Ten. That was box number ten; hand-delivered to his room by him. He stood taller, hands going to his hips and pulling his back into alignment. He took a deep breath and let it out before turning to the door. He really was sick of carrying boxes up here. It was such boring work. He went to the bare window and looked out into the front yard. The sun beat down today like it hadn’t in a long time. Or maybe it was just like that here. He certainly hoped not. Every inch of metal he could spot from his window was white hot and glinting sunlight into every corner, leaving shadows nowhere to be seen.
He dragged himself downstairs and out the front door walking down the sidewalk and to the moving van. He walked up the ramp and met with a mover that was pulling his mattress out of the back. He grabbed one end and wordlessly helped him carry it into the house and up the stairs to his room. It was put in the corner and the mover left the room, hopefully going back to the van to carry his shelf up here. His assortment of video games needed a place to be organized.
Box 1 was opened. Out came the router and the laptop. The router was plugged into the wall and his computer was turned on and connected to the internet. He pulled out his headset and logged into trollian, pressing ‘call’ next to CG.
The name lit up and a ringing could be heard in the headphones.
“You finally get there?? About fucking time you haven’t been online in like six hours.”
His words were slightly slurred and his lisp shown through even more than usual as he talked through the blistering heat, “Yeah I don’t wanna hear it I’ve been working all damn day. Do you have, any idea, how hot it is here? I swear to God it’s ninety degrees. So until your ass shows up on my doorstep and helps me carry in my furniture I don’t want to hear any complaining.”
“Well how about I won’t complain on one condition. Pull the huge branch out of your ass and get off your high fucking horse. I’m not even that upset and you’re acting like I just asked you to fly on over to my house. I’m not even at my house for that matter, I’m on my phone.”
Sollux looked up at the chiming of the doorbell.
“Be right back, the doorbell just rang and that’s probably one of my neighbors welcoming me to this hell hole.”
He pulled his headset off and set it next to his computer, standing from the brown carpeted floor and walking back downstairs. He went to the front door and opened it, “Hi, wh- Oh…”
Karkat had his arms crossed in front of him. He lifted a hand and waved sarcastically, “I told you I only live like twenty minutes away.”
“Well I didn’t think you’d bother driving over here before I even had my shit moved in.”
“Drive? No, when I said twenty minutes I meant by foot. I don’t drive. My mom barely lets me use her car to pick up groceries and hell if I have enough money to buy my own car. I can barely get a job let alone a job with good pay. Minimum wage would be a step up from the shithole of broke I’m in right now.”
“Well maybe if you had more to put on your resume than ‘sits at home and plays shooter games online’.”
“Shut up, Captor, you can’t say much more for yourself so I don’t wanna hear it.”
“Actually I do plenty more than play video games I know how to build a computer and I bet you don’t.”
“No I don’t but building a computer doesn’t come into much use if you don’t have the parts for it. So what will you do with that skill?”
“You are so retarded I’ll buy the parts, put them together and then sell it for more than it cost. That’s pretty much how business works.”
“Are you going to let me inside or not?”
“Not without admission costs.”
“I don’t have my wallet on me, so sorry.”
He was about to barge in but Sollux held his arm up, “Actually the admission fee is something from the back of the van.”
Karkat rolled his eyes and turned around. Sollux followed him and looked around the van to find something worth carrying upstairs. He thought the desk might be worth his time but then he spotted the TV and decided that was definitely next. He found the short wooden stand it sat on and handed it to Karkat while grabbing box 11. They went upstairs and he put the box on the floor, taking the stand from his friend’s hands and putting it across the room from his bed, leaving room for his desk to sit between it and the wall.
They went back out to the truck, Sollux reaching for one half of the TV and Karkat the other. They carried it upstairs wordlessly, setting it on the stand. Sollux stopped and looked up at his friend curiously. They hadn’t met in person before and he didn’t know why it hadn’t struck him before but he was really excited about it. It must be the heat getting to him. He smiled and leaned in to give his best friend a hug. Karkat’s arms were held out, “Seriously? Personal space.”
“No such thing.”
Sollux pulled back and smiled at the annoyed expression on his friend’s face. He sat down and pulled out box 11. He used his knife to cut the tape and pulled out the game systems that sat inside. He set them on the small shelf next to the TV, running the cords behind it and plugging them in.
He sat back and examined the beauty that was his TV. The 64’ flat screen took up a nice amount of wall space to make up for the lack of posters and picture frames. To be honest, Sollux didn’t have a lot of posters and the ones he did usually ended in the back of his closet because he had run out of interesting locations to put them. Moving to a new house with a new room would do wonders for them and he would have a new indefinite amount of arrangements.
Karkat stood, “So do you have any food to eat?”
“What do you think? We just moved to a new state.”
“So that’s a ‘no’?”
Sollux rolled his eyes and went downstairs, Karkat behind him. He was about to go back out to the truck to get some more furniture but his dad stopped him in the doorway, “Hey, I told you you’d make new friends. People like you!”
“Dad this is Karkat.”
“Oh he’s your friend from online, right?”
His dad held out a hand, “Nice to meet you, Karkat.”
His dad went back to carrying the box in his arms upstairs to his and his husband’s bedroom.
Karkat rolled his eyes and followed Sollux back to the moving truck. They worked at Sollux’s desk and got it unlodged from the corner both grabbing a side and grunting as they lifted it and carried it delicately down the ramp of the moving van and into the corner of Sollux’s room.
Sollux demanded Karkat go get the last of his furniture, listing all the things that were missing. He opened box 1 again and pulled out his computer speakers, desktop monitor, and computer and set them up on the desk. He unpacked the rest of his stuff, books, movies, games, and organized them on a shelf. The last of his furniture consisted of a night stand, a lamp, and a game chair. Karkat brought it all up shortly and collapsed on his bed, now covered in red sheets and a navy blue blanket.
Sollux joined him on the bed, breathing deeply in the summer heat, “Please tell me it isn’t like this all year round.”
“It’s not. But… It’s pretty hot for the entire year except for winter. Winter is pretty much ten degrees November through February.”
“What is with this place and having its temperatures at extremes all the time?”
“dunno. You get used to it after a while.”
“Well anyway, It’s getting late. Wanna order some pizza or something? Stay the night?”
“Sure. Let’s just hope my mom doesn’t flip out. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”
Sollux laughed and sat up. The sky was starting to go dim and the moving truck was completely unpacked. The movers were shutting the back of the truck and getting in to leave. His dads were grabbing the last few boxes off the walkway to take into the house and unpack. He probably would have to help even if Karkat stayed over. His dad wasn’t one in agreement to slacking. Frankly, Sollux was surprised that he was so lenient about him playing video games all day instead of going out to find a job. Maybe now that they moved and lived in a new place he would be more demanding on the subject.
Karkat stood to follow him downstairs. His dad and Mack, his new husband, recently married, were sitting at the kitchen table, Mack putting some food on the stove to cook. He had run to the grocery store earlier and got back only recently. He was about to pour some rice into a pot but Sollux cut in, “Karkat and I were just about to order pizza, you sure you want to cook? Isn’t there some law against cooking the first night you move into a new house? It’s like a rule that you order in.”
Mack shrugged and put the rice on the counter, “I don’t mind cooking. But if you want pizza, feel free to order some.”
Sollux turned to his dad, “Can I have some money?”
He seemed to ponder whether or not he should make him eat home-cooked dinner but pulled out his wallet anyway and handed him a twenty, “Have fun.”
“About fun… Karkat is staying over tonight.”
“Keep it down.”
Sollux went into the living room and looked around to memorize where everything was. Most of the boxes were still packed but they could finish unpacking everything tomorrow. He sat on the couch, Karkat quick to follow, and pulled out his phone. He was about to press the saved number to Pizza Hut but he realized the number was for the local in his own town. He sighed and looked around at the boxes. He didn’t suppose their phonebook would be of any use here, “Hey where do I find the number for the pizza place around here?”
Karkat seemed to see their dilemma, “In my phonebook.”
He pulled out his old Nokia flip-phone and went to his call list, dialing in for Dominoes instead, “This one’s closer and their prices are better than the local Pizza Hut.”
They went back upstairs after ordering a combo with garlic sticks and a two-liter. He was right; they definitely had good prices there. They went back up to Sollux’s room. One thing he definitely liked was the double windows. There was one facing the street and one facing the next door neighbor’s house.
He looked out the one to his left and noticed the light on in the neighbor’s upstairs bedroom. He was about to turn but someone was looking over here at him. He turned to look back and saw a girl about his own age staring at him. When he looked back at her she grinned and waved. He raised an eyebrow and waved back somewhat awkwardly. She put her blind down and the light went out. He scoffed, “Great, I have a neighbor who my dad is totally going to want me to be friends with. Frankly, I don’t really wanna hear about all the highschool drama and what kind of jeans she found at the mall.”
“How do you know she even gives a rat’s ass about the jeans at the mall?”
“I don’t but Isn’t that the kind of crap girls do? Go shopping and get themselves caught up in drama? I don’t think I’ve met a girl yet who’s failed to fit into either of those categories.”
“Maybe it’s just where you lived. Most of the people around here are weird but they aren’t very TV cliché. I only know one girl who REALLY fits into both of those categories.”
“What’s her name?”
“I believe you know her as the always lovely AG.”
“Oh God I didn’t know she lived here.”
“Her living here is the only reason she’s on my Trollian friend’s list. I’m sure you’ll meet her next fall if you don’t find her walking around at night.”
“Yeah she’s a bit nocturnal. She walks around the neighborhood a lot at night. I don’t know why. You’d have to ask her.”
“I think I’ll keep my lips sealed if it’s all the same to you.”
Sollux sniffed and turned to his computer. He went over and turned it on, plugging in the usb to his wireless mouse. He smiled as his screen lit up and he opened up his Trollian. There she was, AG. He clicked on her highlighted name. She was online. He clicked the message button and sent her a quick message.
TA: hey gue22 what 2piider breath
TA: I might be 2eeiing you around
AG: what? i dont know what youre talking a8out
TA: you really diidnt hear that ii moved?
AG: the news must have missed me
TA: well kk 2aiid you live around here
TA: anyway iim bu2y entertaiiniing my company
AG: that was pretty suggestive
AG: should I assume things?
TA: ab2olutely not
TA: keep your probiing miind two you2elf
He shut his Trollian and turned off his monitor as the doorbell rang. He went downstairs to get dinner and came back upstairs, ready to catch up with his best friend.
Sollux rubbed at his eyes. The blankets covering him to keep him from freezing last night were suddenly like an oven trying to kill him. He yanked them off and rolled over to look at his clock. The nightstand was short like the TV stand so it was even with his single mattress. It was already noon. He looked over at the lump on his floor. Karkat was curled up in Sollux’s sleeping bag and seemed completely content with the blistering heat.
He waited for a response but got none. He rolled off his bed and crawled over to his friend to make sure he hadn’t gotten cooked. He shook his shoulder, “Whatttttt??”
“Aren’t you gonna get up? It’s noon and it’s like a hundred degrees!”
“So? It’s nice sleeping when it’s warm.”
“It isn’t warm, it’s hot. There’s a difference.”
He rolled over and sat up, the sleeping bag flattening out on the floor as he stretched his legs out, “What’s for breakfast? Do I have to go back home or can I eat here?”
“I don’t plan on kicking you out as soon as you get up. I’m not that sick of you yet. You can shower here too if you want. I really don’t care. If we had known each other in person this entire time we would be way past the phase of sharing clothes.”
“You have a valid point but I think I’ll stick with my current clothes if all of your other clothes look like what you’re wearing right now.”
Sollux looked down at his clothes. He didn’t think they looked too bad. Granted, he had all of his good clothes packed but this shirt was only a few years old. It was a blue and red striped shirt. He guessed he could see why Karkat wouldn’t want to wear anything like this. He wasn’t so fond of it himself anymore.
“No this is old. All the clothes I packed are more recent. I had to go through all of my clothes before we left and this was one of the things I was supposed to get rid of but Dad said to wear something old until we got here.”
“Okay well get out some clothes. If you have something halfway decent I see no reason to go home. You do know I’m going to be living here right?”
“Fine by me. Just bring over some of your stuff and make yourself at home. Until Dad kicks you out you’re more than welcome to occupy my floor.”
“Sweet. I’m gonna go take a shower.”
“Use up all the hot water and you’re dead.”
He went into the bathroom across the hall and shut the door, the water turning on moments later. Sollux stood and flipped his lamp on, the bright light illuminating the whole room. He looked outside to see the entire front yard bathed in light. He sighed; this was going to be a long summer.
The bathroom door opened and Karkat came into his room in a towel, “Clothes?”
“Yeah, hang on.” Sollux looked around for boxes 2-4. He pulled them from the stack of boxes against the wall and cut the tape on them, opening them up and pulling out an assortment of clothes. They would need to be put in his dresser which was down in the den with some of the other furniture that was brought in through the garage. In the meantime, he tried to find his light gray pants. He didn’t look good in white but black clothes were out of the question. He didn’t know how Karkat did it. He tossed the pants on his bed and searched for one of his old gray button-ups. The short sleeves let in whatever cool air survived the weather. He didn’t wear this often but it was one of the only shirts he owned that wasn’t black-based. He tossed it on the bed with his pants once he found it.
He dug out some underwear from box 2 and then went back to the other two boxes to get some clothes for his friend who was dripping water on his carpet, “Black good for you?”
“What do you think?”
He dug around some more and tossed his friend some jeans and a t-shirt, “I don’t suppose you need underwear?”
“I’ll keep my own if that’s not against the rules.”
“I honestly couldn’t care less.”
He was about to drop his towel, “Um, no drapes. I would dress in the closet or the bathroom.”
Karkat shrugged and went to the walk-in closet. Sollux liked this new addition to his life. He had a closet with sliding doors back in his old house and it had absolutely no room. He pulled out box 6 and ripped it open, pulling out his curtains and sliding them onto the beams above his windows. His room was really coming together.
He took a shower and dressed, coming back to find Karkat on his computer, “You really didn’t take making yourself at home lightly, did you? Just don’t fuck around with my Trollian login.”
“Yeah, sure. I have my own account for a reason.”
“So… what is there to do in this neighborhood?”
“Well if I was new here the first thing I would do is look around and find out who lives here.”
“Isn’t that what you’re for?”
“I guess but we should go do something. I usually stay at home and play games and use Trollian but let’s be honest, you’re here now, it’s a good excuse to get out of the house for a day or so until I get sick of you.”
“You’re welcome. Now let’s go for a walk or something.”
Sollux shrugged and combed his hair, putting on his glasses and shoes. They went downstairs and shoveled in some cereal before leaving to go explore a bit. Karkat took a right, Sollux following him, but halfway down the road they ran into a girl about their own age, “Hey there, new kid! Welcome to the neighborhood.”
“Um… thanks…” Sollux raised an eyebrow, “Do I know you?”
“I’ll give you a hint; you should buy some blinds.”
She laughed loudly, her smile reaching across her face.
“I put up my curtains this morning, neighbor. What’s your name anyway?”
“Terezi. And you?” She held a hand out.
“Sollux.” He shook her hand.
“So, who’s this? A brother?”
“No he’s my friend. I’ve known him through Trollian for years and he lives pretty close to here.”
“Trollian? What’s your handle? I’ll add you.”
Sollux pulled the sharpie from his pocket and grabbed her hand, writing down his tag as small as he could.
“There. I’ll be expecting you to troll me later.”
“Will do. How about your friend, what’s your name?”
“Hey!! I know you!”
“Oh great. What’s your tag?”
“GC. Nice to finally meet you in person, CG.”
“Holy shit I always knew you’d be just as obnoxious in real life. Well Sollux, nice living with you but I think I’ll be going now.”
“Oh come on KK, it’s not like she’s living in my basement or anything.”
“Fine. We still need to stop by my house anyway so I can grab some clothes and stuff.”
“Alright. Bye, Terezi. See ya on Trollian.”
“See ya later, Sollux.”
She giggled and continued down the road back to her house.