-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 01:24 --
TG: hey john listen up
You had been falling asleep at your desk, trying to do your homework last minute and really wishing that the quadratic formula would quadrate itself or whatever when you see the little icon on your computer light up, rubbing your eyes and nudging your glasses out of your hair and onto your nose.
Outside, snow is collecting on your windowsill and the streetlight outside lights up the snow like tiny falling sparks. Go figure, you’re poetic when you’re tired and balls-deep in dumb math.
Ignoring the messages for now, you stand up, crack your back and shuck off your jeans. The pings from your computer are insistent and Dave must really want something but he can just hold his goddamn horses while you pull on your pjs, sneaking looks at your monitor anyway.
TG: summers coming up soon
TG: and by soon i mean weve still got spring and half of winter to live through but its for dramatic effect so shut up about meteorology mr breath
TG: and ive basically been working my ass off for the past few months
TG: and when i was checking how much bank was in the bank
TG: i found that im basically rollin in the benjamins
TG: and instead of spending it on sending you something for your birthday
TG: i figured that instead i could come up there and give you your gift myself
TG: are you even awake
TG: am i talking to myself
TG: that sounded really deep
TG: john you are me i am you
TG: and as you im saying answer my damn messages
TG: shit egbert
TG: home skillet
Intrigued, you sit down and quickly type back before he starts texting your phone because Dave tends to do that, even if you’re sleeping because he’s a really terrible friend sometimes.
EG: what do you mean?
EG: and my birthday is in april, it’s november.
TG: i know but your gift is still on my desk and i want to see your face when i give it to you because its the most perfect gift in the universe and when you touch it i just want to be there to bask in the glow of how good of a giftgiver i am
TG: itll be like a supernova of you being impressed
TG: im talking about a roadtrip egbert
TG: conquering america in a old almost brokendown car
TG: the pinnacle of any teenagers life
TG: what people dream about
TG: what shitty movies are based on
TG: it could be a funfilled roadtrip of hours in a hot car bad food and shitty motels
EG: you really know how to sell this.
TG: i consider myself a wordsmith of sorts
Yawning, you glance at your computer’s clock. It’s past 1am and you really should be sleeping by now because you know Jane’s going to be up at god-it’s-too-damn-early-for-pancakes o’clock and despite her previous allegiance to the Batterwitch you can’t deny that her breakfasts are still delicious but require you to get up early.
Sometimes you can see the witch’s claws still in that mind of hers, mostly in the form of too-early breakfasts and the occasionally cake you find lying around even though there is an official NO CAKE rule. Subliminal messaging works wonders. Terrible wonders.
You decide you can afford to put up with Dave’s pestering for another five minutes, it looks like he’s building up to something at least.
TG: anyway yeah would that be cool with you if i came and saw you
TG: i mean we havent really seen each other since The Game
TG: and while i can dig staring at your mug in a skype call
TG: id really appreciate the real deal
EB: you just want another tender bro embrace.
TG: you caught me
TG: i yearn for your arms wrapping me up like a fucking christmas gift made of sheer rad bromance
TG: sweep me off my feet
TG: oh mr eggs oh
Smiling tiredly, you pull off your shirt, rubbing at your eyes. You really need to stop staying up so late. Part of you really just wants to go the fuck to sleep but the other part, the one that really, really misses Dave, and everyone else from Sburb, wants you to stay up. You decide to agree to both sides.
You take a chance.
EB: okay, i'm in.
EB: you come up here and we’ll take casey, she’s reliable.
EB: go find some map, buy a copy, send me the link and i'll buy it tomorrow
EB: but for now i have to get some shut eye because jane is going to be making breakfast and i really don’t want to sleep through it.
-- ectoBiologist [EB] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 01:46 --
The red line of text manages to sneak in just as you close the program and you go to bed dreaming of bad food, shitty motels and spending the summer with your best friend.
In the morning, you wake up to a link and while Jane is preparing what smells like the best breakfast ever, you purchase it and hurry downstairs and for a while, under school, prepping for grad work, meetings for AV club and planning the final video of the year (you’re head director) the trip fades away.
Even when you get your map, before you can open it, it’s buried under a pile of last minute papers, energy drinks and empty plates that once carried midnight snacks.
It’s past Christmas and all the snow is starting to fade and you’re about three days back into school and for once in what’s felt like freakin’ ages, you have a spare night and you’re spending it on your computer, talking to Dave and Rose while Jade sits with her head in your lap, playing with a tiny puppy, a gift from Jake.
After the usual general chat with Dave (and a small attempt to figure out what your birthday gift is but Dave remains tight-lipped) there’s a pause in his usual tirade and you end up distracted with a puppy and your sister and when you glance up a few minutes later, there’s a small block of red text.
-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 20:12 --
TG: youll never guess what just came in the mail
TG: i mean its pretty damn obvious
TG: why would I be telling you the contents of my mail
TG: unless it actually pertained to you
TG: maybe because i want to gloat about the tightass headphones i got more
TG: or maybe its something else
TG: so what is it door number 1 which is the magical world of my soundcancelling top of the goddamn line headphones
TG: or door number 2 with the shit that actually has to do with you
Shoving Jade off your lap and causing her to yelp and the puppy to scamper around your room, echoing her new owner, you type back quickly.
EB: i'm going to go with door number 2, thanks.
TG: the map got here
Your eyes immediately flicker to the folded map of America sitting under your biology textbook. Sliding it out from under the sacred tome of your second-favourite class, you unfold it and climb out of your chair to spread it over the floor of your room, nudging aside a pair of shoes and a soccer ball to make room. You also pick a puppy off and place it in Jade’s lap.
“What’s this John?” She asks, pulling all her hair over one shoulder, starting to loosely braid it.
“A map of America.” Jade pinches your side for your sass and you laugh, flailing at her. “Okay, okay. It’s a roadtrip, or is going to be. I’m going with Dave this summer.”
Jade sighs, standing up and holding the small dog to her chest. “Boys.” She said, half exasperated and half with something you can’t quite identify. Whatever.
“You’re just jealous!!” You call after her, pulling your laptop down and immediately sign onto Skype and once you’re all hooked up to Dave’s side, you wave at him before going straight into the planning.
The first destination is Seattle. Dave’s going to fly up and meet you in SeaTac and you really just start drawing lines, x’s and notes, all over after that. Each of you has a place he wants to see and it’s a little ridiculous but according to googlemaps and a combination of dumb hope, you figure you’ll be able to do the trip in the four months needed.
It’s 3am on a 7-hour-long Skype call when you make the finishing touches, everything ending in Princeton, where your dad will meet you and you’ll head to university.
You look up at your laptop, yawning a little and hold up the map to Dave, smiling before peeking over it and realising that he’s passed out, face smooshed into his keyboard.
As you shut off Skype, you put a ‘#1!’ beside Seattle.
The next morning, halfway through your third period class, biology, your phone buzzes and the message is four little boxes long and it takes you fifteen minutes to read it since you have to sneak looks between studying the endocrine system and its hormones because you don’t want your teacher taking your phone.
‘so i fell asleep on you like always but i figure being jades ectobro youre used to it and will find it somewhere in that heart of yours to forgive a tired texan and if not i will go on a dumb quest to gain your forgiveness i will be your knight and get the six items of friendship. but me being a good fucking friend aside i totally want to visit lalonde in ny and troll her but we wont tell her okay? just fucking show up at the private school of hers since shes taking summer courses and troll her and itll be the greatest prank ever i know im basically usurping you as the prank king but viva la motherfuckin revolution’
Your message is much shorter. ‘wow, great plan except she’s the seer of light dumbass. she probably already knows about your dumb plan, pranks on rose have to be unplanned!’
‘yeah! now leave me alone, i have to take notes and stuff’
‘nerd whatever i gotta bounce to work anyway’
The fact that Dave is homeschooled has finally settled in your head. Now that you’ve met Bro (Dirk?) and realised that holy-fuck he’s smart and Rose’s mom is basically a computer hack, Dave won’t ever have to attend a class about the endocrine system.
At least if you happen to get into a game of Jeopardy on your road trip, you’ll be able to answer “pituitary gland” to “Which gland, controlled by the hypothalamus, controls all hormone emissions in the body?” which will no doubt be the Daily Double that you put all your money on.
Your conversations with Dave descend into texts only because all the time you’re on your computer is spent editing the final film for graduation, doing final projects and making sure your application to Princeton is actually working. It seems a little surreal that you got accepted but holy shit you worked your ass off for it and you deserve it.
A week before you’re supposed to pick up Dave at the airport, you come home to a link waiting for you in your skype. While Dave mourned the loss of MegaUpload like his first born, you’re much happier to use MediaFire. Waiting ninety seconds for downloads and not having multiple is just dumb. You frown at the file name while your father pesters you with a sandwich.
‘broad trip 2k12 john and dave make america’
As you download the file and thank your dad for the sandwich you pick up your phone and text Dave one thing before setting your it aside and getting to your homework.
Your phone buzzes for the next few hours, about every fifteen minutes, like clockwork, but you know you have to ignore it or you’ll end up wasting all your time messaging Dave and then it’ll be 2am on a school night and you’ll be answering ‘the pasta, rodent meat is tough’ to Dave’s ‘would you rather eat roast squirrel or year old macncheese’
Finally you get the pesky work out of the way and lean back in your chair, shoving headphones onto your head and pick up one phone, scrolling through the messages.
‘its brotrip and you know it dont even joke’
‘oh fuck i hate autocorrect’
‘its brotrip i swear’
‘it was 4am and bro was filming in the living room and i really needed to get some coffee but i didn’t want to make a guest appearance’
‘yknow broad trip wed be thelma n louise you get to be thelma and ill be the badass louise and our roadtrip will be the fugitive and con air with ladies and less convicts but 100000 fuckin times cooler’
‘except instead of brad pitt itll be nic cage just for you john’
‘maybe ill rename is johns wet dream the road trip’
‘sounds like a movie waiting to be made’
You smile and instead of messaging him back on your phone, you open up pesterchum and click on Dave’s ‘smooth’ status.
-- ectoBiologist [EB] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 17:56 --
EB: okay so if i'm thelma and you’re louise does that mean i'm the silly one and you’re the hot hardcore waitress?
TG: isnt that what we are anyway
TG: i work all day while you cut up guts and school and do the whole scholar thing while i slave away like a cinderella waiting for her prince to show up
EB: does that make dirk your evil stepmother? and rose your evil stepsister?
TG: dont give him any ideas you know hed run wild with a puppet interpretation of cinderella
EB: some day my rump will come.
TG: dont do it man
TG: do not even joke bro could be reading right now
EB: but dave, plusherella will have her fairy godbro come and grant her wish!
TG: yeah and then shell go to the ball and be the prettiest one there and prince cal will want to do her but oh fuck its midnight and shes gotta bounce and shell roll out and leave something glass behind while she flees to her poptart carriage with crow steeds
EB: is it a glass nose?
TG: no but its something just as long and protruding
TG: i told you bro
TG: weird puppet shit
TG: you started it and now look
TG: youve ruined a classic fairytale for yourself
TG: try watching that disney movie again there bucko
TG: someday my prince will come and return to me my glass dildo and plusherella TG:will live happily ever after
TG: but theyll have to make sure its hers first
TG: looks like its time for a whacky dildo testing montage
EB: must be pretty high quality stuff if it didn’t break on the stairs.
You’re half snorting with laughter by now when another window opens up. The orange text always sets you a little on edge but by now, you’re almost… used to it? Now that Dirk (Bro?) is not just some faceless guy but someone you met when Dave turned sixteen and a guy that helped you save the world, you somehow are cool to talk to in his eyes so he pops into your pesterchum occasionally and leaves a message.
He still creeps the living daylights out of you, but at least he’s polite.
-- timaeusTestified [TT] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 18:20 --
TT: Fairy Godbro doesn’t do shit half-assed.
TT: That dildo would be unbreakable.
TT: Nigh bulletproof. Go have some dinner, kid. The battlefield is calling the little squirt and I.
EB: you mean your rooftop?
-- tiameusTestified [TT] is now an idle chum! --
No answer. Figures. Striders are always strifing, especially after an incident like this. As expected, Dave’s window pops up with a ‘brb’ and you absentmindedly check your email and webcomics until his icon goes idle.
Instead of hanging out and awiting for the strife to end (Dave had gotten better after all these years through a combination of practice and a little help from his God Tier powers, so on top of taking longer, when Dave returns from fights he’s got less bruises and his sword has a few splatters of blood along the edge) you head downstairs and ask Jane if she needs any help. You help her cut up vegetables and take a night off from homework and pesterchum/general internet shenanigans.
Sitting down at dinner with Jane and your father is actually a really nice change from taking the food and going upstairs to eat while you slave over your computer and the whole affair turns into an Egbert Family Night, complete with a few pranks, three rounds of Guess Who, and finished up with a viewing of Inception, one of the few movies every member of the household can agree on.
It’s pretty late by the time you return to your computer and everyone has logged off save for Rose, though Dave has left you a few messages.
-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 21:40 --
TG: except in the end i wont drive our car off a cliff
TG: after i kiss you
TG: dont listen to that playlist before this summer egbert or i swear ill actually do it
TG: the cliff part
TG: driving off it
TG: ah fuck looks like bro needs some help at the bar tonight
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 21:46 --
Closing Dave’s window you open up a message to Rose while simultaneously transferring the downloaded playlist onto a CD.
-- ectoBiologist [EB] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] at 23:24 --
TT: Good evening, John. I hope your final video project is going well, I haven’t seen any errors in the clips you’ve sent me so far.
TT: Who knew that Con Air was really an allegory for the trials and tribulations of high school and ultimately defeating them to attain graduation?
EB: glad to hear you picked up on it rose, you can see the layers of symbolism right?
TT: Yes. Cage’s character is the education system fighting against the convicts who represent underage drinking, teenage angst, procrastination and unprotected sex, to ultimately deliver the bunny, ie: your high school diploma, to you, the young, impressionable Casey.
EB: exactly! dave didn’t get that.
TT: Perhaps the three page document that you sent with me explaining the finer details of your short film in a level of detail and symbolic nuance I only expected from experimental members of the cinematography community may have helped. TT: I will admit that it is a true work of art. You are a gift to all of us.
TT: Humanity in general. I think you’ll be getting a call from NASA soon.
TT: Because it was so out of this world, John.
EB: you’re doing that thing again.
EB: what did you call it? oh yeah.
EB: come on lalonde i thought you were a little more mature than that.
EB: you know what they say about sarcasm.
EB: that it’s dumb.
TT: I can’t deny one of my character quirks. Some people find it endearing.
EB: yeah, people who like to suck your sarcasm filled blood.
EB: are you sarcastic when you kiss kanaya.
EB: oh ms maryam do it again, your fangs sinking into my jugular totally doesn't hurt and definitely doesn't have to potential to murder me.
TT: Actually, it’s more along the lines of “Are you alright down there, dear?”
TT: Or, “Oh Ms. Maryam, please bite me again so that our forbidden romance may continue and youcomplete my dream of acting out A Bloodsucker and a Dull Human Girl Fall in a Flushed Romance That’s So Red it Makes Them Both Utterly Flat and 2-Dimensional come true.”
EB: was that a twilight reference, rose?
TT: Heavens no.
TT: I’m much too mature and uptight to enjoy a second-rate romance novel about vampires.
TT: The painted Edward silhouette above my bed, accompanied by the tagline ‘Be safe’ is for ironic purposely only.
TT: Oh come on, John, half the fun is not knowing whether I’m being serious or not.
EB: but do you really think my movie is dumb? serious?
TT: No, John, I think it’s homage to your childhood.
TT: You’re giving one last kick at the youngling can and saying goodbye to one of your all-time favourite movies from your juvenile years is a perfectly healthy way to do that.
TT: It’s not like you’re planning an incredibly expensive and potentially dangerous road trip or anything with your best friend without much planning besides a map and a song in your heart, or something to that effect.
TT: Like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
TT: Being a Seer has its perks. Also being Dave’s sister-slash-untrained psychologist allows me to see deep into his mind.
EB: so he told you about the broadtrip.
TT: Gloated to me about it the next day.
TT: He’s very excited John, but you know this isn’t a very good idea.
EB: i know it isn’t the best idea but i want to see dave and he wants to go on a road trip so it’s like two birds with one stone.
EB: it’s one of those things you do, spur of the moment, taking the bull by the horns.
TT: You really think Dave just came up with it out of the blue?
TT: And so the young golden dreamer fell in love with the ironically purple DJ.
EB: very funny rose, what do you mean?
EB: dave hadn’t said anything before i assumed it was kind of spur of the moment.
TT: I’m off to bed John, just stew in those thoughts.
EB: you’re not very nice.
TT: I never claimed to be.
EB: I hope Edward watches you when you sleep.
EB: and cuts your hair or some junk.
TT: Oh, I hope so too.
-- tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 23:55 --
Graduation comes and goes in a few weeks of studying, final exams (biology was a cinch), last minute cramming(math was not), suit shopping (you're pretty much set after Sburb though), prom (you go stag and have a great time with the kids from AV club) and your graduation video which, from all levels of the high school hierarchy, was named one of the coolest fucking things ever.
But finally, finally May came and you were packing a duffle bag full of shirts, videos, your computer charger, a 'how-to' guide for the car in case it broke down (UNLIKELY, CASEY IS A TROOPER!!) and a toothbrush. Nearby, your phone sits on your pillow and has a record of Dave's flight and a text from him from about two hours ago saying that he was leaving the glorious Lone Star state, and coming to see you. You straighten, looking around your room for any last minute additions and spot the CD you burnt on your desk. Snatching it up, you toss it into your backpack before heaving it all downstairs to the door, dumping it all there. You look up to see Jane standing there, awkwardly twisting the ring on her finger before she walks over and hugs you.
"Be safe, John," she says and you accidentally choke out a laugh and hug her back tightly, lifting her off the ground slightly. "No funny business! Well, unless it's for a good prank but I don't want to have to drive to Wisconsin because you made inappropriate cheesy puns."
"I'm going to be fine, Dave will be nice too."
Releasing you, Jane steps back, smiling as your father walks over from the kitchen, brushing off his hands. He looks at you, a smile passing across his face as he puts a hand on your shoulder. "I'm so-"
"-proud of you." You finish for him and quickly hug him. "Don't worry dad! I know me going on my first road trip with my best friend from the internet is something really to be proud of."
Your father laughs and ruffles your hair. "I'm proud because you're doing something independent with your best friend. It's something all young men, and ladies, should do. I'm sure you remember Jane's trip to Las Vegas with Roxy-"
The glance you cast at Jane catches a flush spreading across her face as she excuses herself with a wave of her hand a jab at your father's side as she absconds into the kitchen. You and your father share a small smirk before he opens the front door for you and takes your dufflebag to the car. Casey sits next to your dad's white car, gleaming bright yellow. You love that car and that car loves you and you pulled it from a used car lot and paid for her to get all pretty and boy does she shine!
You toss your backpack into the passenger's seat and slide into the driver's side, looking up at your father through the open window. He slides his hands into his pocket, giving you a Nod of Respect, pipe hanging out of the side of his mouth. "I'll see you in a few months, John. Don't forget to call."
"Yeah! I won't," you turn on the car and it rumbles to life, "bye dad!" you back out of the driveway and your dad waves and from the doorway Jane is waving as well. She seems pretty insistent and chases down the front walkway to your father. You wave and turn the corner and they disappear from sight. And for the next four months, you are going to be free of any familial obligations, it's going to be you, Casey, Dave and the entire United States waiting for you.
Your name is John Egbert and this is going to be one hell of a summer.
Jane, what have you got there?
John's phone. He forgot it.