Actions

Work Header

Land of Relationships and Drama

Chapter Text

February 19th, Year 1 of Sweep 2

 

You are Dave Strider, and as you enter the kitchen you are desperately hoping that everything will be normal today. Terezi is the only other person present, sitting at the table and eating what looks to be a thick stew. She’s wear a shawl around her shoulders, a red one with the two halves of her broken cane dangling from either end.

“Dave!” she exclaims. “I missed you at breakfast.”

“Yeah, I ran off to Can Town pretty fast. Some heavy-duty construction shit going down there.” Read: I needed some time to think and the Mayor’s good company. Actually, don’t read, because you’d slobber all over the page, and it would make this conversation hella awkward. You start to root around the fridge for some food.

“Do you want to have lunch with me? I would have expected someone else to be here by now. Nobody showed up for breakfast either,” she adds.

“Well, I guess everyone must have gotten their schedules all backwards and shit. I mean, if everyone missed out on the totally standardized breakfast time. Haven’t even gotten a chance to show them the not-coming-out-of-the-backside-of-a-cow coffee yet.”

“Oh.”

You finally decide on some frozen pizza. Karkat comes in as you stick it in the microwave. He has a nasty-looking bruise above his eye. And another on his cheek. He also doesn’t look like he’s slept a wink. You’re a little unsure as to how you should react to him, and eventually settle on a brief nod in his direction. Karkat isn’t making eye contact with you or even glancing in your direction. He just goes straight for the alchimeter and starts punching in some cards.

You shrug and wait for the microwave. Karkat alchemizes a few grubloaves. After he leaves, Terezi takes her mostly-empty bowl and goes off to the alchimeter herself. She alchemizes a piece of… some sort of meat. Decent-sized. You’re not sure what it is.

Karkat is still near the alchimeter, and he’s staring at her. No, at that shawl she’s got on her. When’d she pick that shit up anyway? You take a closer look and notice the ends of her still-bloody, broken cane tied to each end like some kinda wearable nunchucks. What in the name of holy fucking shit is that about? You look back over at Karkat, inwardly disquieted but keeping your expression perfectly neutral. Really you just don’t want to look at the nunchucks.

Karkat’s still staring at the whatever it is, seemingly frozen. Terezi gets her meat, drops it in the bowl, and heads back to her original place at the table, sitting across from you. She takes the meat in both hands and tears into it with her pointy teeth as if it’s a small woodland creature that she needs to tear the neck out of.

“What the fuck,” you hear Karkat mutter. You don’t think he’s talking about the meat.

Rose and Kanaya take that moment to appear beside you, Kanaya shepherding her girlfriend over to the table and sitting her down beside Terezi.

“WHAT THE FUCK?” Karkat again, at a much higher volume, still holding grubloaves under his arms.

Rose briefly glances at Karkat, but says nothing. You wonder if she’s been drinking, if she’s got a headache or something. Kanaya puts an arm on Rose’s shoulder, as if she’s trying to say something.

“What kind of pizza is that?” Terezi asks you.

“WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK!?!?”

Rose looks over at Kanaya. She seems to be considering saying something, but doesn’t. She looks back at Karkat, and Kanaya puts her hand on Rose’s shoulder again.

This isn’t feeling any better than last night’s fucking scary episode. Like last time, you’re not sure what else to do but play it cool and hope that something happens to make this not a thing anymore. You are so not in your element this week.

“What do you think? The same fucking pepperoni as always. It’s not like we had the foresight to bring a huge variety over. I mean normally I would plan ahead when I’m going to be stranded on an asteroid forever but, y’know, this time I just decided hey, fuck it.”

“You could have experimented. Maybe for dinner I’ll make pizza with grubsauce.”

“What do you want me to get you?” Kanaya asks Rose.

“Fuck you! Fuck all of you!” Karkat is literally shaking, probably with rage.

Fuck. You have approximately zero fucking clue how to deal with the loud, obnoxious, stubby horned, and apparently invisible elephant in the room right now. You hope that maybe someone else has a fucking clue.

 

-===> DAVE: Be someone else who hopefully has a fucking clue.

 

You are now Kanaya, and you are busily trying to navigate lunch without you or your matesprit running into more trouble than necessary. “What would you like for lunch?” you ask, trying to draw Rose’s attention away from Karkat.

“Excuse me, but has something transpired of which I have not been made aware?” Rose speaks softly, but still with some of her usual cutting tone.

“We can talk about it later in more detail,” Terezi mutters. “But there was a… disagreement about Gamzee, as I am sure you remember.”

“I see.” Rose glances over at Karkat again, somewhat apologetically.

You abandon the attempt to get the name of some sort of food out of your matesprit. You head to the alchimeter, trying to remember how to make chocolate, recalling Rose’s fondness for the dish. Chocolate is considered to be a serviceable lunch, right? You move quickly, hoping that Karkat will think that you are ignoring him because you are so concerned about getting Rose something to eat.

Which you are. Concerned, that is. Even concerned about getting Rose something to eat. But you are also concerned with the shift in the power dynamic which apparently happened… sometime after you left Karkat behind with Gamzee, and before Terezi woke you up a little earlier than you would have liked, rapping on your door and asking that you make an accessory for her.

You’d had some suspicion of what was going on when she gave you the details and held out the pieces of her broken cane for you. It isn’t pleasant, seeing that you were right.

Even more unfortunately, maybe, is that Karkat makes eye contact with you as you approach. He glares at you.

You turn away and try to do a good job remembering how to make food, but it is really hard with Karkat just… well, not looming over you, exactly, he’s really very short, but with the way he’s acting it’s obvious that he’d loom if he could.

“Kanaya. Look at me.”

You do not look at Karkat. The lines have apparently been drawn already, and you are not going to mess with them. You may not be happy about it, but… you don’t know what to do. You weren’t expecting this, and you don’t know what other surprises might be coming, or how at risk anyone may be. You just don’t know what to expect.

All that you can gather is that there was an exchange of power. A mutiny. And not knowing anything else, you can’t afford to make an assumption that might get you or Rose hurt.

“LOOK AT ME, YOU NOOKSUCKER. FUCKING LOOK AT ME! FUCK YOU WITH A FRONDBRUSH! LOOK AT ME!”

“Don’t make this harder on both of us,” you whisper. “And leave Rose out of this. Whatever happened.”

You can’t be sure that Karkat won’t be retaliating. You can’t be sure of anything.

You come back to the table with a plate full of delicious chocolate for Rose. She smiles at you as you set it before her. You return the smile, somewhat more weakly than Rose-- you can see that Dave was observing you and Karkat.

“You know, Kanaya, a diet consisting entirely of chocolate and related products is typically not considered conducive to proper health.”

“Oh. I am sorry. What should I get instead?”

“No. It is fine. Under these circumstances it is a welcome respite from the standard balance requirements.” She takes a small bite of one of the pieces. You smile, somewhat more strongly this time. You did a good job!

“YOU ARE THE MOST VILE SACKS OF GLOBULAR PUSNUGGETS I’VE EVER SEEN. YOU CAN ALL GO STICK SPINEPLANTS UP YOUR CHITINOUS WINDHOLES.”

Exit Karkat.

Everyone is a little shaken. At least, everyone who isn’t Terezi. Rose eventually returns to eating, as she rests her head against your shoulder. Dave looks down at his food, then back at the door that Karkat left through.

Terezi shakes her head just the tiniest bit.

“Y’know, I guess I’m not actually that hungry. Got important work to get back to anyway.”

Terezi sighs.

“Those ramps aren’t going to build themselves,” he continues. “And then what would all the bikers make their sick jumps off of?”

“Stay safe,” Terezi says.

It is obvious that she is not joking. Dave looks back at her. “Sure. No problem. I know how those biker gangs are,” he adds after a beat. “I can handle myself.”

“Dave. No joking. If you see the clown then you take the Mayor and you get away from there. Do you understand?”

“Chicken out and call for backup. Yeah, I got you.” You can detect just a hint of a confrontational tone in his voice.

Terezi smiles just a little bit, and returns to eating. Dave nods in your direction, then leaves.

You feel some of the tension leave your body. It seems that you have successfully avoided the worst of the danger. That is assuming that nobody else is planning to shake things up further.

 

-===> KANAYA: Be someone about to shake things up further

 

You are Terezi Pyrope. Since taking command of the meteor, you have been thinking about what needs to be done, and you have determined one matter in particular that needs to be taken care of, and preferably soon. You have been nervous though about broaching the subject.

You look around. Karkat is gone. Dave is gone. Now might be as good of a time as ever.

 

-===> TEREZI: Do the Political Thing

 

“Rose… ah…”

“Yes?”

Rose appears to be at least a bit more relaxed, on top of whatever turmoil she’s bottling up.

“This has been stressful for you. And…”

Rose raises a questioning eyebrow.

You have not ever actually done this before. You are finding “Do the Political Thing” to be a little difficult when it involves romantic solicitations.

“I have not acted rightly by you. As a fellow Seer I should have been there for you. I know what it must be like to go through this. And I know that you are blaming yourself for many things. You could have foreseen it. But I could have too! Even before we met up.”

Rose is looking over at you more seriously now.

“When Eridan and G-Gamzee went… And I killed Vriska. Maybe I just didn’t look hard enough for another way. Or maybe I did and there just wasn’t one. But I’ll never know if I did my best or not. But I am fixing my mistakes, including this one,” you declare. “Because I’m going to be there for you when you need it. If you’ll let me.”

You pull out a card and put it in front of Rose. “It’s... “ You swallow and pause.

Rose looks at the card somewhat quizzically as she carefully picks it up.

“It’s by Troll Edgar Allan Poe,” you finish.

She opens the card and begins to read it. You know what it’s going to say. You wrote it down, after all. You can hear the verses go in your head, as you observe Rose.

 

MY LOY4LTY 1S YOURS MY D34R
TO COMFORT FROM YOUR D33P3ST F34R
1’LL SOOTH3 YOUR SORROW WH3N YOU CRY
YOUR P41N, YOUR R4G3, H3LP P4C1FY
1’LL DO MY B3ST TO G1V3 TO YOU
4LL TH4T 1 C4N 4ND 3’3R B3 TRU3
4S YOU 4R3; THOUGH 1 C4N’T B3
4LL TH4T YOU MUST D3S1R3 OF M3
T4K3 WH4T 1 OFF3R, 1 1MPLOR3:
MY MO1R4LL3G44NC3, OFF3R3D 3V3RMOR3

 

You’ve gone through it in your head two and a half times before Rose finally says anything.

“Is this…”

You are more than a little bit on edge here. Someone starts trolling you about something on your shades. It’s Karkat. You ignore him..

She looks back down at the card. “I apologize for the bluntness of my upcoming question, but my unfamiliarity with troll culture necessitates it. Was this intended as a pale solicitation?”

You nod. You don’t trust yourself to say anything.

“Oh. This is, uh, unexpected.”

“I should have done it much earlier.”

Rose glances quickly over to Kanaya, who gives an encouraging smile. She must be hoping rather strongly that Rose will pick up a moirail. It has been rather embarrassing for her lately, finding herself having to give pale comfort to her matesprit, and only a sense of decorum and respect for her has kept you (and Karkat too, presumably) from bringing up the matter.

“I, uh-- um…” Rose says eloquently. She takes a short moment to compose herself. “I seem to be facing the quite unusual problem of not being able to figure out appropriate words to match this situation. This being as you might guess an unusual event for someone of my typical levels of loquaciousness. I suppose that it has become apparent that I have not been in pristine shape lately on the psychological level and therefore that I may be in need of such a relationship. However, our differing cultures might make such an arrangement somewhat more complicated than would otherwise be the case.”

“But you and Kanaya are matesprits, and you make it work.”

Rose spares another glance at Kanaya and then a more intent one at you.

“Oh. And I also drew... this...“ You slide a picture over to her. “I… thought you might like that. Dave likes pictures…”

 Picture of a wizard summoning a dragon with various identifiers and diamonds scribbled over both

Rose glances down at the picture. She appears somewhat startled at first, then takes a slow, sly look at it.

“The colors didn’t come out right with your Aspect symbol. Your… tentacle thing smelled better.”

“This is--this is definitely the sort of thing that I can see Dave liking.”

“I thought… since you and he are genetically similar, that you might like it too.”

“How in the world did you find one of my mother’s pictures?”

“I didn’t know it was one of your… uh, mother’s pictures.”

“So let me get this straight. You are trying to win my pale affections by means of a picture taken from my mother’s collection modified in ways that are known to be appreciated by my brother?”

“I am beginning to think that I should have done something different.”

“You have absolutely no idea how completely batshit that is, do you?”

“I thought it was just a picture,” you say. How did this go so wrong? You were sure that this would work. What did you miss? “I thought that you liked wizards.”

“No, I do,” she says. “It’s just… Well, it’s complicated. But thank you.”

You wait patiently, a little more heartened.

Rose looks back at the picture and the card. “I’m not sure how I could possibly refuse.”

You hug Rose with one arm. It’s maybe a little forward, but… who cares about that? You’ve done it! Rose even hugs you back. She must be caught up in the moment.

You let go after a few seconds.

“I have to go,” you tell her. “I have to see how Dave is doing. And you need to eat,” you add emphatically. “I will be back soon.” You rush off to go find Dave.

 

-===> TEREZI: Be Dave.

 

You are now Dave, busy in Can Town just like you said you were going to be and-- oh, what’s this?

 

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] --

 

CG: HEY FUCKASS.
CG: TELL TEREZI TO CHECK HER COMPUTER
TG: wow ok ill just do that
TG: ill literally just send her a message on her computer telling her to check her messages
TG: or maybe ill just shout really really loudly and hope that her superhuman smell picks it up
CG: SHE’S NOT RIGHT THERE?
TG: if by right there you mean can town then no
CG: YOU TWO ARE LIKE CONJOINED WIGGLERS AND YOU’RE TELLING ME SHE’S NOT THERE?
TG: hey this might surprise you but i have my own life
TG: sometimes i can like do things on my own

 

“Hello Dave.”

Oh. Well then. Terezi sits beside you and begins to help with the assembly.

“Oh hey TZ. Uh, hey, Karkat says to check your messages. But like I didn’t tell you because, well, fuck him.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“And because I was just telling him how you weren’t around and it would make me sound silly.”

“What does he want?”

“No clue.”

“Ask him?”

“So you want the guy who just said that he wasn’t in ready contact with you to relay your messages to him for you?”

“No. Just ask him what he wants. And if it’s important enough then you’ll tell me.”

You sigh, and bring up pesterchum on your shades again.

 

CG: BULLSHIT, STRIDER. EVER SINCE YOU STARTED DATING TEREZI YOU TWO HAVE BEEN GLUED TOGETHER BY THE NUBS.
CG: GOD, I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE CAN STAND YOU. OR YOU HER, FOR THAT MATTER.
CG: SO SURE, GOOD FOR YOU, GIVING HER SOME SPACE.
TG: yeah well fuck you.
TG: what the fuck do you want with her anyway?
CG: I WANT HER TO CHECK HER FUCKING MESSAGES.
TG: you know what i mean
TG: unless you literally just wanted her to check her messages so that i dont know
TG: she can see your shitty ascii art or something
CG: UNLESS YOU KNOW WHERE TO GET MORE SOPOR, THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO FOR ME, STRIDER.
CG: MY QUERIES ARE FOR TEREZI.
CG: SO BACK OFF.
TG: sopor why the hell would i know anything about where to find your sleep sludge?
CG: YOU WOULDN’T
CG: THAT’S THE FUCKING POINT

 

“He wants to know where to find sopor apparently,” you tell Terezi.

“I don’t know where it is, but I will find out. Excuse me.” Terezi pats you on the shoulder, then leaves. Yeah. Why the fuck would Terezi know?

 

-===> READER: Wonder why Karkat was asking Terezi in the first place.

 

You are wondering why Karkat is contacting Terezi. You really wish you could just be someone who knows what that’s all about.

 

-===> READER: Be someone who knows what that’s all about.

 

You are now Past Rose. You are woken from your rest after the exhausting events of the previous day by the incessant beeping of your pesterchum client. You are still afflicted by the revenge of last night’s inebriation, and so the high pitched beeping is proving particularly irritating. You find that it is Karkat messaging you about where you got the sopor.

You really do not want to deal with this right now. Terezi and Dave found the machine, right? You tell Karkat to ask Terezi before deactivating pesterchum and gratefully bury your face in your pillow once more.

 

-===> ROSE: Go back to being Dave.

 

You consider returning to Can Town, but put that off in favor of egging Karkat on a little more.

You wonder what Rose and Kanaya and doing.

 

-===> DAVE: Be Kanaya

 

You are now Kanaya, and you are dealing with the reality of Terezi asking Rose out on a pale date being a thing that just happened.

Rose is busy looking out the door after Terezi. “That was… unexpected.”

“I know. I am very shocked, myself. But I think that it is good, don’t you?”

Rose manages an actual smile. One wonders what Terezi has wrought… “I hope so.”

You put a hand over one of Rose’s. You are glad that you don’t feel awkward having nothing to do but watch your matesprit eat. Yes, you are definitely not feeling awkward. “And I would advise that you give Karkat some space. I am not completely sure what has happened.”

Rose looks up at you inquisitively. You get the sense that you have come to the part of the script where you are supposed to acknowledge this inquisitive look, but you don’t want to do that on account of being pretty sure that the script is going to very quickly lead to you having to elaborate on what you are pretty sure has happened.

Alas, Rose is not content to leave the film of your life on pause, and gives you only enough time for her to finish a bite of chocolate. “In that case, what do you know of what happened during that time period?”

You are really not happy with having to explain. In case that hasn’t been made clear.

“There has been a… change of management, as you might put it. Karkat is no longer in control. Terezi has assumed command.”

“Oh. I see.”

“It would be best for you to stay away from Karkat for now. Until everything settles.”

“And I suppose that given the display earlier today that there are larger ramifications of this than a simple alteration in overall direction of our projects?”

“Yes.”

Rose waits for you to elaborate. You are happy to let her wait, and eventually you reach the point where she knows that you know that she is waiting, and you know that she knows that… you know what? Let’s just skip ahead to when you finally explain.

“Ah.” You look around to see if there might be some other person to take over for you, and are displeased to find that the room is as empty as it was the last time that you looked. “I… Terezi will need to establish her authority. I am not sure why it happened, but it is about Gamzee. That is, I know some of why it happened, but I don’t know what was said or how badly they hurt each other. I am hoping that it was not much.”

A look of concern flashes on Rose’s face, but you continue talking, fully aware that taking a tangent will only cause another long delay. You want to just get this over with now. “Terezi had to ask me to make that shawlchuck for her, so I presume that there was not much blood. But there may have been another reason for it.”

You squeeze Rose’s hand. “Both of them were walking today. That is a good sign.”

“Well let me note that the treatment of Karkat this morning has made me uncomfortable, and the mention of potential--albeit past--violence morso. Howev--”

“Rose? I’m sorry to be coming and going, but...”

Oh look, Terezi has come back. What has she been up to?

 

-===> KANAYA: Be Terezi Five Minutes Ago

 

You are now Terezi five minutes ago, in the halls between Can Town and the commonsblock. You are going back so that you can ask Rose about where the sopor came from. Because that is what Terezi was doing five minutes ago. And because she then is you now.

For the hell of it, you decide to check on Karkat’s messages.

 

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] started trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] --

 

CG: OK SO YOU’RE BEING A BULGELICKING FUCKFRONDED BITCH BUT WE ALL KNEW THAT ALREADY. THAT WAS THE FIRST THING I WAS EVER SCHOOLFED ON IN THIS PATHETIC JOURNEY TO NOWHERE. NO SURPRISES.
CG: DID KANAYA MAKE THAT THING AROUND YOUR NECK? I BET SHE DID. FUCK YOU. FINE, YOU’VE MADE YOUR POINT.
CG: ALL I ASK OF YOU, SUPREME LEADER OF THE FUCKASSES, IS WHERE ROSE GOT THE SOPOR FROM.
CG: YOU GONNA ANSWER THAT OR ARE YOU IGNORING ME HERE TOO?
CG: FUCK YOU, TEREZI. AND I MEAN THAT, SINCERELY. EVERY LETTER OF THOSE TWO MOST EXPRESSIVE WORDS IN THE TROLL LANGUAGE AND THEN SOME. THIS IS A NEW LEVEL, A WHOLE NEW DIMENSION OF “FUCK YOU.”
CG: I MIGHT BE A LIMPHOOFED MUTANT IDIOT WITH FUCKING CANDY CORN HORNS, BUT I SWEAR I’D RATHER CUT OFF MY NUBS WITH ONE OF MY OWN SICKLES THAN HAVE TO SIT HERE WITH JUST GAMZEE AS COMPANY FOR THE NEXT HUNDRED SWEEPS.
CG: WHERE THE FUCK IS THE SOPOR.
CG: YOU CAN’T STILL BE EATING LUNCH.

 

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] stopped trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] --

 

By the time that you’ve read the message a third time--a part of you is weirdly delighted by how pissed off you have made him, and another part of you is less-weirdly delighted by how he seems to be taking his demotion-- you reach the commonsblock.

Unaware of the conversation that has been going on in your absence, you poke your head in.

“Rose? I’m sorry to be coming and going, but…”

A wonderful conversation is probably about to ensue, so the obvious thing to do is to check back on Dave and Karkat.

 

-===> TEREZI: Be Dave

 

You are Dave and you are continuing to bait Karkat about the whole stupid run around he started what with asking you to ask Terezi to ask Rose about the sopor. I mean really, you think he might have missed a few people in that chain.

 

TG: and you expect that terezi does know where the sopor is
TG: wow karkat i thought we were glued at the nubs
CG: I DON’T FUCKING KNOW. SHE’S A SEER, THAT COUNTS FOR SOMETHING.
CG: ANYWAY, LEANING TOO MUCH IN ONE QUADRANT ISN’T HEALTHY.
TG: eh maybe
TG: why dont you just ask rose
TG: i mean she was the one who found the stuff in the first place
CG: I ASKED ROSE, SHE SAID TEREZI KNEW.
TG: wait rose said that she knew
TG: well shit why didnt you say so
CG: I JUST DID SAY SO
TG: i wonder if she was referring to the fucking coffee machine
CG: WHAT THE FUCK THAT STUFF IS NOT SOPOR. I’M PRETTY SURE EVEN IN HER GREATEST STATE OF INEBRIATION, YOUR SISTER WOULD BE ABLE TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE.
TG: yeah i know but you had to see this machine man
TG: it was some fucked up shit
CG: WHAT ARE YOU BLITHERING ON ABOUT?
TG: the fucking coffee machine that we discovered on your dumb exploration quest
CG: YOU FOUND A COFFEE MACHINE. YOU MEAN OTHER THAN THE ONE HERE?
TG: no we were exploring the depths of the meteor and after exploring far and wide managed to stumble across the coffee machine in the commonsblock
TG: that was some pretty nasty exploration shit there
TG: real lewis and clarke stuff
TG: i mean we had to traverse like two hallways just to find that common room
CG: OH MY GOD
CG: I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M EVEN TRYING. JUST TELL HER TO CHECK HER MESSAGES WHEN YOU NEXT DECIDE TO LOCK NUBS.
TG: yeah ill let her know
CG: GOOD.

 

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] stopped trolling turntechGodhead [TG] --

 

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling turntechGodhead [TG] --

 

CG: THANKS.

 

Huh. Look at that, Karkat has a civil bone in his body after all. He’s in mighty need of some calcium to strengthen it up though, that’s for sure. Maybe you’ll give him like a metric ton of milk for Christmas this year.

Anyway, we’ve been dancing around this for long enough. It’s time to stop being Dave and start being someone else again.

 

-===> DAVE: Be your Supreme Leader

 

Who? Oh, Terezi. You are pretty sure that she is not your supreme leader, but something weird has gone on and hey, you guess you wouldn’t be opposed to referring to her as Supreme Leader Pyrope for ironic purposes. Though she’d probably prefer to be referred to as Supreme Judgesmasherator or something like that. Did Alternia have a Supreme Court? What did they call it? You’ll have to ask her about that. If, like, you cared. Which you don’t, obviously. Alternia was insane and you don’t care about any of it.

Anyway, you’re Terezi again. Except, you’re not, because this is a perfect time for a chapter break.

Chapter Text

February 19th, Year 1 of Sweep 2

 

You are finally Terezi again.

“Rose? I’m sorry to be coming and going but…”

Rose stops saying something--what was it was about anyway?-- and looks at you. “Anyway, I need to know where the sopor came from. We may need to give some to Gamzee very soon. Karkat is apparently frantic about it, which may be a case of everything as usual or of something worse.”

She’s looking at you like something is dreadfully wrong. Oh well, you can pap her about it later; you have to make sure that nobody is killed by a fucking insane clown first.

“Right. The sopor. It came out of the machine that you and Dave discovered. While there is still a considerable quantity on the floor nearby, the mixture with coffee is somewhat unfortunate.”

“Was there a code for it?”

“Well technically there is a code, but I believe that it requires some sort of exotic grist that we lack access to.”

You turn the air teal with some choice words.

Rose appears to be understanding of your frustration. “Yes, well, it is almost as if someone does not wish for us to be able to replicate the products of that machine.”

“How did you get it the first time?”

“Simply feed a shard of mirror and piece of cloth into the orifice.”

“And that should do it?”

“Yes. Be sure to have something to gather it with.”

“Thank you.” You tap your glasses.

 

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --

 

GC: H3LLO K4RK4T
GC: 1M S3ND1NG YOU TH3 D1R3CT1ONS
GC: YOU H4V3 TO GO TO TH3 M4CH1N3 TH4T D4V3 4ND 1 FOUND 4ND 1NS3RT 4 SH4RD OF M1RROR 4ND 4 P13C3 OF CLOTH
GC: M4K3 SUR3 TO H4V3 SOM3TH1NG TO COLL3CT 1T W1TH
GC: 4LSO
GC: 1 WOULD B3 N3GL3CT1NG MY DUT13S TO NOT 4DV1S3 YOU TO D3V1S3 4 CONT1NG3NCY PL4N
CG: IT’S AT THE BOTTOM OF A GIANT FUCKING PIT?
GC: Y3S

 

You nod at Rose as you head out. “I’ll be back soon!”

 

GC: 1 W1LL OF COURS3 B3 W1LL1NG TO H3LP YOU PROCUR3 TH3 N3C3SS4RY 1NGR3D13NTS BUT TH3 CLOWN 1S ULT1M4T3LY YOUR R3SPONS1B1L1TY
CG: ALL I NEED IS A CODE FOR A MIRROR. DO YOU KNOW THAT?
GC: 1 DO NOT BUT 1 W1LL LOOK FOR ON3

 

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --

 

You smile, feeling genuinely at ease; everyone acted as they should have at lunchtime, Karkat has come to you for help, and Rose is your moirail. Everything is working out.

You knock on the wall before you enter Can Town. “Dave! I need a mirror!”

“Terezi?” Dave gives you a puzzled look. “I know that mirrors are kinda the shit now what with all the humans here using them to perfect their rad hairstyles, not that these curls need it or anything, but you kinda need to be able to see to make use of one.”

“It is important.”

He does a doubletake, apparently realizing that you are being serious right now.

“It is about Gamzee,” you explain. “I need it for the sopor.”

“Oh sure, uh, this way.” He gets up and leads you to his respiteblock. “I’m just going to pretend that that made sense.”

You follow him into the attached ablution block, where he retrieves a mirror. “Is this good enough?”

“I believe so.”

“And really do trolls not use mirrors or something? It’s like an essential part of any bathroom setup for some inexplicable reason.”

“Thank you Dave,” you say, ignoring his ridiculous question.

“Yeah, no problem.”

You message Karkat.

 

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --

 

GC: 1 H4V3 4QU1R3D 4 M1RROR.
CG: WHERE IS IT?
GC: 1 4M 4T D4V3’S R3SP1T3BLOCK. COM3 F1ND M3.

 

-- gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] --

 

He arrives gratifyingly quickly.

“Karkat.”

“Terezi.”

“You seem tired, Karkat. You should get some sleep.”

He bares his teeth. “I’m not sleeping until I’ve taken care of Gamzee. Where’s the mirror?”

You hand it to him. “It should not come as any surprise that I have some experience in knots.”

He doesn’t look at you when he takes it. Good. “I have my own rope.”

“If you think it may be necessary I would be willing to teach you some that might be useful in restraining the clown.”

“I’m fine. I’ve already thought of that.”

“I am glad to hear that you are proficient. I am here to help.”

He grunts wordlessly.

“And keep us alive,” you add.

“Great. My emotion ducts are overflowing with joy globbets to hear that. Bye.”

“Thank you again, Dave,” you say to your matesprit after Karkat has left.

“Yeah, no problem, just come to see me next time you need random crap for no explicable reason.”

You give Dave a kiss and depart. You have to go see Rose! Your moirail! What fun!

You are feeling pretty okay about things, all of it considered.

 

-===> TEREZI: Be your moirail

 

You are Rose again, and you are thinking about what you saw, what Kanaya must have been referring to when she mentioned the shawlchuck. As your brain seems to be regaining a modicum of functionality, you continue to ponder the recently witnessed proceedings, and are rapidly coming to the conclusion that they do not sit well with you.

“It will get better, Rose.” Kanaya is trying to be reassuring. “Neither of them were hurt too badly. That is a good sign. But you need to listen to me. If we don’t let the situation progress naturally then it may get worse. Terezi is going to feel threatened right now and she needs us to show that she can trust us, and that we trust her. Or… I don’t know what happened, so I can’t say how bad it may get, but this would certainly be the best course of action.”

You look back at Kanaya.

“Are you okay? Under the circumstances I would suggest that you talk to Terezi about this, but also, under the circumstances, that may not be quite the best.” You feel really weird about this, but… “You can tell me what is wrong.”

“Why did this have to get so complicated all of a sudden?” You pause. “I understand that there are cultural differences involved in this situation, and I trust your understanding of the troll end of things. However, simply going along with this ostracisation of Karkat is going to make me very uncomfortable. In a human context it would simply be a very terrible thing to do to a friend.”

“Remember that it could have been worse. It… It should not be permanent. I do not think that Terezi would do that. That kind of thing happens when a group needs someone to direct their more destructive urges against, more than would be appropriate for a caliginous relationship.”

“That is not very comforting.”

“Terezi could have killed Karkat, or vice versa. But they did not. So this must be only temporary. It is effectively serving the same role as Terezi’s shawlchuck.”

“It seems worse than that. While the latter merely seems like a somewhat grotesque symbol of personal dominance, the former seems to be effectively expelling Karkat from the group or at the very least relegating him to the position of a second-class member of such.”

“Terezi apparently decided that Karkat’s actions had endangered our lives. If she were simply in a legislaceratorial squad, operating under a similar belief, then I have no doubt that she would have carried out a field execution. However pragmatic her other reasons may have been, she is also trying to be merciful. I do not like it either, I must admit, but what else can we do?”

“Well I suppose I shall have to do my best to treat this as merely another somewhat shocking reminder of the differences between our two cultures, and do my best not to rock the metaphorical boat too significantly.”

“Rose, what if Gamzee had hurt Dave? What would you be thinking then? Dying at Gamzee’s hand would be neither heroic nor just. Gamzee could have done many things to him.”

“Kanaya. Please. Stop.”

“I am sorry.” She looks away.

“I really do not need to be thinking about those possibilities at this juncture.”

She brightens suddenly (and literally). “As you are Terezi’s moirail, as of an hour ago, perhaps you may be able to sway her somewhat.” Kanaya loses her intensity then. “I… don’t know how. And I would advise against it. But as a Seer if you were to find a way then I would support you in it.”

You smile and put your hand on Kanaya’s. “Thank you for your honest, if difficult to hear, advice.”

“You are welcome. And I hope that you will not allow this to sway your feelings about Terezi.”

“I will need to think on the matter further.”

“I cannot be everything that you need. You need a moirail.”

You nod. “But enough of that for now. At this present moment I am going to consume some more of this generously procured chocolate and bask in your company.”

Terezi takes that moment to reappear and greet you with a hug. “I am sorry for having to leave so suddenly. Duty called.”

You return the hug, smiling slightly back at her.

“Is there anything that I can do for you now, Rose?”

You sit up a bit. “Oh, uh, I guess we do have a lot to get sorted out, but…” You look back at Kanaya. “Perhaps a little later?”

Kanaya fidgets. You’re not sure what she’s trying to say.

“Okay.”

Terezi leaves you.

You smile, and snuggle up against Kanaya. “This is going to become a scheduling nightmare, isn’t it?”

“Wait until you have filled your other two quadrants.”

“That indeed sounds like a nightmare. A wonderful, wonderful nightmare,” you say.

“I don’t know who you would wax black for.” You can feel Kanaya shrugging against you. “Perhaps you will not have to worry about it. Part of me regrets that, but I am trying to remember that you do not have the capacity to feel as though you are missing something if you lack those quadrants.”

“Yes. They do seem very strange to me, which is part of what makes them so intriguing. But I guess that we cannot know what the future holds. And by that I mean that there are numerous ways by which we might attempt to ascertain the contents of the future, but I am not intending to apply any of them to this particular conundrum.”

“Of course.”

After what would have been a lovingly-edited montage set to a sentimental tune, were your life a film or even a low-detail web animation, you sit up. Quite reluctantly, you might add. But you do have new obligations.

“I suppose I should go find Terezi,” you say.

Kanaya agrees. Enthusiastically.

“I would like to thank you though. You have been so good to me these last couple of days.” You lean toward it. “I really appreciate it.”

“It is… no problem at all.”

You kiss Kanaya. In fact, you kiss her rather a lot.

 

-===> ROSE: Be the Rose who has finished kissing Kanaya

 

You are now the Rose who has finished kissing Kanaya, after some arbitrary but generous length of time.

“So I guess I’ll see you at dinner then?” you ask.

“Yes. But you should go talk to Terezi! We have plenty of time to do other things.”

“Yes. Of course. I will go do that presently. Until dinner then.”

When you head to her room, however, you do so via an unusually circuitous route.

 

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] --

 

TT: Hello Karkat

CG: WHAT IS IT?
TT: I realize that there is some sort of troll custom involved here that I do not entirely understand.
TT: But I just wanted to say that from the perspective of a human, I thought that the way you were treated this afternoon was really very shitty.
TT: I would like to apologize for my part in the matter. I suppose I have the excuse that I was not in the best frame of mind myself at the time, but it seems like that might be of little comfort to you.
CG: WELL I’M NOT ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SURE WHAT YOU’RE REFERRING TO EXACTLY, BUT IT’S NOT REALLY A CUSTOM TO WEAR A BROKEN STICK AROUND YOUR NECK. THAT’S JUST TEREZI BEING A COMPLETE ASS.
CG: BUT. THANK YOU, ROSE.
TT: Not a problem. Now comes the unfortunate bit where I sadly must appear to backpedal some moderate distance.
TT: I have been advised that it would be best for me to not interfere with these proceedings.
TT: I am ignoring this advice to a degree by contacting you, but I am not sure how much I will be willing to do so in public at least until things cool down a bit.
CG: SURE, COVER YOUR ASS.
TT: Please, Karkat. Were it merely that, I do not think that protecting my own reputation would be sufficient cause to leave you in such an undesirable situation. However, I get the impression that complicating things could lead to deeper divides within our already small group.
CG: I GET IT.
CG: WHO THE FUCK KNOWS. MAYBE TEREZI WILL BE THE BETTER LEADER ANYWAY.
TT: Thank you for understanding. If there’s anything else that you need that can be provided covertly, please do not hesitate to ask.
CG: NOT NOW. BUT I’LL EVENTUALLY NEED TO SLEEP. I MIGHT BE ABLE TO GO ANOTHER NIGHT OR TWO, BUT NOT LONGER.
CG: SOMEONE WILL NEED TO WATCH GAMZEE, AND NOT TEREZI.
TT: Hmmm. I will need to see what can readily be done about that. I am not sure that I can disappear for guard duty for an entire night without being noticed, but perhaps I can get assigned to the task by Terezi’s administration.
CG: WELL, THAT’S BETTER THAN ROTTEN GRUBLETS.
TT: I am sorry that I cannot do more and sincerely hope that this situation will resolve itself quickly.
CG: THANKS.

 

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] --

 

And now you begin to actually proceed in a more logical direction toward Terezi’s room. You very much hope that you have not jinxed things by going behind Terezi’s back like this almost immediately. It would seem an inauspicious start to a relationship.

You encounter Terezi on the way.

“Rose?”

“Terezi. I was just looking for you.”

She smiles. “What do you need?”

You take a deep breath. “Well, I am unsure where exactly to start, especially given that my knowledge of troll romance is mostly taken from romance novels pilfered from Karkat’s collection. And while I suppose that addressing that issue and setting up ground rules will be important to do at some point in the near future, this is perhaps not the most romantic of subjects.

“No. That’s alright. Just follow me.” There’s something different about her grin.

And here is where we would fade to black, were this a more respectable sort of story. But it is not, so we will not. Hopefully you can deal with some conciliatory raunch.

After this chapter break, anyhow.

Chapter Text

February 19th, Year 1 of Sweep 2

You are Terezi Pyrope, and you are about to engage in the next step of your very important plan. Which is not to say that you are not feeling a little anxious or that you are not genuinely feeling a little pale for Rose, but… that is not the point.

This is for her. This is for them. Even Karkat.

“...and I suppose that addressing that issue and setting up ground rules will be important to do at some point in the near future, this is perhaps not the most romantic of subjects.”

“No. That’s alright,” you assure her. “Just follow me.”

You grin and open up the door to your respiteblock. “What comes to mind first?” you ask. You have about as much experience, to be honest, as Karkat does. Maybe less. You haven’t even watched many films. But you have a general, intellectual idea of what is supposed to happen here.

Rose stops for a moment after she steps inside, evidently examining your room. “Well first I would like to preemptively apologize. Human romantic interactions tend to actually be somewhere between that of flushed and pale interactions and thus I may end up behaving with some slight quadrant confusion in that manner. This has already proved somewhat of an issue with Kanaya, though I suspect that--”

You laugh. Of course. Rose isn’t even a troll. It isn’t like she’ll have expectations. It’ll be fine, no matter how bad your pale fumblings may be.

“Right. Kanaya.” You grin. “I will get used to it.”

This shouldn’t be too hard after all. But enough about you, this whole thing really is about fixing Rose after all.

===> TEREZI: Be Rose

You are Rose now, and now in addition to feeling apprehensive about your first decidedly pale encounter (for which you have little reliable information on what to expect), you find yourself having already made a fool of yourself. Of course Terezi would know about humans. She has been dating Dave after all.

“I suppose you would have the opportunity to understand it,” you reply. “That will likely make things somewhat easier, if infinitely more awkward. I’m not sure what implications being quadrant corners with one’s sibling is supposed to have.”

“I’m not sure either,” she says. “Since that isn’t something that comes up for us. At all. Maybe there don’t have to be implications?”

“Yes,” you confirm. “I suppose we therefore have the capacity to determine what protocol should be in such situations.” Fine. Enough pleasantries. You take a deep breath before continuing. “In any case, it is my understanding that activities in this quadrant tend to consistent largely of the sharing of feelings, and related psychological counseling as well as varying degrees of non-sexual physical closeness. Is this interpretation approximately correct?”

“Yes. I can put together a pile now actually.”

“Right. I’ve always been curious about that aspect of it. I suppose it never needed to be explained in detail to a troll audience.”

Terezi scurries around the room getting out blankets and pillows and the odd shirt and whatever assorted soft items she comes across. Slowly these items manage to assemble themselves into a rough mound with several plushies figuring prominently near the apex.

“...That does seem to be aptly described by the word ‘pile’,” you note. “It looks comfortable. Also, very you.”

Two blankets in hand, Terezi flops forward onto your pile, then flips over onto her back. “You can add some things next time if you’d like,” she offers

You pad carefully over to the assemblage, and sit down carefully. “I will have to see what old knitting projects I can dig up.”

Terezi nods, and reaches to pull you in closer. You allow her hands to guide you as you try to make yourself comfortable.

“You’re worried,” she begins. “Don’t try to make it soft. Just let it out, as soon as it occurs to you.”

 

“I suppose that this will necessitate the end of my amateur psychology business?”

Terezi shrugs, you can feel her shoulders move against you. “I want Dave to be understanding of troll things. I have to do the same, right? That is, when I have a kismesis, Dave might feel like I have two matesprits. So if he has to be understanding of that and how it’s not the same then so do I.”

You breath an internal sigh of relief. However much you have wanted to try this, you would be loathe to give up your practice. “Well I suppose that I will then just need to be extra careful” you say “to make sure that I keep my amateur interactions strictly professional. Though this does make me wonder if the need for greater understanding was not part of your reason for initiating this relationship.”

Terezi somewhat awkwardly pats you on the shoulders. Your current horizontal positions make this gesture less than natural.

“We will figure it out” she says. “You don’t worry about it. I will let you know if something bothers me, and then we will figure it out from there. Like moirails do.”

You nod. “Thank you for being understanding.”

“What else?” Terezi asks. “All of your worries. All of them. Sink into the pile and let your worries out.”

You take a deep breath. “Very well, I am getting there,” you say, tension building in your stomach once again. “You may have noticed that I do not open up about my troubles easily. It may be overly-cliche, but I think it is likely due to the nature of the relationship I had with my mother. She would treat any complaints I had in such an exaggerated manner as to bespeak mockery. Thus, I suppose I have learned to keep my worries unvoiced.” Oh God. Now you appear to be psychoanalyzing yourself rather than giving her a chance. Nice going Rose.

Terezi doesn’t seem to mind though. “My lusus wasn’t very good for that either,” she says. “But she was an egg.” Another beat before she turns her head back towards you. “You know that you’ve been doing your best, right?”

And there the two of you finally arrive at the meat of the issue. “No. Actually I do not know that,” you reply. “In fact, I might go so far as to say that I have been somewhat far from my best these last weeks. Remiss in my duties even.”

Terezi takes one of your hands and guides it over her cane-shawl. You flinch back at the contact with the abominable symbol, but Terezi holds your hand firmly. “This was a good cane, but I broke it.” She runs your hand over the splintered wood as she continues. “That wasn’t the cane’s fault. It just couldn’t deal with the force. So it broke.” She releases your hand, and moves to cup your cheek. “You are not a cane,” she says. “But you can still break. Like you did. The difference is that you can come back from it, while this cane, if I tried to put it back, would never be as strong as it was the first day. It’s not your fault if you break. If anything it’s my fault because i didn’t help you sooner. You did your best. You were pushed too far. You broke. You did your best. Say it.”

You feel her sightless gaze fixed on you, as her words dredge up the fear and pain and selfishness that has left you hiding from your gifts these past weeks. You hear your voice wavering as you begin to speak “I-I broke.”

Terezi holds your arms. “It’s not my fault that I broke. Say it.”

You try to obey, you really do. But the words catch in your mouth. In their place you find all the fear and pain that you thought you had sealed away tightly over these past years coming loose and springing to the surface. You reach out, and your hands find Terezi’s shirt. You pull her close as you cry an age of tears into her shoulder.

===> ROSE: Be the other girl

It is some time before Rose’s sobs settle down into softer crying, and then to silence, and finally speech again. “Wow. I really am a mess, aren’t I?”

“When a wound is left open it festers,” you reply. “You have to apply an ointment to heal it, and the ointment burns. Sometimes more than the original pain.”

“Yes. That was not one of my more pleasant experiences. But I feel much relieved having been through it. Thank you.”

“That’s what moirails are for. We are strong for each other. You lean on me, and depend on me to keep you from breaking, and you don’t have to worry.”

Rose tightens her hold on you.

“Do you trust me Rose?”

She doesn’t say anything for a few seconds. “I don’t know if I do. I want to. But the reality is of course more complicated.”

“Keep going.” You are trying to sound soothing, layering your voice with a little chirping purr. Whether human-soothing is the same as troll-soothing, you aren’t sure. You were never Dave’s moirail.

“Well, on the one hand, despite having lived in close quarters for over a sweep, we have never till now been close. And so it is hard to know.” Rose pauses for a bit, rearranging the position of her head against the pile. “And then there are other things. Although our species have much in common, I am reminded from time to time that there are significant and often unnerving differences.” She glances away almost guiltily before continuing. “And well, for example, when seen from a human perspective what is being done with Karkat seems to be unreasonably terrible.”

You growl. You realize, halfway through, far too late, that this is not a Good Idea, and Rose starts and pulls back before you stop yourself. You squeeze her, pulling her in close, trying to make up for the growl. “I just want you to live,” you say miserably. “All of you. You and Dave and Karkat and Kanaya and the Mayor. And Karkat doesn’t understand. I have to do this.”

Rose squirms between your arms, but you don’t let go. “You have to understand, Rose. I’m trying to save you. Especially Karkat. He has the clown in his room right now. What if the clown breaks out? The first person to get hurt is going to be Karkat. That idiot! And then who’s next. We can’t take him on one on one. And… Oh Rooooseeee…” You bury your face against her shoulder. “I don’t like this. But I have to make sure that everyone listens. Especially Karkat. Or we’re going to die. And. And… That’s why you have to be strong, Rose. Because I don’t think I’m going to be able to be here for long.”

A distant part of you notices Rose shift, notices her relax against you as you continue. “The clown is going to kill someone. And I… can’t let it be anyone else. That’s my responsibility. Keeping all of you safe.” You breathe in deeply, taking in her scent, trying to get a fix on her, hoping that you haven’t destroyed everything. “Please tell me you understand.”

“I understand.” Rose squeezes you briefly. “But I don’t see why protecting Karkat necessitates turning him into a pariah. If anything it seems to me that this is more likely to drive him to irrational consideration of Gamzee’s safety over the rest of ours. And even were it necessary,” she presses her forehead against yours. “I’m not sure how long I could stand to see him treated this way.”

“It’s… That’s… This is how it’s done. I don’t want to hurt him,” you insist. “N-Not too badly, anyway. Not permanently. I want him to keep living. But he has to be made to understand. He can’t act like this anymore. So I’m being careful. Gamzee won’t hurt any of you, but Karkat has to understand, and… And this is how you’re supposed to do it. I never practiced for this. But I’m trying to do what I’m supposed to.”

“But why must it be done this way?”

“Because. Because it keeps order in the ranks.”

“The ranks? There are six of us here. Seven if you want to count the Mayor.”

“I don’t know. I thought that I might have to do it, when I was younger,” you hold her to you. You need her to understand. “Most promotions come because your superior made a grievous mistake. I played it out like my court cases so that I would be ready when I was older, and I would know exactly what to say, and just the right tone of voice, and everything else. And I never thought I wouldn’t kill them. Some say there are benefits to leaving them at the bottom for everyone to pick on, but that goes wrong sometimes. I was going to be smart,” you say, and you smile a little. “But I couldn’t kill Karkat. That wasn’t the point.”

Despite yourself, you begin to cry into her shirt a little. “And I have to know exactly what to do. I have to keep you alive. Even that red-blooded fool.” Rose tightens her hold on you, begins to rub one of your shoulders. “So he has to know how stupid he was so centuries from now he won’t do it again. Do you get it? It has to burn and it has to scar so that he won’t do it again.”

“Yes, I understand. But this can’t be only way.”

“W-What else am I supposed to do?”

You hate yourself. How weak you are, with your snivelling tone and your faltering strength. What sort of moirail are you? How did you let her maneuver you into this position without even trying? How are you supposed to fix her when you are falling apart?

You are killing them, you piece of hoofbeast droppings.

“Karkat is smart despite the metaphorical garbage that usually issues from his mouth. Talk to him.”

“About what? Don’t you get it?” You want to scream at her. You want to hold her by the shoulders, shove your face in front of hers and scream, yell, rant, until your voice is gone, why is she so blind? “I’m killing the clown,” you explain. “M-Maybe not very soon, but I have to do it. Even if somebody else does it, the responsibility is mine. I told Karkat that I would keep anyone from dying. That’s what I was going to do that he couldn’t. But I knew, I knew, before I said it, that I was going to break my promise. Because Gamzee has to die. I’m going to fail no matter what, but that’s why I’m doing it. So it’s my fault.” You bury yourself further in her shirt. “And then I’ll have to be punished. I can’t let it be any of you. Especially you. Y-You have to take over after me. After I’m… gone. You can’t have that on your hands.”

Rose pushes you back a bit to meet you forehead to forehead. “Terezi, no. You are not going to have to kill Gamzee. That is not an alternative. We will find another way.” She pauses for emphasis. “If it means shutting him in a metal box and throwing away the key, we will find another way. Even if this weren’t Karkat’s friend we were walking about. Even if he was going to threaten our safety again. We are not going to kill Gamzee. Or you.”

“W-Why? Rose, d-don’t you care--”

“Something happens,” she says, her voice straining to remain in control. “Something terrible happens if we let him die. Terezi, this is important. Do you understand me?”

You nod as best as you can under the circumstances, with your head between her hands. “Then what else can I do?”

“I don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to figure something out together.”

“I… I can’t be weak,” you say. “But I can be weak here. Rose…” You choke. “I-I think I’m broken.”

“Well that just means that we have an opportunity to rebuild you better than you were before,” Rose smiles back at you. “I’m told that when a bone is not set properly it can heal wrong, and that the only way to fix it is to break it again and reset it. So Terezi, what shape do you want to heal into?”

“A… better one? I don’t know. I stopped thinking about that. I’m trying to go for long enough that you’re fixed. And then I’m done, and you can do it. I’m just the… transitional head.”

“I’m flattered,” she replies. “But I don’t think that it works that way. My impression was that the moirallegiance deal was that everyone got healed. So, Terezi, think about it. Who do you want to be?”

“I was going to be R-Redglare.” Your voice is muffled. You’re pressed against her shirt again. “I don’t know anymore. There isn’t a place for Redglare. Or legislacerators. We won’t be going to the new session. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be! But I felt better, in a way. I knew what I was supposed to do today. I had responsibilities and they mattered. And I knew exactly what I had to do. It was like when my lusus taught me how to smell, and suddenly being blind didn’t matter.”

Rose holds you closer. You are held.

“It’s not easy finding a new path,” she says softly. “But you can do it.”

“But I don’t, I don’t have anything else.” You try to curl up more tightly against her. “I’m lost.”

“I’m here for you.” She begins to rub your back. “We’ll find a way out together.”

“This wasn’t supposed to be about me…”

You sound disgusting. You disgust yourself.

“Are you so disappointed to learn that I have something to offer you here as well?”

“I… don’t know. I don’t think so?”

“Are you sad that I’m not going to let you go through with your plans to valiantly sacrifice yourself?”

You make a noise that is almost, but not quite, a growl. “Maybe…” you say quietly.

“No.” Rose says it emphatically. “No. If you die, Dave loses a matesprit, I lose a moirail, and everyone loses a friend. You are already too much a part of this group for us to lose you. Is something the matter that this seemed like a favorable alternative to you?”

“No. No. I just… This is just the only thing that I know how to do. Don’t you get it?”

You try to pull away from Rose, but she only lets you go a little.

“You tell me what I’m going to do. You can’t just… leave me without any options.”

“I cannot decide that for you,” she insists. “but I can help. There are far too few of us left to mete out justice at the end of a noose, but surely you cared for more than just the hangings.”

“I’m trying to do what’s best for you. Kanaya isn’t fighting this. Even karkat isn’t fighting it. He knows that he fucked up. Even if he’s angry he still knows. Y-You can’t treat us like humans.”

“I appreciate that,” she nods. “But as I understand it, it is my role here to do what is best for you. You cannot simply sacrifice yourself, even if you do not know what to do with yourself. And maybe you are correct. Perhaps I will just need to stuff my discomfort about Karkat’s situation. Chalk it up to cross-cultural dissonance. But I think that there has to be a better way. If he understands, why do we need to treat him like this?”

“I’m… I’m not doing anything to him you know,” you find yourself searching for reasons to backpedal. “I didn’t tell him to leave. He did that on his own. I have talked with him. I have extended aid. When he can deal with it he will come back.” You think back to what happened in the commonsblock. “He knew enough to know when to leave. He has enough judgment for that. I think he has enough judgment to know when to come back. I wasn’t sure before, but I have talked with him since lunch. I believe that he is taking this to heart.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear that.”

You smile a little.

A time passes until Roes finally breaks the silence. “This is not at all what I was anticipating. The books always made it so dramatic. And yet seemed to miss out on the sheer intensity of it.”

“You’re pretty good for this being your first time.” You rest your head against her. You take a moment to stretch, your arms going out wide. None-too-subtly, one wraps around Rose more properly than it had been before.

Rose grins. “Well, perhaps there is some merit to spending lonely afternoons attempting to psychoanalyze one’s housepets.” She relaxes into the new configuration, pressing slightly closer. “though at some point we are going to need to have an interspecies discussion of body language norms.”

“Just do what I do. We do it better. I mean you don’t even have moirails.”

She laughs. “I suppose. But the, uh…” She paps you tentatively. “That. It seems a bit unusual from a human perspective.”

“Oh.” You pap her in return. “You mean that?” You pap her again, a little higher, on the forehead. “Or were you meaning that?” You smile. You pap her on the shoulders.

“Yes. That. Were those first two intended to be notably distinct in some way?”

“No.” You pap her on the shoulders again. “I just like doing it. You made a funny expression.”

“Ah, yes. You were messing with me. I am glad that my reactions have proved a source of great amusement.”

“Oh.” You should, um, you should probably bring up something else while you’re at it. Another intercultural miscommunication. “And Kanaya would never mention it, and we all knew that you didn’t know, but you’ve been flirting pale with Kanaya.”

Rose curls up a bit. “Yeah, I know. How bad was it?”

“Do you remember when I found you a few hours ago? With Kanaya?”

“Oh. Oh Terezi, I’m really sorry.”

You snort. “The court forgives you. And anyway,” you add, whispering. “It’s actually been pretty funny, in a sick kind of way. Mostly at Kanaya’s expense…”

It is now Rose’s turn to hide her face in her moirail’s shoulder. “Apparently I am not as adept as I had thought at this quadrant thing.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Rose relaxes some, and smirks a little. “Well, I guess I’ll just need to find a way to make it up to her.”

“There are plenty of ways for a matesprit to do that. I’m sure that you’ll think of something.”

Rose smirks harder.

You pap her on the head, and adjust some hairs. “Do you feel better now?”

“Yes. Considerably so, thanks to you.”

“That’s what moirails are for. Now go make up with your matesprit.”

“That sounds like a very good idea. And I suppose that you must have business of your own to attend to.”

You yawn. “Yes. Lots and lots of business.”

“Ah. I see.” She hugs you one more time. “Very well, I shall take my leave.”

Rose carefully disentangles herself as you yawn again.

You drift off as she tucks the blankets in against you.

Rose and Terezi Pile

Chapter Text

February 19th, Year 1 of Sweep 2

You are Rose Lalonde. You have just completed your first proper pile session. It was not what you were expecting. Though you suppose that the entire reason that it is sometimes necessary to seek external psychological aid is that one cannot properly envision the mechanisms by which one’s problems can be solved from the inside.

You gently close the door to Terezi’s room, pausing for a moment and wishing you could stay. You are not so full of hubris to believe that you have been totally fixed in the last hour, but you are well enough for now. And besides there is work to be done.

You eventually pry yourself away from the threshold and pull up your headbandtop. There’s someone you need to talk to.

 

===> ROSE: Be someone you need to talk to

 

What’s this about someone needing to talk to you? Well they’d better have a hive-sized sound amplifier, because you do not appear to be leaving your room any time soon.

You are Karkat Vantas by the way, in case anyone cared, which pretty clearly they do not. Gamzee has somehow managed to fall asleep as you were trying to move him and is currently crushing your arm.

Your husktop, just out of reach, appears to be beeping at you. Shit, come over here you useless pile of circuits. Eventually, you manage to reach your computer and pull it somewhere slightly more usable. Oh, look, Trollian.

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] started pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] --

TT: Hi Karkat, I believe that I have some good news.
TT: Terezi seems to be ready to let you back into the group without all of the ridiculous shunning that was taking place this morning.
TT: Karkat?
CG: WHAT? JUST A MOMENT.

You struggle to pull the keyboard into a more usable position.

CG: YEAH THAT'S GOOD NEWS. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
TT: Is something the matter over there? Do you require assistance?
CG: I'M FINE. THIS SHITFACED MORON IS PINNING MY LEFT ARM AND IT'S HARD TO TYPE
TT: That does sounds like quite the hassle.
TT: Are you harmed?
CG: IT'S A PAIN IN THE NOOK.
CG: FUCKER BIT ME TWICE WHILE I WAS MEDICATING HIM.
TT: Would you rather carry on this discussion in person then?
CG: SURE. PASSWORD IS 'I'M GOING ON A HATE HONEYMOON'.
TT: Password? Have you been reinforcing security near your respiteblock?
CG: SHOULD BE PRETTY FUCKING OBVIOUS BY NOW, BUT YES.
TT: Very well, I am nearly there.

A minute later, you hear footsteps at the door and buttons being pressed on the keypad. Finally. She’ll be here soon and you can get this bozo off of your arm. Just through the keypad and- Shit.

CG: WAIT. FUCK. I STILL HAVE THE INNER LOCK. SHIT.

The door swings open, only to be stopped by the recently installed chain.

CG: JUST CUT IT. I CAN'T REACH IT.
TT: Very well. Though I hope you realize that I would have been able to hear had you simply spoken out loud.
CG: SHHH.
TT: Ah, yes. I believe I understand.

A brief blast of white light, and the chain on the door breaks with a clink and the pieces clatter to the ground. As the door opens, you let out a sigh of relief. Finally, some support with this fucking thankless task. You push your computer aside and struggle to free your arm so that you can actually greet your visitor properly rather than as a pathetic wiggler who can hardly deal with his ungrateful friend.

“How did this unusual configuration come about?” You can practically feel her eyes on you, smugly overlooking the scene.

“I said we broke up”, you inform her quietly. “But he wouldn’t take the hint.” You finally manage to push Gamzee off you enough that you can get a decent look at her. “OH MY GOD. JEGUS FUCK.” Oh shit, what did she do? Rose’s shoulders are soaked with teal. Did she- oh shit. Terezi. Rose just stands there staring at you. “Fuck. Tell me you didn’t. That is not okay. Oh god, that is not okay.” And she justs stands there looking at you like nothing is amiss. Oh fuck, what have you done?

“That I didn't do what?” she asks. “It is a little bit hard to decipher your meaning given the extreme level of precision employed.”

Oh fuck, you should have explained this to her better. Gamzee is beginning to stir and Rose continues to stare at you as if everything is fine beneath the layers of blood on her shirt. You manage to shove Gamzee off you and rise to confront Rose. Shit, she seems to be taking this cultural exchange way too seriously.

“Rose, I know it looked like it, but you really don’t have to show someone’s colors to get them to obey you. That is really extreme, and for special cases, and usually about a power struggle, and oh my god is Terezi-”

Gamzee is sleepily trying to pap you, Rose is inspecting the damage covering her shoulders and you are about to have an aneurysm.

“Oh, I was very much not anticipating that,” Rose says. “I believe that there has been an unfortunate and somewhat amusing misunderstanding.”

That is- No. Rose is soaking in Terezi’s blood, Gamzee doesn’t know when to back off and you cannot deal with this. You are very definitely not amused.

“Karkat, this isn’t blood,” she explains.

“Wait, what? Oh, I see-” You do not see. You are very, very confused.

“I think maybe I should explain so that we avoid further misunderstanding.” Rose takes a breath to compose herself before continuing. “Terezi and I are now a pale item. These were tears from a recent pile session.”

Oh. That is… better? Sort of?

Gamzee grins. “Heh, nasty, sister! Right on my brosis, getting that got pile on good yeah!”

As Gamzee incoherently congratulates her, you avert your eyes. Walking around soaked in her moirail’s tears? Gross. You really hope that Terezi can get a handle on her new partner, you really don’t want to see them papping each other in the nutritionblock. You might never be able to eat there again. “Well, shit. Do you need a new shirt?” you ask.

“No. Thank you, Karkat. Though I should probably go change shortly.”

Well at least she has some decency in her. Gamzee rests his chin on your shoulder in a pan-meltingly obvious attempt to reinitiate whatever kind of pale action he seems to think the two of you still have going on. You shove him off you. Fuck. You need some kind of redrom auspistice, assuming such a panfried idea were even a thing.

“Is there anything that I can assist you with here?” Rose asks, amusement still evident in her voice.

No. You are not inviting Rose into that imaginary quadrant. You change the subject. “So what did Terezi say she was ready to do, exactly?”

“She said that you could return when you were ready to take her help,” says Rose. “And that she believes that you have done so. She's ready to have you back.”

Her Imperial Justification has allowed you back? Fantastic. “Happy to hear it. I’m so full of joy I’m inhaling it into my gas bladders and fucking drowning. Did she say anything about taking shifts to watch Gamzee?”

“No. Sorry,” replies Rose. “That discussion might need to take place at a later time. Though if you require relief in the near future, I’m sure that something can be arranged.”

You scowl. “Well, I’m going to need to sleep at some point. And I don’t know how much sopor to dose him with.” You motion over at Gamzee, who appears to be zoning out again. “Look at him. He’s totally panfried. But at least better than before.”

“Well, if you would like to sleep, I could hold watch. Though I should probably grab a few things first.”

“Great.”

And so, Rose takes her leave. At least you won’t need to deal with her for a while.

===> KARKAT: Be someone who has to deal with Rose

You are now Kanaya Maryam. You are most certainly busy dealing with Rose. Or more specifically dealing with her possessions. Or even more specifically dealing with possessions that she hopefully does not have. Fine. You are snooping in her room to ensure that she has not alchemized any more of those dreadful soporifics again. You feel generally uncomfortable about the situation. In addition to the general intrusion, you seem to be continuing the unfortunate trend (especially of late) of being required to act somewhat pale towards your matesprit. Needless to say, you sincerely hope that you do not have to deal with Rose herself right now, as you are in her room uninvited and would prefer not to be caught at it.

“Oh hi, Kanaya. I didn’t see you there.”

So much for that. It appears that she has returned. Rose is busy exchanging some items in her storage cube. She seems to be actually happy, which is more than you could have said about her for awhile now. “It appears that you had a good time with Terezi,” you offer.

“Yes,” she nods. “I suppose I did.” There is a lull as you wait to see if she acknowledges your intrusion. “Kanaya, I-” She takes a moment to approach closer to you and recompose herself before starting again. “I realize that these last few days I've been acting somewhat inappropriately towards you. We had agreed not to and I was just not in a- Well in any case I should not have behaved as I did.”

This is… not the reprimand you had been expecting. You are in any case, quick to assure her that it is alright.

Rose smiles at that. “I know that my behavior has made you uncomfortable, and I apologize.” She reaches out, placing a hand near the base of your neck. "If there's anything I can do to help make it up to you..." Rose leans towards you. You can feel her breath on your ear as she whispers to you. "Perhaps involving that garment I know you've been working on."

Oh. Oh. You are quite certain that you are bright green at this point. Your affirmative response escapes your lips almost without your willing it to, and you see your matesprit smiling playfully at you. “And... What are you doing now?” you manage to ask.

You see a slight wave of annoyance make its way across your matesprit’s face. “Tonight perhaps? Unfortunately, I offered Karkat to watch his charge for him. He could really use some sleep.”

Gamzee. You narrow your eyes. “I am coming with you.” After a moment you clarify. “Without my project.”

“Understood. Your assistance would be appreciated regardless.” Rose grabs her psychologist notebook among a few other things. “In any case, I was about to head out. Would you care to accompany me?”

“Of course…” You ensure that your makeup is in fact on you and prepare yourself for this ordeal.

And so you and Rose make your way to Karkat’s block. Gamzee is asleep and you manage to pull off a passing impression of a troll that is not about to chainsaw him in half. Rose briefly questions Karkat about any procedures that need to be followed, then lets him collapse with exhaustion on his floor.

You resign yourself to a tense, but hopefully uneventful evening. Rose seems happy to continue her knitting project as she waits, but you are unable to allow yourself to relax while Gamzee resides in the room, even if asleep. The hours stretch on like this uneventfully until eventually Gamzee begins to stir.

Gamzee lets out a long yawn and stretches out his arms. You instinctively begin to reach for your makeup, but Rose puts a hand on your arm, arresting your motion.

“It appears that the patient is finally awake,” she observes.

You nod your agreement and watch tensely as Gamzee shakes himself out and looks around.

“Whoa, hey bro, we have company,” he finally says.

“Karkat is asleep,” you reply tersely.

“Oh yeah, look at that. Bro needed to get his sleep on. Heh.” Gamzee yawns again.

From the corner of your eye, you note that Rose has closed off her knitting. You are happy to note that she keeps one of her needles on hand as she puts the rest away and takes out her notebook. “Yes, it is a condition that trolls are known to find themselves in periodically,” she remarks dryly.

“Unconditionally miraculous condition,” Gamzee agrees.

You note as Rose continues to prepare for her psychologist routine. You smile slightly. “I almost feel sorry for what my matesprit is about to do to you,” you inform Gamzee. “Brace yourself.”

“Come now, Kanaya, I’m not that bad, am I?”

“I may be biased,” you say “It is… a bit of a pale thing.” You look away for a bit. “I apologize. I should not have made that joke.” You have been trying, without as much success as you would like, to avoid thinking of Rose’s habit on those terms.

Gamzee has been watching the two of you with unfocused eyes, but seems to perk up at your “pale” comment. “Yeah, you and sister Terezi? Motherfuckin sweet.”

You glare at the clown. “I beg your pardon?”

Gamzee grins. “My brosis Rose all getting her pale on.”

“If you--If you want to call it that…”

Rose, who has been taking notes this whole time, finally speaks up. “I have permission to continue my practice regardless. Though I imagine that it is still best to try to keep things as professional as possible.”

You look back at Rose. “Oh. Terezi is fine with this? That is good.”

Rose gives you the ghost of a smile before turning back to Gamzee. “So Mr. Makara, if you could please remember that this is done out of strictly platonic interested in understanding your inner workings, that would be much appreciated.”

Gamzee shrugs. “Sure sister, I’m taken anyway. Honk.”

This catches Rose’s interest. “Interesting. How much have you been talking to Karkat recently?”

“All the time, sisbro. Don’t even know the last time I didn’t talk to Karkat.”

“And you claim that you are currently involved in a pale relationship with him, I take it?”

“True as shit, sister, the brother wouldn’t be hangin out with me so much if he weren’t feeling it.”

Rose takes some notes on this. You are actually starting to feel slightly sorry for the clown. He seems to have no idea. “Do you have any idea why you are here?” you ask him.

“Heh, does anybody know why they’re motherfucking here?”

“I believe that my lovely assistant was wondering if you knew why you were in this room specifically,” Rose clarifies.

“Wiggled out of the motherfuckin slime and here I am. Miracle.”

You put a hand over your face. “How is it that he makes more sense the other way?”

Rose insists on continuing the line of questioning for some reason. “Do you recall what was happening to you before you ‘wiggled out’ of the slime as you say?”

Gamzee thinks for a moment, then reaches up to scratch his bisected horn. “I hurt my horn.”

“Do you actually recall the injury or did you merely note the damage after the fact?”

Gamzee spends some time pondering this question before coming up with his answer. “It motherfuckin hurt.”

Rose jots down some further notes before asking if he recalls any further details.

“I think I-”

“............”

“.......................”

“.................................”

“Honk!”

You grip your makeupkind tightly at the change in volume, but do not activate it. Yet.

“I think I fell the fuck down.
Out on the town.
And I fell the fuck down.
Do you hear that sound?
It’s me, the clown.
Honk.”

You are wary of this outburst, but Rose, as ever, remains unperturbed. “So, Mr. Makara, how are you feeling right now?”

“I’m chill, brosis.”

Rose thinks for a bit before replying. “Would you say that this is typical of your being on sopor? Being ‘chill’ as you say?”

“You want some?”

Rose waves him off. “No, thank you. I need to stay in control of my faculties at the moment. Besides I have no idea what effects the slime might have on a human. Though I remain curious as to the effects it has on trolls.”

“Different itches for different bitches, brosis. Heh, heh!”

Rose does not comment on her own drug of choice, but you are sorely tempted to bring up the matter.

“What effects, if any, do you notice sopor having on you while on it, Mr. Makara?”

Gamzee grins. “Motherfuckin magical.”

Rose sighs. “A start, I suppose. Though not very precise.” She jots down a few more notes and continues. “To be clear, when you say ‘magical’ do you mean to imply that sopor provides access to arcane abilities of some sort?”

“Just miracles, sister. Honk.”

Rose raises an eyebrow at Gamzee. “Are there any specific miracles that you attribute to being on the slime, or is it merely a general feeling?”

“It’s a feeling that I got
When the pie was steaming hot.
The more the pie the more miraculous the thought.
Til’ you eat so much your thinkpan rots.”

You think that Rose is beginning to get frustrated, though she is good at hiding such things, even after you have known her for so long. “I see,” she says. “So you’re saying that the sopor makes things appear to be miraculous?”

“Always is miraculous, brosis.”

Rose, leans over and whispers to you “is he usually this evasive?”

“He is not being evasive,” you say. A sigh escapes your lips before you continue “Rose, do you remember what you are like when you are intoxicated?”

“For the most part, yes.”

Gamzee makes a horrible grating, coughing sound and starts bobbing his head weirdly.

It takes a moment before you can turn your attention back to Rose. “It is not quite the same,” you inform her. “You do have your own unique… personality. But it is not that different.”

“I see.”

“I must confess some amusement at your expense,” you say. “It is like being an observer to some of our own interactions.” You smile at the faint look of shock appearing on Rose’s face as Gamzee begins beatboxing hideously in the background.

The expression quickly passes from Rose’s face. She rolls her eyes “What do you know? He seems to be mimicking the traditional mating call of the Strider.”

At this point, Gamzee begins to add some lyrics, but you do your best to ignore them. “Are you not partly Strider yourself?” you ask. “Why have I not been… treated with this mating call?” You feign offense at Rose’s failure to maintain this... tradition.

“I suppose. Though I seem not to have inherited that particular predilection.” Rose sighs. “Perhaps I shall need to practice my own rhythmic vocals at some point. Or even alchemize some of the traditional turntables.”

“I will be greatly offended if you do not.”

“Well, I would not want to cause offense. I shall have to dust off the ‘sick beats’ of my forefathers.”

At this point Gamzee sees fit to break off his nonsense and interrupt your conversation. “You do beat poetry, brosis?”

“I did not believe her to be involved in such noble pursuits,”you say. “But apparently, she has been leaving out certain details. For shame, Rose.”

“Alas,” Rose dramatically places the back of her hand upon her forehead. “My secret has been uncovered. How shall I live now that my practice of such dark arts has been laid bare?”

“Indeed,” you reply. “I did not know there were any secrets left to bare.”

“Kanaya, a lady must maintain some mystery. Did you truly expect me to dispense with mine so quickly?”

“I suppose not,” you reply. “It is moirails between whom there are no secrets at all, after all.”

Rose turns to you with mock concern. “Does this mean that I will be forced to hand over to Terezi the keys to be sordid past, my embarrassing childhood memories,” Rose pauses slightly and gives you a mischievous look. “My terrible fanfiction?”

“Sooner or later,” you reply, in total sincerity.

“It is such a shame,” Rose comments. “If the shock doesn’t kill her, the fanfiction will surely do her in. Perhaps this is my fate for dabbling in such dark arts.”

“Please do not kill your moirail,” you implore. “You have only just started to fill your apparent quota of emotionally supportive cuddling.”

“Well, I suppose I shall just need to keep my writing sealed tightly away until that threshold has been reached.”

In the meantime, Gamzee had moved to take up a position curled around Karkat. You hope that Karkat does not awaken and make this situation more awkward than it already is. Rose, noting that the situation seems to have calmed down some, puts away her notebook and resumes her knitting project. Things progress peacefully in this way for some time, until Gamzee, apparently satisfied with Karkat’s situation, rises to his feet and approaches you and Rose.

“Got any faygo?”

“No,” you snap at him.

“I got a wicked thirst, sister.”

Rose ties off her knitting. “Kanaya, do you think you could get some water for him?”

“Leaving you alone with him? I think that he can deal with some thirst.”

Rose smiles slightly back at you, before turning back to Gamzee. “I apologize Gamzee, but it looks like you will need to wait a while longer.”

“How come?”

“Well, we appear to have a notable lack of appropriate beverages at this location. It is perhaps less than ideal, but we will need to make do for now.”

Gamzee shrugs and picks up some of the loose sopor bottles and begins juggling them.

You turn your attention to Gamzee. You begin to worry that he may intend to use the bottles as projectiles. You tense and ready yourself to chop him into small pieces should any of the bottles happen to land in the wrong place.

“It is impressive,” Rose comments. “I suppose this means that the sopor is doing relatively little to hamper his coordination.”

“Should you become intoxicated again,” you inform Rose. “I will most certainly require you to try your hand at doing the same.”

“Are you really so desperate for blackmail material Kanaya? I doubt that I could manage that sober without significant practice.”

You give Rose a meaningful look. “Consider it an incentive to remain sober then.”

Gamzee stops juggling and things settle down once more. Eventually, Rose speaks again. “Kanaya, I was wondering, what exactly are the relevant parameters of a recuperacoon?”

After overcoming your initial disorientation at the change of subject, you reply. “It must be large enough to hold a troll, preferably.”

“Yes,” Rose replies sardonically. “I can imagine that failing that consideration could prove problematic. Are there any other significant considerations?”

“There must be sopor. I have not ever looked much into their construction.”

“I see,” Rose replies thoughtfully. “In any case, as I understand it the sopor in the recuperacoon is supposed to help fulfill some important function in the troll sleep cycle, and yet you seem to have been doing without it lately?”

“I am a somewhat special case,” you inform her.

“Ah, part of the standard rainbow drinker package, I take it?” Rose asks.

“I would assume so,” You reply. “There was not an introductory pamphlet. And I am smart enough not to get all of my information from torrid romance novels.” You prepare to expound upon this explanation, but it is at this point that Karkat wakes, and that is, perhaps, a story for another time.

Chapter Text

February 19th, Year 1 of Sweep 2

While Rose and Kanaya keep an eye on Gamzee, an exhausted Karkat sleeps. But in the furthest ring, dreams are not always simple things. They are a place to meet others and to find long lost or long dead friends. For one such as Karkat, with a moirail to be found only in the dreambubbles, sleep takes on particular meaning. Thus, in order to understand what is to follow in this tale, we must understand the content of Karkat’s dreams.

===> READER: Be Karkat

You were asleep almost from the moment your head hit the ground. Your dreamscape is formless as you first come back to your senses, but your thoughts quickly turn to Jade. You really fucked up with Gamzee. How are you going to be able to keep her as your moirail if the clown cannot cannot realize that the two of you are over and if you keep- You look around and notice that the world around you has resolved into the forests of her island. Looking closer, you notice Jade in her garden. She seems to be upset about something.

“Why won’t you just stay where I put you?” Jade stomps her foot as she says this.

“Jade?”

She doesn’t seem to notice you and keeps yelling at her garden. “I planted new pumpkin seeds here just yesterday! And now you decide that just because I don’t remember planting them while I was alive that they aren’t there any more!”

You are hurrying to meet her, when Jade turns around and notices you. She grins broadly. “Oh, hey Karkat!”

“Hi Jade,” you reply. You smile back, but then look off to the side. What is she going to think of you after what just happened between you and Gamzee. You are really the wor-

You are taken away from your gloomy thoughts as Jade nearly knocks you over as she grabs you into a hug. “How are you doing? It’s been awhile since you last came.”

“Things have been pretty fucked up, to be honest.”

Jade gives you a pretty huge frown in response. “Well, that’s no good. I thought your meteor city plan was going pretty well.”

“It was okay at first,” you explain. “Not horrible. I thought I might be actually getting somewhere. Laying the dirt-labor for the new world. But then the world just decided to punch me right in the face.” You shrug. “It’s a doomed timeline. I shouldn’t be surprised.”

“Oh no! That’s terrible. What happened?”

“I sent Terezi and Dave to go search and map the lower levels of the meteor and,” you sit down heavily on a flowerbed that you hope will make a passable dirt pile. “Gamzee appeared and,” your voice quiets as you can barely get the words out “and I just…”

“No no no,” Jade tries to pull you back up “I tried making an actual pile. It was in my memory of my room and-”

“Jade, I cheated on you!” You blurt out.

Jade stops and blinks at you. She sits down next to you. “Oh,” she says. “Uh, what happened exactly?”

“I don’t know the whole story, but I think Gamzee kidnapped Dave,” you start. “I don’t know how much your thinkpan has to leak before you let Gamzee take you hostage, but Terezi had this bullshit rescue plan where I had to ‘calm’ Gamzee while she fucking executed him. I-” you don’t know what to say for yourself. “Look, there’s like four of us even alive in any reasonable way, it’s not like we have spare members to cull. But...I tried to warn him. Gamzee. And I-”

She’s still just looking at you with those eyes. Oh, gog, you can’t do this. “I was feel- I was feeling a little pale.” You can feel your stupid tears beginning to fall from your stupid eyes. “I’m so sorry, Jade. I didn’t want it to get that far. But now he isn’t taking the hint. I told him I was seeing someone else. He keeps getting all cuddly! I told him and told him. It’s like his short term data storage is utterly shot to shit. I don’t even want to be his moirail!” You claw at your hair and yell. “Fuck!!! I think it might be good to be his auspistice, but shit, I don’t even know if he has room in his pan for blackrom when he’s drugged. I’m so sorry.”

Jade just looks at you for a long moment. You can tell she’s going to dump you. You brace yourself. Why doesn’t she just get it over with already?

“So your ex was being clingy and cuddly at you even though you didn’t want to?” She asks. “Is that it?”

“More or less, yeah.”

“Am I supposed to be angry about that?”

You blink. “I don’t know about supposed to be. You’d have a right to be. I wouldn’t blame you.” You look down at your knees.

And to your surprise, you feel her hand upon your shoulder and her forehead gently bumping into yours. “Well I’m not, silly. You tried to stop him. I don’t blame you.”

“It was inappropriate, and it wasn’t right by you. God, I’m such a fuckass.”

“Karkat,” she says soothingly. “it’s fine. Really. Please don’t worry about it.”

Your shoulders slump further. “I wouldn’t feel like such a tool about it if I could just get him to lay off now.”

“He’s still doing it?” she asks. “That must be really, really awkward.”

“You have no idea,” you reply.

“Well that sounds like a big pile of no fun at all. Can’t you just avoid him or something?”

“I really only trust myself and maybe Rose right now not to kill him,” you explain. “And it’s a very small meteor.”

“People are trying to kill him?!” Jade asks, aghast.

“Well Terezi ripped me a new one because I stopped her from doing so. Fuck her, by the way. She did not need to do that.”

Jade’s eyes go wide. “Oh no! What happened?”

“I did nothing wrong!” you protest. “At least not this time.”

“And she just what? Yelled at you for no reason?”

“I was dragging Gamzee back to the slightly more civilized part of the meteor, and Terezi… she mutinied.” You growl. “I had more than half a pan to fight back, but I didn’t want Gamzee to get caught in the crossfire.” You sigh. “It would have been really romantic, actually, if she hadn’t also decided she was deposing me as the meteor’s leader.”

Jade looks a bit confused by this. “Wait. You mean in a spadesy way?”

“No, I mean ashen. Clubs. The difference is subtle in this case, but important. But I don’t think it will work out that way,” you grumble “since Gamzee won’t lay off the pale. He actually said some pretty caliginous things when he sobered up last night, but when I got him his slime, he just melted into a fucking cuddle blob. Maybe there’s a level of sopor where he’ll just be a regular troll? I don’t even know.”

Through your frustration, you can see Jade trying to be supportive, but also seeming unsure about how. “Sorry,” she says. “This is all still pretty confusing.”

“Which part?” you ask.

“The whole quadrant thing, really,” she says. “I tried watching that movie you suggested, with the name that I’m never going to remember.”

“Yeah?” you perk up.

“I think I sorta got most of what was going on, but I couldn’t really follow a lot of the details. Like why was the lady suddenly being all nice? And the side plot with the farmer, I couldn’t even figure out what quadrant that was supposed to be.” Jade wraps her arms around you again. “I’m sorry. I’m sidetracking us, aren’t I?”

You are already explaining. “You mean Nolena? No no no, after she breaks up Girond and Ipione’s ill-fated caliginous fling, she has to cement her relationship with Ipione. She can’t just bully them both forever, or they might go caliginous for her. Respect is vital in all the quadrants, including ashen. You can’t just bully your way into a club, the upper lobe has to care about both the lower lobes, even if the caring is rough.”

“But it was just so sudden!” she says. “Is that how it usually is? I mean one moment was that threatening to bisect them with her axe if they didn’t behave and like two hours later she was inviting Ipione over for tea.”

“Well, it’s dramatized for film,” you explain.

“OK, I guess I can see that.” Jade sighs. “I just feel that there’s so much context that I’m missing out on that it’s hard to catch up.”

“Well, there’s time. I have some more films I think you’d like, but I don’t have them this second.”

“If you can name a few,” she suggests. “I can probably borrow them from the other Karkat.”

“Right,” you grunt. “Him.”

“Don’t be like that,” she scolds. “He’s just a friend. And it is really convenient to have a supply of all of your favorite movies nearby.”

“Well,” you ponder. “There’s ‘A threshecutioner falls into a torrid black relationship with an alien prisoner of war, resulting-’”

“Could you maybe abbreviate it?” She asks. “I’m never going to remember the whole title. Oh wait, can you say that again?”

Jade begins to rearrange a number of the colored finger circles that she keeps around as you recite the title a second time.

“I said ‘a threshecutioner falls into a torrid black relationship with an alien prisoner of war, resulting in his superior officer having to auspistize the two, and eventually getting all three of them condemned to death, scratching out their vow of everlasting hate into the dirt floors of their cells.’ It’s a beautiful tragedy.”

“Okay! I think I got that.” Jade tries to pap you, somewhat awkwardly.

You place your hand gently over hers. “It’s just… a good ashen film. Pretty unrealistic,” you concede. “Considering the xeno-conciliation...but not distractingly awful in that respect.”

“OK. I’ll keep it in mind. Maybe we can talk about it next time!” Jade treats you to another of her huge, cheerful grins.

“That sounds really...nice.” And for a few moments you can just sit there with Jade, thinking about her reaction to the final discovery of the tryst, having to put in effort to not have to spoil it for her right now. But eventually, your other troubles begin to creep back into your thoughts. “I just wish I could figure this out. I mean... do I just keep Gamzee tied up or drugged in my room for the rest of my sorry life? I honestly can’t tell if he’s doing this on purpose or if his brain is so fried that he can’t remember what I tell him one day to the next.”

“That’s really sad if he can’t remember anything.”

“What’s sad,” you say. “Is that he does remember some things. That whole clusterfuck with Equius and Nepeta. He acts like nothing happened until someone brings it up and then when I do he just starts blubbering. But there’s nothing we can do about that and no apology would dissuade Terezi anyway. And I’ve been giving him so much sopor, he’s awake for maybe ten minutes at a time.” Jade’s arms tighten comfortingly around you. “I’m scared to give him less. I’m scared.”

“That sounds really bad,” she says. “Maybe there’s some other way to keep him stable? Don’t worry, Karkat. I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”

You hold Jade close to you. “I don’t know. I don’t know.”


And so we leave the two moirails to their diamonds, because the dream bubbles are large and those two are not the only ones sleeping. In fact, if you recall, dear reader, it was not long ago that the meteor’s new leader fell asleep after her own pile session was complete. And so, if we can draw your attention away from these two for a moment, we should take a look at what has been going on with the meteor’s other resident.

===> READER: Be Terezi

You are Terezi Pyrope. You find yourself arising to your dream after your first session with your...moirail. You had only wanted to help fix Rose, and had not expected the needle to turn on you quite the way it did. “I didn’t intend for that to happen,” you say to nobody in particular. “But it was probably for the best. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a feelings jam.”

You feel your neck and notice that the shawlchucks you improvised to properly display the colors from your fight with Karkat are on your shoulders. It is probably for the best that they have become a part of your outfit here.

You stand up and take a deep breath to smell further afield, and are surprised to find a pair of trolls walking towards you. Two of the dancestors. Kurloz and Meulin. They walk hand in hand, swaying slightly in unison as they approach. You find yourself mildly unnerved by this. It is almost as if they are two claws on a single, unseen hand.

“Hello”, you greet them.

“Hi Terezi. Having a nice dream?” Meulin asks.

Kurloz just waves, and you return the gesture.

“Nice enough,” you reply. “What’s up with you?”

Kurloz signs something to Meulin, who eventually turns and speaks to you. “We are doing very well. Kurloz says he purr’d the most fascinating gossip.”

You grin widely. “I can only imagine if it has anything to do with me.”

“It is to do with you, oh how did you know?”

“I live a very interesting life,” you reply.

Meulin looks back at Kurloz, who signs some more. “So is it...true?” she asks.

“Depends,” you say. “What is it? Interesting things have happened, but someone could have made something else up. So I should know what you’re asking about first.”

Meulin gives you a sly look. “You and Vantas….” She makes a spade with her hands and waggles her eyebrows.

“Are what? Caliginous?” you snort. “Well… not, not really. It’s a little like that. I suppose. But not really.”

“A little like that? Ooh, but tell!” Meulin exclaims. “A little can be turned into a lot!”

“I,” you start. “I, um, I had to take command. And it’s sort of gone from there.”

“A dominance struggle!” Meulin sounds eager. “That can be exciting! Of course, if he’s anything like our Vantas, you’ll have to keep him interested. Just dropping it like you’re not interested works fur red, but not fur black. Fan the flames, I know you can do it!”

“I- I’m not really-” Her enthusiasm is infectious. You want to agree with her but… “I don’t think that Dave would be okay with that. Not right now anyway. And now I’m in a moirallegiance with his sister, which I think he would be okay with, because humans don’t consider that to be one of their quadrants. But I’m not really sure. And I pity him more than I hate Karkat.”

“That is soooooo sad! You two would be so great caliginous together!” Meulin exclaims. “We have to make it happen!”

You sigh. “I’m almost afraid to inquire further. What do you have in mind?”

Meulin and Kurloz exchange a few signs. “Well, maybe if your matespurrit understood kismessitude more… purrsonally??? Then maybe he’d understand your need for one!!!”

You frown. “Humans don’t work like that. And I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t interfere. Let me handle it please.” Oh, Gog, you really hope that she doesn’t go make a mess of your quadrants.

“Oh, but Terezi,” she insists. “It’s so purrrrrrfect. I know the purrfect purrson! We hardly have to do anything, just offer advice.”

You groan. How are you supposed to explain this to Nepeta’s dancestor of all people. “It’s like those...charm things...that Aranea babbles about. Humans just don’t do that.”

“But Terezi,” she insists. “Aranea makes half that stuff up!!! And Kurloz says he knows all about blackrom and he’s sure he can make it work! Terezi, are you never going to have a kismesis ever???”

You are worried that you are going to get some weird injury from all this exasperated sighing if this keeps up much longer. “If Dave doesn’t get hurt,” you relent. “Do you understand?”

“Aw, Terezi,” she says. “Romance always hurts!”

“Meulin,” you fix her with your worst glare. “I’m not playing. If he says it’s okay, then it’s okay. But if you do something to him that he doesn’t want, then we’re going to have to be very, very platonic.”

Meulin looks to Kurloz to see if he has a response, but he tilts his head, smiling faintly. Meulin signs to Kurloz and he eventually signs back.

Meulin turns back and smiles at you. “Platonic is what you make of it Terezi. Hee.”

“I think I need to go.” As you leave, you can sniff out Kurloz waving goodbye to you, smiling. You feel like these two have somehow gotten the better of you, but you’re not sure how.

You walk away, unable to shake thoughts about Karkat. This is probably why after several minutes you find yourself in a field of green earth plants. Off in the distance, you note that Karkat and Jade are in the middle of a pile.

Jade pats Karkat on the back. “Don’t worry, it’s going to be OK.”

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he replies. “I thought I did, but I don’t.”

You stay near the edge of the bubble, watching. You do not want to intrude, but you’re curious, almost voyeuristically curious, about how this is going to go.

“You’re doing fine,” says Jade. “Gamzee becoming an issue was not your fault, so you don’t get to blame yourself for it, OK?”

“I really didn’t do it wrong this time, though,” Karkat whines. “I don’t understand how it all got fucked up anyway. Fucking Terezi. Dave was fine, he wasn’t even hurt. The only one hurt was Gamzee, and now is when Terezi decides she’s had enough of me. You’d think that would have happened a lot earlier. Shit.”

And that is about as much as you are willing to take quietly, so you decide to make your presence known. “Oh, I’m sorry,” you say. “I guess I need to wait until someone actually dies again to have an issue.”

Jade lets go of Karkat and spins around to face you. Karkat, for his own part, wipes away his pathetic, red tears and stands up.

“So, what should I have done?” you ask. “Taken a nap maybe? Let Gamzee kill Dave a few hundred times before I did anything? He’s a godtier after all. He could have taken it. Forgive me for actually being effective.”

They haven’t cut in yet, so you continue. “You don’t get it do you? The reason I realized that you were unfit for command wasn’t because Dave was skinned, roasted, skewered, and turned to clown paint. It’s because he wasn’t, but who actually got results, and who floundered like a limp fish and didn’t think about whether we would be so lucky the next time? You have your strengths, Karkat. But leadership isn’t one of them.”

Jade stomps forward several steps, placing herself in front of Karkat. She balls her fists and shouts “How could you?!? Despite being all weird, Gamzee was still his friend. Karkat did his best, and it turned out fine. Why did you have to do that to him?!”

“Jade, you don’t have to-” Karkat tries to interpose.

But she keeps going. “He couldn’t even fight back and protect his friend at the same time!!! How could you?!?” You can smell the weird, translucent taste of human tears on Jade’s face.

“Gamzee was my friend too once,” you say. “Is Dave your friend, Jade?”

“What kind of question is that?!? Don’t you dare question it. Don’t! You! Dare!” she screams.

“Imagine Dave dying,” you explain patiently. “A hundred times. In all the most horrible ways you can imagine-”

“No!” Karkat interjects. He marches up and puts a hand on his moirail’s shoulder. “Terezi, shut up. That didn’t happen.”

“And why didn’t it?” You inquire.

“Because I gave Gamzee sopor!” Karkat snaps. “That’s why it didn’t happen.”

“Would it matter? Or would you have said ‘good thing Dave is god tier?’” you pause for emphasis. “Karkat, it’s nice when things unexpectedly work out in your favor. But you didn’t know that there was sopor until after the fact. When you first tried to save Gamzee, you had no idea, and that’s why you made the wrong decision. I’m glad that you’re so attentive to Gamzee. I’m glad that you’re making sure to give him his sopor.”

Karkat grips Jade’s arm as if he were needed to hold her back. Who is he trying to fool? It is obvious that he’s really trying to restrain himself.

“I know,” you start. “I know that you would risk anything to save any one of us. But that is not a good trait for a commander. Because what a commander can risk are the other lives under his command. Do you understand what I’m saying?

“A commander!?” Karkat yells. “A commander of squadrons, dozens of hundreds of trolls! We. Have. Four. Do you fucking understand what I’m saying?? None of us are expendable!”

“Karkat,” you say. “I will drop everything right here and now, if you can tell me how, without sopor, you were going to keep us all safe from the clown. Because if you can’t do that, then you as good as sacrificed us to save Gamzee.”

Karkat opens his mouth to answer, but then glances at Jade and closes it. Pathetic. He cannot voice the real reason with his moirail standing right in front of him. And she just stands there obliviously, glaring what you can only assume are daggers at you.

You smile sadly. “Do you see? He can’t.”

“He would have figured something out!” Jade yells. “You can’t just not try and then go ahead claiming that it’s impossible.”

You shake your head. “Did Karkat tell you that he did try? He did, and it stopped working.”

“Well then he’d find something new!” Jade insists. “You don’t just give up when something’s hard.”

“I don’t really know how you feel about Dave,” you say. “And I don’t think that you can understand how I feel about him. I hope so but… We both care about Dave. And I had to choose: Gamzee or everyone else. If I had been a little slower I don’t know what would have happened.”

“Look,” Karkat interjects. “Gamzee retreated. No one knew where he was! If we could-”

“Hey, Karkat,” you interrupt. “Gamzee is aware of his crimes, isn’t he? Why don’t you ask Gamzee what he thinks should have been done to him.”

“He knows what he did. But he’s not in his right mind,” Karkat complains. “I talk to him and he...he’s fucking pitiful, OK??” You smirk at Karkat as he continues on with his excuses. “He starts sobbing like a wriggler and just sort of shuts down.”

Idiot. “I really do hate you…” you mumble.

“Then he stops and goes back like it’s no big deal and-” Karkat stops short at your words. Jade looks shocked.

“I’m a fucking idiot,” Karkat shakes his head in amazement.. “This whole time. Is this seriously what you’re doing? Terezi, really? All this just to flirt black?” He gestures towards your caneshawl.

“Wh-what?” You step back. “No! certainly not. I had to improvise. I couldn’t do the job right. I didn’t have enough for proper colors.”

Jade’s anger seems to have fled, replaced by bewilderment. Karkat, on the other hand, advances. “Terezi, I think you don’t get it this time. I’m going to spell it out like we’re schoolfeeding wigglers. I’m ashen,” He insists. “I am not going to let you hurt Gamzee, and I am not going to let Gamzee hurt you.”

“You don’t-” you shake your head. “That’s platonic, you idiot! Wh-which doesn’t matter anyway, because I am not making black advances toward you. Do you really think that I would risk Dave for something like this?” You cross your arms, giving your words what you hope are an air of finality. “This is just… platonic too. Obviously.”

“No, you wouldn’t risk Strider, but,” Karkat crosses his arms and sneers at you. “It’s nice when things unexpectedly work out in your favor.”

“Karkat, watch out.” Great, he’s trying to flirt with you now. “You’re getting sleep deprivation in your sleep.”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“You’re talking crazy.”

“I heard you, Terezi,” he accuses. “You said it! God, you just barge in here on me, attack me while I’m having a fucking feelings jam, try to turn Jade against me, and all the while you wear that piece of shit like it’s a fucking trophy!”

Karkat makes a grab for your shawlchucks, but you manage to pull away from him in time. “You can-” you start, then stop. “You know what? I don’t care. Tell one-sided stories to your pale mistress all you want. Is this how you do it? Shooshpapping with Gamzee while you’re awake and then getting a second round in your dreams? I really am sorry you have to deal with this, Jade.”

“You piece of shit! Gamzee and I broke up, he just can’t take the hint.”

“Right,” you say. “And that’s why your masterful keep-Gamzee-safe-without-sopor plan involved relentless papping. I don’t need eyes to figure out what you were going to say. That wouldn’t have worked anyway, by the way. I don’t know why you’d try a plan again after it already failed once.”

Karkat hisses. “Don’t you hold that against me, Terezi. If you were staring down a drone and your matesprit was in the next star system, would you or would you not grab the nearest troll and get busy? That’s not romance, it’s motherfucking survival.”

You shake your head. “I choose Dave. Dave. And no one else. And that,” you poke Karkat in the chest. “Is why I don’t hate you.” You scoff. “You’re a great one to be pulling the survival card, but it’s about loyalty. I thought you of all people would have understood that. So, no. I wouldn’t choose that troll. Because my matesprit is my matesprit.”

“‘Dave and no one else!?’” Karkat exclaims. “Listen to yourself, you picked up a new moirail just today!”

“And he’ll be fine with that,” you insist. “Humans don’t look at that quadrant in the same way. If it doesn’t have pailing then Dave doesn’t care. Try again.”

“Great!” says Jade, who has stopped acting totally bewildered. “You don’t hate each other. Can you maybe go back to talking about this like adults without having to make jibes at each other’s love lives???”

Karkat crosses his arms. “There’s nothing more to talk about here.” You nod in agreement.

“Ugh, fine!” Jade harrumphs. “Then don’t talk.”

What a mess. You swear you weren’t planning this when you went to sleep. Jade seems to be calming down, probably oblivious to what she just did. Karkat seems to have found a sudden interest in a fence post and is avoiding looking anywhere in your general vicinity. Oh gog, he is being such a deuce. Ashen and then pitch for you and now he’s letting Jade auspiticize for you both? Seriously, what a mess.

“I don’t want to be rude,” says Jade, still a bit huffy. “But if we are done here, Karkat and I were in the middle of something.”

You turn your attention back to Jade. “As you wish,” you give a bow and small flourish. Today you are the land of rainbows and politeness. “I will leave the two of you alone. I’m sure that Karkat needs time to sort out such a complex web of quadrants as he has found himself in! But really, Karkat, do figure out where Jade fits in, yes?”

“Shut the fuck up.” Karkat’s voice is low and raspy.

“It’s been fun to talk with you, Jade.”

“Yes, well,” Jade sighs. “Maybe if you want to come back some other time, we can talk.”

“I’ll keep it in mind.”

Karkat is still staring at the fencepost like a wiggler, so you leave without another word, not acknowledging his presence. You leave to go spend the rest of your dream somewhere else, but still wish you could see how Karkat deals with the rest of this mess.

===> KARKAT: Deal with the rest of this mess

Jade waits for Terezi to be finally gone before approaching you. “Karkat?” she inquires.

You remain quiet, not knowing quite how to respond yet.

“Karkat?” She puts a hand on your shoulder. “Are you OK?”

You shrug her away. “Jade, don’t. I can’t do this.”

Jade pulls back her hand. “Am I doing something wrong?” Shit. She’s looking awkwardly at her own feet.

“What, no! Fuck, Jade, it’s not you.”

“Is it Gamzee?” she asks.

“It, look, I’m not breaking up with you.” You say. “I just...need to figure out things with Gamzee first. I need to figure that out. I can’t go on like I have been.”

“Oh. Okay, then.” Jade says quietly.

“I can’t keep him in my room. That was a fucking stupid idea.”

A number of expressions wash over Jade’s face, before she settles on a smile again. “Are we still on for discussion that movie next time?”

You manage to quirk a smile yourself. “...Yeah, sure.”

“And don’t worry,” she says. “You’ll figure something out.”

You just grunt in reply.

“You will,” she insists. “Just wait and see.”

“I should go,” you say. “I’ll see you later, Jade.”

“Yeah, later. Hopefully, I’ll figure out how to do some actual gardening by then.”

You begin to wander out the gate. “Yeah, uh, good luck.”

You walk away, but your thoughts are on Gamzee, and they quickly draw you back out of your dream. You awake, groggy, on the cold floor of your room. Rose and Kanaya are pleasantly chatting about some probably pan-meltingly stupid nonsense. You eventually manage to lift your head off the ground. “Mph. Okay, what broke while I was out?”

“My patience,” Kanaya informs you.

“Hey, bro,” Gamzee exclaims while tossing a bottle of sopor over to you.

You fumble and drop it, having just woken up from a wholly inadequate sleep. It shatters instantly. “Aw fuck.”

“Well so much for the clean record of unbroken glass.” Rose snarks.

“Shit, Gamzee, why did you do that!?”

“See?” Kanaya implores you. “You can’t do worse than that.”

“Sorry, brother,” Gamzee shrugs. “Just getting my juggle on.”

“I don’t juggle, Gamzee!” You yell. “I’ve told you this, you stupid fuckass-”

“Shoosh.” Gamzee paps you. Fuck.

“No. Stop. Gamzee!” You scream. “I am so motherfucking serious! Stop! We. Are. Not. Moirails!”

“Calm down, invertebro.”

“I have a moirail,” you explain. “And she’s not you.” You poke your finger at Gamzee. “So this is it. I’m cutting you off.”

Gamzee looks shocked. “But, Karkat, we always hangin out each other other, bro. What else you wanna call it, best friend?”

“You are not staying in my room anymore,” You continue. “We’re finding you a room for yourself. And we’re padding it, and barring it. So help me, if I have to strap you to the floor, I will.”

“The floor? Motherfuck.”

“You heard me,” you say. “Now sit down. I’m tying you up until I’ve got this set up.”

Gamzee sits. “Bro, I don’t understand…”

“You never understand!” you shriek. “Your thinkpan is as full of holes as bacterially-fermented curds!” You take out rope and begin tying Gamzee up.

“Will you be requiring further assistance?” Rose asks.

“Uh, sure, in a few minutes.”

You finish tying Gamzee up, and then with the help of Rose and Kanaya manage to jury-rig a suitable prison cell for Gamzee, using resized lances for bars. The two of them assist you politely, yet reluctantly, and zip out of the room the instant your construction seems stable. What the fuck are they in such a hurry to go do anyway?

Chapter Text

February 20th, Year 1 of Sweep 2

You are Terezi Pyrope and you are, as you have been since you woke up this morning, making pizzas. This one gets to have scrambled cluckbeast eggs and grubloaf crumbles on it. You cannot really keep track of all of the other flavors you have made so far.

Your intention had been to help Dave find some variety in his appetite (you are not really sure how human biology works, but you suspect that only eating alchemized copies of same frozen pizza over and over again cannot be healthy). The alchemizer makes producing abundant variety very very easy. You may have gotten slightly carried away with the task. In any case, both the table, and the backup table are both covered in a stack of pizzas about ten high. How long have you been doing this anyway? You would have expected someone else to have come to the nutritionblock for breakfast by now.

Finally, Rose and Kanaya enter together. Rose, quite uncharacteristically, seems to have traces of a smile playing about the corners of her lips. Kanaya, walking just behind seems also quite pleased with herself.

The pair pause for a moment to survey your handiwork. Eventually Rose speaks up. “Terezi?” She asks. “Has some strange pizza making automaton been accidentally unleashed in our kitchen?”

“I’m making pizzas,” you reply. “Dave wanted to try grubsauce pizzas. You want to try some too? I...don’t remember all of them. You will have to check for yourself. Some of them have a stuffed crust.” You pause briefly before adding, “You may want to be careful around those.”

“I see,” Rose nods. “Well, I certainly approve of attempts to expand Dave’s palette. Have you tried any particularly ironic concoctions?”

“I don’t know,” you reply. “This is food. I am not sure about ironic food. What would an ironic food be?” You cock your head quizzically.

Rose laughs. “I will have to think on that one. In any case, thank you, Terezi. They look...interesting.”

“Do you think this will be enough?” you ask.

“Quite,” Kanaya answers, and carefully takes a seat.

“I do not think that even Dave can eat his weight in pizza,” Rose comments. “Though if you are not careful, he may take it as a challenge.”

“That would be fun,” you say, cackling.

Rose smirks. “Yes, I imagine that watching him come up with excuses for how he is not about to throw up and merely needs to leave to produce appropriate eating competition raps would prove suitable evening entertainment.”

Rose collects plates for everybody. She spends a minute searching for an appropriate flavor, eventually settling on a slice of squidmonster and grubsauce pizza with musclebeast cheese. She takes a seat next to Kanaya.

You take a slice of your...red pizza. You actually don’t recall what you put into it, but it is very very red, which is a good sign. You take your seat on Rose’s other side.

Then Karkat enters. Rose nods to him as he surveys the scene.

“What the fuck happened in here?”

“Pizza,” you reply.

“It’s a fucking mess,” Karkat complains.

“Apparently,” Rose explains. “Terezi takes the job of adding variety to her matesprit’s diet very seriously. We are merely additional beneficiaries of this somewhat compulsive drive.”

“You sure she’s not trying to kill her matesprit?” Karkat asks, picking up a pizza covered in what you vaguely recall are tiny cans. “Is this shit edible?”

You grin. “Want to find out for us?”

“I’m not your food taster,” Karkat informs you. “But if you want to use Strider as one, be my fucking guest.” Karkat drops the pizza and heads over to the alchemizer.

“Perhaps we shall find out together, Mr. Vantas.” Rose raises a slice to her mouth. “To science,” she intones before taking a bite.

“Whatever, it’s your corpse party.”

Rose drops her slice and dramatically lays her hand upon her chest.

“No! Rose!” Kanaya laughs.

“Alas,” Rose proclaims. “I have been poisoned. Perhaps making pizzas by throwing together whatever could be found within arms reach was not the best of plans.”

“Oh no,” says Kanaya. “We will keep you in our memories.”

“Not funny,” Karkat snaps back at them.

“Please,” Rose implores, tossing her head back dramatically. “save yourselves! It is only a matter of time before the food gains sentience and takes over the meteor. My only regret is that I was mere days away from concocting a spell to detect poisons.”

“We will revive you in time,” Kanaya assures her. “Your risen corpse will feast only on brains, and a blossoming fungal stem will slowly erupt from your skull, but we will manage.”

“Well I suppose that is acceptable,” Rose replies. “So long as encephaloptic pizza can be found somewhere in this flood.” You do not say anything. You’re not sure, but you might have made one or two pizzas like that. Rose continues. “Though the continual groaning, and limited vocabulary coming from this condition might prove somewhat limiting.”

You laugh and lean onto Rose, eventually getting a bit extreme about it and more or less draping yourself over her. She pats you comfortingly on the head as she continues eating. This is the life. Friends. Food. Your new moirail running her fingers through your hair. You begin to purr contentedly. If only Dave would show up, things would be perfect.

 

===> DAVE: Show up

 

You are Dave Strider and you are having a pretty good morning so far. Well, afternoon really, but who cares? You’ve got some fresh beats pumping through your head as you head over to the kitchen for some breakfast. You wave the Rose and Kanaya as you pass them, nod to Karkat, and head your way over to the fridge- past the giant pile of pizzas. Strange. Wait. Did Rose’s scarf just wave at you?

You swivel around to see Terezi practically melted onto Rose’s shoulders grinning back at you.

“Hi Dave,” she calls out. “I made pizzas.”

Right. So your girlfriend is practically wrapped around your sister’s neck, like a cheap imitation boa constrictor. “OK. What the fuck?”

“I agree with Strider,” Karkat interjects. “Much as it pains my airtubes to say so. What the fuck?”

“Dave,” Terezi pipes up. “Rose says you can’t eat all of them in one sitting.”

“We’ll get back to the issue of climbing pizza Everest with my teeth later,” you say, still trying to figure out what the hell Terezi is up to. “But what the fuck?”

“There are too many pizzas,” Karkat blathers. “This is a completely inappropriate use of the alchimeter. A waste of grist. This is a pizza hemorrhage. It’s a pizza tumor. Cancerous pizza, it’s disgusting.”

“Please do not even attempt to compare this to a hemorrhage,” Kanaya comments.

Did you miss something here? When the fuck did the pizza become the issue at hand? How is nobody else noticing that Terezi is apparently trying to merge with Rose into some kind of snarky death lawyer.

“Cancerous?” Terezi cackles. “Really?”

“Completely out of control,” Karkat responds. “What are you going to do when it starts to rot? Did that thought pass through your thinkpan? Or were you just like ‘bluh bluh, one pizza is good, then fucking thousand is better’. This whole place is going to turn into a fetid mess.”

“Can we please table the issue of the unreasonable pizza monster slowly taking over our kitchen for a few minutes?” You ask.

“It won’t even fit on the table, Strider!” Karkat whines. “That’s what I’m trying to say, God. Even if we each ate one pizza per night for the next perigee, we wouldn’t finish all of this. And I am not touching this shit.”

You growl. “Can we also postpone the issue of Karkat lacking understanding of basic human idioms for a minute so that I can ask if I am missing something or whether Terezi is draping herself over my sister like some sort of scarf made of broken glass?”

“Oh my god,” yells Karkat. “Who the Fuck cares? Is there broken glass in the fucking pizza? That’s the question. Were you even going to clean this up?”

Rose is busy giving you one of her patented enigmatic looks, while Terezi is busy talking up the pizza.

“This is disgusting,” Karkat yells. “Is that musclebeast cheese? Well, enjoy your pizza, Strider. I hope you really fucking enjoy it.”

Fuck. What has gotten into everybody? Why is everybody pretending that the pizza is the biggest fucking problem here? “OK. I get it,” you say. “We somehow found ourselves in a shitty parallel universe. Time to go hunt down goatee-Dave and thwart his plans at world domination. Any idea where I can find him to go bring an end to his supremely rad reign of terror?”

“I could show you later,” Terezi says. You think she’s trying to sound suggestive here, but sometimes it’s awfully hard to tell. You also wonder if there even was a difference between Terezi and evil parallel universe Terezi to begin with.

“I am curious as to how you arrived here,” Rose steeples her fingers. “If I could acquire this dimension traveling technology, perhaps I could use it along with my dark magics to enslave your universe of origin and for them to listen to my maniacal cackling for seven hours a day.”

“Bluh, bluh!” Kanaya intones, holding her arms out in front of her. You’re not sure whether she’s trying to be a zombie or a vampire here. This is too fucking much.

“All of you are assholes,” Karkat helpfully points out.

“What the fuck! That proves it. This must be an alternate universe if Karkat is being less of an asshole than the rest of you. Hey good Karkat, you mind filling me in as to what exactly is going on in this shitty excuse for a parallel universe?”

“Terezi lost whatever brain cells she had left and tried to alchemize and entire second meteor made of inedible pizza. Also you should be told that I’ve moved Gamzee to his own cell. It’s the same as his old room. The bars should be able to hold him, but the door is locked and passcode protected too, just in case. From the inside, I mean. I mean he can’t get out.”

“That is a good thing to hear,” Terezi says.

“Yes,” Karkat exclaims. “I’ve actually been productive with my time! Amazing! Gold star for me.”

You are getting pretty fed up with this bullshit. “Terezi making a fucking skyscraper out of foodstuffs taken from Willy Wonka’s fucking chocolate factory sounds totally normal and not at all what I’m about to do a fucking acrobatic backflip off the fucking handle over right now, and you know it you fucking assholes.”

“You’re flipping off the fucking handle?” Karkat sneers. “Ha! Well don’t bring it up with me. I have nothing to do with it, shitstain. Go talk to your matesprit. Shit this stuff is basic, my god!” Karkat kicks a pizza. It flops over sadly.

“That’s what I was trying to do, fuckface, until you sent the conversation so far off the fucking rails that the train landed in the middle of the pacific fucking ocean. All the conversation passengers were busy drowning. Crying out ‘if only Karkat hadn’t decided to talk about the fucking great wall of pizza rather than stick to the fucking topic’.”

“The wall of pizza is terrible, not great. It’s seriously shit.”

Rose seems to be giving Terezi a semi-private Earth geography lesson of all fucking things. During which Rose manages to pat Terezi on the head, and your girlfriend lets out this...weird cricket-y sound.

“See this! This is what I’m talking about. Did I pull a Rip Van Winkle and wake up in a strange new century where the floors are made of pizza and where this shit is normal?”

“No, Strider,” Karkat says. “This isn’t a dreambubble.”

“OK,” you say. “You two need some serious remedial schoolfeeding or whatever on basic fucking Earth culture here. My mad references are flying so far above your fucking heads that they are probably somewhere in the international space station by now.”

“We are a fucking space station,” Karkat points out.

Terezi meanwhile is taking Rose’s hand and is pulling it back into fucking petting position and nobody else seems to think that this is the least bit strange.

“But as much as I’d like to bring down the righteous rain of knowledge on your heads right now,” you continue. “I’m busy trying to figure out why exactly Terezi seems to be doing her best imitation of a lawnmower right now.”

Terezi just laughs. Karkat rolls his eyes. Rose resumes the petting, and Kanaya just sits there smiling. Seriously. What is going on?

“I suppose we should say something,” Rose opines “before my dear brother explodes in a rain of gore and sloppy metaphors.”

“Oh God, seriously?” Karkat finally yells. “Can you two just get a pile?”

A pile? One of those troll things for- Wait. Shit. Are they? “Oh my fucking God! Are you saying that troll fucking cupid just got his weird alien hands all over them like some sorta beetle sprouting overly complicated porcupine quills?”

“Yeah,” answers Karkat. “They’re shameless aren’t they? I swear, I don’t know which is worse, Rose going around with tears on her clothes or the time I caught you two making out. I mean, is this a Terezi thing? Or is it something you humans bring out in her? Or is it just a human thing?”

“Alas,” Rose throws her head back. “One faux pas brought on by a simple xenological misstep and my reputation is permanently stained.”

“As well as your shirt,” Kanaya adds, with a hint of offense that is maybe real, maybe feigned.

“Yes, that too. And while the latter might simply be washed or replaced, shall I never recover my once sterling reputation? Oh, the cruelties of this foul world.”

Terezi grins. “I’ll make it up to you.” She tries to pat Rose’s head, but the angles are wrong and settles for her arm.

And that is it. You are so fucking done with this shit. You make some hopefully snappy comment before you turn your back and get the fuck out of that room. What the hell is she thinking? Shit. You don’t know what to do. Maybe you can just be someone else for a while while you work things out?

 

===> DAVE: Be someone else

 

You are now Karkat Vantas. Who is very definitely someone else. You have no clue what Strider was getting so upset about, but it seems to have distracted from the trunkbeast that is practically taking up half the room at this point.

“So are you going to clean up all this pizza or what? Seeing as how Strider does not seem interested in eating it?”

“You’re right,” Terezi says. “Rose, should we go get Dave?” Rose herself seems to be calming down from whatever sort of amusement she was having. “Dave needs eat some of this,” Terezi continues. “Rose?”

Rose finally responds, “I think we may have just pushed Dave a little too far.” This seems to catch her moirail’s attention. “I’m really sorry, I probably should have noticed sooner, but it’s so rare to get a really good chance to prod him like this.” And with that, Rose returns to her serious old self. Terezi paps her once, and Rose rewards the effort with a fake smile. You really wish that they would do this somewhere you didn’t have to watch.

“Is this…” Terezi starts. “It’s not blackrom. Dave knows that, right? He wouldn’t think this was blackrom would he?”

You do your best to pretend that you are not fascinated by this oncoming romantic trainwreck, while Rose ponders the question. “I think given time he will be able to deduce that our relationship is non-concupiscent,” she responds. “However, he presently seems quite upset about it.”

Terezi jolts upright. “He thinks we’re matesprits? But Kanaya was sitting right next to you!”

“If he thinks that,” you interject. “He’s even more of an idiot than I would have thought. I said ‘pile’, not ‘pail’. Can’t he hear?”

“I don’t know,” Rose answers Terezi. “Perhaps he does. Perhaps he is merely upset and not thinking clearly.”

Terezi pushes her chair out and stands up. “I’m sorry. I have to go talk to Dave.” With that she quickly makes her way out of the foodblock.

There finally being room, you make your way through the pizza minefield to actually take one of the few seats at the table not taken up by the hoard to sit across from Rose and Kanaya.

Rose stares after her moirail for a minute. She looks like she wants to say something but doesn’t know what. Eventually, she just plants her head on the table in front of her dejectedly. Great. Depressed Rose is back. How fun.

Kanaya reaches out a hand as if by reflex to pat Rose on the back, before withdrawing it. Ha! It seems she’s been needing to pick up the pale slack for her matesprit for too long. Not that you are actually in a much better position with keeping your quadrants straight though, and you kick yourself for it mentally.

“I am sure that things will turn out alright.” Kanaya says to Rose. She looks at you, but you’re not going to make a fuss over it after your shitshow with Jade last night, so you settle for a pair of raised eyebrows.

“Dammit,” Rose whispers into the table. Kanaya tries awkwardly to pat her with one hand and shoo you away with the other. It would be fucking hilarious if it weren’t so sad. “Please Kanaya,” Rose says. “Give me a minute to wallow in my utter failure to avert this disaster so shortly after resolving to be more in control of these things.”

Kanaya continues to pat Rose, methodically, dispassionately, almost robotically. She looks like she’d rather be anywhere else, right now.

God, this is awful, and it’s reminding way too much of your own disgusting perversities. “Welcome to the deuce club, Kanaya,” you snap, spitting your spite out of your windtube like bile.

Kanaya’s glare could make a filial drone shit itself. “Do you want to take over?” she hisses.

“Fuck no!”

“Then kindly shut up.”

You can’t take this any more, you’ve had enough. You say a brief goodbye before tiptoeing your way through the pizza minefield and out the door, heading back to your block. What a fucking mess everyone else is making.

You slam your door and throw yourself on the floor. You try to sleep. You need to sleep so you can talk to Jade again. Tell her that you’ve solved the Gamzee problem. You toss and turn for a while before you come to the conclusion that you are not remotely tired and are just making a fool of yourself.

You stand up with a growl. You boot your computer and stare at the screen for a while. You slouch around and kick the wall. You need to talk to Jade, but you’re not at all tired. You’re upset and need your moirail. You’re not even sure why you’re so angry.

Stupid Terezi. Stupid Gamzee. Stupid Dave for wanting Terezi in all her quadrants like a desperate asshole. Dave is so full of hoofbeastshit. It’s not healthy to do this to Terezi. Terezi deserves better than him. You can’t believe that Terezi is still wearing that cane. She is such a piece of shit. And she deserves better than Dave for a matesprit. Dave is such an asshole. Can’t he tell that Rose is making Terezi happy? As her matesprit he should fucking care about that. He’s being overbearing and ridiculous. Quadrants aren’t that hard to understand. Goddamn! You should give him a piece of your mind. You should ream him a new one, for doing this to Terezi, and hell, to Rose too. Rose can do the quadrant system, it’s not that humans are incapable. It’s just Dave being a fuckass.

You stand fully upright. You are going to give Dave a thorough telling off. You grab a few choice romcoms because you are going to fix this if you have to tie Dave down to watch them goddammit! You march your way over to Dave’s room ready to knock the door down with your fists.

“-and I wanted you to hate Karkat because I thought it would be good for you,” you hear as you round the final corner. What?

And then you see it. Terezi is sitting in the doorway, her knees tucked under her chin. Fuck, is she crying? Her face is pointed to the doorframe away from Dave. Dave, sitting a few feet behind her, leaning back on his hands. You’re still not great at reading human expressions but you think he’s crying too. What the hell just happened? You stand there stunned. You knew what you were going to say, right? How come no words are coming out of your mouth?

“Karkat?” Dave asks. “What the fuck, dude?”

You sputter for a bit before blurting out “Look, just watch these”, throwing your DVDs to the ground and leaving before you can make a bigger mess of things.

What the hell just happened? What a fucking mess. You’re probably never going to find out.

 

===> KARKAT: Be past Terezi

 

You are past Terezi and you are heading over to Dave’s room. You just need to show him that you are still his matesprit, and then everything should be good again, right? You reach his door, and begin knocking, quickly transitioning to tapping very lightly to pounding very insistently.

It’s several hard raps, before Dave finally responds. “What?” he shouts at you.

“Please come out,” you say. “I’m not Rose’s matesprit. And I can’t hate you.”

You wait in silence for a moment, until Dave finally opens the door. His eyes smell faintly of the salt of human tears, and his body is rigid and carefully controlled. “What do you want?”

You leap at him, slamming your mouth into his. He was apparently not expecting such a sudden advance, and the two of you tumble to the floor, your mouth still glued on top of his. Blunt is the right way to go in this situation, right?

Dave is sputtering beneath you, and trying to push you off of him. Eventually, you stop and give him time to breathe.

“What the fuck Terezi!?” he screams.

“I….I don’t understand,” you reply.

“Right,” he says, trying to wiggle his way out from under you. “Of-fucking-course.”

“Tell me what I did wrong? Please?” You sigh and let him out from under you.

“This whole week has been fucking normal for you hasn’t it?” Dave accuses. “I don’t fucking know anymore. This is so fucking fucked up.”

“Please, Dave,” you implore.

“You just have no idea, do you?” He starts. “How the fuck is this supposed to work if you can’t even tell what’s happening?”

“You have to tell me,” you implore. “We have to talk to each other. Even kismeses have to do that. We never did that.”

“Fine,” Dave replies. “You want a fucking list? Have my secretary send over a full nine-point memo? Alphabetical or chronological?”

You nod solemnly. “The only time we tried to talk before was a bit while we were mapping the meteor, but then we put it off. So...maybe chronological?”

“Right. You were trying to talk me into hatefucking Karkat. Which I suppose might as well be point one.”

“I’m sorry about that,” you reply. “I told you that I was sorry.”

Dave finally seems to regain a fraction of his usual cool. “It’s not just that. Just with everything lately I feel like I don’t even know who you are anymore. I mean I thought I could deal with the whole troll thing, but now I’m just not fucking sure.” And with that, he is starting to get upset again. At least he doesn’t seem angry with you in particular any more.

“It isn’t easy being with humans either,” you respond. “Dave, do you want your life to be easy, or do you want to be my matesprit?”

And now you are sure you smell tears on him. “I want you dammit! I just don’t know how much more of this I can take.”

You smile sadly. “I pity you so much.”

“And that right there,” he says. “Am I some drunken hobo or something? Waving about a filthy cardboard sign, collecting change in a spare cup? What does that even fucking mean? You say that you pity me, then you try to set me up with Karkat and end up in a cuddle pile with my fucking sister!”

“You’re my matesprit,” you insist. “Those are different things! I- I- I need a moirail.” You look away. “I don’t know how any of us have functioned this long without one. And I wanted you to hate Karkat because I thought it would be good for you.”

It’s at this point that Karkat barges in, stammers a few words and throws some DVDs on the ground before he scampers away. You don’t even turn to face him and wait until he leaves.

“Please, Dave,” you start again, ignoring the brief interruption. “I’m trying to understand this human thing.”

“Shit,” he replies, falling back onto the floor. “We need a fucking couples therapist or something.”

“I’ve said Rose can be a...a therapist for others,” You answer. “I don’t really want to hear a lot about that, but maybe it wouldn’t feel strange if I were a part of it?”

Dave just kinda stares at you for a moment through those shades of his. For once, you wish you had a better idea of what was going on inside his head. Is he mad at you? Was it a good idea? What?

“Pft,” he snorts. “He he. Hahahahhahahhaha!” He starts rolling on his side. “Oh god. Ha hahhaa!”

You stare at him in puzzlement. Did you somehow do a good thing here?

“Oh god, sorry. Heh. You just have no idea how surreal this is all starting to sound.”

“Maybe not,” you reply.

“Just, I don’t know,” he says. “I don’t know. None of this makes sense anymore.”

“Maybe,” you respond. “That thing you mentioned? I could ask Rose if she could do it. Or we could find someone else? Or, or watch those movies?”

“I don’t know,” he answers. “Maybe.” He finally seems to have gotten control of his laughter again. “So this diamonds thing? That’s like the hair braiding and sleepovers quadrant, right?”

You sit there, trying to figure out what he is saying here. “I think so…” You’re sure that it’s the same thing. Like, at least twenty-percent sure.

“Heh, OK. If you want to be BFFs with Rose, I think I can deal with that.”

“Thank you,” you reply, greatly relieved. You lean over and kiss Dave, who responds in kind, although still somewhat tentatively. “I’m sorry,” you say.

“I still have no idea how we’re going to make this work.”

“You’re a god,” you say. “I...killed a god, which is maybe close to that? We’re on a meteor hurtling through the furthest reaches of space outside space. I think we can figure this out.”

“Heh, yeah,” he laughs. “When you put it like that, how the fuck could we not?” Dave takes you in his arms, and everything is alright once again. You just hope that Rose is still doing fine.

 

===> KANAYA: Make sure that Rose is still doing fine

 

You are Kanaya Maryam, and you do not know how to help Rose. Karkat has just stormed out, so that is something, but your matesprit still seems in poor spirits, and you do not know what to do about it.

Rose finally takes her head off the table it had been resting on. “Perhaps I should go.”

“Ah, errr,” you reply, flailing around to find some way to help Rose out that is more matesprit-y. “I have some other outfits,” you say “That we have not used very often?”

You are rewarded with a very faint smile. “Thank you Kanaya, but I don’t think that I am in the mood for that right now. I think that I need some time alone.”

And you can tell that by this she means that she wishes to consume more of those dreadful human soporifics. Anger blooms inside of you. You are not sure how much more of that you can take. “I am sorry,” you tell her. “I do not think that I can pap you anymore. But,” you glare at Rose “I do not think that you should be left alone either.” You grab Rose’s shirt to emphasize your point, and lower your head to the table in resignation.

“I see,” Rose says. “I suppose that I am to be detained then?”

“Yes,” you reply.

“Am I allowed to know my offense, or has Habeas Corpus also been suspended.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” you declare. “Who is Habeas Corpus?”

Rose smiles gently at you. “Dave perhaps had a point. If you are not taught of Earth customs, we will be forever doomed to explain all of our obscure references. Habeas Corpus was a law that a prisoner could only be held for a limited time before being either released or charged with a specific crime.”

“You would have to talk with Terezi to be sure,” you say. “But I do not think that we had that on Alternia.”

“So I take it that I am to be detained indefinitely then?” She asks.

“I have postponed your culling until an unspecified later date,” you say. “If that makes you feel any better.”

“I am awed as always by your magnanimity,” Rose intones smoothly. “But remain curious as to which of my many, grievous faults have left me in need of such mercy.”

You take a deep breath before replying. “You have done a passable imitation of Gamzee more often than I would like, which would be alright were it not for your use of chemical aids in achieving this.”

“So this is an intervention then?” She asks.

“Yes.”

“I see,” she says slowly. “And you are determined to thwart my attempts to imbibe more of this substance, despite my potential wishes to the contrary?”

“Yes.” You sigh, annoyed more by how pale this feels than by the uncomfortable truths being discussed. “I do not think that you are safe when you are intoxicated. Either for yourself or for others.”

Rose raises an eyebrow. “How precisely do you envision this harm coming about?”

“You are not in control of yourself, or in possession of your full capacities. If Gamzee broke loose, could you defend yourself were you intoxicated? Or anyone else?”

“I see…” Rose carefully replies. “And if I decided to oppose this detention?”

“Then I would be very disappointed in you,” you declare. “And I would have to throw Terezi at you. I hope that the first matters at least as much as the second… Please Rose. Take care of yourself.”

“Dammit,” Rose whispers. She places her hand gently on top of yours still bunched around the middle of her shirt. You hope this means that she is on board with this program of yours.

“Thank you, Rose. You are a good moirail for being from a species that has none.” This is very weird. You hope that Terezi will be back soon.

“I think that you are just saying that due to the dearth of other relevant examples.”

“I was a moirail many times before,” you inform her. “And if I recall correctly, Karkat has mentioned having watched a few videos featuring alien romances. I am sure he could vouch.”

“Well it is good to know that I compare favorably to the fictitious green men from Mars,” she replies. Then, more quietly, “You have no idea what you’re asking of me, Kanaya. But thank you for caring.”

You sigh. “You see what it is like to deal with Gamzee. You can have an idea of what it is like to deal with you when you are intoxicated. So do you know what you’re asking of us? I need a matesprit I can depend on. Terezi needs her moirail. Dave needs his sister. Karkat… would probably be disappointed too. The Mayor would be sad.”

Rose trembles slightly. “I...I don’t know if I can do it.”

You smile weakly at her. “You have to try. We can’t do this without you. Please, Rose.”

Rose squeezes your hand tighter. “OK. I’ll try. For Karkat. And Dave. And Terezi.” Then Rose opens her eyes and looks directly into yours. “And for you.”

You smile and kiss Rose on the forehead. Perhaps everything will work out after all.

Chapter Text

February 20th, Year 1 of Sweep 2

You are Rose Lalonde. Kanaya’s ultimatum has had you thinking about your drinking habit. This in turn has naturally come around to thoughts about your mother. And that is probably why, shortly after falling asleep, you find yourself just outside the towering front door of your childhood home. It is night outside, and the air is filled with the sounds of crickets. There are lights on in a few of the windows, but otherwise it is dark. You take a moment to look around and soak in old memories. You are slightly surprised to see Kanaya nearby. She must have been looking for you.

“Rose!” She says, making her way over to you. “There you are!”

You greet her in return. “Welcome to my old home. I suppose it would only be polite to offer to show you around.”

“I recall you mentioning this as an essential step of the human courting process,” she says. “I was not aware that you would go to such lengths to see it through.”

“Well…” you respond a tad nervously. “I wasn’t precisely trying to end up here. I am not even certain which time period this memory is from.”

You were not prepared for this dream to so suddenly become a thing, and are unsure how to react now that Kanaya seems to have developed some hopes for it being so. You are saved from having to deliberate further though by some rustling in the bushes.

Kanaya moves to investigate, and you are trying to figure out what it might be as a small black cat pokes its head out from the bushes.

“Jaspers!” You cry. “How did you get out there?” You scoop up the small feline and it meows in response. “Kanaya,” you say. “I would like you to meet Jaspers, an upstanding member of the felis genus.”

Kanaya greets Jaspers and attempts to shake his paw, though, as might be expected of one of his kind, he does not accept the gesture with much enthusiasm.

The three of you stand there awkwardly for a moment, but you eventually decide that there is only so long that you can delay the inevitable. Besides, this is a thing that you would have liked to do eventually. If only there had been more time to prepare. “Well,” you say. “Would you like to take a look?”

“I would be most appreciative.”

You lead the way to the door, which is fortunately open a crack. This perhaps explains how Jaspers made it out. You pull the door open for Kanaya as she enters, and you follow shortly thereafter.

The foyer is unlit, but you still remember its cavernous expanse well enough to navigate in the dark. A skill that will prove totally unnecessary as there appears to be light coming from upstairs. Not to mention from your girlfriend.

She is busy surveying the room. “You are not responsible for the design?” She asks. “Am I remembering correctly?”

“I am not,” you confirm. “This house was built years before I came along.”

Jaspers wriggles in your arms, so you let him drop to the floor, from where he wanders off into the kitchen. Meanwhile, careful not to step on him, you make your way to a light switch and flick it on.”

Kanaya blinks, adjusting to the light and dimming in response. She watches Jaspers trot off into the kitchen as you struggle to be a suitable host.

You motion towards the great statue. “Kanaya, meet Zazzerpan. One of my mother’s many oversized wizard statues.”

“You mother’s?” She asks. “So you inherited the predilection from your ancestor?”

“Actually,” you reply. “I suspect that she started the collection in an attempt to poke fun at my interest in the matter. The size and variety of the wizard memorabilia in this house is frankly ridiculous.”

Kanaya spends a moment to marvel at the oversized statue, and the rest of the clearly visible wizard memorabilia. “Your ancestor was very dedicated.”

“Yes, you could say that. Much given to grandiose gestures.” You gesture towards the kitchen. “Shall we proceed?”

Kanaya follows you into the kitchen where you see Jaspers sitting on the table, his tail looped around an empty bottle of gin. Kanaya hurries in and snatches the bottle off the table, sending your cat leaping out of the way. You survey the kitchen, seeing other bottles scattered throughout. You bite your lip. This was a bad idea.

Kanaya, meanwhile is attempting to gather up the remaining bottles, mostly empty, probably in an attempt to keep them away from you. Her arms are full, and yet there are more that she is trying to gather into her arms. You know you shouldn’t laugh. But Kanaya is usually so reserved, and this… this is not going to work at all. Kanaya attempts to place the bottles down on the table, but several spill onto the floor.

“Pmph,” you stifle a laugh. “Kanaya, perhaps there is a better way to go about this.”

A loud thump comes from upstairs, followed by a voice calling. Slurred and indistinct from the distance, you cannot make out any words.

Kanaya looks up suddenly. “What is that?”

“I think,” you say. “That the noise we’ve been making may have summoned my mother.” You almost wish you could simply abscond, but such a course of action would be utterly inappropriate with Kanaya here.

“This is another of your human courting rituals, yes?”

“Yes,” you reply, not entirely comfortable with where this is going. “Introduction of one’s partner to one’s parents is an important ritual, generally denoting a somewhat serious relationship.”

“And you have not done it yet?” demands Kanaya with mock offense.

Another yell from upstairs “...that you honey don’t….tant just a….”

You know she means well, and you really do want to do this with her, but not yet perhaps, and certainly not under these circumstances. Your mother’s indecipherable yelling continues to echo from above, and your eyes stray to the liquor cabinet for a moment before darting back to Kanaya.

Kanaya, for her part is not paying attention. She seems entranced by the sounds coming from above. It is as if she has not had ample opportunity to see you make a similar fool of yourself.

Your mom, continues to call. “..sec just…” thump. “Oh fergit it…” “...games. Don’t break anythin…”

You breath a sigh of relief when you realize that your mother is not coming down, but you note that Kanaya has slowly begun to make her way to the stairs. You cannot do this, not with your mother in this state.

Your eyes are drawn back to the cabinet. You take a peek inside, and find the door unlocked, not terribly surprising for this house. You are met by a dizzying array of colorful bottles. Scotch, gin, vermouth, quality stuff unlike the moonshine you have been consuming lately. There are some olives, probably for making martinis.

You look guiltily back at Kanaya, who is still being drawn towards the continued nearly incoherent sounds from upstairs. She is so beautiful. You want to introduce her, you really do, but you’ve had no time to prepare. You are going to make a mess of things. Your mom doesn’t even know that you like girls, much less alien vampire girls. This is all going to fall apart. You are rapidly degenerating into a ball of nerves, and the liquor cabinet is right there, eying you seductively.

Fine. You are going to take an olive. That is it. You glance over guiltily at Kanaya, who is still seemingly oblivious to your actions. Fine. Just a sip of gin. You quickly remove the top and splash a mouthful between your lips. Just a bit. Not enough for Kanaya to notice. You glance back and see Kanaya nearly at the top of the stairs. You steal another quick drink and rush after her.

You reach her just at she reaches your mother’s door.

“Oh, hello Rose.”

“Hi,” you reply. “Sorry. You ran off. I was distracted. I am being a terrable host.”

Kanaya eyes you. “Rose are you okay?”

“Yes. Of course,” you answer with more confidence than you really feel. “Just reminiscing. That’s all.” You take a deep breath before continuing. “Were you interested in being introduced to my parent?”

“Perhaps,” Kanaya replies thoughtfully. “Your house is very nice.”

“Thhank you.”

Kanaya eyes you suspiciously. “Are you sure that you are alright, Rose?”

“Yes, of course,” you reply. “Just a little nervous, that’s all.” And that part at least is certainly true.

“About what?”

“Well,” you reply. “I am slightly worried that my other is going to start sending out wedding invitations the moment that I tell her.”

Kanaya laughs. “Who would she send them to?”

“I dunno. Creepy ghost friends perhaps?”

Kanaya, turns around, and knocks on the door.

“...C’m in less your a robbre.”

Kanaya seems not to understand and knocks again. You carefully put your hand on top of hers, and use your other to open the door.

And there she is. In a fancy minidress, sitting on the floor, back against her well-stocked bar. A martini glass loosely held in her fingers. Your mother, just as you remember her.

“Hello, mother.”

Kanaya seems somewhat disoriented. Looking back and forth between you and your mother, probably trying to discern the differences on your strikingly similar faces. You put your hand on her arm and gently pull her into the room with you.

“Roes whosh your frind?” She asks. “Sweetie, I’m kay. You go plsy. play.”

And it suddenly hits you how completely unprepared you were for this meeting. Your mother, who you saw killed nearly three years ago. Who you never expected to see again. She is here, or at least a near perfect facsimile. She is drunk, and sloppy, and overbearing, and all the things you hated as a child. And god dammit, you have tears in your eyes.

“Honey, waht’s wrong? C’mere sweetheart.” Your mom puts down her glass and shakily tries to get to her feet. Your feet seem to be carrying you towards her almost without the assistance of conscious thought. You mother stumbles and you rush to catch her and she slumps heavily onto you.

“Schweetheart, whend’you get so talll?” She asks.

Because of course she doesn’t know. Because she died and couldn’t see. Because you couldn’t save her. Something breaks and you bury your head in her shoulder. “I’m shorry mom,” you cry out.

“Shhhhhhh,” she soothes. “What’s wrong?”

“I-I sshould have saved you,” you answer. “B-but I couldn’t. It would have meshed everrythinshs up.” You cannot seem to stop crying. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

“‘Sokay Roesh. Everythings alright. hic.”

And you hold her, and slowly the tears subside.

Your mom sways. She seems to be having difficult comforting you and maintaining balance in her present state. “Think I needa ley...lay down.”

“Yes, of course,” you say, lowering her onto the bed. Was that always here, or is the bubble playing tricks on you?

Your mother flops onto the bed, and you take a moment to take stock. Kanaya seems to have recovered from her shock and is standing there with an unreadable expression. Well, you were planning to do something here, you suppose you might as well get it over with.

“Mom,” you start. “Theresh someone I’d like you to meed.” Oh no. You can’t start slurring now. Your mom replies with a faint questioning hum, so you proceed to gather up Kanaya and lead her over to the bed. “Mother. This is Kana- Kanann- This is Kanaya.”

Kanaya’s head darts towards you as she gives you a fierce, disapproving look. “Rose, have you been drinking?” she asks, and suddenly you feel very small.

“Roesh has been drinking? What’d ya drink?”

Kanaya turns quickly to your mother. “I am Kanaya Maryam. I am Rose’s matesprit.” She glances back and forth between you two before focusing her gaze solely upon you. “I had trouble telling the two of you apart at first. I thought she was perhaps an older version of yourself. Perhaps I have been too demanding of you. Perhaps this is much like your interest in wizards, a trait inherited from your ancestor.”

You burst into tears again. “I’m shorry. I’m soo so shorry.”

Your mother’s voice cuts through your sobs. “Kanaya Mary Ann, girlsh alwaysh turn inna their mothersh. Rose, I just wanna know, you’re not in trouble.”

“S-some ov the gin,” you admit. “J-jusht a f-few sips. I’m shorry.”

“I am sorry as well, Rose”, Kanaya cuts in. “I was asking for something that you couldn’t do.” And you find that you can hardly look at her. You are quite simply the worst that there is.

“Don’ worry,” you mother cuts in. “M’not surprisshed. You’re a woman now, I shopose. Jusht don’t hic don’ drop outta school or nothing. You’re a good kid. Gedda job and have a good time an’ don’t let the bastages get you down an-” your mother trails off into mumbling.

Right. Because that’s a thing you still need to worry about. “Yeah,” you reply. “Yeah...a job. Work at a coffee shop or something.”

You look up to see your mom quietly snoring. You are lost. You already lost your world and your mom, and now you worry that you’ve lost your matesprit’s respect.

Kanaya is surveying the scene coldly. “So that is what you will look like someday?”

You look back at her pleadingly. “No. No, pleasse.”

She stands up. “Let’s go.” Her voice sounds hollow. What have you done?

“Please Kanaya,” you beg. “I- I can try harder. Please, just give me another chance, I-”

“It is okay Rose,” she replies. “Let’s just...let’s go.”

You stand shakily. Scared. Not knowing what you will do without her.

Kanaya speaks. “Terezi said that you could engage in pale activities with other people, right?” She hardly waits for a response before shooshing you, and patting you on the cheek. “It will be okay.”

You fall back on your knees. Not this too. And Terezi. And you were doing that with your mother. Were you just cheating on Terezi? How have you managed to destroy everything so efficiently in a single night?

Kanaya starts pulling on your arms to lift you up. “Let’s go, Rose. It will be okay.”

“You’re not going to break up with me, are you?”

Kanaya pauses. “Don’t worry about that.” She paps you again. “We will talk about this later, okay?”

“Okay,” you reply. But you know it’s not. You let yourself be led away, for what else is there to do, but you are filled with dread. You truly wish you could be someone, anyone else right now.

 

===> ROSE: Be literally anyone else

 

You are now Dave Strider. And apparently you fell asleep at some point. Huh. Not that it makes much fucking difference these days. What with the dream bubbles and all it’s basically just more of the same only with freaky dead people. Like you go to sleep, put on a suit, and go to fucking work. Can’t be relaxing and shit or anything. Can’t have dreams anymore about being chased by a giant naked copy of yourself made out of smuppets…

Y’know what? Maybe this isn’t so bad after all.

Oh hey look, there’s Terezi.

She grabs your hand and starts dragging you along. “Do you see Rose yet?” Oh man, she has really taken to this whole couples therapy idea. Can’t she just wait until you wake up?

“What, Rose?” you ask. “Is she even asleep?”

“She’d better be asleep!” Terezi returns with added determination.

“Whoa, no need to be so intense about it. Can’t you just sniff her out or something?”

“Only if she’s close enough,” Terezi informs you. “Or if she has gone by this way.”

“Well I doubt that this is one of her memories,” you say, looking around. “The trees are way too fucking blue for that.” The two of you wander through the Alternian forest for a bit before you continue. “Maybe she’s in that giant fucking woodland mansion of hers.”

“Do you remember it?” Terezi demands. “I could not find my way there.”

“Never actually been there,” you reply. “Guess I saw some huge tower of chateau Lalonde out on the land of rainbows and migraines.”

“Then let’s go there!” Terezi insists.

You laugh. “Right. One shiny headache coming up.” You try to remember what the fuck it looked like, and think you have some reasonable idea. The two of you walk in silence for a bit before you see the underbrush start to give way to the psychedelic sands. “Hey! There it is.”

“Perfect!”

Terezi continues to drag you along. It is not exactly a comfortable pace, but you sure as hell aren’t going to complain about it. But then you see a light in the distance. Well a troll-light. Yeah, Kanaya. You mention this to Terezi. “Ectosis can’t be far away, right?”

You are hurried towards the light, which eventually resolves into two forms, as expected. Rose walking slightly behind her girlfriend.

“Rose!” Terezi yells, finally letting go of your hand to rush over to her.

Rose looks up but doesn’t respond. Something looks off about her. Terezi must have noticed too, since quickly brings her gleeful charge to a halt. Terezi moves in and embraces Rose, who just kinda collapses into her arms. And fuck you backwards, you never thought you’d see the day but Rose fucking Lalonde has broken down crying like a fucking sprinkler system.

Terezi asks Rose what’s going on, but sis seems too out of it to answer. Kanaya is looking away from her. What the fuck is happening?

“Whoa there sis,” you say, trying to help out. “Take it easy. Everything’s gonna be OK. Was it Gamzee? Did the clown mess with you or something?”

And… nobody answers. This is fucking awkward. Terezi turns her head towards you and mouths that she’ll take care of it. Sure. Fuck.

“Rose was drinking,” Kanaya finally explains. Not that this really clears anything up.

“Well, no shit she was. But she’s never been scared of booze before.”

This was clearly the wrong thing to say, as Kanaya rubs her forehead and Terezi tells you to shut up. OK. Fuck maybe you should actually figure out what’s going on here before running your mouth more.

“If you want to help,” Terezi suggests. “Then make a pile of sand.”

“Right,” you say. “I’ll just go take my little shovel and pail and build a fucking sandcastle.” I mean you honestly don’t have proper equipment for this, but you might as well try, so you go off trying to nudge the sand into a proper stack with one of your shitty swords.

After some distaste at your blatantly troll-obscene statement, Kanaya follows after you. Apparently eager to get away from the others. So you go off digging, but you really wish you knew what the fuck was going on here.

 

===> ROSE: Know what the fuck is going on here

 

You are Rose Lalonde and although you definitely know what the fuck is going on, you really wish you didn’t. Could you please, please be anyone else right now?

 

===> ROSE: Continue being Rose

 

Shit. Well you might as make the best of being an utterly useless sack of blubbering flesh for a while. You cling to Terezi as Dave uses one of his swords to bunch some sand into a half-hearted heap. Terezi gently guides you over to the makeshift pile, and you feel in no position to resist and thus are eventually laid back down on a slightly more elevated patch of sand. Terezi shushes Dave and- and Kanaya away. Shit. You cannot deal with this.

You feel Terezi’s palm upon your forehead as her other arm envelops you. “What is wrong?” She asks. “You can be weak Rose. I’m here.”

“I-” you start to reply before the weight of the whole situation comes crashing down on you again and you burst into tears. “I’m sorry,” you finally say. “I can’t. Ish- It’s too much.”

Terezi paps you again. “You can do it, Rose. Like I do for you. Just let yourself fall. I will catch you Rose.”

“It’s jusht e-everything,” you bawl. “Isht falling apart and I’m only- I’m only making everything worshe. I jusht can’t- I can’t-”

Terezi hugs you. “Stop Rose. Just stop.”

“Make it stop, Terezi,” you cry. “Make it better.”

“I will do whatever it takes,” she replies. “I’m your moirail. What’s wrong?”

You cling desperately to Terezi, as you somehow find the strength to put your hurt and shame into words. “Earth is gone. My mom is- is dead. And- and it’s all my fault.” You cry as you hold Terezi.

“Rose, you cannot change what had to happen.”

“It was my choice. I could have done something. I could have doomed the timeline. We’re doomed anyway, right?”

“We are,” she says softly. “And I am very glad to have had the opportunity to be your moirail. Thank you. We do as we must, Rose.” Terezi hugs you again.

And Terezi is being so kind to you, you can hardly bear it. You are sure that you do not deserve it. “But it’s not just that,” you cry. “I sac- I sacrificed her so that we could win. But I messed that up too. I got the fucking directions wrong.” Terezi tries to reassure you that she is content with that situation, but you continue past her objections. “And then I missed this thing with you and Dave. And Kana- Kanaya- She-” You choke up, unable to even say it. Terezi paps you and from somewhere you find the breath to continue. “She asked- and I couldn’t do it- I couldn’t. And now she’s all- all disappointed in me. And- and-” and somehow you manage to squeeze the final words out of your mouth “And I think she’s going to break up with me.” And you break again. Crying uncontrollably onto Terezi’s shoulder.

“Because of your drinking.” Terezi states solemnly. You give a faint nod through your tears in confirmation. “It won’t happen again.” She states. As if Kanaya were going to give you a second chance to disgrace yourself. “I’m your moirail,” she says. “I’ll make sure that you never drink again. Even if I have to keep you in range of sniff for the rest of our lives.”

“It doesn’t matter,” you say. “She was- she was too good for me anyways.”

“Do you trust me, Rose?” Terezi presses her face against yours. “I am your moirail, Rose. We will make this better.”

“How?” You wail.

“If this is because you were drinking, then I keep you from doing so.”

“But the way she looked at me. I don’t know- don’t know if I could stand it.”

Terezi hugs you again. “Trust me.”

“B-but what if she doesn’t take me back?”

Terezi strokes your hair. “It will be okay. She pities you, Rose. I can smell it. Trust my nose.”

“I was trying to introduce her to my mother,” you explain. “But I was just so nervous. I- I saw the liquor cabinet. And it was just a bit- but she knew. And now- now she can barely stand to look at me.”

“Shoosh. It won’t happen again. I will never leave you if that’s what it takes. I’m your moirail.”

“Thank you,” you reply. “But I’m pretty sure that I don’t deserve this kind of dedication.”

“You told me to lean on you. Now lean on me,” she says. “It isn’t about what you deserve. It’s about what you need.”

You hold tightly onto her. “Thank you,” you whisper. You find that you have become too exhausted to even cry any more. “Just fix it,” you implore. “Please. I can’t deal with it any longer.”

“I will fix it,” she assures you. “Trust in me. Do you trust me?”

You nod, though perhaps less because you actually believe that she can help you than that you are devoid of other options. Terezi continues to pat you as you very slowly back away from hysteria into the realm of merely extremely crappy and unable to cope.

Some time passes in silence, until she finally speaks up. “Are you starting to feel any better?”

“I don’t know,” you answer. “I guess I’m not crying anymore. I just feel… empty.”

“It will get easier, Rose,” she reassures you. “I will fix it.”

“Thank you.” Terezi continues to hold you. Despite everything it feels good. Almost like… Shit. Mom. “Terezi…” you start. “I’m sorry.”

“What for?”

“When I was with my mom… it had been so long… and the whole human familial relations things and I wasn’t thinking and I… well it was pretty pale.” You trail off before the direct confession of cheating.

“Rose. I told you,” she says. “It was okay. Shoosh.”

“I-Im really sorry. I just wasn’t thinking. I-”

“I know,” she interrupts, nuzzling you. “I forgive you. It will be okay. Do I sound angry with you?”

“But how can you know that? What if I fuck up again?”

Terezi shooshes you again. She removes the cane-shawl thing about her neck to wrap it around yours pulling the two of you closer together. “My strength is your strength. You can be weak around me.”

“We’re in a doomed timeline,” you say. “What if this is just my punishment?”

Terezi reassures you that this is not the case, but you are no longer paying attention to her. You are lost in your own hurt and self-pity. Kanaya seems to have left while you weren’t paying attention. You dearly wish that you knew what she had been doing all this time.

 

===> KANAYA: Do whatever you were doing all this time

 

Do you have to? Rose and Terezi are busy piling, and if that were not awkward enough, things between yourself and Rose are in somewhat dreadful shape. Frankly, you could use a moirail yourself right now, but as nobody seems to be forthcoming, could you please just be someone else?

 

===> KANAYA: …

 

Fine. Fine. At the very least Dave seems to have finally sorted out what’s going on. He puts a hand on your shoulder and motions away, suggesting that you give them some privacy.

“I just… can’t…” you mutter hopelessly. “I can’t do it…” Though you manage to follow Dave’s lead anyway.

“I don’t really dig seeing her like that either,” he replies. Great. As if you were not feeling sufficiently guilty about the situation already.

The two of you wander off for a while. “I don’t blame her Dave…” you begin. “It isn’t her fault for drinking. I understand that. But I can’t be a part of it.”

“Wait, what?” Dave looks at you quizzically. “What are you talking about.”

“I can’t be her matesprit, Dave,” you manage to blurt out before you begin crying yourself. “I cannot manage this.”

“You’re breaking up with her?” Dave sounds surprised.

“I...have not specifically said so,” you look away from him. “But I think that she knows.”

“Well shit,” he replies. “That’s what has her so wound up.”

You stumble forward, shocked by the blunt statement of the situation. Dave offers a hand to help stabilize yourself and the gratefully accept.

The two of you walk a ways further and you hear a voice off in the distance. Alternating between loud and quiet. You and Dave exchange a glance. His hand goes to his sword and you ready your lipstick, though it does not sounds like Gamzee.

Eventually, as you approach, the voice becomes more clear. In fact, there are two of them.

“No, fuck you!” “...” “I don’t care!” “...” Stop. Just stop. No. Stop, oh my gog!”

You come to a clearing and see Karkat arguing with someone just out of view.

“That is so irrelevant,” Karkat yells. “Do you even listen to yourself?”

“Karkat?” You inquire.

He still doesn’t seem to notice you. “Oh my God!” he exclaims.

As you continue to approach you can finally begin to make out the words of his conversational partner. “...those with more atheistic leanings, and furthermore is insulting even to those who do worship deities or a deity of some description.”

You recognize Karkat’s dancestor, and your grip on your weapon loosens.

“Bluh bluh!” yells Karkat, inflecting his voice in an attempt at mockery. “Blah blah bluh!” The resemblance is truly uncanny, but you don’t feel amused right now.

Kankri seems unphased by the childish impression. “Your attempts to misconstrue my teachings as mere 'bluh' is not going to be in the least effective considering that I am not making any sounds even similar to a 'bluh' and besides that, it is triggering to those with speech impediments of any variety including-”

“Oh thank God,” Karkat interrupts, finally noticing you. “Kanaya! Look, asshole, here’s someone who I’m sure will be very interested in your teachings. We don’t need to talk anymore, I get it, I’ll say some idiotic bullshit before I say ‘god.’ See, I’ve got it down now bye!”

Kankri shakes his head. “I don’t think you understand, Karkat, and your attempts to dodge me are really quite offensive. I am only trying to help improve your relationship with your fellows, as you seem to be distraught about it. I am being a good and supportive ancestor descendant, while every line from your mouth has been problematic in at least one and usually several regards.”

Karkat looks over at you desperately. “Help.”

You stand and watch as Karkat tries his best to escape the conversation. Unfortunately, you are really in no state to be rescuing anyone at the moment. You wonder if Rose is feeling similarly miserable, and your mind is on your own problems as Dave joins the Vantas’ argument and brings his own curse laden, adversarial conversational style into the mix. You apply half an ear to listening to the unfolding trainwreck.

“What the fuck is this douchebag talking about?” Dave asks, possibly rhetorically.

Kankri blinks. “Okay, first of all that term is highly loaded and offensive to those who suffer ailments of the lower digestive tract, and secondly you need to put warnings on that remark, since not everyone is as blase about cursing as others- Karkat, don’t go yet, this will serve as an important lesson in interspecies understanding.”

Karkat, who had been in the middle of sneaking away again, groans. “Oh my god, I know how to understand him. That is Dave, I’ve been living on the same godforsaken meteor with him for fucking sweeps.”

Kankri clucks. “There you go again with the religiously charged insults. They really are entirely unnecessary, as are the untagged curses. I am truly glad that you are well-acquainted with this alien, but I mean understanding that goes beyond exchanging unpleasant cussing.”

“Hey,” Dave interjects. “I’ll have you know we’ve got our own cuss language worked out. It’s like morse code, but made out of fucks and damns instead of like, shitty beeps and boops or whatever the fuck.”

Kankri sighs. “I do not know whether your species has the concept, but trigger warnings are a vital part of any civilized discourse. I realize I neglected to list the warnings when you first arrived, so I will do so now as a means of both instruction and example.”

“The fuck are you talking about? Look, I realize that you seem to want to bore me to death, but despite the fact that I am literally fucking asleep right now, I can think of about a million things that I would still rather be doing.”

“Ah-HEM,” Kankri continues, unphased. “Considering its participants, the triggers for this conversation are likely to include curses in relation to religion and religious figures, bodily fluids and excreta, concupiscent activity, and violence as well as threats of bodily harm both concrete and implied. There, was that so hard?”

Dave nods exaggeratedly slowly, putting on a show of listening carefully. “Okay, I get it. So basically you’re saying I’m now covered to tell you to please get your goddamned shitty excuse for a fucking conversation out of here before I slice off your toes?”

Karkat’s dancestor crosses his arms, looking unamused. “With this sort of person as your companion, Karkat, I must admit I am not at all surprised that you lack the tact necessary for effective leadership and fulfilling relationships.”

“Oh, shut up!” Karkat screams at his dancestor. “Who even asked you? You don’t even have any fucking relationships, douchebag!”

Kankri frowns. “I do not have relationships by my own free choice, and much as you are my ancestor descendant and thus likely to follow in my footsteps at some point or in some regard, it is my responsibility to ensure peaceable relations in this dreambubble, and I see nothing wrong with trying to hasten your progress, for all our sakes.”

You really wish that these people would stop talking about relationships and taking after ancestors. You think that Kankri perhaps missed a trigger warning there, as you sink to your knees and begin to sob.

The conversation comes to a halt as the attention and concern of all assembled seem to focus themselves upon you. You do not much appreciate the feeling.

Kankri looks confused. “Is she alright?”

“She can’t help it,” you say. “K-Kankri is right. But I can’t handle it. I can’t b-b-be there and watch as she drinks herself to sleep. I saw her ancestor and I-I… I can’t do this, I’m sorry.”

“I think I may be missing some of the context for this interaction-” Kankri starts, but Karkat interrupts.

“Fuck off, Kankri. This is none of your business.”

“I might be able to help, you know-”

“No,” snarls Karkat. “You’re going to leave, or I’ll make you.”

Kankri’s dead eyes widened. “Um.”

“I don’t know what you said to upset her, but you’re not one of us and you don’t understand us at all. We want nothing to do with you. Go away.”

Kankri looks shocked by the outburst. “Oh, well, that is, I…. I do hope that Porrim’s ancestor descendant will feel better soon.”
As for you, you just sit there as Karkat drives the alpha troll off. You are too busy being miserable and useless to do anything about it.

Finally, they turn their attention back to you. “So you met old lady Lalonde then?” Dave inquires. You only manage to muster a nod in response. “Yeah, Rose used to complain about her drinking all the time. But then, like, I don’t know. I sorta get the impression that part of the reason she drinks is that Rose wants to feel closer to her.”

“Rose is just like her ancestor,” you say. “I can’t stop her. It will just keep happening.”

“OK. Stop right there,” Dave interjects. “Because that, that is just shit.”

“Wait, back up,” Karkat finally joins in. “You’re upset because Rose is always drinking that human soporific, and because her ancestor did too?”

“You aren’t around her all the time, Karkat. I can’t keep doing it. I thought that she would stop drinking. But she isn’t going to.”

“How do you know?”

“Her ancestor is the same way, Karkat. You didn’t see her. Her ancestor looks so much like her. Like you would think. And she was laying there on the bed passed out, and all I could think was how I can’t watch as Rose becomes that. I can’t do it.”

“Then fucking don’t,” Dave retorts. “Send her to a fucking AA meeting or something. I mean sure, alcoholism tends to run in families, but it’s not like it’s an iron fucking law. I mean, it’s not gravity or anything.”

“Seriously,” Karkat adds. “I have to agree with Strider. Superstitious nonsense aside, there is nothing that is going to turn us into our ancestors.”

“We become our ancestors,” you state, wondering how they do not see it. “That is how it is. Look at Vriska. Or Terezi.”

“Oh my fucking God,” Karkat shrieks. “If I even slightly, even the smallest bit, start to be like that guy, please cull me instantly.”

“Maybe it hasn’t started yet,” you suggest. “Maybe you will start it next week. I don’t know.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Dave replies. “But it’s not like missing a leg or anything. I mean people get over it.”

“Her ancestor did not,” you point out.

“Well it can be hard as shit sometimes. Especially if she doesn’t want to give up being shitfaced all the fucking time. I don’t know. Give Rose a reason to fight it, and she’ll fight.”

“Then why was she drunk when you found us?” You ask. “I left her alone for two minutes, and she started drinking. She said that she would stop just a few hours ago. I am just s-so tired. And then I shooshpapped her. I’m not even sure if I know how to be her matesprit.” You put your face in your hands. “...You were right, Karkat, I’m being off-suit.”

“...Look, Kanaya...” Karkat grumbles. “That’s… I think that’s a thing that happens sometimes, when you’re in a relationship with a human. Not sure that it’s avoidable, really. Sorry I was an asshole to you. It wasn’t your fault.”

“Look Kanaya,” Dave starts. “I don’t know what exactly went on between you two, but I can say that this is the kinda problem that can be beat. But it’s not gonna happen if we just give up on her.”

“I couldn’t keep Vriska from following Mindfang,” you point out. “I can’t do this either. I am so useless.”

“Karkat, you wanna point out the holes in that logic or are we gonna have to go find troll-Godel to do it?”

Karkat snorts. “Well, first of all, Vriska wanted to follow Mindfang. It was her entire goal in life. Is Rose’s goal to follow her ancestor?”

“I don’t know,” you answer. “She says it isn’t. But then, she keeps d-drinking. Dave? Could you keep Terezi from being like Redglare?”

“I don’t know. She does love her some sweet saliva-soaked justice,” Dave chuckles. “But it’s not like they’re fucking clones or anything. I’m not sure that Redglare would have let Karkat off with a beating if she thought he was in the wrong.”

You can almost hear Karkat’s teeth grind at that comment. “I’m sorry for making the shawlchuck, Karkat,” you mumble. “I didn’t know what to do. I’m sorry.”

“I accept your apology,” Karkat says, with some annoyance. “Look, I don’t think this shit is universal. Not even close. What, do you think I’m-” He pauses. “Bad example. Look at, I don’t know, look at Gam- Bad example. Fuck. Look, do you think that you are like your ancestor?”

“Maybe?” You reply. You hold out a hand for Karkat to help you up. You are apparently out of tears for the moment. You really wish that you had a moirail, but you are in no mood to proposition either of the individuals currently present, so unless one of them take the initiative, you will have to deal.

“I’m sorry, Dave. I pity Rose so much. But I cannot do this anymore.” You stand up, feeling defeated. “I tried to stay awake, but I fell asleep before Rose did,” you explain. “ So I do not know if she alchemized a drink before she too fell asleep, and, accordingly, if I am going to awaken to the smell of her vomit. Again. If she could change, that would be wonderful. But I can’t be left suspended without support.”

Karkat slumps. “Look, I don’t know much about human soporifics. But it’s not as bad as you might think, you know. Being in a relationship with someone who’s… addicted.” He looks away. “But I know it’s not the same thing. You don’t have to tell me that.”

“I can’t hold her head at night anymore after she has had too much to drink,” you say. “If you’re right, and she fixes herself, then that would be something. But I can’t watch her destroy herself in the meantime until that happens. Do you understand?”

“Wellll fuck,” Dave replies. “Looks like it’s just dark clouds and dead puppies all around then, isn’t it?”

You smile weakly back. “I suppose so, Dave.” You honestly would accept a pale solicitation from either of them right now, but it would be too awkward to propose it yourself, and so you continue to suffer alone.

“Well,” says Dave. “Whatever you decide, you need to go tell her. You owe her that much at least.”

You nod. “Will you come with me?” You ask, looking the two of them over.

“Sure thing,” Dave responds.

“Do you want to wait until you’re awake?” Karkat asks.

“I...Was going to wake up soon. So that I would not have to wake up when she did.” You look at your feet, which have suddenly become incredibly interesting for some reason. Eventually you look up and begin the long, difficult walk back to where you left Rose.

She and Terezi are exactly where you left them. Rose’s cheeks are stained with tears, making a complete mess of her makeup. She doesn’t notice you, her attention focused on her moirail. You sit down on the sand a few feet from the pair and wait for her to notice you.

You sit there for a few minutes until Rose looks up, a look of panicked recognition sweeping across her face.

“Rose?” You begin hesitantly. “I pity you very much and…” You look helplessly at Dave hoping for him to help you out somehow. “I hope that you can stop drinking, and I want to be your matesprit, but I can’t watch as you get better. I can’t just… be left there wondering how long it will be before you get better. Or if you ever will. … Do you understand?”

Rose manages to untangle herself from Terezi’s limbs and sits up to face you, though her moirail remains right behind her. Rose, trembling, wipes off the worst of her smeared makeup and attempts to compose herself, but tears continue to stream down her usually so composed face.

“B- But I love you,” she insists.

“And I pity you so deeply, Rose Lalonde. But it hurts too much to watch you do this to yourself. Please. Please stop this.” You find tears falling down your own cheeks. “But I just cannot watch this go on any longer. Don’t you understand?”

Rose simply nods, seemingly unable to produce any words, or perhaps not trusting herself to utter them.

“Please, Rose. Stop this habit. But not for me. Do it for yourself.” You lean in and plant one last kiss on Rose’s lips. As you pull back you can feel her trying to follow, to extend the kiss just one second longer before you finally pull away.
Terezi holds Rose. She nods to you gravely, before moving in to resume her papping routine on her moirail.

You slowly stand up and walk away. You can hear it as Rose collapses and her crying redoubles in intensity. It is almost enough to make you turn back, but you somehow manage to continue. You don’t want Rose to see you awaken. You need to wake up and get a head start. To leave for a bit.

You hear the sounds of Terezi’s reassurances and Rose’s lamentations recede into the distance. You are shaking slightly as you walk away. But you don’t look back.