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And You And I

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---gardenGnostic [GG] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG]---

GG: hi there!!! :)
TG: yes indeed its high there on that tall place over there why dont you throw yourself off it
GG: you are right
GG: the tower here is pretty high but why would I do that???
GG: I do not feel like flying right now because I want to talk to you!!!
TG: what
TG: what the fuck is your problem
GG: there are no problems here!!! :)
TG: look man if youre high you better have some pretty damn hysterical hallucinations to impart upon me otherwise your ass is grass
TG: an ass as laced with dope as the grass youre on
TG: the kind of grass i will make burst into flames and go up in smoke
TG: and ill get high from whatever sick burn i lay upon your flammable posterior
TG: i start sick fires like no other ive never been caught but believe me i put professional arsonists to shame
GG: i am not high on pot!! just on life!! ;D
TG: oh god youre one of those assholes
TG: alright look im sure you took one of my blogs or whatever seriously and thats fine in fact thats how I prefer it
GG: i do not care about that right now!!! i just wanted to talk to you!!!
TG: i have things to do im a busy guy why should I waste my time shooting the shit with you
GG: oh gosh are you really in the middle of something??? :O gee i did not mean to be a nuisance!!!
GG: we can talk later if you need to go :(
TG: if you dont have some information imperative to my life right now and you dont have any stories to tell me as a result of tripping so many balls that chuck e cheese up and built the worlds largest kiddie ball pit around you
TG: both in terms of area covered and plastic piece of shit ball per square foot ratio
TG: then i wouldnt bother pestering me ever again unless you wanted those pants of yours set ablaze without even having to lie once
TG: and if youre a pedophile your junk would be burned off right along with it
TG: that kiddie playpool set up around you would be unironically illegal
TG: by which i mean totally uncool
TG: and even if you did manage to get your hands on me believe me bub you couldnt handle all this im way too much for you
GG: ewwwwwwwww!!!!!!
GG: that is disgusting!!! and i am not a pedophile!!!
GG: you are really testy when you are awake!!
TG: oh my god you watch me sleep
GG: well yeah kind of!!! How else do you think we got to know each other in the first place??
TG: you are a pedophile see i knew it
TG: and youre even a creepy one
TG: creepier than that creep of a creeper on scooby doo
TG: except instead of a monster face you put on this nice friendly mask for unsuspecting meddling kids and then you ask them to play detective with you in your mystery machine
TG: which is actually just a big lameass white van instead of a really tricked out shaggin wagon with psychedelic flowers and words
TG: still a shaggin wagon though if you know what i mean
TG: dress them up as a dog cause that’s what youre into
TG: and then you make them follow the clues down below
GG: i am going to stop you before you finish that really nasty metaphor and i decide that you are hopeless!!
TG: whatever man it doesnt matter how much you deny it I can sniff out one of your kind from miles away
TG: like shaggy and scooby do scooby snacks
TG: shit im pedo furry bait but I aint gonna get in the back of your car
TG: but if you wanna pretend to stand a chance at least paint your damned van with some slick art i mean really put some effort into this
GG: i am!!! i am the only one of us who is!!! all you do is lay on your bed half awake!
GG: it is hard for me to figure out what is dreambabble and what is not!!
TG: with a partner as shitty as you its no wonder youre not worth my effort
GG: dave!!!
GG: :((((
TG: so youre trying to weird me out by using the name on my blog okay
GG: no!! i know your name is dave strider because that is what you told me yourself!!!
GG: your dreamself technically
GG: but still!!!
TG: yeah sure what else did i tell you in my fitful groanings
GG: dave :((((((((((
TG: i kept saying my own name
TG: jesus are you telling me that you were so lackluster in your romancing that you made me play at both sides
GG: stop stop stop stop!!!!!
TG: i mean thats just sad man give up
TG: your mysteries in the mystery machine will forever remain unsolved case closed
GG: you told me about how lil’ cal is your brother’s favorite puppet
GG: and how your bro is the coolest guy in the universe
GG: and he uses really shitty swords and trains you to use them too and how you want to be an irony master like him
GG: you also said you would show me the beats you recorded!!!
GG: or offered to let me hear them
GG: I think that is sooo coooool!!!!
GG: just like you!!!
TG: someones feeding you crap stock lines or something
TG: you dont know me and I dont know you
TG: adios chum see you on the other side of my rancorous trollpen
GG: you also told me that your eyes are red!
TG: what
TG: thats complete bullshit
TG: totally unbelievable
TG: what but rabbits and the son of satan have red eyes
TG: youre bluffing and you arent even good at it
GG: it is all fine and well if you do not believe me right now because I will prove to you that I know you and you know me!!!
TG: yeah like how are you going to come spirit me away in my sleep
GG: well yeah!!!
GG: more or less… if you want to go flying!!
GG: but I guarantee that tonight you will dream of me
GG: and i am going to bring you flowers!!!! :)
TG: oh wow hold me im swooning i can already see the beginnings of festive orange letters tracing themselves on the side of your big creeper van
GG: you are so silly dave!!! :)
GG: see you tonight!! <3 <3 <3

---gardenGnostic [GG] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG]---

Jade leaned back against the headboard of her bed and sighed. Dave was surprisingly difficult when he was awake! She had only seen him once in his tower on Derse, but he seemed pretty docile then. Of course, he wasn’t completely in control of himself at the time, either.

He wasn’t fully lucid, she could tell, but he certainly wasn’t fully asleep- he could respond to her and speak in complete sentences, but they were still always through some kind of filter like the dark glasses over his face restricted his consciousness as much as his vision.

Never in her wildest dreams (because for her, delving into Derse constituted as a tame dream) would she have considered exploring the dark side and its moon if it weren’t for the clouds of Skaia. She had seen glimpses of John and Rose and Dave on their quest for many, many years in the sky, always waiting with baited breath to meet them all but always unsure of where they slumbered (except John, of course. He was a noble example of honesty and obliviousness to the point of absurdity) until she had caught a glimpse of Rose dressed in robes in a complimentary contrast to Jade’s own nightgown.

From there, it was a simple matter of looking up information on Derse in the Royal Prospitian library and mustering up the gumption to fly that far into the darkness to have a look herself.

Beautiful Rose slept placidly, like a princess in a gothic fairytale, except for when she scrawled on the walls like a toddler- Jade found it particularly amusing to watch the perfectly quaffed and silently dignified porcelain doll of a girl curl her fist around pens, lipsticks, brushes, or anything she could get her hands on and slather nonsense all over her wall like she was recording in stone a history of all events of import for generations to refer to later in times of need. Considering that Jaspers’ mention was vital to earning her classy friend’s conscious trust, though, Jade eventually considered Rose’s sleepwritings to be as important as their scribe thought (little did she know that even after that she was downplaying their significance.)

“MEOW” was the only clue Jade needed to figure out that Rose had a beloved cat and she got this hint many times over in screaming purple-pink graffiti and Jade’s reply to her sleepy friend’s feline soliloquy, while bubbly and excited, was nowhere near as obnoxious.

“Hi there, Rose. You do not know me yet, but my name is Jade and we are going to be really good friends! In fact, we are going to be best friends!” Happily, she told her all about herself and the great adventure they were going to have together.
After all, it was only right that Jade introduce and explain herself, especially since she had barged right on into the tower uninvited! Not that Rose cared enough to do anything about it.

Honestly, there wasn’t much else to say to or do with the comatose girl besides read the writing on her wall and move on.
Jade gave Rose’s hand a squeeze when she left (she always said goodbye to John that way, too) and made the short trip to Dave’s tower.

When she found him lying on his bed amongst cryptic wall scrawling in the same manner as the other two children, she sighed, disheartened, and considered removing his glasses but had the eeriest feeling that he might get mad if she actually took them off. Instead she hovered in circles around his head in an attempt to see past the lenses without touching them. (She might as well try to get to know him better by seeing his face if she couldn’t talk to him directly, she reasoned.) After a few minutes of that tomfoolery, she planted her feet on the floor of the tower and tried to peek at his eyes by looking up at them from under the shades.

She shoved her face next to his and let out a huff when the frames of her own glasses inhibited her Dave-eye-viewing. Undeterred, she took hers off and tried again.

Of course, she could hardly see without her spectacles so this plan proved to be a failure as well.

Eventually, she gave an exasperated squeal and resigned herself to reaching out and taking his hand off his chest in an effort to shake it in greeting, but her warm hello was quickly drowned out by a bark of surprise when Dave gripped hers back.

Startled, she jerked backwards and he used her retreat to help him sit up.

“Hey…” he said, slinging his legs over the side of the bed to face her.

Jade stammered in an effort to regain composure. “How long have you been awake?”

He was unreadable behind his oversized sunglasses.

“I mean, were you watching me trying to see your face? I am sorry, I was just really curious. If there is something wrong with your eyes I was not going to make fun of you or anything, it is just that you wear those infuriatingly shady shades and it is hard to know what you are thinking and they look cool and stuff and I guess I just wanted to see what is underneath them and, and… I guess seeing coolness unbridled would be way too much for me, huh?”

She giggled and proceeded to shake his hand, which was still adhered to hers, like she had originally intended. It felt limp now. “Oh! I am so rude. I know you but you do not know me. I am Jade Harley.”

“…’m… Dave Strider…” he said it slowly, like he really had to think about what was going on.

“It is nice to meet you!” She grinned and scooped up both of his hands and pressed them together between hers. “We are going to have so much fun, Dave! I thought we would not get to do things until later, but if you are awake now then we can go and have some fun! Can you show me Derse? It seems a little gloomy but I am sure it is just as wonderful as Prospit! Oh, I cannot wait to show you Prospit!” she babbled on some more and hovered a little off of her tiptoes to bob up and down in the air with Dave’s wide blackened eyespaces following her by imperceptible degrees. “I know I am probably freaking you out right now, but do you want to do something together?”

“…Derse?”

“Yes! That is where we are. The moon of Derse, the dark side of Skaia’s universe!”

“What… like… Pink Floyd?”

“Huh?”

“You… tell me about… dark side of the… moon but you… don’t know… the band…” He let out a sigh that Jade wasn’t sure what to make of. Was he disappointed or just tired? His head nodded forward and stopped on his chest like he was lamenting the holes in her musical knowledge.

“Dave, are you making fun of me?”

He gave another sigh.

“That’s not very nice! Please stop acting like you are too cool to talk to me!” He was unresponsive.

When he fell forward and into her, she quickly caught him and discovered that he was snoring and probably unaware that he’d snubbed her for the past minute and a half.

“Dave! I thought you were awake!” She pushed him back towards the bed and shook him a little.

Immediately, he stirred. “Mmm… I’m awake. Barely… Not knowing… Pink Floyd isn’t that much of… a tragedy…” he gave a small laugh. “Better music out there…”

“Like what kind of music?”

“Too many to… say… I’ll show you… sometime. Lay down some sick…nasty jams and…” He pointed to a table full of equipment in the corner of his room. “Check there later… I’m clearly out of… it…”

“You record music?”

“…’N remix it,” he added.

“Wow! Who taught you?” Jade let go of his shoulders but kept her palms up in case he toppled over again.

Dave half-smiled. “My Bro. The coolest guy in the universe.”

Jade dropped her arms. Dave seemed stable. “How is he so cool? I’ve seen you do some really cool stuff, yourself!”

“Bro is… ninja master of cool. He uses some… shitty… swords, though. He is teaching me… to use them and be… ironic, too… I’m nowhere near his level.”

Jade grinned. “I bet you will surpass him one day. Believe me when I tell you that I saw you do some really, really, really super cool stuff.”

“…How was I… what… cool?”

He was fading again. She shouted in his ear. “So cool!”

“…What… what was it?”

“Soooo cooooool!”

She could see his eyebrows furrow together. “No, really… like what… did I… do?”

With a giggle, she lifted off the ground and circled around him again. “I cannot tell you! It is not a good idea to spoil too much at once! But please, just believe me when I say that I think you are cool already and are going to become even cooler!”

To Jade’s delight, Dave began to levitate towards her and slowly uncurl himself so his knees were lightly bent in midair and his hands were at his sides. “How… do you know?”

“Clouds!” she was giddy that he could fly after her and began a game of impromptu flight tag in the room, darting just a few feet away from him whenever he began to get close. Not only was it fun, like Marco Polo, it kept him moving and therefore aware.

“Huh?”

“In Skaia, the big chessboard kingdom between Prospit and Derse! The clouds show the future and the past and the present!”

“So… you mean to say you’re a… fortune-teller in… the sky… on a chess…board near… profits…?”

“Prospit, not profits! And sort of, but not really- there’s more to it than that. But I can tell you when you are awake in the real world.”

“Don’t think… dreaming is what I’m doing… it’s insane,” she saw him flinch as he realized he was flying, “…you must be… high on pot…” he swallowed. “Or I am… I’m… flying. Insane.”

“No, you are not insane! I know this is all a little strange to you, but it is all supposed to happen this way!”

He looked at her goofy grin for a long time and his expression was hidden except for the thin line he drew with his lips, like he was trying to figure out if he should believe Jade or not. “I think…” he finally said, “I think… that this is still pretty… damn insane.”

She noticed that he never questioned her assurance that this was predestined and beamed.

“It’s insane, the air this man has got!” she said, rushing over to him to grab his hands again. “Let’s see just how insane it really is! I am guessing you have never explored Derse, so why not go see it!”

She felt him hold her hands tighter as she drifted backwards and pulled him along out of his window.

“It’s… dark.”

She giggled. “I would think so. I told you this was the darker kingdom!”

“…’Salways dark…” His voice dropped to a whisper.

She gave him a sideways glance. “It probably would help you see better if you took off your slick shades, Mr. Cool Guy,” she sing-songed.

At that, he shrank back and let go of her hand. “No… I need these.”

“You do not have to take them off if you do not want to. It was just a suggestion.” Years with Becquerel had taught her how to notice others’ moods by body language alone and cater her own to openly express any message, and she used her knowledge to approach him as nonthreateningly as she could. “Do you want to meet a friend instead?”

“There are… more profit…Prospit… psychics?”

“I told you, I am not psychic! And we are going to see someone else here on Derse with you!”

He considered her for a sleepy moment. “Sure… why not…”

Gracefully, she pirouetted in the air and ended her dance at his shoulder, giving him a nudge. “The moon princess is that way,” she told him.

“How’m… I… s’posed to… know… that…”

“Do you want me to take you there?”

“Seeing as how…” he trailed off completely and Jade prodded him to attention, “…don’t know where “over there” is… yes.”

She wrapped her fingers around his hand again. “Okay, get ready because we are going to go really fast. Hold on to your shades!”

Jade wasn’t joking about her speed- she brought them to Rose’s window in no time and couldn’t help but laugh at Dave when she noticed the white-knuckled vice-grip he’d applied to her hand. He was quite shaken- he didn’t stop trembling even after he crashed into her as she stopped and planted them safely in Rose’s room.

“Holy hell,” he whispered

“I told you I was going to go fast!” she jokingly chided.

“Holy hell,” he repeated, adrenaline fading. “Holy… freaking… hell.”

It was then that she noticed that Dave had a very slight accent. She filed away that information for later. “The lovely Rose Lalonde is asleep in front of you! Be polite and say hello!”

With a heavy gait, Dave moseyed his way over to the girl on the bed, bringing Jade along with him.

“What do you think?” Jade asked after he had seen her face clearly.

“She… she looks… like a… flighty broad… and… snarker…”

Jade laughed. “She is very sarcastic, but she seems very nice, too! I think she is loving and brilliant and a perfect Sleeping Beauty moon princess!”

“Princess…” he started. “Ice queen…”

With a quick shake of her captured hand, Jade restored his focus. “I think I need to take you back, mister sleepyhead.”

“Yeah… why… am I… so…?”

As if on cue, his knees bent and he sunk down before bracing himself on Rose’s bed and Jade.

Jade tugged at him. “Let’s go, Rip Van Coolkid.” She put one arm around his waist and dragged him up into the air. “Nap time!”

“Nah, s’okay… I got it…” He stubbornly shrugged off her arm and instead led her back to his tower rather than the other way around.

At least, he tried to. He got about five feet past the window before Jade heard a loud snore and felt him become a deadweight clamped around her hand.

(Looking back on this after she got to know Dave better, she realized that he would’ve found this moment absolutely hysterical had he been in a position to observe- she splayed her legs in a midair squat and her face turned redder than the text she would come to associate her troublesome load with as she grunted with the effort of stopping his fall.

She looked constipated, no two ways about it.)

“Dave! Dave!”

He snored some more.

“So uncool!” She snorted and swung him like a pendulum into the closest edifice.

He struck it with a satisfying smack, like a baseball hitting a bat. “Unf! What the… ah, shit… ow…”

“DAVE!” She hauled him back up into the air (he was lighter when he was actively helping her) and noticed that he had miraculously avoided getting as much as a scratch on his precious eyewear. “No sleeping until you are safely in your bedroom!”

“…’M sorry… can’t help it…” He was already drifting again.

Hastily, she looped her arms beneath his armpits and rocketed them back into his tower as fast as she could. It behooved her to keep him from reaching the ground until they were over his bed, so she let him hang limply from her arms even once they were inside.

“Well, Dave, it was really nice to meet you and as much fun as that was, I do not think I will be trying this again.”

“O…kay…” he let her deposit him onto his bed and she gave his hand a quick squeeze before making the motion to leave.
“See you later!”

He tugged back. “Jade…”

“Yes?”

“’M… sorry… I can’t go… anywhere.”

She gave a soft smile and rubbed his fingers. “It’s okay. I kind of know the feeling of falling asleep at bad times!”

“Hn.”

“My dog Becquerel always looks out for me, kind of like I guess your Bro does, huh?”

“Bro isn’t… he…” she couldn’t tell if Dave was snoozing or if he wasn’t sure what he wanted to say. “…Sometimes…”

Perhaps if she clarified herself, it would make it easier for him to understand in his semi-dreaming state. “I guess what I am saying is that you’ve got me to look out for you while you are here!”

He shifted his face to look at her and regarded her mutely for so long that anyone else would have thought he had started napping again. However, she knew he was still with her- she could see his pale eyelashes appear and disappear over the frames of his glasses every few seconds as he blinked.

“…Maybe…” the word drifted in the air like a signal for the others to come out because Dave soon dominated the conversation in his broken, unorganized uttering trance.

With some prompting and prodding, he told her about how being cool and ironic was paramount in the Strider household (what that meant, she wasn’t sure, but she assured him he was “sooo cooool!” when he wasn’t having odd narcoleptic attacks- sometimes even when he was- to which he gave a dry and ominously humorless laugh) and introduced her to the enigmatic Lil’ Cal when he appeared in her lap (Dave was also unnaturally quick to grab him by the plush mitten and throw him onto the floor, considering his lethargic state). She also gathered that although he said adored his brother, something was strange about their relationship (not that she had much experience with familial relations with which to judge.)

The rest of the visit continued like this, with her piecing together key details of Dave’s life from the dismembered thoughts he pushed to the surface.

“Hey,” she said, after he had fallen silent for an unusual amount of time, “Dave, I need to go soon. I need to go to sleep, too, so I can wake up in the real world.”

He didn’t make any move to show he heard her, so she gently pried her fingers from his.

“Jade,” he suddenly muttered.

“Yes?”

“Will… you… come… back…?”

She brightened. “Of course! I cannot promise how often that will happen, but I will, definitely!”

“…Okay…”

She had left him then, all optimism and smiles and delight that she had gotten to really talk to one of her friends face-to-face and then spent several hours in the real world doggedly trying to find him using the power of the internet between frequent naps. Eager rummaging soon turned to frustration as her best efforts proved utterly fruitless. Finally, she typed his name into her browser as a last resort.

She felt incredibly silly when “The Blog of Dave Strider” popped up using such a simple search and pulled his chumhandle from the site with relative ease.

Her first real-world conversation with him, which she had just reread, proved to go even better than she had expected.

However, it also went very differently.

What a guarded fellow he was! Sure, stalkers on the internet were dangerous, but there was no need for him to act so viciously! Of course, she couldn’t deny that his raunchy jokes were unbelievably funny…

No, his rude daytime conversation hadn’t left her disheartened in the slightest; it was very educational, in fact. She was now becoming attuned to the fact that the more waking Dave lied about something, the closer she was to the truth.

After all, her mention of his eye color was a complete shot in the dark. She had never asked him about it on Derse and he had never mentioned it, but the fact that he had not put her in the trollpen after she did so gave her the inexplicable conviction that she was right. Coolkid wasn’t as much of a mystery as he pretended to be.

Still, she wondered how he would react in the waking world when she talked to him again after appearing in his dream room with a bouquet of roses and a lot of Scooby-Doo references. She grinned to herself as she curled up in her bed, anxiously awaiting her dreamtime’s beginning.

Chapter Text

When he slept, Dave had visions of Cal dancing on his bed amongst the velvety red interior of his room, a room like a coffin of puppet plush to cocoon him in and block the sun out, and the little man’s grave-dancing kept the boy flightless and scared, doomed to wallow in his hoard of personal treasures of secrets and desires but never share them; Dave had to fight to protect his psyche and to give in to his diminutive tormentor would be the end.

He spent his life huddled in the shadows of those who he believed to be greater. The darkness was what he thought to be a safe place.

However, it was also a very cold and lonely place although he did not realize it until she came along.

His whole world was darkness, and she cut through all of it in a glorious golden glow.

She was pure sunshine and he reacted to her like a monster born in a cave would if it caught a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel- disoriented, frightened, guarded, and yet so very…
…intrigued.

She would visit him sporadically and each time she did his crypt became less frightening because she graced it with her presence. The dark shadows regressed into nothingness and it took almost no time for him to crawl out of his shell and, quite literally, into her arms.

In the state he dreamed in, he was only able to confidently stride about in his room for certain predestined actions, like his train of thought kept him on a defined track of motion. When he derailed himself, he discovered that he would fade fast and struggled to keep his head above the bubbles of an ocean of dreams. So, naturally, he clung to the only thing that he knew he could hold onto that he trusted to support him when he fell.

Jade was a great guiding star, a loyal and unfailing point of light that promised to return and guide him when he needed help most.

She was kind and welcoming- an eternal smile shone across her face unless he twisted it otherwise (which he tried his best not to do, and luckily he never managed to permanently disfigure the gleeful crescent playing across her face what with her strange sense of humor and forgiving attitude absorbing the brunt of his callousness) and according to her, she came to visit him simply because she liked him and thought he was cool and wanted them to be friends.

She said she didn’t want anything else from him, really, and Dave believed her.

“Well,” she said, “Maybe that’s not all I want. I also want to introduce you to some others and I want you to be friends with them, too!”

“Are they… like…you?”

“Like me?”

“Dog…”

Confusion altered her face. “Yes, I have a dog, but I do not think the others do. But is that what you mean by ‘like me’?”

“Dog… Star…”

“Daaaaaave,” she rolled his head around in her hands, “are you still with me?”

“Yeah, I just… I meant… are they… kind and… excitable… trust ‘em…” he mumbled a few more things she couldn’t quite make out.

“Well, I think so! Rose is a little, um, thornily precocious at first, but she totally is kind at heart! And she is really smart. From what I know about your waking self, you guys would really like one another!”

“Saw Rose… she seemed like she pretended… ice queen…”

“She is not one, though. Trust me.”

“…I do…” He succumbed to the pull of gravity on his tired body and let her catch him to illustrate his point.

Jade did not understand his hidden meaning as Dave proved to be cryptic even when he was being openly honest, but kept him from planting his face onto the floor of his room all the same.

“Hey, do you need to go to bed again?”

“No.” He uprooted himself from her and took a seat at his desk. “Rose is a… tolerable broad… not a real queen… and… you were saying?”

“You guys have a lot in common! I think you would really hit it off because you are both so smart and sarcastic and kind of ironic!”

“If you… think so…”

“I do!”

“So… me and you… and… Rose… two girls and one… guy… ha…”

She let his unfinished joke go unnoticed. “No, two boys, too! I have not talked about him very much, but you forgot about John!”

Suddenly, Cal jumped onto the computer monitor and Dave stood up and walked over to his bed to get away from him.

“Your awake self must be moving that way as well if it is so easy for you to do that.”

“Maybe,” he replied. “And… if he… goes to sleep… I… might not… be so…”

Dave sat on his bed and tried to keep his head from drooping.

When he stopped talking, Jade stepped over and carefully laid him down onto his mattress and gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “I’ll try to come back again later. Your other self doesn’t like to sleep much.”

Dreaming Dave nodded in reply to what she said, but he didn’t find it in himself to be able to elaborate much more. Maybe later, when he was more asleep on the other side and more awake on this one, he could tell her absolutely everything.

The single consciousness he possessed was stuck shifting between two dimensions and the strangest filter separated them. Here, he was not half as guarded as he was there.

His second internet conversation with Jade had been indicative of the difference, and he’d apologized to her for his attitude on several occasions both in person and online. He was not particularly proud of himself or his words that day:

---gardenGnostic [GG] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG]---

GG: hey!! so are you still going to pretend we do not know each other??? :)
TG: wait what the fuck are you talking about
GG: still going to act sooooo cooool??? hee hee!
TG: what the hell do you want
GG: you seemed to really like the flowers and you did a really funny scooby doo voice
TG: oh right
TG: youre that asshole
GG: that is not very nice, dave. :(
GG: it was hard to bring all that stuff all the way out there and you seemed to really like it at the time!!
GG: you said you and your bro watched that show together sometimes before his puppet thingy show came on
GG: and then sometimes squiddles after that!
GG: and then you laughed when I told you how much I loved squiddles!!! :)
TG: so I guess you do forcefully invade peoples dreams like the tentacles on those goddamned squidbeasts do
TG: thanks for the mindfuck asshole but it was pretty pathetic not even worth my time
TG: so weak that I almost forgot all about it
TG: you are an even shittier rapist than i thought and you even had the upper hand
GG: dave, why do you act like this??? i only want to be friendly!!
TG: yeah well obviously you are a little too friendly and im not into your kind of thing
TG: fucking furry go yiff on someone else
TG: i said it once and ill say it again you are a creeper
TG: no worse
TG: and i never want to have the discomfort of you pawing all over me again
GG: but dave you said you wanted me to come back and visit you again!
GG: you said you would watch cartoons with me
GG: and you wanted me to hear your remixes and maybe play some instruments for parts of them
GG: you said it was nice to have someone over that would not be scared off by your brother and his odd hobbies!
GG: why are you acting like this???
TG: fuck you
GG: you pretend like you do not need other people but i can tell that you are really lonely!!
TG: FUCK YOU
GG: why are you so rude and uncool when you are awake? i do not like what you are insinuating!
GG: it is disgusting and mean of you!!! :(((((
TG: and how the fuck do you think it feels for me to have you come pry at me like some damned overweight fat nasty trash does to a mediocre seafood salesman for a cheaper deal on some shit crab at an even shittier cheap ass seafood market at a crowded tourist trap hell
TG: where people stand in lines to ogle at the fucking crustaceans waiting to be boiled alive and crammed down their motherfucking gullets
TG: those people soullessly stare like fucking puppets waiting with sadistic anticipation to break open the red crab shell in their damned dead mittens while the crab kind of just glubs there like
TG: it didnt really have a choice in its death but the alternative impending executioner was the ugly sharp serrated fan nestled in the center of a ring of molesting tentacles of some eight legged freaks with suckers to mark upon their crabby asses and make the pain last longer the whole way to oblivion in the piehole
TG: meaning said piehole-fan belonged to some octopus or horrorterror or squid or squiddle or whatever the fuck
TG: and the crab is the shit that hits it once again illustrating that the seafood in the tourist trap of grim reaper tourist is fucking awful shit
TG: meaning the crab is shit that lived a shit life and just waits there to be ripped from its home and tossed into serious hot water or shoved up the ass mouth of abominations nobody should ever have to even fucking dream about in hell
TG: and this is its fate no matter what the fuck the crab wants or wanted
TG: and it and all its little crab buddies just curl up and die knowing that
TG: no matter if they could turn back time or something they would all live fucking pointless lives and just be torn apart exposed and ripped to goddamned pieces in the disgusting mouths of something bigger than any of them once it was finished jacking off to watching them fight for their lives in terror in the little aquarium-universe
TG: they wouldnt even be able to help the damn appetizer of i dunno frog legs or something
TG: not to mention the side dishes or course afterwards
TG: shit they wouldnt even get to see the sweet dessert reward awaiting after all that fucking godawful dinner adventure of putrid seafood ended
TG: it would all get noshed to bits and sludge itself with the rest of the crab and frog rancid shit
TG: unless they scraped it off the table
TG: then the dog might have mercy on it and leave it to rot in its filth
TG: fuck i dont even know what the metaphor or its purpose was anymore
TG: just
TG: god
GG: … :(
TG: oh did that get you to shut up
TG: huh
TG: yeah we see how well you handle that shit
TG: its not like I wasnt going to burn you eventually
TG: that was nothing
TG: its fine just go
TG: so run asshole
TG: run on home with Dorothy like the bitch you are yip yip
TG: leave me alone to chill with my INSANELY FUCKING AWESOME SELF
TG: with goddamned cal
GG: …
TG: oh are we all quiet now
TG: trying to be the bigger person now after the backlash from your meddling
TG: nah dont lie you dont know what to say back to that and youre just trying to cover your lame ass by looking all strong and silent
GG: …dave… did something happen?
TG: yeah i just flambeed your ass
GG: i think you need to go chill out, mister cool guy. i think your cool temporarily became uncool from all that sick burning you just did…
TG: whatever
GG: i am really upset that you would act like this!!!
TG: i dont have time for this bullshit
GG: you are so nice when we meet in person!! :(
TG: WE HAVE NEVER MET
GG: stop lying!
TG: fine lets pretend like my weird dream wasnt just a coincidence come over and show me your sad hurt puppydog eyes and maybe ill change my mind
GG: you think you are being clever and aloof but you are just being cruel and cold!
GG: not cool at all :(
GG: i am starting to wonder if i was wrong about you after all…
TG: look im not your little toy and i dont like you or anyone else playing retarded games with me
GG: im sorry you think my games are retarded i just wanted for us all to have fun!!
GG: if you are going to treat me like this then i do not think i want you to play either!! >:(
TG: glad to see we have some kind of agreement here
GG: i guess im just not cool enough to have such a jerk grace me with his mean insults and repulsive figures of speech or his two faced asshole routine!!!!
GG: im sorry i ever took a moment of your precious time!!! >:(((
GG: goodbye!

---gardenGnostic [GG] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG]---

TG: goddammit
TG: look im sorry i just
TG: fuck
TG: I feel really crabby today okay
TG: shit wrong choice of words
TG: what i mean is im an asshole okay
TG: i have issues with people getting close alright is that such a crime
TG: youd feel the same way if we reversed this situation
TG: i mean you just suddenly appeared from nowhere and started to act like
TG: you kno everything about me
TG: but you like me anyway
TG: fuck what am I saying
TG: im going to bed

---turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering gardenGnostic [GG]---

---gardenGnostic [GG] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG]---

GG: if you really mean that, apology accepted!!! See you soon! :)))))

---gardenGnostic [GG] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG]---

Luckily for Dave and his dreamself, he went to sleep and Jade visited him straightaway.

She found him on his clumsy feet and waiting at the window with his shoes gripping the vinyl surface of his turntables like they were nothing more than the cheap plastic of a life raft. “…’M so sorry.”

“I think I understand why you acted that way. I should apologize, too. It’s just that John and Rose were so much easier to talk to about this on a more personal basis and I… I guess I never realized how intrusive I was being.”

“No, I was… being a… fuckass…. ‘smy fault…”

Gently, she peeled him from the turntables and guided him back to his bed. “I guess it is kind of both our faults. But now that we have that cleared up, we can just treat it like a bad dream and forget all about it.”

“No…!”

Naively, Jade blinked and cocked her head. “No?”

Dave’s self in Texas had indeed taken a small nap and so the moon prince was a little more energized than usual. He lifted his feet from the ground and glided around Jade, putting his hands upon her shoulders so he could turn her around as he twirled around her. “Can’t forget the lessons from this. One… I think… I believe in you when I am… not… here, two… we need to teach you how… to comport yourself on the web so you… don’t get trolled or… end up on 4chan or something… and… three… I am abrasive… all… the time.”

“But you are usually too cool to be an asshole like this! Today was an off day!”

“Coolness… has nothing to do with being an ass… or a component of one.”

Jade giggled at that and Dave gave a tiny smile.

“We… can’t just treat memories like… dreams. Then… how… would we know if we were dreaming or not?” He spread his palms out wide in a nonchalant gesture and grounded himself. “And how would I remember that I believe you exist and are a real person who really… visits me in dreams and brings me chrysanthemums and… shit… and who… well, you get the picture...”

Her smile lit up her face and she grabbed his hand. “I forgive you. But I do want to know,” her face creased in worry again, “Were you okay? Your, um, metaphors were a little ominous.”

Dave’s face remained stone, which was the first sign that he was retreating into himself. “Nothing has happened… exactly, but… this place is… that puppet… sometimes I hear things and…” He looked to his feet.

“I do not really hear things, but I see them! So I sort of know what you mean! That is how I knew about you!”

Wonderingly, Dave cast his face up to hers again. “…Prospit…? That place… is a land of golden dreams… this one is made of…” He shook his head. “I don’t want… to think about that right now. But… I never heard about you before.”

Jade took a turn making revolutions around Dave’s stationary body. “Maybe it is because you are sooooo sleepy!”

“…Maybe.”

She messed with his hair some and floated back to the window she came in. “I need to wake up soon, so I should go. I am sorry this visit was so brief, but I am glad that I came!”

Behind his glasses, Dave’s eyes widened “W-wait… can… you stay long enough for… some… beats?” He wandered over to the equipment below his feet. “I… might… forget or fall asleep…? Yeah, fall asleep… later.”

Jade succumbed to the temptation of sleeping in and let Dave play his music to discover that he was making his moods obvious to her by what he played or remixed- he could really do this in his sleep.

“’M not gonna… remember all of this… clearly… in the other world…”

“But you will here and so I’ll stay a little longer, okay?”

“…’Kay…”

But like all good things, her visit came to an end and the glow of her golden nightgown slipped out of Dave’s sight like the constellations do from the night sky as the seasons change. He was left in the darkness once again with her far away and offering only as much comfort as the promise of her return could offer.

He would have to wait it out and he decided that so long as it was her he was waiting for, the girl who was unperturbed by his closed personality, the girl who saw through his most foolishly callous defenses, the girl who could forgive him for mistakes he could not forgive himself for, that was alright.

Chapter Text

Dave did not like the dark period between Jade's visits and he hated even more when he was so out of it when she came around that he could barely sit up.

Jade knew that not only because it was clear as day through his body language, but because he had told her as much in words.

So she talked to him anyway on those days and he would usually signify his marginal attention by holding her hand and squeezing it to reply when he couldn't get words to eke out his lips. And whenever possible, she would prop him up and rest next to him on the bed while she recounted stories of her grandfather or of Prospit. He seemed especially interested in those.

"World of… fucking gold," he would utter.

"Yes! And I am its princess!" Jade would say.

"…..suits you."

"Rose is a princess, too!"

"…..hn…"

Usually, Jade would change topics at this point (the line about her being royalty was almost an inside joke by now as he'd always say the same thing about it after a varying amount of silence, then finished up by a Rose comment), but today Jade felt like pursuing the subject.

"But Dave, she is your princess!"

He gripped her hand lightly until he could make a noise. "…but then… your prince… why… who…. I don't…"

"You have talked to both of them, right? Rose and John?"

"Therapist…. and… best bro… Glad to…. know…. John….Derpass…" Jade watched with some pleasure as Dave's lips tilted up into a small smile."

"John is really wonderful. He's so nice and completely genuine! I really like him!"

"….mmhm…. bad taste…"

"But you just said you liked John!"

"…Do. But he… has… bad… taste in… movies…."

"I do not know about that, but if you say so."

"…Terrible taste… great… guy…" His pause grew thoughtful. "…. Perfect…" he chuckled a little.

"Yeah," her eyes got misty and she looked off into the distance, "I am really glad he is my prince. It is almost too perfect, you know? He and I are so alike and you and Rose are both so similar... it is almost like we were made to be together!"

Suddenly, Dave's hand squeezed hers and he shifted with a drowsy whine and a contortion of shaded face.

The startled Jade was unsure of whether to attribute this to Dave's occasional restless sleep pattern or if there was something he wanted to say. "It is okay, Dave. I am right here."

"….!" He buried his head into her shoulder.

"What is it?"

"Don't… belong to… damned…" he slid a little from his Jade perch and she supported him with her free arm. "…false… ice… queen…"

"I do not understand what you mean! Are you trying to talk to me or other-world people?"

His soft breathing became ragged and uneven, jagged like the broken edges of a shattered sheet of vinyl. "My queen…cold… highest tower… will… thaw… into a dew…" he let go of her other hand and she used it to embrace him, "fucking frog… prince… feathery…asshole… sera…phim… devilbeast…sunshine… save… time… and… space and…" she held him tighter.

He kept spouting nonsense, at first raising his voice to a flat shout and then suddenly letting it recede to a gritty whisper like the crackling pops of a bonfire as it tore at the stars and fell out only to reach for them again. "Shush, it'll be okay. I think you are just having a nightmare!"

Feebly, he placed his arms around her and let his head rest under her chin. "Knight for… red… Rose… black… Rose…"

"Dave, you are not making any sense! It is okay if you need to sleep. Please do not push yourself!" She looked down at him with dark clouds of concern washing over her earlier Prospit daydreams.

"Serve others sometimes… master is… and… Felt… but…loyal only… to… loyal…"

Slowly, deliberately, he shifted away from her so that his downcast face was a few inches away from her body. She noticed that his shades were slipping off.

"….Green Sun…."

The plastic frames of the sunglasses finally relinquished their hold on Dave's head and they fell to the bed, sinking into the plush blankets as if they were made of the world's heaviest metal.

The armored protection they offered had, in fact, been completely moot. Dave's eyes had been visible from over their unsecured tops since he had begun to support himself in his stupor.

Their redness would not have been half as intimidating had his stare not been quite so concentrated; he was not so much looking at her once the glasses fell as he was through her- she wondered, with a sick curiosity, if the dark lenses had been keeping something out rather than simply keeping his secrets in. As he tilted his head level with hers, that ominous silhouette of a theory began to fill out into something all too real.

She followed the path of his widened eyes- tired eyes, with bags underneath them dyed an unhealthy purpled blue- as his irises darted to the left and then cautiously to the right before retreating to the left again in a growing frenzy of panic.

"Dave?" Jade tried.

He flinched at the sound of his name and swung his eyeballs to view dead center. As he did, Jade swore she heard creaking noises emit from of the inner muscles of his face from the strain of refocusing his impossibly wide eyes to see her instead of whatever else lurked in the shadows.

"Dave?" she repeated. He was awake, if his expression was any indication- he looked like he'd been wired with shot after shot of espresso and he acted like it, too. His fists were quaking from where they held the cloth of her nightgown and his breathing was even more erratic than before.

First, his mouth twisted into a downwards curve and then his lips stretched wider to contort into a strange hybrid of a sneer and a deep frown before they parted and let lose his subconscious thoughts.

This time, the disjointed words did not flow like slow molasses, but rushed and stumbled over one another in a panic to get out. "I-I'm sorry, I can't, I can't do this, fuck, I can't deal with this, I am not okay with this-" He squeezed his eyes shut tight and shook his head as if casting away unwanted thoughts could be done physically.

Jade clamped her cool hands on his face and held it still. "Calm down, Dave! It is going to be okay! Nothing is going to get you. Hold on just a second!"

Startled, his eyes flew open and he searched her face for a moment before his struggling ceased.

She released him and snatched up his sunglasses from where they rested on the bed and gently placed them back on his face. "Better?"

His breathing had already begun to stabilize and he gave a quick nod. "…Thank you."

"No problem." Her warmest smile appeared on her visage and she rubbed his sides as if she were petting a dog- that was the most natural reaction she could think to give in this situation. "Do you want to talk about it?"

He let his forehead fall onto her shoulder. "…No."

"Okay." She hugged him, but it was more of a brace to make sure he didn't doze off and fall once his shoulders stopped shaking. The rhythmic stroking of his back was for reassurance. "Sometimes, the things I see in the clouds scare me. But then I remember that they are just visions and I can look at a different cloud or talk to the citizens of Prospit. I can't do that when bad things happen in the waking world."

"…You can talk to me…"

"Oh, I do sometimes! But it is harder when nobody is actually sitting there with you. My house is creepy." She paused. "I mean, Bec is really helpful, almost like my father, if I had one! Except no matter how much I love him or he loves me, he is only a dog. And some of the things my grandfather keeps around frighten me. I know they can't come to get me, but… he has this collection of weird blue women from really bad ads or something." She leaned into his ear. "I think they're trying to turn me blue with their stares. Their eyes are like the ones in your comic, except not as ironic or cool."

He gave a faint laugh. "Blue would look nice… on you."

"You think so?"

"Yup."

"That is what John says! Maybe I should try it."

"…Ah."

She giggled and patted his back like a drum to amuse herself. "Do you think he would hear me if I told his dreamself that I was wearing blue?"

Dave didn't respond.

"I guess I could just tell him online. But that seems so impersonal. Although I guess living in a really high tower all by myself should make me used to that kind of thing."

"…I'm sure he'll be very touched that you told him… even if he can't see you."

"You really think so?"

"Yeah. But red's a better color.Though… I kinda like yellow."

Jade chuckled. "Silly Dave. You've only seen me in yellow!"

"Exactly."

Something was strange about how he was speaking. "Dave."

She scrunched her face into a fake frown. "You are completely awake right now, aren't you! You are just pretending to be a sack of potatoes!"

He stayed still, like a gazelle when it realizes a lion has it in its sights.

Then, unexpectedly, his head sprang up from the savanna of the fabric of her dress and a barely concealed grin transferred from his face to his voice. "Potatoes! What the hell. I am way to cool for that kind of lump of unfrenched fries."

"Okay, then what kind of vegetable could possibly dare to… aspire..agus to coolness like yours?"

"Jesus, Jade, that rules out asparagus for sure. There will be none of that in this vegetable tray of irony." He began to levitate from the bed and tug at her to do the same.

"Are you served with cool ranch dressing?" She followed him into the air.

"No, no, I am none of your derpy vegetables just lying around like a bump on a fucking log. I AM the ranch. It's me. I make all your shitty produce halfway decent." He spread out his arms and planted his palms on the back of his blonde head.

Jade happily played along with the ruse. "So that's why my pumpkins keep disappearing! You keep slathering them in your coolkid dressing and people keep gobbling them up! I myself might be the one eating all of them right now in my sleep because I can't get enough! Your ranch is just soooo gooood!"

Dave choked on air. "Oh my God, Jade, I know I'm irresistible and everything but damn, girl, you don't have to talk like that, I mean, I was joking-"

Snickering, Jade swatted him in the arm not only in playfulness but to chase away the unpleased look that had formed behind his glasses. "Gross! Not like that!"

"Well, whatever. Do you want to go look at Derse? Get the fuck out of this tower?" Dave held out his hand for her to take.

Her uneven smile slipped from her face and she tucked a few strands of loose ebony hair behind her porcelain ears. "I really want to, but I think I am going to wake up soon and I need to leave this body on my bed."

Dave's upturned lips slid back to their standard position, too. "…Oh. Some other time, then."

"Yeah, sorry. I just have this dream-robot thingy and it needs to be somewhere I can find it easily, and, um…"

"…It's whatever." He drew his hand back to his side.

However, Jade wasn't done thinking. With a toss of her hair and arms, her body language lit up the mood like a light bulb in a mine shaft. "But you can come with me, if you want! We can go to Prospit!"

"Really, now?"

"If you think you can make it without dozing off!" She shoved her finger into his chest. "Are you up for it?"

Surreptitiously, Dave cast a wary eye to where Lil' Cal was cackling in the corner before he navigated to the window. "This party is just getting started. Why the fuck would I sleep through all the crazy dance remixes and salty snacks and weird, drunken hookups happening in the closet? It's my scene."

Jade snorted.

"Alright, maybe that isn't my scene. But the point is that I sure as shit want to go to visit the bigass El Dorado bling-moon in the sky. The man in that moon has fucking grills on his made-of-gold-not-cheese teeth- he's my kind of homie. Lead the way."

Elatedly, she dashed out the window and pulled him along on her way. "Ha ha! It is a loooong way, but it is worth it! I promise!" Dave got his bearings and caught up to her speed so that they were flying side-by-side rather than her leading and dragging him by the wrist. She adjusted her grip so she was holding his hand instead.

"Sorry, but cutting off the circulation to my whole hand is worse than just my fingers. You gotta ease up a little bit there," he commented.

"Oh, sorry, Dave! I'm just so excited!" He listened to her ecstatic voice as it whizzed by like bright dust from a falling star as they flew through the dark sky and wondered if she was completely unaware of the fragmented reality- realities- of time that would or will or had or might or never would come to pass that he heard whispers of in the very same darkness. He opened his mouth to mention it.

But then he decided, for once, that he needed to keep his mouth shut.

He adjusted his shades with his free hand and kept those timelines a secret for another day. Here, now, he was going to Prospit with Jade and all the other possibilities could hold their horses.

John and Rose were not there yet. It was only him and Jade and he was pretty okay with that right now.