sprawled flat on his back on the roof. Beside him, Dirk silently agreed. The brawl had taken much out of them both and they would be sore and bruised by the next day. He gingerly felt his cheek and found his flesh tender to the touch. Thankfully, there was no fracture but there would be a purple bruise soon as a reminder. Dirk wiped off a trail of tacky blood from his chin that had streamed down from a split lip.
Much to his satisfaction, Dave was in an equally sorry state with dishevelled hair and the beginnings of a lovely shiner under his shades. His nose was bloody and slightly crooked. He grunted in pain as he forcefully shoved his broken nose into proper position. Dirk commented, “That was a good fight.”
“More like the worst fight ever. I can’t believe that you actually resorted to hair-pulling like a girl.” Dave retorted, but his voice lacked his usual heat. He now sounded weary. Dirk snorted and pointed out, “You were the one who started biting.”
“You taste like shit.”
“I’m sure you don’t taste all that great either. Maybe that’s why the sharks didn’t eat you when I threw you into the ocean earlier.”
“There are sharks? For real?” Dave sat up to look down at him incredulously. Dirk maintained a deadpan face and replied, “Yeah.”
Dave stared at him for a long moment before slowly shaking his head, “Nah. You’re bullshitting me. I just know it.”
“How are you so sure?” Dirk found it hard to contain his amused smirk, his split lip stinging with the effort to keep still. Dave gave him the evil eye and crossed his arms, “I know you. End of story.”
Dirk raised himself on his elbows and raised an eyebrow, “We’ve only just met. It’s not long enough to know each other all that well.”
“…True.” Dave quietly conceded. He ran a hand through his hair, smoothing it down. He sighed and said, “But you’re similar enough.”
“Hm.” That was all Dirk could say.
It was hard to believe that it had only been about two weeks since Dave’s arrival. Ever since the fight on the rooftop on the second day, Dave was no longer as hostile as he had been. Instead, he now took to constantly pestering Dirk like a blue fairy in an ancient videogame as he tried to finish his daily chores. At first, Dirk had tried to enlist his aid but soon gave up when it turned out that Dave would only be more of a hindrance with his complete lack of skill in household matters. He would rather not have to fix the dishwasher machine again when it caught on fire. (He had completely no idea how the fuck that happened.)
It was rather strange for Dirk at first, having someone follow him around the flat, rambling inanely about whatever came to his mind and his favourite topic: how fucking boring it was living in a suspended flat in the middle of the sea. He wasn’t used to hearing another person’s voice besides his own after so many years alone.
Unfortunately, it was also incredibly annoying because Dave. Just. Talked. So. Much. He didn’t even know that it was possible for someone to talk for so long without needing to breathe. (Perhaps, it was because Dave was a god so he didn’t need to breathe…?)
He had once tried to tune Dave out by wearing headphones but that had resulted in Dave sulking around the flat and mumbling to himself or his smuppets. That part hadn’t been so bad. Dirk only had changed his mind when his guest made constantly getting in his way as he lazed about the flat his life mission. It was rather frustrating having to push a resistant Dave out of the way with his foot like he was a large lazy cat.
Thankfully, Dirk soon got used to it; it was similar to having a shadow. Albeit one that could move and talk independently. He was even starting to enjoy Dave’s rambles as long as he mentally tuned the words out and just listened to the sounds of his voice blending in with the sounds of the sea, wind and the seagulls.
After Dirk had completed his chores for the day, he would usually retreat to his room to rest, dabble in his hobbies or chat with Roxy if she was online. But lately, he would end up being drawn to the couch to watch centuries-old movies by Dave. His guest was determined to cram as much of his 21st Century lingo into his brain as he could via those. Dave found Dirk’s lack of knowledge in this field apalling.
Beside him on the couch, Dave would explain in his rambling absurd manner about the slang and/or other esoteric points of the current film they watched. Dirk often feigned ignorance just to see Dave grow more and more irritated. It was more entertaining to see Dave’s reactions than the movies that he’d already seen several times over.
So far, Dave had not requested to see any of his movies, even though he was aware of their existence. He was strangely reluctant to see them; finding it “weird” to watch a film that another version of him had made. Dirk might even describe his reluctance as “apprehensive”. He had not pressed Dave about watching the movies because hey, that was his personal choice. It was also probably sensible to avoid time paradoxes and watching those movies might have caused one, who knows?
Dave was endlessly fascinating for him to observe and analyse even as he grew more familiar with his quirks and personality. Interacting with a person in real-time and in the flesh was more different from chatting online than he’d expected. There were so many nuances involved; shades of meaning hidden in the way Dave said a word, his tone, body language and facial expressions. For someone who would be known as the legendary king of “Ice-Cool” and master of the pokerface, he was startlingly expressive in his youth.
Dirk tried to be discreet about his blatant fascination with Dave, only stealing long glances whenever he wasn’t paying attention. Even though he was intimately familiar with the legends of Dave Strider and Rose Lalonde, it was clear that Dave wasn’t the same person in the legends. At least, not yet…
He also constantly wondered about Dave’s “Bro” and what exactly “Sburb” was. Evidently, Dirk must have been quite similar to Bro to elicit such a strong response from Dave in their first sparring session. Even now, Dave would sometimes get a strange expression on his face whenever he casually addressed Dirk as “bro” instead of his usual “dude”. As for Sburb, Dave instantly clammed up at any mention of the “game”. Archive diving into what remained of the Internet’s vast databases before the Troll Empire did not bear fruit.
Sooner or later, Dirk would get his answers. He simply had to find a way to make Dave crack and spill the beans. He had all the time in the world to do so and that was perfect irony.
- tipsyGnostalgic [TG] started pestering timaeusTestified [TT] –
TG: ok ill bite
TG: so this dave strider is your ancestor and hes now in your apartment for some reason
TG: does he know how he got there?
TT: Good question. The answer is he did it to himself. As in, his future self who is not yet my ancestor.
TT: He was quite vocal and vexed that his future self would condemn him to a figurative “boring island in the middle of the sea”. I’m almost inclined to be offended but then I remember that he does come from a very different time and is still an adolescent like I am.
TT: It still doesn’t excuse his constant nattering about recherché cultural references that I completely have no idea about and/or have little access to. I don’t like being made a fool. It’s denigrating.
TG: teeheehee youre quite talkative today
TG: now u know why i constantly tell you to stfu when you get into one of your geeeeeeeky moods ;)
TT: At least, I make perfect sense.
TG: humph if you weren’t tha last person on earth I could talk wwith I woudlnt even want to stay for your long tecnucal sermens
TG: oh wait i dont.
TT: …So that was your auto-responder whenever you made more typos than usual? Well-played.
TG: close ;)
TG: its mutie
TT: You expect me to believe that a mutated cat can actually spell words and string them together into a coherent and legitimate string of sentences?
TG: hey! dont insult my cat!!! hes really smrt.
TG: riiiight anway so as i ws saying…
TG: …what was i going to say
TG: darn it it was right on the tip of my tonhue.
TT: Was it important? Maybe it will come back to you later.
TG: hmmm i think it was but now im not sure
TG: I would have defineitely rememembered it if it was!
TT: Okay. Ping me later.
TG: …OH YEAH NOW I REMEMBER!
TG: i was gonna ask you to show me some pic s of davey ;) PLS???
TT: Why am I not surprised that you would request for some booty pictures of Dave Strider?
TG: i didnt say that iwanted to look at his foine booty di-stri!!!
TG: stop putting words into my mouth hands
TG: I just want to see him with my own eyes but photos will have to do
TT: Well, when you put it that way… Sure, why not.
TT: It just so happens that my cameras around the apartment have captured quite a bounty of quality footage of Dave being a total dork.
TT: It’s amazing what one can do when driven to complete boredom.
TG: heheheh. sounds like fun
- timaeusTestified [TT] has sent “thisisnothowyoutreatsmuppets.avi” to tipsyGnostalgic [TG] -
TG: oooh daves pretty cute
TG: hes got a nice butt, probs better than urs
TT: That’s not the point of the video, Ro-lal. See how he freaks out when he sees Lil Cal and then bumps into the pile of smuppets, unleashing an avalanche of felt ass on him.
TT: He is hapless, unable to move as he watches them descend onto him.
TT: Then he whips out his sword and proceeds to thrust it into the nearest smuppet that’s just shy of caressing his hair with its long proboscis.
TG: i see he has a good technique lol
TT: He is quite skilled. It’s certainly more challenging strifing with him than with one of my robots. Too bad his skill doesn’t carry over to domestic chores.
TG: hmmhmm so does dave have a pesterchum? ill like to chat with him sometime
TG: get to know him intimately
TT: Got tired of AR already? You’re going to break his non-existent kokoro.
TG: no its not like that i just wanna talk with dave
TG: you have him 24/7 ANYWAY so share that cute butt
TT: Haha. Ok. I’ll check if he has a pesterchum account and put you in touch. No guarantees if he would talk with you though.
TG: okay! thanks :)
TT: Talk with you next time.
- timaeusTestified [TT] ceased pestering tipsyGnostalgic [TG] -
TG: so dirk do you actually thikn that his butt is cute??
TG: aw dang it LAG1!!
TG: nvm ill ask you next time
-tipsyGnostalgic [TG] ceased pestering timaeusTestified [TT]
Today was proving to be quite a hot day; the heat was so intense that he could feel it rising up from the floor. There was no breeze to relieve the stifling heat and the high humidity made Dirk’s shirt stick uncomfortably to his sweaty back. On hot days such as this, Dirk usually forewent his chores because it was too fucking hot and he’d get sunburn and heatstroke, that’s why, doofus.
Talking of which, Dirk was mildly surprised to see that Dave didn’t seem affected by the hellish heat at all. It was probably because he had an affinity for heat, from what little he had managed to glean from Dave’s rambles – Land Of Clockwork And Heat was a planet filled with lava from what he understood. That lucky bastard. Swearing under his breath as Dirk shucked off his damp shirt and tossed it into the laundry bin, he opted to go topless. In this insane heat, a tanktop wouldn’t have made any difference.
“…Dude. Is that a tattoo?” Dave asked lifting his head up from the couch he sprawled on. Both his eyebrows were visible over his shades. Dirk glanced at the tattoo on his right shoulder and shrugged, “Yeah. Haven’t you seen one before?”
“It’s Hella Jeff.” Dave emphasised as he sat up from the couch. He sat up and jabbed his finger at his tattoo with an incredulous expression, “Why would you even want to tattoo such a crappy drawing on your body? It’s beyond ironic. It’s nuts.”
“What is even the big deal? I can choose what I want to ink on my body, can’t I?” Dirk replied, bemused by Dave’s reaction. Dave shook his head and asked plaintively, “But why? I mean sure, it’s cool that SBAHJ became a sweet rocking franchise but to the point that you would wear a tat like it’s something to be proud of? It boggles my mind.”
Dirk felt tired and he could feel the faint signs of a heat migraine. Dehydration. He needed a drink. Walking over to the sink, he turned on the tap, cupped his hands under running water and drank. Feeling marginally better, he said, “It is of personal importance to me. Your movies were one of the few relics of human civilisation. It might not mean much to you right now, but to someone who has never grown up in human civilisation, they are priceless. And well…”
How do you explain to your ancestor that the movies were also his only means of connecting and knowing him outside of dry historical texts?
“And well what?” Dave prompted. Dirk slowly blinked behind his shades, attempting to refocus on his guest. He was finding it increasingly hard to think, his mind growing sluggish from the humid heat. Dirk shook his head, “Never mind. I’ll tell you later.”
“...Fine.” Dave easily conceded for once. He observed with a slight frown, “You don’t look too hot by the way. Are you going to skip chores today?”
“More like the other way round. It’s too fucking warm for any chores to be done without running a heatstroke.”
“Har har puns.” Dave snorted in amusement before becoming all business, “Dude. It’s not even as hot as what Texas normally would be in spring. Your sense of temperature is wack.”
“It sure feels otherwise to me.” Dirk muttered as he grabbed a bottle of orange crush from the fridge and pressed its cool sweating surface to his forehead. He contained a quiet sigh as the cool sensation relieved him.
Dave fell silent and eyed him thoughtfully. He opened his mouth to speak but closed it, deciding against speaking. He returned his attention to the television, reaching for the remote control beside him. Dave aimlessly flipped through the channels as he continued to lounge on the couch. Dirk observed him as he drank his orange crush.
“Well then, you probably should take a shower and grab some shuteye. You look like you need it.” Dave commented lightly as the television screen settled on a replay of “The Thresh Prince of Bel-Air”. Dirk considered his suggestion and thought it was a good idea, “Yeah, sounds good.”
“Just don’t slip in the shower and knock yourself out or something. I’m not dragging your naked butt out of the bathroom. Oh wait, I just might and toss you out of the window, hell yeah. Sounds like a fucking fantastic idea to me. Don’t you think?”
“I bet you can’t lift my fine butt and walk even one step without falling flat on your skinny lightweight ass.”
“Do you want to test that claim?” Dave turned his head and raised an eyebrow at Dirk. Dirk was quite tempted to say yes for the heck of it but a wave of giddiness put a stop to that moment of reckless impulse. Finding it hard to swallow his orange crush that now seemed too sweet for his tastes, he deferred, “Maybe next time.”
Dave smirked at him and returned his attention to the television. Dirk turned to leave for the bathroom to take a shower as suggested. As he passed the couch, a fresh wave of vertigo overwhelmed him. His vision exploded into colourful lights and for a moment, he felt weightless.
When his vision finally cleared, his head was throbbing and the room was swimming in front of his eyes. The ceiling looked different – when had he moved from the living room to his bedroom? When he tried to move his head, it only worsened his nausea. Dave hovered above him. His face was impassive with only his knit eyebrows betraying his concern. He placed his hand on Dirk’s brow and it was a cool relief. All too fleetingly, he took it away and said, “Knew it. You’re running a high fever, dude.”
“A fever.” Dirk croaked. His throat felt too dry and it hurt a little to speak. His head ached. Dave smoothly carried on, “Yep. Raging hot like tumescent volcano ready to blow. Never got sick before?”
Dirk had fallen ill before, usually during the colder and wetter monsoon season when he caught cold from the seastorms that raged about his apartment. Even then, he had never felt this bad before. He felt so weak, tired, feverish and nauseous. He couldn’t even find the energy to sit up and it was tempting to just close his eyes and sleep. It was very disturbing and embarrassing, even more so with Dave’s presence. Dirk curled his fists in his bedsheets and gritted through his teeth, “I have. But not like this.”
“Alright. I’m also guessing that you don’t have any medicines like Ibuprofen or Tylenol, considering your situation. Looks like you’re gonna have to sweat it out the old-fashioned way.” Dave didn’t seem overly concerned about Dirk’s condition. He leaned back in his chair, elbows over the chair arms; legs stretched out and laced his hands over his stomach, nonchalant as ever. He even smirked a little, “Looks like I win my little bet earlier. I definitely can lift your butt without a problem.”
“Shut up. You’re making my head hurt.” Dirk growled gruffly. He belatedly realised that Dave had still left on his shades. Well, that was surprisingly considerate of him. Although he would have liked to take his shades off now so he could rest properly, he didn’t want to do it in Dave’s presence. Instead, he asked, “How long am I going to be incapacitated?”
“Eh, probably about two to three weeks. It would have been shorter if you had medicine.” Dave replied.
Two to three weeks? Oh hell no. His place was going to be such a mess at the end of that period. He sure as hell wasn’t trusting Squarewave, Sawtooth or even worse, Dave to be able to do the chores. Recalling the D.D (Dishwasher Disaster) incident with a shudder, Dirk tried to sit up and said, “I’m not trusting you to do the chores.”
“Nah, it’ll be fine. I’m sure that after watching you at it for days, it should be easy like stealing candy from a baby.” Dave flippantly replied. “Besides, you can’t do anything right now, so just take your time and rest like a royal princess.”
Dirk was highly doubtful of Dave’s ability but he couldn’t argue against his logic. He scowled and grudgingly said, “Alright. You better not break or make anything spontaneously combust.”
“It was only that one time.” Dave had the grace to look sheepish, holding up his hands in defence. Dirk sighed and let himself sink back into his bed, closing his eyes behind his shades. As he reached up to remove his shades, a thought hit him and he reached a moment of enlightenment.
“You fucking bastard. It’s your fault that I got sick.” Dirk groaned, somehow finding the energy to emphatically smack his forehead. Dave looked bewildered and pointed to himself, “What? Me?”
“Ever heard of ‘The War of The Worlds’?” Dirk sardonically said. Dave frowned, not getting the reference to the old science-fiction novel/movie, “I have, but what are you getting at?”
“Do you remember that Roxy and I are the only humans left?” Dirk reminded him.
“Yeah…?” Dave nodded slowly, still not seeing Dirk’s point.
“So, that means we don’t have any doctors. It’s just us.” Dirk continued.
“Okay, so what? Get on with it.” Dave impatiently said. Dirk finally explained, “No doctors, no vaccinations. Get it?”
“…Oh.” Dave finally caught on to what Dirk was driving at and he looked surprised. He even looked slightly guilty. He stood up from his chair and awkwardly shifted from foot to foot, “Um, so. I should just avoid your company while you’re recovering?”
Still holding onto his shades with his other hand, Dirk squeezed the bridge of his nose, still keeping his eyes shut. He replied, “Oh come on, it’s not like we’re going to be engaging in wild sloppy makeouts, however amusing that would have been. It’s highly likely that I caught the germs from the food or drinks we’ve been sharing over the past few days and my body’s immunosystem has now decided to go on revolt. It’s best that we don’t share consumables during this period.”
Dirk finally opened his eyes, and regretted it when the light made his head hurt even more. He looked at Dave through squinted eyes, his blurry vision making it hard to see exact details. He discerned that his guest was now standing very still before he came closer. When Dave was close enough for his body to block the light out of his sensitive eyes much to his relief, Dirk opened his eyes wider and looked up at Dave. He wasn’t sure if it was his tired eyes playing tricks on him but it looked like Dave had seen a ghost.
Rubbing his eyes and taking a second look, Dave’s face was impassive as usual. He drawled, “Alright, what needs to be done, your royal highness?”
Dirk was thirsty. He imperiously waved his hand, “Get me water, peasant.”
“…I was asking for that, wasn’t I?” Dave grumbled as he sulked his way out of the bedroom. Once he was out of earshot, Dirk sniggered as he closed his eyes, settling down into his bed.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Sorry for the long wait. Writer's block is no fun, guys. Hope you enjoy this!
His eyes are orange.
Dave tried to sweep the stubborn specks of dust that refused to go into the dustpan with the broom. He had jammed headphones over his ears and turned on the music at the loudest volume his ears could handle. He muttered irritably under his breath when he saw that there was still a thin black line of dust on the floor when he moved the dustpan away.
Bro’s eyes were also orange.
Giving up on the sweeping the dust, Dave went back to the sink and took a rag. He wet it, squeezed out the excess water and returned to mop up the dust with the damp rag. It worked like a charm and he felt satisfied with his work. Then he remembered that he still had many more chores left on the list and half the day was already wasted on his pathetic attempts at sweeping. He groaned; he would make the worst Cinderella.
How freaky is that someone else would also have orange eyes too? The odds of that occuring are a billion to one, or something like that. If Dirk’s eyes were also red, it would have been more likely.
Dave decided to give up on completing the rest of the chores. Fuck that. He could do it tomorrow. Besides, he should go and try to make something for Dirk to eat, right? After all, a sick guy’s gotta eat something if he wanted to get well fast and Dirk sure wasn’t in a state to move, much less cook. Putting the broom and the dustpan back in their places, Dave went to the kitchen and rooted through the pantry for any food that didn’t require any effort to cook. Unlike Dirk, he didn’t have any idea of how to cook other than making mac and cheese (microwaved).
He was dismayed to find that Dirk didn’t stock any canned or ready-made food in the pantry. What was this nonsense. Had they returned to the primitive ages where they had to hunt and cook their meals? Where was the modern convenience of packaged food? Easily heated up in 3 minutes and you’re good to go?
Bro never cooked because he was lazy. He always bought ready-made food. But on rare occasions, he would make the best soft and fluffy pancakes that Dave had ever eaten. Not even Denny’s could top that.
Frusrated, Dave slammed the pantry doors shut with a loud bang. He removed his headphones and hissed to himself, “Stop it. Stop thinking about Dirk’s freaky orange eyes. He’s not Bro. Period.”
But what if…he actually is...? Remember what the trolls said about their session being ‘Scratched’ from the previous session? We scratched ours and… No. Let’s not go there. I can’t.
Dave put back his headphones on and drowned out his thoughts with loud music.
Dirk was on top of the roof. It was blazing hot and heat waves rose from the tarmac beneath his feet, causing him to sweat heavily. His gloved hands were slick with sweat, almost causing him to lose his grip on his blade as he fought a tall and slender man. Gritting his teeth in frustration as the man effortlessly slid out of his reach once again, Dirk envied the man’s ice-cool composure. Hell, he didn’t even seem to feel the searing heat of the blood red sun. They had been sparring for what seemed like an eternity under the crimson sky, surrounded by black skyscrapers with barely any breeze to provide a moment’s respite from the boiling heat.
The man’s face was hauntingly familiar. The red sun reflected in his black shades and his blade flashed white across his vision like a brilliant comet. Dirk barely blocked it in time and was driven back by the force of the impact. The man did not give him any reprieve. He flash-stepped and kneed him hard in his stomach, knocking the breath out of Dirk.
Pain exploded. Dirk fell to his knees and fought hard not to lose the contents of his stomach as he struggled to catch his breath. His sweaty grip on his sword barely held. The man held his blade to his throat and forced him to look up and up into his shadowed face. He said, “Is that all you have, kid? It is not enough.”
“I know.” Dirk said, too tired to argue or continue fighting on. He could only tighten his slippery grip on his blade, his hands aching with the strain. The man tilted his head in a curiously birdlike fashion. He withdrew his blade and said, “You’ll learn in due time.”
“Learn from who?”
The man chuckled and flicked his nose too quickly for him to avoid, “From myself of course,” with a sly smile.
Dirk frowned as he rubbed his stinging nose. He asked the burning question on his lips, “Who are you?”
“You already know.” The man enigmatically replied and his teeth gleamed white in a razor-sharp smile. Dirk flipped him the finger and demanded, “Don’t pull that cryptic shit on me. I have no time for this bullshit.”
“Too bad. It’s time for you to wake up, sleeping beauty. You won’t remember any of this anyway.”
The sun’s glare reflected off the man’s blade and his glasses into Dirk’s eyes despite his shades. It was blindingly bright like staring into the sun itself.
Dirk saw white. He immediately squeezed his eyes shut as he rolled over with a groan. God, he absolutely hated waking up with the sun right in his eyes. As he waited for his eyes to recover, Dirk realised that he was no longer feverish and his head no longer ached as much as before. He cautiously and slowly sat up, not wanting to experience a fresh bout of nausea.
When he didn’t, Dirk prepared himself to take his first step out of bed in days. He had been bedridden for far too long. After putting on his sunglasses, he swung his legs out from under the blankets and placed his bare feet firmly on the floor. Bracing his hands on the bed, Dirk pushed himself off and stood. Thankfully, he didn’t wobble though he did feel a brief surge of vertigo.
He ended up flat on the floor when he tried to take a step, his legs giving out beneath him. Ouch. His pride had taken a severe battering. Good thing Dave wasn’t here to see his undignified fall from grace. Dirk grabbed the side of his bed and hauled himself upright. His stomach growled loudly.
Dirk sighed and braced his hand against the wall for support as he slowly walked out of his bedroom towards the kitchen. By the time he reached the kitchen, his balance had finally stabilised enough for him to feel confident about walking without running the risk of another pratfall. At least there were no stairs in his apartment except for the ones that led to the roof and to the scaffolding below. Dirk snagged a mug and filled it with tap water. He took a long drink. The cool water was a sweet relief to his parched throat. He still felt ravenous though.
When Dirk’s stupor lifted, he realised that his apartment was oddly far too quiet – where was Dave’s everpresent chatter and his footsteps? Against his will, Dirk’s heartrate sped up and he felt short of breath. Before Dirk irrevocably lost his shit, Dave swung himself through the kitchen window in a cloud of feathers and angry squawking seagulls.
“Fuck off!” Dave shouted at the birds as he quickly slammed the window shut before the seagulls could enter. The window was promptly caked with birdshit from angry seagulls. He irritably swatted the loose feathers off his arms and yanked up his sleeve to examine the red and slightly bleeding scratches on his bare left arm. He muttered, “They better not be infected with bacteria or I swear to god that I’m having flambéed seagull for lunch.”
Dirk breathed easier and he raised a curious eyebrow. He asked, “What the hell were you doing with the seagulls that got them so mad?”
“I was trying to get eggs. You know, to make an omelette or scambled eggs,” Dave blithely replied. “I wasn’t too successful though…”
“Clearly.” Dirk said, resisting the urge to touch Dave to reassure himself of his continued presence. It would be unseemly and cause far too much awkward tension in their already tenuous relationship… Dave hissed when the fabric of his sleeve rubbed against his scratches as he pulled it down over his arm. Dirk’s hands twitched and before he could restrain himself, he had already grabbed Dave’s wrist and pulled his sleeve up. Turning on the tap, he rinsed the scratches as he said, “Don’t you know better how to treat your injuries? I’m not running the risk of you falling sick with infection when I’m already sick. You don’t want to know where the seagulls’ claws might have been.”
Dave looked rather startled by Dirk’s actions but he didn’t protest nor try to pull his arm away. He winced slightly as the water made his scratches sting. He said, “I don’t think I could actually fall sick anymore considering that I’m a god.”
“You’re a god with no powers. Are you still sure that you can’t get sick anymore right now?” Dirk rebutted as he closely examined the scratches. To his amazement, some of the lighter scratches were already clearing up before his very eyes while the deeper ones were slower to heal. Dirk shuddered to think of all the potential bacteria that would have gotten trapped in Dave’s blood if he hadn’t cleaned out the cuts before they closed. Even if Dave might be immune to illness, he would still find septicaemia extremely painful and unpleasant.
“What are you, my mom?” Dave said as he tugged his wrist out of Dirk’s grip. His manly pride obviously couldn’t tolerate being treated like a baby anymore. Dirk shrugged and refilled his mug with more water. After taking a sip, he asked, “How long was I out for?”
Time meant little to Dirk in this limbo-like place he was stuck in before Dave’s arrival. After all, what was there to look forward to other than endless repeating days of solitude and boredom? But now…Dirk was anxious to know how much time he had lost in his feverish sleep. Dave replied, “You’ve been drifting in and out for about one and half weeks. It’s actually faster than I expected.”
“I see. Did anything happen while I was incapacitated?” Dirk fervently hoped that Dave hadn’t wrecked anything important. If he did, Dirk was going to defenestrate him again after giving him a thousand paper-cuts. Seawater in open cuts stung like a bitch.
“Nothing much. Same old, same old. Seriously, what do you expect to happen out here? It’s freaking limbo, not New Orleans with Mardi Gras every day, women with their tits out, bedecked with bead necklaces and more naked ass than you can shake your sword at, if you know what I mean.” Dave waggled his eyebrows for added emphasis. How charming.
Dirk’s stomach rumbled, reminding him of his hunger. He walked over to the fridge and opened it. He was incredulous to see it stuffed completely full of…Hot Pockets and apple juice.
“Where the hell did you get them,” Dirk flatly said. They were supposed to be wiped out centuries ago. Dave smirked smugly, “I had some help from your girl pal, Roxy Lalonde. Pretty nifty thing, that Appearificator. With some time & space coordinates provided by yours truly, we were able to do a run & grab bonanza of Walmart’s just near this block four centuries and some years ago. The police are going to be scratching their heads over the mysterious Hot Pockets & Apple Juice theft.”
“…Couldn’t you have grabbed some healthier food? Like fruits? I’ve read that oranges are full of vitamin C and are supposed to be good for my flu.” Dirk was impressed with Dave & Roxy’s ingenuity but not so impressed with the fact that he went overboard with Hot Pockets and apple juice. He also realised something very important.
“And just where is my orange crush?”
“Oh, about that. I threw it out because I needed to make room for the food and drinks. You have way too much of that stuff.” Dave replied factually without batting an eyelash (not that Dirk could see them behind his black shades). Dirk took a deep breath, restraining the urge to sock him in the face. No, scratch that, he was going to cut and dump him bleeding into a shark-infested ocean. Dave was a god so he wouldn’t die permanently from something as minor as that but still suffer painfully for touching his orange crush. In the end, he pushed up his sunglasses and said in a deadly calm voice, “You’re getting my orange crush back. Or else.”
Dirk didn’t expect his vague ominous threat to work so well – Dave actually paled ever so slightly and he quickly nodded, “Yeah, sorry, you’ll get your orange crush back. Calm your tits, okay.”
“Good.” Dirk let his righteous fury simmer down, obviously much to Dave’s relief. A stilted silence fell between the two of them. Dave fidgeted, picking at his healing scratches, his skin bleeding slightly before healing over again like a morbid looping video. Somehow, that got under Dirk’s skin far more than Dave’s incessant rambling. Deciding to ignore the niggling urge to smack Dave’s hand away from his arm, he broke the silence, “So you’ve spoken with Roxy? How did you manage to get in contact?”
“Well. I logged onto your computer and saw that you hadn’t signed out of your pesterchum. So I borrowed your account and she pinged me. She thought that I was you at first but quickly realised that I was someone else.”
Dirk curiously wondered how that first conversation had gone down. Roxy and Dave were certainly very colourful people and had a propensity for making outrageous metaphors. He commented, “It seems that you two get on quite well as evidenced by your cooperation in the Hot Pockets theft.”
Dave stopped scratching his arm and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Yeah, she’s nice. I was expecting her to be more like Rose but she’s surprisingly more laid back than I thought.”
“Far too laid back at times, I think, to the point that she’s parallel with the floor and on it. And not in a good way.”
“Why’s that?” asked Dave as he started scratching his arm again. Dirk wondered if he should reach out and smack his hand away. Yes, he could understand the almost irresistible urge to pick at an almost healed scab, having done it himself, but it usually prolonged the healing process and encouraged scarring more often than not in the end. Pale skin broke again; thin red lines of blood appearing and Dirk finally had enough. He swiftly grabbed Dave’s wrist and sternly said, “Stop scratching and making yourself bleed.”
Dave raised an eyebrow, bemused by his reaction. Dirk didn’t know why he was overreacting over such a trivial issue either. Feeling uncharacteristically abashed, he defensively said, “I don’t have any plasters on hand so if you’re going to make yourself bleed, I’ll rather have you do it in the bathroom so you don’t get blood on my kitchen floor and counters.”
“Wow. You sound like a regular Dexter there.” Dave drolly commented, “So you’re not Hannibal Lecter then?”
Dirk had learnt not to take offense at Dave’s blunt and often questionable attempts at funny metaphors. He was still too worn out from his illness to even bother. He released Dave’s wrist and changed topic, “You know, you really should let me see what your eyes look like at least once. You’ve already seen mine. You were so damn curious that it caused you to lose that first round.”
On hearing Dirk’s unsubtle request, Dave’s shoulders hunched slightly before he forced himself to relax. He wasn’t surprised that Dirk had asked but he was too uncomfortable with the idea of showing his freaky red eyes to anyone else besides Bro. Not even his ectobiological sister Rose or the trolls had seen them over 3 years of cohabitation on a meteorite. But then, Dirk was right; Dave had seen his bright amber-orange eyes that were so similar to Bro’s
(only because he might b-). It was only fair that Dirk should get to see his as well.
“Fine. I’ll show you my peepers only once. After that, you’re out of luck.” Dave conceded. Dirk nodded once, his face in a pokerface, “That’ll do.”
Well then, might as well do it now before he lost his nerve. Dave removed his shades, narrowing his eyes to filter out the sun’s glare. Turning away from the window to look directly at Dirk, Dave arched a pale eyebrow and said, “Satisfied?”
Dirk’s pokerface didn’t change at all. If anything, he looked bored. He shrugged and said, “It’s nothing special. You have red eyes, so what? I was wondering if you were blind or hiding some spectacular mutation like insectoid compound eyes with the way you so protectively concealed them. I’m actually disappointed by how mundane they turned out to be.”
Dave was offended.
“Dude, red eyes aren’t exactly common among humans.” Well, orange eyes weren’t either but they could be described as a very bright shade of amber.
“Should I care about what a four-centuries extinct human society says about acceptable or non-acceptable eye colour?” Dirk pointed out. He continued, “You should be more worried if you were a troll because that particular shade of red would out you as a mutant to be culled.”
There wasn’t much Dave could argue with Dirk’s logic. Slightly put out by his anti-climactic response, he put on his shades once more, “Whatever, man. You got what you wanted anyway.”
Silence fell once more between them and for the first time, it was a comfortable quiet. It was reminiscent of the lazy afternoons Dave used to share with Bro. He also found that he was starting not to resent Dirk so much for reminding him so much of his late brother (
barring the likely possibility that they were the same person; because well, they were not). It was becoming a strange comfort. Dave finally extended his fist to Dirk and said, “Congrats on getting well, bro.”
Dirk fist-bumped him, his lips quirking in a slight wry smile, “Yeah, thanks.”
Dave was bored. B. O. R. E. D. He was so completely bored out of his mind that if you were to ask him how his day was, he would just give a noncommittal grunt instead of his usual verbose answer. It didn’t bear comment. He must have already wrecked the high score on Doritos a thousand times over, sparred with the robots, practised his katas, rapped and even went to the extent of helping Dirk out with his chores. He was still damn bored. Staring up at the ceiling, Dave was now trying to count the number of minuscule cracks in the paint (answer: none because Dirk was meticulous about the flat upkeep).
“God, if boredom was a legitimate method of suicide, I’ve died a million times over now.” Dave muttered to the air. There was no answer from Dirk and that was because he had locked himself in his lab again, embarking on one of his pet projects. It would be hours before Dave saw him again and he would have loved to quip, “Lazarus has risen from the dead!” if not for the morbid accuracy that sat ill with him. Bro behaved like Dirk when he was locked down in his creative mode. He would be ensconced in his room for hours, spinning new fresh beats.
Dave dropped his head back on the sofa and eyed the sea through the open window. He wondered what was out there beyond this small apartment. If he still had his ability to fly, he would have taken the chance to explore this post-apocalyptic “Waterworld”. Heck, he might even try travelling to Roxy’s home in the Carapacian Colony despite the humongous distance (if he travelled at top speed, he might reach there in about half a day instead of a day).
But then, even if he could fly, he couldn’t just up and leave Dirk behind. It wasn’t fair that he left while Dirk couldn’t, because Dirk was the one who had spent his entire life confined to the boundaries of his home. He deserved a chance to explore. Dave frowned, lacing his hands behind his head as he wondered how to bring Dirk along when he flew. He definitely couldn’t carry him around for so long and while the idea of accidentally dropping him in the ocean was most appealing and ironic as revenge for his defenestration, it wasn’t going to (pardon the pun) fly if they wanted to successfully reach Roxy’s home.
Oh yeah, were there even any islands along the way to make a pit stop? If there weren’t, Dave would be hard-pressed to stay aloft for 12 hours without taking a break. If he was carrying Dirk at the same time, they could expect to be swimming with the troll-sharks within 2 hours (they actually existed much to his horror, he’d thought Dirk had been joking.)
Alright, let’s face it. They were stuck under house arrest. Jeez. What, not even a keg party of all keg parties and other outrageous misdemeanours to their ignominious Strider name to justify the longest and boring house arrest Dave had ever experienced (not that he had, but the meteorite had come pretty close).
Dave groaned loudly, overwhelmed by sheer boredom and frustration. Why had his future self sent him here again? He was still clueless on that and Dirk couldn’t offer him any answers either. He still had no idea of how he was going to return to the meteorite or even make contact with Rose. Telepathic dreams were out. His dreams had been quite…normal ever since he arrived in this Waterworld. None of the funky shenanigans in Derse, Bubbles or prophetic visions.
If there was anything good that came out of his enforced stay, it was seeing Dirk improve his swordsmanship day by day until they were practically tied. Dave thought that if he didn’t have his greater battle experience, he might have lost. He was never going to admit that but he would grudgingly admit that Dirk’s quick learning and determination to improve was inspiring and envy inducing. He had never been that self-motivated (he was not a big fan of pain, ok).
The sound of a door opening caught Dave’s attention. Sitting up from his repose on the sofa, he watched Dirk emerge from his lab with a familiar fiery red snowboard. On a closer look, he saw that there were rockets attached to the underside. He also noticed that Dirk’s clothes were rather dirty with dark oil smears and the occasional singed patch here and there. His usually pristine hair was windswept and it was odd...but not in a bad way. Realising that he had been staring for too long, Dave flicked his gaze away and casually said, “You might wanna clean up a little before you smear oil all over the upholstery. I ain’t dry-cleaning that shit.”
Dirk unexpectedly grinned brightly. His grin held none of the usual sardonic edge that Dave was used to seeing. He beckoned him over and said, “Follow me.”
Dave blinked and wondered what had gotten into Dirk’s orange soda to make him so cheerful. Nevertheless, he obeyed and followed him up the stairs to the roof. Dirk shooed the infernal seagulls away and Dave swore that some of them were giving him the stink-eye. He placed the red contraption down on the floor and took out a small remote control. He pressed a button on the remote and the snowboard rockets immediately roared to life.
“Holy shit.” Dave said as he stared at the hovering snowboard – it was a real rocket board. He also recalled that Bro had owned one but this was new. Dirk had made it, which also heavily implied that Bro must have invented the rocket board. Now the question was, why the fuck didn’t Bro patent that invention if he had invented it? They would have been rolling in millions – oh wait, they already did thanks to his smuppet pornography. Bro had such weird priorities.
But still, this rocket board before him hadn’t been tested so he would hold off on the effusive praises and see if Dirk could walk the talk. He raised a sceptical eyebrow and said, “Okay, it floats. Is that all it can do?”
Dirk snorted and jumped onto the rocket board, the foot mounts automatically opening up and locking his feet into place like an Iron Man suit. Bracing himself, he said, “It’s a turbo rocket board Mark VII. It is powered by a combination of solar and nuclear fission energy and can attain top speeds of 800km/h. Wind friction would have been issue at such high speeds so the rocket board also has a force shield to act as a buffer. It can fly on auto-pilot and has a GPS, relying on the coordinates from a hacked 21st century era human satellite.”
“Alright, I get it. It goes super fast, has a map, uses clean energy and has a force field.” Dave quickly interrupted the technobabble, having no desire to listen to overly complicated explanations that he barely understood. He tilted his head and questioned, “So does it really work or do I have to ask for my money back?”
“Of fucking course.”
Without further ado, Dirk swooped down on Dave and swung him onto the rocket board behind him. Then they shot off across the sea with a roar of the turbo engines, scattering seagulls.
Dave was going to fucking murder Dirk in his sleep. It would be justified manslaughter for what Dirk had put him through on the mad flight. But first, his legs needed to stop feeling like jelly. His heart was still racing like mad as he bent over the railing for support, gulping for air.
Sure, he liked speed, loved it even. He was even damn good at flash stepping, but that didn’t mean he had to enjoy it while clinging to Dirk, perilously hanging off a skinny little board hundreds of meters above the sea, going at subsonic speeds. Dave prided himself on the fact that he hadn’t made a single sound (conveniently ignoring the fact that he had been too terrified to even make a peep). It was a miracle that he hadn’t lost his shades in the crazy loop-de-loops Dirk had taken.
The speed demon finally joined him at the railing with the smuggest smirk on his face Dave had ever seen and that was saying something, considering he knew quite a few smartass people. Dirk had finally finished a cool-down maintenance of the rocket board and his hair was more windswept than ever thanks to their aerial maniac joyride. He had also gained even more oil smears on his clothes from the maintenance routine, even getting some on his face and his exposed forearms. At such close proximity, it was hard to ignore that Dirk smelled like an intriguing mixture of ozone, sweat and gasoline.
Dirk asked, “Did you enjoy the ride?”
Dave graced him with a deadpan look, pointed a finger at him and flatly said, “If you’re doing that again, I’m going to dump all your orange soda into the sea.”
Dirk had the audacity to laugh. It wasn’t funny. Dave scowled and huffed to himself. He peevishly said, “Fuck you man.”
Thankfully, Dirk stopped laughing, though a playful smirk still played on his lips. Dave badly itched to wipe it off his face. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, he asked, “So what was the whole demonstration with the rocket board for?”
Dirk raised an eyebrow at him over his pointy shades, “Can’t you guess?”
“Not really. I’m still recovering from your suicidal flight.” Dave sarcastically said.
Ignoring his sarcasm, Dirk replied, “Obviously, the rocket board is going to be our means of transport in our exploration of Earth and commuting to Roxy’s home. We will be able to reach her place in slightly under 3 hours at subsonic speed.”
“Cool. Not like I would have ever guessed.” Dave said. Pushing himself off the railing, he glanced over at the rocket board and wondered if he was ready for another bout of aerial insanity. Dirk caught his dubious glance and he shook his head, “Not today. We have to make preparations first before we head over to Roxy’s place.”
“Fine by me. You’ll take care of the preparations right? Okay gotcha, I’m gonna play another round of Doritos. See ya.” Dave saluted Dirk and half-sauntered, half-wobbled down the stairs (damn it, his legs weren’t quite steady yet). Dirk followed him with the rocket board under his arm. He corrected him, “No, you’re going to help me prepare for the trip.”
“You do realise that I have no fucking idea how to deal with machines. Wasn’t the Dishwasher Disaster enough of an educational showing for you?” Dave dismissively waved his hand. Shaking his head, Dirk pushed past him to open the door to their flat. He replied, “Oh yeah. I do remember it very well. Not to worry, you’re not going to handle the rocket board maintenance because like hell I would let you ruin my work. Instead, you’re going to pack for both of us for a week’s stay in the Lalonde residence. I highly recommend that you only bring the necessities as there’s only so much weight the rocket board can carry.”
“That’s fair.” Dave amiably agreed as he headed for his room. When he was almost halfway to his room to do what Dirk had asked, he realised that he had gotten the shorter end of the deal. Packing was such a chore.
Even if the sylladex greatly reduced the physical space and weight of their luggage, he only had so many captchalogue cards to carry. He would still have to fold the clothes properly and stack them neatly before captchaloguing them rather than waste the cards on individual articles of clothing. Then there was also the matter of how an accidental word could fire them across the room in a mess, forcing him to repeat the entire procedure. He groaned, dreading the prospect.
Hey, wait a second-! He spun around to face Dirk and said incredulously, “Hold on, I have to do your clothes as well?”
“Yeah. Is there a problem?” Dirk asked innocently, not fooling Dave for even one moment. Sighing explosively, he gave up the fight. He’d already agreed fair and square. And the saddest thing was that he hadn’t even been tricked.
“Never mind. So is this my Quest to act as Dirk Strider’s butler? Man, I’ve been so gypped.” Dave rhetorically asked – he wouldn’t be surprised if it did actually turn out to be his Quest. Sburb had come up with weirder shit after all.
Dirk shrugged and said, “I’d prefer a maid, but really, don’t ask me about your Quest. Ask your future self. You were the one who brought yourself into this mess after all.”
“Thank you so much for the oh-so-unhelpful advice.” Dave flipped him the finger as Dirk went past him back to his lab. Dirk smirked at him and gave him a two-fingered salute before the door shut, preventing him from firing back a zinger. That fucker just had to get in the last word. Worse still, he was absolutely right. Dave really hated his future self so fucking much.
- turntechGodhead [TG] started pestering tipsyGnostalgic [TG] –
TG: sup lalonde good news
TG: ‘ello davey whatsup
TG: is di-stri ok now?
TG: i was pretty worried when u told me about his flu and the whole vaccination thing
TG: he was already better about a week ago
TG: im a bit surprised that he didnt contact you afterwards considering that youve known each other for much longer
TG: yeah well dirk can be a jerk at times
TG: even if hes hot
TG: hey what about me
TG: arent i hot too
TG: yes u are shush but hes hotter
TG: im hurt lalonde so hurt
TG: he forgets that he isn’t the only one around on this goddamn planet
TG: +1 more now
TG: it can get annoying but im used to it
TG: maybe you can give him a kick in the pants when you see him
TG: it would be nice if i actually had a portal to stick my leg in and kick a nice soft target
TG: nah maybe ill just stick my hand in and grab some fine booty
TG: in that case ill rather you grab my booty
TG: dirk’s booty aint as fine as mine anyway
TG: oh u ;)
TG: but nah we dont have any aperture portal guns lying around though maybe dirk might be able to invent some
TG: but we do have the next best thing to portals
TG: what is it
TG: sweet turbo rocket boards baby
TG: expect us to drop by your pad in a few days on a red rocket board
TG: so break out the Bacardi and the teacups
TG: were gonna have a tea party
TG: hell it can even be the boston tea party if youre into explosive fun and general mayhem
TG: were gonna make it happen
TG: thats so fucking AWESOME!
TG: youre my new favourite strider ;)
TG: am i now considered hotter than dirk as your new favourite strider?
TG: lol no
TG: theres just no accounting for your irredeemable bad taste
TG: oh well its your loss roxy
TG: you are welcome btw
- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering tipsyGnostalgic [TG] -
- tipsyGnostalgic [TG] started pestering timaeusTestified [TT] –
TG: omg u are going to visit with dave in a few days??
TG: im so EXCITED like u wont believe
TG: im going to give u the biggest damn hug youve been way overdue for and u are not getting out of my octopus tentacle arms
TG: btw would u mind if I sneaked in a cop of ur butt? ;)
TG: ok what abt davey then?
TG: he seems like the type not to mind yeah judgig from our convos ;D
TG: hey are u there?
TG: r u there?
TG: nvm in any case im going to open up a new fresh bottle of Bacardi to celebrate this momentous occasion
TG: dont worry ill be sober when you guys arrive
TG: i dont want to miss it yeah
TG: pinkie like my text finger promise
TG: nah i dont have my fingers crossed if u r asking
TG: oh bluh i forgot the webcam isnt working hahaha
TG: hafta get it fixed soon or maybe u can fix it for me when u come!
TG: but u get the general idea
TG: ill see you soon
- tipsyGnostalgic [TG] ceased pestering timaeusTestified [TT] –
TT: Yeah. We’ll see you soon.
TT: Be ready.
- timaeusTestified [TT] ceased pestering tipsyGnostalgic [TG] -