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We're all fucking equals you dumbass dick sucking pieces of shit

Chapter Text

You chug your bottle of discount milk from the local convenience store on the way home, the sky filled with purples, oranges and pinks as you trudged along. Your name is Dave Strider, one of the last people you know without a soulmark, and you're not looking forward to the end of the Summer holidays. I mean, you're going to college locally soon and don't know how to feel about it. It's only just started dawning on you how unprepared you feel and - oh god how are you going to survive this. You sigh, screwing the lid back onto your milk and shoving it back into your plastic bag, adjusting your aviators.

Your trans pride wrist band catches your eye and you run your gaze over it in peaceful silence for a moment before lowering your arm and tucking it into a pocket. You arrive at your apartment complex soon enough, making your way up countless steps before reaching a few flights from the top, where you and Bro reside.

Bro is... distant. Confusing, strange, but you know he gives a shit. You don't talk much, he gives you your space, but you doubt the two of you have touched asides from holding his hand when you were younger and the occasional ruffling of your hair. The other times you touch aren't... enjoyable. He fights you sometimes. Not verbally or some shit, you get bruises for weeks and cuts and blood and all that good shit. You have a feeling he doesn't know the extent to which he beats you up. You think he's training you, from the little he's talked about it. Despite all of this he has become your inspiration, he's just so cool and ironic and everything you aspire to be. You've been unsure of this belief recently though, and you aren't clear on if you're just trying to convince yourself he's amazing so it will hurt less every time you can hardly get up from how much your body aches after he fights you.

You dig the keys out of your backpack and unlock the door of room 413. The apartment is fairly plain, it opens into a kitchen on your left and a living room area on your right. You walk straight forwards into the apartment, shutting the door with your foot. Bro isn't in sight and you aren't really eager to see him and risk another fight, your ribs ache enough from last time, so decide to just drop your bag of doritos, apple juice and milk on the counter and hurry to your room, shutting the door quickly.

Your room is cleaner than usual to be honest, there aren't any shirts or boxers on the floor, and the blanket is actually on the bed this time. You're actually pretty proud of yourself for that, before you see Cal sprawled on the floor and feel your skin crawl with hatred and discomfort. Cal is quickly taken care off, tossed out of the room and near your bro's door.

Now you can actually do shit. You're on Pesterchum before long, talking with Rose as she's the only other person online. You, Jade, Rose and John are all planning on attending the same school in two days time, and John's going to pick up Jade from the airport. She had been living on an island with her grandfather who was apparently a famous explorer, however he died recently so the Crocker-Egbert's are taking them in. Your pretty sure Jake is a closer relative to Jade, but he doesn't seem like the most responsible person so you can see why she's been taken in by John's family.

turntechGodhead [TG]
began pestering
tentacleTherapist [TT]

TG: yo rose

TT: Hello brother dearest.

TT: I haven't heard from you much recently, has anything of significance been troubling you?

TG: nah man just the usual

TG: yknow just bitches littering the floor for me n shit

TG: oh dave please dont leave us for that hoe rose

TG: sorry bitches i must she is my loyal sister

TG: woe is me and all that shit

TG: you know how it is being a guy with a blog

TG: shits hard but worry not im sure all my bitches will understand

TT: You truly are living the lesbian dream, David.

TT: However, on a separate note, are you aware of that activist group called The Sufferers?

TG: yea i think i saw a poster about it the other day or something

TG: why tho

TT: Well they're local as I'm sure your aware, and one of the younger members gave a massive, profanity riddled speech against the homophobes protesting outside which got quite a bit of attention.

TT: I'll send you a link if you like.

You think about it for a bit. You've heard of The Sufferers, the group's main aim is to end discrimination due to people's ethnicity or their sexuality/gender. You know the people that started it are these people nicknamed shit like "Signless" and "Disciple" or some shit. You support their movement or whatever, so you guess you might as well take a look.

TG: sure

It only takes her a few moments to send the video and you click on it. Your earbuds scream immediately. It's quickly recognised as an amateur recording as some dumbass decided to record it vertically. It zooms in on a group of homophobes protesting outside a church while some people were giving a service. A few of the protesters walked inside and started yelling louder. The man at the alter, average to small height for someone his age, is trying to speak peacefully in response, however he's clearly being ignored. After about 30 seconds of back-and-forth, a small, scruffy boy pushes his way to the front of the stage, throws his head back, and begins to scream in a surprisingly loud voice.

"WE'RE ALL FUCKING EQUALS YOU DUMBASS, DICK SUCKING PIECES OF SHIT!"

Wow. That shit hurt your ears. The camera zooms in on him and oh. OH. He's hot. Caramel skin, dark reddish eyes, long eyelashes and deep brown - almost black - unruly hair. His lips are pink and plump and fuck come on Dave why are you focusing on his lips. You're never going to be the token straight friend like John if you don't stop all these """homosexual thoughts""".

The boy continues to yell, a deep scratchy voice laced with profanities. He drawls on as if he does it for a goddamn living, his unwavering speech hypnotising and somehow intoxicating you. He stops, and the church is silent. The camera cuts out as people start clapping, and you are left feeling like you're in a trance.

TG: yo rose who the fucks that angry ass kid

TT: His name is Karkat Vantas, a bisexual boy, Hispanic seventeen year old, the son of Mr Vantas or "signless" as he is nicknamed in the group.

TT: I'll attach some photos of him for you to add to your "wank bank".

TG: woah woah rose that wont be necessary i think ill be fine

TT: If you're sure, though I've heard rumours he's attending the same school as we are planning to in two days time.

TG: thanks for the info rose

TG: think im gonna go tho

TT: Going to bed this early dear brother?

TG: you know me sis

TG: gotta get my beauty sleep

turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering
tentacleTherapist [TT]

You lock your bedroom door, don't want Bro getting in without you hearing him fiddling with the lock first. That is, if you even hear it. Despite being constantly on guard, you're unfortunately a pretty heavy sleeper.

You crawl underneath the covers and pull the blanket over your head with a sigh. Karkat Vantas looks like a real goddamn asshole.

Chapter Text

Your name is Karkat Vantas and you just woke up to the incessant beeping from pesterchum. It took you a couple minutes to grab your phone as you're piled under blankets, several pillows and the abnormally large crab plushie your dad got you years ago. Sollux's name flashes on the screen and you roll your eyes instinctively, tapping the notification.

twinArmageddons [TA] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

TA: Look dude, let me make thii2 quick.

CG: THE FUCK DO YOU WANT CAPTOR?

TA: You know that "2peech" you made the other day?

CG: AGAINST THOSE SCREAMING PROTESTERS? HOW COULD I FUCKING FORGET.

TA: 2ome a22hole wa2 recordiing iit iin the crowd. Iit went viiral ye2terday.

TA: Pretty 2ure everyone who2 planniing two go two our 2chool ha2 2een iit by now.

CG: OH FUCK.

CG: WHATS THE RESPONSE LIKE?

TA: Not that bad two be hone2t, although at lea2t half of the comment2 are complaiiniing that you're two loud.

CG: THATS UNSURPRISING TO BE HONEST, PEOPLE COMPLAIN ENOUGH IN PERSON, LET ALONE WITH FUCKING EARPHONES IN.

TA: Kk, ii'm pretty 2ure ii lo2e 5% of my heariing every tiime ii hear you yell.

CG: YEAH, YEAH, CAPTOR, WE GET IT, IM FUCKING LOUD.

CG: LAUGH IT UP.

TA: Tru2t me KK, ii would, but ED ii2 out2ide my wiindow agaiin 2o ii really need two go take care of that.

CG: YOU NEED A RESTRAINING ORDER.

CG: HAVE FUN VIOLENTLY MAKING OUT BEFORE SCHOOL. carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased pestering twinArmageddons [CG]

You switch off your phone screen and take a couple deep breaths. It doesn't really matter, you're already pretty well known for being "that angry bi dude who's dad likes peace". You glance at the clock. Its the first day of "actual school" and already nearing about the time you want to be in at. You drag yourself out of bed with a reluctant sigh, surprised Kankri hasn't imploded with how late you are at getting your ass downstairs, but he was out with Cronus last night so it's likely he isn't functioning on "full asshole mode".

It doesn't take long for you to throw on a grey jumper, black jeans and scrub your teeth. You open the mirrored cabinet and retrieve the orange bottle of pills inside. You sigh, closing it and staring into your reflection, brows furrowing as you fluff up your hair a little with a hand. At least you managed to get a shower last night.

You're in the kitchen about four minutes later, eyeing Kankri as he shuffles around with a mug of coffee, his red turtleneck pulled suspiciously high over his neck. "Morning," he glances at the clock before turning back you you. "You need to leave in ten minutes, won't Kanaya be waiting?" He asks, trying to make eye contact with you while you just pour yourself coffee.

"Nah, this girl she's been talking to online is meeting her at school this morning. Pretty sure they're soulmates or whatever," you grumble, but don't complain too much. Kankri has his nose far enough in your business, you'd rather he knew less than he already did. "So, dad is outta town for a while then?" You ask, changing the subject before he can interject. He nods, shifting to sit down at the table.

"Yes, I'm not entirely certain where he's gone this time, however he should be returning next Friday evening," he responds, taking another sip from his mug. You lean against the counter, remembering todays Monday so this is definitely one of the shortest times he's left you and Kankri for.

Luckily, your older brother's exhaustion lets you leave without being forced to eat breakfast. You aren't particularly hungry, likely due to fucking first day nerves and the suspicion that if you ate you'd probably throw up. The walk to school isn't that long, it only takes you about 20 minutes tops before you're at the doors, students littered practically everywhere. You walk through the crowds of grumbling teenagers, everyone complaining about the end of the holidays.

It's a little unnerving when you bump into Gamzee in the hallway, you haven't seen him up before 3pm in quite a while and his extremely tall and lanky figure almost scares you. His skin is significantly darker than yours, dreadlocks pulled back into a thick ponytail and still wearing that shitty clown face paint. It takes him a moment to register that he walked straight into you and his default relaxed grin stretches bigger.

"Heyy Karbro, didn't see you there," his voice is deep and rough, and you scowl at him as usual. "How are you motherfuckin' doin'?" He takes out a terrifyingly long arm to mess up your hair before you swat it away.

"Fine thanks, Gamzee. Have you seen Terezi?" You ask, gripping your backpack with a hand and shifting your weight with impatience as he takes time responding. He scratches his chin and goesquiet for a moment before you see his eyes widen slightly. "Well?"

"Oh yeah, think i saw her uhh.. with Vriska... said she was goin' to the library? I think she was lookin' for you bro," he replied after several pauses. You nod, thanking him quickly before walking to your locker and putting your books in your backpack, and then hurrying to the library.

You and Terezi dated a while back for a few months, you've been friends since you were both pretty young and you had a crush on her for a ridiculously long time. You broke up a couple months before the start of the summer, as unsurprisingly things weren't working out great since she clearly wasn't all that into you and you felt too awkward to talk to her half the time. You think that isolating yourself over the summer was probably a good call in the end, because all that thinking got you over her quickly.

You're pretty much a "soulmate expert", the whole concept fascinates you. The first thing you hear your soulmate say gets tattooed onto you in the next 24 hours forever, even if it isn't said directly to you. Having more than one soulmate isn't all that rare, neither is not ever having one, and you've also heard of platonic soulmates. Your soul-mark can appear anywhere on your body, most commonly on people's arms or chests. You don't have yours yet, but a few people you know do. Kankri's one says "hey cutie can i touch the booty" and he won't even let you see what Cronus' says. You know Gamzee and Tavros are soulmates, as well as Terezi and Nepeta - though their soulmarks only appeared recently, as they had only been talking on roleplay forums until you introduced them to eachother. Nepeta's mother is one of the leaders of your dad's group, and his fiancé.

You reach the library quite quickly, eyes scanning the room and landing on Terezi and Vriska near the back corner. The former shot you a wave and toothy grin, the latter gave you an expected scowl, John Egbert's arm around her shoulders as he gave you his usual enthusiastic wave. "Hi Karkat!" he smiles at you as you get closer to them and you roll your eyes with a grunt of acknowledgment.

You go to slouch in the chair next to Terezi, before she knocks you on the head with her cane. "Nuh-uh Karkles, Miss C wants to see you in her office," she informs you with a grin.

You give her a bewildered look, brows furrowing with concern. "The headmistress? What for?" you ask, to which she shrugs and turns away, continuing her conversation with Vriska, leaving you to take a few deep breaths of fear before shaking your head and sighing. You really hope you didn't fuck anything up on your first goddamn day, it's not even first period yet.

Chapter Text

Your name is Dave Strider and fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckity fuck. Shit. Your body aches all over. You take in a shaky breath, hunching over your knees, hands running over your body for any injuries. Bro hasn't-- Bro wouldn't-- you were asleep, god dammit. Your hands settle on your lower left arm, where a stinging pain ebbs away. You don't remember that area being hurt recently, and strain a look at it from your defensive position to see some kind of writing sprawled there.

The text isn't that big, and it's written so that someone looking at your arm could read it and not you, text running horizontally from your wrist to elbow in all grey capitals, if you crane your neck enough you can make out some of it, most of the words seem to be profanities.

You put it into the back of your brain, mind trying to warp around the thought and question what it could be or mean. You're extremely focused on the theory that it's Bro playing a prank on you or something along the lines of, but it's something you'll have to worry about later. You attempt some breathing techniques, doing all the ones Rose told you to try, in an attempt to calm down a bit.

Around ten minutes later you head to the bathroom and turn the shower on, brushing your teeth while you wait for the water to heat up. The shower is quick, maybe seven minutes tops, and you scrub at the strange grey text for the majority of it before turning it off and drying yourself. It takes you about 2 minutes and 21 seconds to get dressed, and an additional 3 minutes and 44 seconds to style your hair.

You then decide to check out your arm.

It takes a few moments to read the words in the mirror as the text is flipped, and when you do manage to read it you're confused and scared. No no no, Bro couldn't possibly have seen you watch that video, and if he did why on earth would he taunt you with it? You never said anything about it out loud, you didn't even say anything suggestive to Rose, so why on earth is "we're all fucking equals you dumbass dick sucking pieces of shit" written in grey capitals on your arm?

Your heart rate is hammering as you furrow your brows in search, looking for anything that correlates to the writing on your arm. The idea of a soul mark invades your head - but you had always assumed you didn't have one since you were always told you weren't wanted. This was surely a sick joke, you watched the video a few days ago anyway, and soulmarks are meant to show up in like 24 hours or something - this sort of thing is rare.

You sniff the text. It smells like a mixture of cherries and cola, not pen ink. Rose. You should talk to her about it. She told you she was meeting her crush or whatever kinda early, so you guess you should follow suit.

Shoes, keys, bag and you're opening the door, phone in hand. You aren't sure if Bro's home, offering a glance behind you to see if he's there but you're greeted with nothing but silence. You shut the door and put your earphones in. The school is about 30 minutes away, however it takes you an extra 10 to find her, as she's in an outdoor area sitting on a bench by a blossoming tree, holding a hand mirror up to look at her lower neck.

"Yo Rose," you give her a small smile as you get closer and she looks up with a love struck grin. "You seem happy, what's up?" She clasps your hands and pulls you to sit down next to her, still grinning. Before you can repeat your question, she turns her head slightly and pulls down a bit of her shirt, revealing a sentence beginning to appear on her skin. The letters are dark green and in a smart, italic font; if you look hard enough you can work out the phrase being inked onto her collar bone. "Does that say... lesbians?" You ask cautiously, beginning to question what strange conversation she and... kaneyea... had been having beforehand.

Rose chuckles softly, and you realise you haven't seen her this happy in, well, ever. "Kanaya was as nervous as I was, and ended up saying she was 'in lesbians' with me, so that's on me forever," she explains, and you innerly cringe remembering your arm.

"Rosie, I gotta show you somethin'," you murmur, she rolls her eyes at your use of 'Rosie', while you look around in fear before rolling up the sleeve of your red sweater. You were careful to keep your right hand perched over any particular notable scars surrounding the words so she wouldn't ask questions about your living situation. That drama has already happened once, and you'd rather not relive it. Memories of no sleep, bright lights and doctors spin round your head briefly but you shut them down before it gets unbearable.

Rose runs her fingers over the text on your arm with a thoughtful hum, glancing up and meeting your eyes. You see her mouth twitch. "Looks like a soulmark David," fuck. You were really hoping she wouldn't say that - you would have taken any far fetched conspiracy over that. You yank away your arm in distaste, grimacing, but she's so used to it she doesn't even look surprised.

There's a pause in which you throw on your varsity jacket, as if she's giving you time to get up and nope out of the situation. On any other occasion you would have appreciated her tentative attitude towards your fucked mental state, however now you just want her to speak so you don't have to be so consumed by your thoughts. "Its a little funny," she finally says "since you watched the video a couple days ago."

You manage to nod stiffly, dryly adding that you thought it could just be a prank from Bro. She nods and makes that thoughtful humming noise again, as if humouring your deluded hopes. "We can talk to Mr Vantas in person here though," she adds, casting another look at you as if searching for an opinion in your aviators. You remain rigid, afraid that if you let one thing slip your entire facade will fall away and you'll be left defenceless. "He's probably at the school right now, Kanaya may even know him," she puts her hand over yours and you notice you're shaking slightly. "Dave, you should say something to him, I can tell you're probably going to avoid him for your entire life but you should at least... say something, and if he comes up to you saying he got a soulmark later on then we can deal with that issue... together."

She squeezes your hand gently and you come out of your head and back to reality, giving her a half-reassuring smile. "Thanks Rose," You manage to get out softly, trying to will yourself to take a few breaths and calm down. You were already beginning to formulate a plan of how you were going to avoid him - but you know you cant dodge this forever. She's right. A sick, twisted disgust fills your stomach as your deep rooted fear if intimacy around boys fills your head. You just can't wrap your head around the thought of you liking guys, the pressing expectation to be like cis-boys has been eating at you since you came to terms with being trans. Even though you've had suspicions of being bi for a while now you didn't think you'd need to face it so soon.

"You know, Dave, if you need a place to stay..." Rose trails off, but she's said the sentence so many times you can practically hear it without her saying the words. She knows all too well how bro is, particularly his unfriendly views towards the LGBT+ community.

"It's cool, I'll go straight to you," you nod reassuringly and she smiles sadly. "I can't believe you have a girlfriend Rosie. Well I can, you're lovely or whatever, but still, is she hot?" She rolls her eyes at you but grins.

"Oh dear brother, she's very hot. But hands off, your bitches may get jealous," she gently kicks your leg and you chuckle. After a few minutes of you trying to come up with a ship name for her and Kanaya, Rose announces that classes are beginning soon. You flash her your schedule and realise you both have period 2 together, and agree to meet outside her period 1 classroom so you can walk there together.

It's around now, after Rose waves goodbye and walks to her first class, that you realise you have no idea where you're meant to go. Class doesn't start for another fifteen minutes, so you figure you can go to the headmistress and ask her for a map of the place - and before you know it you're already heading to her office.

You knock gently and hear the shuffling of papers before she shouts a muffled "The door is unlocked!" And you head straight in, mumbling your name and requesting a map. "Ah, you're new? The school is pretty overwhelming at first, you get used to it though. Hey, I'll get you one of the enrichment student-things, a few kids in your year came here last year for a couple days a week cause they were smarter than the others, one might have a few classes with you," she rolled a ringlet of dark brown-pink hair round her finger in thought, before standing and opening the door to yell at a student in the hall.

"Miss Pyrope! Please ask Mr Vantas to come to my office as soon as possible!" She calls to a freckly girl with ginger hair and red tinted glasses in the hallway. She turns and you notice her clashing fashion sense.

"What for? You know he's scared if mysterious messages like that Miss!" She grins - maybe looking in the wrong direction - and Miss C rolls her eyes.

"Just do it Terezi!"

"Whatever," the possibly-blind girl yells, drawing out the 'r' as she marches down the hall. Miss C sighs, exasperatedly, and shuts her door, sitting back down. In a few moments you recognise the name she used. Vantas. Karkat Vantas. Fuck.

What the fuck do you say to him?

Chapter Text

You are Karkat Vantas and you're standing outside the door of the headmistress' office, hand hovering reluctantly over the door handle as you do one last scoop through your thoughts to see if you've done anything wrong, finally clasping it and opening the door, whispering "fuck it" under your breath. There is Miss C, seated at her desk, slight smile on her face as her eyes turn to you. "Ah, Mr Vantas. Don't worry you've done nothing wrong - I just wanted to ask a favour of you," she clarifies, obviously aware of your tense posture, signifying your discomfort with the unknown situation.

She gestures to your right, and you became aware of the boy seated there, faced towards her with light blonde hair, wearing a red and white varsity jacket, red converse and black jeans. He turns to you and you shudder slightly, before shrugging it off and raising your eyebrows at his shades. It was a cloudy day and you were inside. Does he think it looks cool or something? Because it really doesn't.

You eye him as he looks at you (you think, at least, its hard to tell), his chapped pale lips slightly parted. Fuck, he's actually not that bad looking. His face was decorated with freckles, and skin a light vanilla. Fuck, why do you even care?

"Oh shit, you're actually kinda cute," He mumbled, just loud enough for him to think you didn't hear, and Miss C to not be able to work out. You came to the conclusion that he was either blind or mocking you, deciding not to comment and instead just furrow your brows in confusion.

"Sup, I'm Dave Strider," he introduced himself in a slightly stronger texan accent than you usually get around here, extending his arm with the intent of shaking your hand, to which you ignore and instead turn to Miss C.

"What did you want me to do with this douche?" You ask, huffing.

"God, Vantas, you certainly aren't the happiest guy. You see David-"

"Dave."

"-Dave here is new, and has requested to be shown around, so I thought you could hang around with him and show him where everything is, since you know your way better than most of the other students in your year."

"I asked for a map," Dave sighed, as you re-evaluated your life choices. Okay, you can just.. put up with him for today. You sighed to yourself and grabbed his arm, to which he appeared to jump at your sudden movement, pulling him to his feet.

"I better get some extra credit for this shit," you grumble, leading him out of the room and down the hall. "Okay, let me see your schedule or whatever," you say, pausing as he pulls his notebook out of his backpack and flicks through.

"I got art with Ms Dolorosa," he replied. Fuck.

"Alright, it's this way," you both fell into silence as you make your way to the art rooms, you personally spending it cursing silently through it at your similar schedules.

Lunch rolled around soon enough, Dave being with you in Art and Maths, and he spotted you in the cafeteria so asked to sit there with his twin sister Rose and friends Jade and John, to which you begrudgingly accepted. You already knew John as you were both in a movie club over the summer.

"That's Kanaya, shes gay, Nepeta, also gay, Equius, Sollux, he's a fucking nerd, and Terezi, she's blind and will probably lick you," you gave a brief summary of the table as the four sat down, Dave and Rose choosing to sit between Kanaya and you.

You started chewing on your chocolate milk box straw, the table humming with small talk. "So..." Dave attempted meaningless conversation with you and you hummed in response. "Whereabouts do you live?"

"A twenty minute walk away from here, what about you?" You questioned as he opened a jumbo-sized carton of.. apple juice? What a weirdo.

"Well, it's like, a ten minute bus ride away and then a bit of a walk, but I generally run it in about twenty minutes. My bro is uh... big, I guess, on exercise and shit like that, so I try to run around and shit, hence my amazing shape and glistening fucking muscles..." he continues to ramble, word vomiting everywhere. Fuck, this guy likes to talk.

"Ok, ok I got it Strider," you growl, abruptly cutting him off as he drinks more of his fucking apple juice. A sharp pain curls around your throat suddenly - mirroring what you might feel if you were being choked, but it seems to ebb away just before Rose turns to you.

"So, Karkat, you're part of that activist group right?" She asks, wearing a slysmile. You nod cautiously, avoiding her intimidating eye contact. "How long has your dad been running it then?"

"He's been head of it for like, nearly twenty years or something? I don't know really, we don't talk a lot," you grumble, crossing your arms over the table. The pain around your neck feels like gentle scratch marks now, and you move to cover it.

"Oh, do you plan to inherit it then? I saw your speech a few days ago, you seemed pretty passionate," she cocked her head to the side as if she was interested, but you cant really work out her motive.

"I mean, maybe I guess. It's more my brother Kankri's thing, he's been a daddy's boy since day fucking one, but after that shitty ass speech I did the whole group thinks I'm the one nutting over the thought of preaching to a bunch of desperate assholes," you grumble, taking note of Strider watching you the whole time. At least, you think he's watching; it's hard to tell behind those shitty shades and the distraction from the pain still embedding itself into your neck.

You roll your phone around in your hands, trying to ignore the stinging, before tilting it so you can see your neck mirrored in the black screen. It's hard to make it out exactly what's there but it looks vaguely like... words? Oh, fuck.

You stand up abruptly and leave the table, pulling up your collar in a useless attempt to cover it slightly. You borderline run into the empty bathrooms and look in the mirror. It still looks a little flakey and aches like hell, but you can roughly work out the beginnings of bright red text in lower capitals. Everything that's happening correlates to what happens when someone gets a soulmark.

Your pulse is rushing but you can't work out if it's excitement or dread. You start to wonder who it is - as a romance nerd you've been dreaming of this day for fucking years, but now that it's here you don't know what to do. Before you know it, anxiety kicks in and the room seems to tilt. What if they don't like you? What if you aren't made for them? What if this was a mistake and they aren't your soulmate?

You're starting to hyperventilate, turning on the sink and splashing freezing water over your face. You can't shut your fucking brain up as it sprawls out far fetched possibilities over and over. What if what if what if what if-

Suddenly the door opens and your breath hitches in your throat, face dripping with water. You can see Dave's lanky figure stood there, expression unreadable. He approaches you slowly as you stand slightly more upright, sighing as you run your wet palms through your dark hair. He hesitates for a few moments before slowly placing his hand on your right shoulder. "You alright dude?" He asks uncertainly. As those words are uttered your brain connects the dots and you jerk away from Dave's hand to gawk at him.

"A-are, you- wait - do you, d-do you have- are you my soulmate?" You ask, cursing your stuttering as his face remains stoic. You glance back towards the dirty mirror at your neck. You can't be sure, but you think you can work out some of what Dave mumbled to himself this morning.

You can feel the anxiety ripping at your chest again, and you try to turn away from him, hiding your face in your arm while trying to calm down. You suddenly feel him tentatively reach over and rest his hand on your shoulder again. You look up at his shades as he quietly tells you to breathe with him. After a few minutes you can feel reality starting to slip back into place.

He stutters for a moment, then looks as he's about to say something just as the bell rings. He mumbles sorry to you instead and darts out of the bathroom, hands shoved into his pockets.

You stand there for a few moments, before deciding to head to the nurses office. You were fucking exhausted and bound to be a frequent visitor. Chucking some stupid excuse at the nurse, you curled up on one of the beds and thought.

So the asshole you saw this morning is possibly your soulmate. You have no idea what he's really like - you can hardly remember his last fucking name. You really didn't expect your first meeting to go like this, and you have no idea how you're going to talk to him now.

If that weird girl (you think her name was Rose? Or Ross?) happens to be the girl Kanaya has been flirting with online, you may be able to get his pesterchum off her and try to talk things through then.

You reluctantly decide to go to your last lesson, although you mainly just watch blandly and chew your pencil while staring out the window. Class is dismissed, you grab your backpack and shove your hands in your pocket.

You arrive home, greeting your brother with a quick wave and running to your bedroom. The second you put your bag down and have a chance to throw your body onto your bed, your computer beeps - signalling a message from pesterchum. You don't recognise the chumhandle, but accept it anyway since you met a few new people today.

tentacleTherapist [TT] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

at 16:14

TT: It's Karkat Vantas, right?

CG: UM.

CG: YES?

TT: My apologies for the cryptic introduction, it's Rose Lalonde - Dave's twin. I managed to persuade Kanaya to give me your chumhandle.

TT: I hope that's alright.

CG: EITHER WAY YOU ALREADY HAVE IT, SO WHATEVER.

CG: BUT WHY DO YOU WANT IT ANYWAY?

TT: Well, I was just wondering if you'd said anything to Dave.

TT: He didn't seem all that great in Science, I'm sure that you've noticed his odd personality, and the lack of it was quite unusual.

CG: YEAH, WELL, I DON'T KNOW WHY THAT WOULD BE.

TT: Karkat, I simply want to help my brother.

TT: Could you please just tell me what happened?

CG: NOTHING REALLY, I WAS JUST FREAKING OUT IN THE BATHROOMS. I JUST ASKED HIM A QUESTION, BUT HE DIDN'T ANSWER ANYWAY.

TT: What did you ask him exactly?

CG: DO YOU **REALLY** NEED TO KNOW?

TT: Yes.

CG: UGH

CG: I ASKED HIM IF...

CG: IF HE WAS MY SOULMATE.

TT: Ah, I see. That will be all, thank you Karkat.

CG: WAIT ROSE!

CG: FUCK, IS HE GONNA BE OKAY? tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

at 16:17

CG: GOGDAMMIT

CG: FUCK

CG: GOD*

Chapter Text

Your name is Dave Strider and you really don't know what you're doing, you realise, as you hesitate to open the door to the boy's bathrooms. Your hand twitches reluctantly in it's outstretched position in front of the door as your eyes focus and unfocus on the little stickman stood in front of you. The school knows about your... situation, students aren't allowed to kick up a fuss over you taking a piss, but its still so unnerving.

You aren't even sure how you ended up in this position really, Karkat just jumped up suddenly and paced off without saying anything. Rose shot you a wordless look, as if whispering "go to him". Kanaya looked as if she was about to take the bullet, before you attempted to relax your shoulders (to no avail), and cooly said "I got this ya'll".

And now you're here, a self-conscious trans dude who's too scared to walk into the toilet. You know you need to fuckin try though - this isn't about you, something's up with your "friend" and you really should at least try to help out.

Before you know it, you've opened the door, and you're now locking eyes with Karkat in the mirror. Fuck, why didn't you let Kanaya take the goddamn bullet. Okay, you can do this, you stroll over and stand awkwardly beside him as you try to figure out what to do. After a short silence, you place a hand on his shoulder hesitantly.

"You alright dude?" You ask, and two seconds later he launches his body away from you, eyes wide with bewilderment, and begins to stutter out a question.

"A-are, you- wait - do you, d-do you have- are you my soulmate?"

Shit. You say a silent prayer that your face still looks unfazed. He looks at his neck in the skanky mirror, where a soul mark looks to be etching itself into his neck, then back at you, then his head is in his sleeve and he looks as if he might be crying. This really isn't going well.

Some of Rose's breathing techniques come to mind and you force yourself to be useful. Placing a hand delicately on his shoulder again, you softly tell him to breathe with you.

You think it works because he doesn't spasm away from you this time, and his breathing is slowing down. You want to give him something- anything, to ease his mind, or stop him worrying about what's going on, as he definitely seems like he's overthinking this. Just as you're beginning to form a coherent sentence, the bell rings, which is actually sort of relieving to be honest.

You say sorry, because that's all you can offer him, and duck out of the bathroom and down the hall to your next classes that you share with Rose and John. The former doesn't say a word concerning your quiet attitude, while the latter interrogates you on it to no end.

John points Karkat's locker out when referring to him just as you're getting your stuff together and you cant take your eyes off it. After much consideration, you tear a corner off your notebook and scribble your chumhandle onto it, then slip it into his locker. You really hope he sees it.

You unlock your apartment door and you're greeted with silence and a note reading "leftovers in fridge. Roof at 5." You sigh, scrunching up the note and sticking it in your back pocket, then make your way to your room. You decide to work on some sweet bro and hella jeff, as its one of the few things you can do with your time. Karkat doesn't pester you, but Rose does to your surprise.

TT: Hello David.

You roll your eyes, as if she could see.

TG: sup

TT: Would you like to come over tomorrow for a movie night?

TG: its a school night lalonde

TT: Oh my, will you be busy - dare I say it - studying?

TG: yeah thats right

TG: you know me

TT: Well? Will you be attending the celebration?

TG: fine ill bite

TG: whats the occasion huh

TG: what we celebrating

TG: huh lalonde

TG: huh

TT: I simply thought it a nice time to celebrate the start of a new beginning, dear brother.

TT: Also John won't stop hammering on about Ghostbusters.

TG: oh nerd boy and furry girl are joining us

TT: Yes, but they aren't staying the night.

TT: You don't need to either, it's up to you.

TG: how kind of you

TG: ill consider it

With that, you log off and grab your katana. Bro has told you many times about what happens when you're late, or, rather, he's shown you. You wince at the scars littering your upper back and squeeze your katana lightly, flash stepping to the roof.

////

Ding-dong

You open the door to your household to your brother's face, seemingly covered in foundation. "David?"

He gives you a half-smile. "You sound surprised."

"I wasn't exactly expecting you, due to your absence from school today," you explain, stepping to the side so he can get inside. He doesn't respond to your comment, instead just adjusting his shades and stepping inside, taking his shoes off and kicking them towards the other pairs by your door. "Have you watched the news lately?" You ask.

"What do you take me for?" He asks, turning to you with a small grin. "Why? Somethin' happen?"

"Nothing much, catastrophes, deaths, etcetera," you tuck your hair behind your ears and give him a small smirk. "Karkat was on it, is all. It was a news recording from about a week ago where he talked about some LGBT issues. It's surprising how much of an important figure he's becoming," He doesn't comment much on this, just nodding in agreement. "This way," you say, in order to avoid any more silence as you tug him towards the living room.

John is lying upside down on your sofa with his legs dangling over the top and his head where his butt is supposed to be, acting as if he isn't seventeen. Jade sits beside him, stretched out with popcorn in hand. Ghostbusters is playing on your large HD television, which Dave shakes his head in disapproval at, jumping over the back of the sofa to sit next to John, you following to sit beside him, picking up some kool aid hesitantly.

The movie plays, remarks are made, laughs are had and popcorn is thrown at the screen. Dirk gets home from school late again and perches on the armchair to complain about how you aren't watching my little pony for a while, and Roxy gets home from work shortly after and sits next to you.

You're glad you invited your friends over, but you cant stop yourself from glancing at Dave every few minutes whenever the screen goes particularly bright. You can almost catch sight of a bruise from behind his shades. He wipes his cheek near to the end of the movie and some foundation comes off.

You're worried.

You know that your father isn't a good guardian for Dave. There was an incident a while ago that confirmed some suspicions you had. You hadn't seen Dave that vulnerable before then, yelling in a hospital bed and not letting you see his eyes. You hug your knees a little tighter, fiddling with the hem of your skirt.

A hand squeezes yours, startling you as you look over at Dave who's now giving you a concerned look. "You okay Rosie?" He asks and you can't help but smile a little.

"Yeah, I'm good. Don't worry," you squeeze his hand back and you both turn back to watch the movie. There's nothing you can really do if he feels like he needs to stay with your dad. You've tried to get him out before, all you can do now is tell him he can stay with you, Dirk and Roxy, tell him your door is always open, try to at least be there for him.

Roxy lets out another loud laugh, Dirk throws more popcorn at the screen, Dave makes another shitty meme reference and John and Jade shush you all angrily.

He doesn't stay the night.

////

You walk back home from Rose's at half ten, which is earlier than expected. You considered staying, especially after how distant she had acted during the movie, but the chances that Bro would be mad at you for doing so were just too daunting. Even if he isn't home, you know that he'll know you weren't there somehow.

You stuff your hands deeper into your hoodie, running your nails over several cuts Bro left on your hands yesterday. The strife wasn't all too bad really, but you just couldn't bring yourself to get up so early, put on make up to hide your nasty eye, and have to deal with the whole Karkat situation.

You subconsciously reach a hand up your sleeve and brush over your soulmark at the thought of him. It still feels so strange. He's out there, right now, and you know him. And you'll see him tomorrow. And it'll be okay.

 

Your alarm goes off as usual and you shower, cover up that goddamn black eye, dress, and walk to school. It's getting colder out, you note, but at least you wore a hoodie today.

You spot Rose outside the school building reading, and sit down beside her. "Are you waiting for anyone?" You ask, with suspicions it could be Kanaya. She looks at you, and then forwards, where you follow her gaze to Kanaya herself who's making her way towards you both, as well as Karkat, Sollux, some high guy and a kid in a wheelchair.

"Hello Rose - and Dave as well, I hope you don't mind the company," Kanaya smiles as you and your sister both stand. The two of them begin talking and laughing quietly to each other, so you turn to the others that tagged along.

"So, who the fuck are you?" You ask the high guy, who has moved from pushing wheelchair guy and is now leaning on Karkat's shoulder. Karkat rolls his eyes, looking more exhausted than he did on Monday, and answers the question for High Guy.

"That's Gamzee, his parents are large donators to the school so he gets away with not fucking going to class, getting high on school grounds, and wearing that shitty clown face paint. Oh, and that's Tavros," Karkat shoots a finger in the vague direction of Wheelchair Boy. "He's cool I guess."

You nod slowly, knowing you will almost definitely forget these names, and more quietly add just to Karkat "Are you... alright?" he brushes you off, closing his eyes and running a hand through his dark curls.

"I'm fine, just tired," he leans back against Gamzee, which for some reason makes you clench your fists and take a minor disliking to the high-clown dude.

The rest of the week (and the week following) is spent with some kind of unspoken routine: you meet Karkat, Rose, Jade, John, Sollux, Kanaya, Gam and Tav (sometimes Vriska and Terezi too) every morning before school, you mess with Karkat in lessons, you sit with friends and acquaintances at lunch, sometimes you even walk Karkat home since it's somewhat on the way to yours (he lives maybe fifteen minutes away? You aren't too sure really), and everything is fine.

Until Friday.

Chapter Text

Your name is Karkat Vantas and it has been a long and tiring two weeks. Finding your soulmate, losing your mind trying to work out how such an annoying asshole could possibly have been made for you, being left alone more than usual thanks to your dad being fuck-knows-where and Kankri being off with Cronus, and you oddly getting quite a lot of media attention. It seems like everywhere you go, people are recognising you more, and sometimes cameras are just being shoved in your face.

You blame this awkward spike in popularity on the quote-on-quote "empowering" speech you did a while ago on LGBT topics being shown in the news, and another interview you did about why you shouldn't misgender trans people being spread around Tumblr and Youtube.

It's not that you really find people being inspired by you annoying, it's that someone saw your soul mark on the weekend and asked if Kanaya (who was with you at the time) was your soulmate. You both quickly told them no, you yelling in embarrassment that "she's a fucking lesbian!". This unprecedented event has admittedly spooked you a little though. You've started wearing turtlenecks again, or attempting to put makeup over the mark in order to calm your anxiety over people asking.

You know all of these fears are linked to Dave's clear discomfort over the topic of either soulmates, liking dudes, or both. Despite how annoying he is, you don't want to make him... uncomfortable.

Kankri suddenly knocks on your door, before cracking it open to which you roll your eyes. "Karkat? I apologise for disturbing you, but it has passed the desired time at which you would greet me downstairs by. If you could-" you cut him off sharply with some half-assed reassurances, waving him off as you begin to get up.

You throw on a sweater and jeans, going to your calendar with a sigh. You look at last week - your first week of school - where you have a little doodle of aviator shades on Monday. You go to the week you're currently on - which is only the week following - and cross off yesterday, smiling slightly at the fact that it's finally fucking Friday.

Kankri yells for you again and you grimace, shoving your hands in your pockets and going to the bathroom, and after a coffee and some toast, you leave for school.

It's become fairly normal for you to hang out with Dave and the others before school and in between lessons, which you really aren't complaining about. You want to get to know Dave at least, even if he is the most annoying person you have ever met. You have to admit you've grown almost slightly fond of him after the two weeks of torture you've endured having to talk to him. You share at least two classes a day with him, so it's difficult to not get to know him.

He suddenly loops an arm over your shoulders and pulls you towards him with a grin. "Mornin' Karkles," he says as you shove him off you with a huff. "How are you?"

"Great seeing as I won't have to put up with you for two days," you scowl. He mocks offence, gripping his shirt and whining about how you're 'bringing tears to his eyes'.

You walk to History with him, and halfway down the hall he says something that you cant stop thinking about all day. "Hey, about you not needing to put up with me over the weekend... would you- I mean, if you aren't busy- would you like to..." he stutters and mumbles, and you can't help but wonder if he's planning to ask you out or something.

The excitement of this idea makes you grip your books and ask - maybe more violently than you intended - "What is it, Strider?" Making him shake his head and mumble never mind. Fuck, that was possibly your chance to get closer to him and you fucking blew it. You sigh and walk into your History room after him.

Dave walks you home for the fourth time over these past two weeks, mainly talking while you zone out. You find the incessant buzzing of his voice weirdly comforting, finding yourself getting lost in it almost every time you talk to him. Your knuckles brush together, he chuckles once or twice, breath making white clouds in the afternoon mist. It's colder than it's been all week.

GA: Karkat

GA: Karkat

GA: Karkat

It's half seven and Kanaya is spamming you. This is unusual, she was swooning over staying the night with Rose - she did the same last Friday - so you had expected her to be unreachable all evening.

CG: WHAT'S WRONG? I THOUGHT YOU WERE AT ROSE'S.

CG: HAS SHE DONE SOMETHING? I CAN GET OVER THERE IN FIFTEEN MINUTES IF YOU NEED ME.

GA: No No Karkat I Am Perfectly Fine And Rose Is Lovely As Always

GA: She's Just Been Quiet After She Received A Message From Someone Who I Believe Is Possibly Dave

GA: She has been On Pesterchum Since And Creasing Her Brow And Cursing Quietly

GA: I Dont Know If Any Of This Is Relevant But I Believe I Should Inform You

CG: FUCK.

CG: DO YOU KNOW DAVE'S CHUMHANDLE?

GA: No Sorry

GA: But I Can Ask Around As I Think Terezi Has It

CG: ALRIGHT, THANKS KANAYA.

GA: Its Alright Dont Worry Too Much Though Im Sure Hes Alright

grimAuxillatrix [GA] ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG]

Ugh, this isn't good. You start pacing around your room, combing your fingers through your curls. You hate it when things like this happen - why didn't you ask for Dave's chumhandle before?

You sit on your bed crosslegged, glaring at your legs and scrunching up your face. Freaking out won't make you work out what to do faster. You dig through your bag, trying to find your maths homework for some kind of distraction, when a scrap of paper falls onto the floor. You pick it up curiously, turning it over in your hand. In a somewhat messy handwriting, "turntechGodhead" is sprawled on the paper, with a shitty winky face in the corner. Only one boy could have a chumhandle that insufferable.

CG: DAVE?

You tap your feet impatiently, biting your nails out of fear. What if he's dead and you missed your chance to have some kind of relationship? This is it, you blew your chances, he's gone forever and you didnt even get a chance to tell him you kind of liked him. Fuck, fuck, fuck-

TG: who dis

You hate him again.

CG: KANAYA TOLD ME ROSE HAS BEEN MESSAGING SOMEONE - WHO'S LIKELY YOU - FOR AGES.

TG: ah fuck she isnt like on a date or some shit is she

TG: ugh i had a feeling i was distracting her from something but she wouldnt tell me what

CG: SO IT WAS YOU?

TG: oh uh

TG: maybe

CG: ARE YOU ALRIGHT? WHATS GOING ON? SHOULD I COME OVER?

TG: no no dont come over

TG: im fine dont worry

You clench your fists. He's lying. You know he's lying.

CG: I DONT BELIEVE YOU.

TG: im fine really

TG: cmon babe whatll make you believe me

You're about to take a risk. You type out the message and hesitate over hitting send. If you do, this'll either improve or ruin your relationship. You ponder the idea of losing him. You've only known him two weeks, you don't want it to end here... but you need to make sure he's okay.

TG: karkat are you there

CG: COME OVER.

TG: what

TG: you mean like

TG: to your place

CG: YES.

TG: now

CG: YES.

TG: overnight

CG: YES.

He stops texting you for a few minutes and you get worried. Of course you fucking blew it, you idiot. You're about to cease pestering him before he suddenly replies.

TG: ok

CG: REALLY? IS YOUR BRO OKAY WITH IT?

TG: haha i dont think hed care right now

CG: WHAT?

TG: nothing dont worry

TG: ill be there soon

CG: OKAY

You attempt to tidy your room somewhat, Kankri cleans the rest of the house religiously so you don't really need to worry about that. You hear Dave knock at the door after about fifteen minutes and practically leap downstairs to open it; you don't want your brother to be the first thing he has to witness.

You open the door. It's dark and thundering outside. Dave runs a hand through his drenched blonde hair and gives you a small smile. His T-shirt is soaked and his backpack is so full it's half open, and there's another bag under his right arm. His arms are bandaged, there's plasters on his cheeks and his trousers are torn revealing a couple gashes.

"Hey, Kitkat."

"What the fuck happened to you?!"

Chapter Text

You're gonna ask him. You're gonna ask him. You're gonna ask him.

You tap your fingers on your thigh to each syllable as the phrase goes round in your head. It's Friday morning and you're walking to school alone as usual, admiring the fact that Bro not bothering you lately has actually put you in a good mood - good enough to finally see if Karkat would like to hang out on Saturday. It's weird to not come home to "roof now" sprawled around the apartment for an entire week. But definitely not bad-weird.

You meet up with everyone as usual, Karkat has a clip in his hair to keep his long-ish bangs out his eyes, which you admire all morning. He's grumpy as usual, but you've grown almost fond of it. At least he isn't quiet.

You try to ask him three times. One time you get really close, but he seemed almost mad so you just... dropped it. The other times you managed to change the subject, and by lunch you found yourself pretty much over it. Your fear of intimacy is just too overwhelming, and you can hardly bring yourself to talk to him at all.

You feel inclined to at least walk him home. You spend most of the time going off on one, but thankfully he doesn't seem to mind. You touch his shoulder on the doorstep and he turns his head to face you. His deep red eyes meet your shades and for a moment you can't breathe. You tell him to have a nice night and walk home with a stupid smile on your face. Your chest feels so warm you have to take off your jacket just to cool down a little. You tell yourself you'll message him later and ask if he’s free tomorrow. And it will be fine.

When you get home, Bro is leaning against the counter holding something. He turns to face you and you realise he's holding a note. You can make out what seems to be 'Roof. Now.' On it. He drops it on the side but stands nearby. You feel sick as you reach out to take it, but he suddenly grabs your arm. You jump, shocked, but notice he's staring at it with curiosity, you look down and - shit. Shit. It's your soulmark.

The room is silent.

Terribly silent.

Like it always is.

He looks up at you. Your heart is thumping in your ears as you try to work out the fastest route to your katana - but... he's smiling. You're terrified, but he looks... happy? Proud? You can't recognise the expression on his face. You try to pull your arm away but his grip is too tight. "Found the one, eh lil' man?" You can't remember the last time he spoke to you with more than a monotone slur.

Maybe he's proud of you. Maybe he supports you. Maybe he'll like Karkat. You can't believe it. He's still smiling, and your lips curl a little too. He grabs the note and crumbles it. He thumps you on the back endearingly and messes up your hair. Your heart is warm, and you feel happier than you've ever felt with him.

"So, 's she cute?"

Oh. “She”. Bro thinks... Karkat is... Your heart drops.

You curse yourself for it, you don't know why you say it, you know that if you do you may never come back here - to puppets, to swords, to an empty stomach and the fucking roof. Maybe that's why you say it.

"Yeah, he is."

 

It's hot. Your head hurts. Everything fucking hurts. You numbly run your hands down your body and lift them up to your face. They're red. You vaguely remember what happened. Bro was yelling about how first you’re a ‘fucking tranny' and now you’re ‘a faggot too', then he went all quiet again and you guess now you’re lying on the roof after a strife.

You try to stand. It's painful, but not impossible. You look up at the sky. It's sunset, still warm out but you can see clouds in the distance. Maybe it'll rain later. You go to the bathroom, gripping your katana and looking around the apartment. He might have gone out, and if he did he probably won't be back for a while - maybe he'll even be gone all night if you're lucky.

You open the bathroom door and turn on the light. You see yourself in the mirror and grimace. Your nose is bleeding, your eye is bruising, your lip is split and there's quite a few cuts on your face. You walk to the sink and start washing off the blood, then turn on the shower. Judging from how soaked your shirt is, it’ll be easier just to wash the blood off by showering.

You try to formulate a plan while running water through your hair, your stomach crawls at the idea of staying here tonight in fear that Bro might come home, but you don't have many other options. You think about Karkat's but you don't know the guy that well, you doubt he'll want you there. Then, maybe Rose's? She warned you about this exact situation, and told you that you're welcome there but... ugh. You don't really feel like you fit in with your family.

None of your siblings really talk about why it's just you that's with Bro, and why Rose got to stay with Mom. Dirk and Rox aren't really her kids - Dirk's your Bro's brother's son, and Roxy's your Mom's sister's daughter. Both of them don't have time for their kids, since your aunt Rosanne is an author and your uncle D is a director. So when Mom was still sober and Dirk and Rox were in their pre-teens, she left space for them at her place. They went between staying with their actual parents and with Mom and Bro - but after you and Rose were born, Mom started drinking more and they stay at home more permanently to keep an eye on things. Dirk and Roxy had always treated you both more as siblings than cousins, and you had all grown up together so you can understand why they decided to stay. Your parents fought often when you were growing up - most of it you don’t remember - but you do remember the day you left. It was raining, and Mom had gotten back from work late and drunk. Bro was arguing with her and Rose started crying because they were so loud. Roxy was comforting Rose and started yell at them to stop it. Bro slapped her and she started to cry too, and Mom made him leave. As he was opening the door, you stood nearby watching, and he suddenly grabbed your arm and tugged you out with him.

Now Dirk's at university and Roxy's working and also at school, so they aren't at home as often. You know Rose gets lonely, it's a big ass house in the middle of no where and the most company she has is from her alcoholic, negligent mother, so maybe... she'll like your company? You don't fucking know. You decide, turning off the shower and running your hands through your hair, that you'll just get dressed, patch yourself up, and send her a message.

You put on your boxers and binder and look in the mirror. There's a large gash running from your hip bone to the bottom of your rib, and another from your other hipbone to your belly button, but they’re shallow emough that they should heal alright, and you doubt a hospital trip is necessary. There are a few on your ribs, but thankfully you were already wearing an old binder today so the fact that its even more tattered doesn’t really matter - you have a newer one you can use. Your arms are the more worrying part, there’s more than usual running over your forearms (only on the outsides, thank God).

You pull thread and a needle out of the mirror cabinet and sew up two that look rather nasty on your left arm, then wrap both arms with bandages. You put on a jumper but the sleeves are a little high so they poke out slightly, but it doesn’t really matter. You can tell the rest of you is fucked just by looking at your face, you doubt this will make any difference.

You head to your room to message Rose, but it turns out she's already beat you to it, as you walk into your darkening bedroom to the tune of 'despacito' (Sollux explained to you how to code pesterchum so you can make personal sounds for each contact on Monday and, although you wish you had chosen a better song now, it still made Rose shake her head in despair, which is the ultimate end-goal). The light visible from your window is weakening and the sky is beginning to stir quietly. You make a mental note to check the weather forecast in a minute, though you know it'll probably rain anyway.

You walk over to the computer chair and slump down, the light radiating from it glaring into your dark bedroom. You can see your pasty face in the screen, covered in cuts and bruises, as you open pesterchum and click on Rose's message.

TT: David, I did a tarot reading for you earlier, and got some mildly disturbing results.

TT: For example, you received 'death', even on my second and third reading for you, suggesting a bad or sudden change.

TT: I also noticed a crow flying overhead while walking home and thinking of you.

TT: Due to these events, I feel compelled to ask: are you alright?

You note that these messages were sent just under an hour ago as you scroll down further.

TT: Dave?

TT: I understand if you're busy, I'll wait.

TT: Dave.

TT: Dave.

TT: Dave.

TG: hey

TT: Thank Goodness, are you alright?

TG: uh yeah

TG: i mean

TG: kinda

TT: What’s happened?

TG: the usual

TG: you know hes just

TG: i just

TG: he knows

TG: about the soulmark and about karkat and that karkats a dude

TG: he was saying about how i want to be a guy

TT: Oh no.

TG: and now i want to fuck them too

TT: Oh, Dave.

TG: i dont remember much else

TG: probably for the best

TG: its just

TG: i never asked to fucking be like this

TT: I know Dave, it’s okay.

TT: Can you come over? I’m sure Dirk and Roxy would love to see you more often.

TT: I would too. There’s space for you here, we can go shopping, and get you a room sorted.

TT: I can hardly sleep at night... knowing you’re there. Scared you’ll show up with more marks in the morning.

TG: you wont call them will you

TG: it was fucking awful last time

TT: I won’t Dave. I assure you it was no easier for me or mother.

TG: yeah but you didnt get the shit kicked out of you afterwards

TT: ...

TG: sorry

TG: yeah ill come over

TG: just give me a minute to get my shit together

TT: Okay I’ll see you soon.

TT: Oh, and Dave?

TT: We do love you.

tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG]

You shut down your computer and grab a backpack from one of the hooks on your door. Its unlikely Bro will be back again tonight but you feel the anxiety rising in your throat at the thought of him coming in unexpectedly. You’ve never really thought about what you’d pack if you were to leave home, and shuffle around your room shoving random things into your bag: chargers, your camera, some records, photos, tapes, drawings and other miscellaneous objects. You grab a separate bag for clothes and your turntable. Your hand twitches over the katana laid on your bed and you sheepishly slip it into your bag. You wouldn’t want to be caught off guard.

You’re pacing your room making sure you have everything before your phone chimes in your back pocket. Slipping it out, a chumhandle you dont recognise flashes on your phone screen.

CG: DAVE?

Although you dont know the handle, the capital letters and grey font make you fairly sure it’s Karkat you’re talking to. Just to confirm, you ask who it is after some contemplation - you aren’t sure if you should leave the conversation until you get to Rose’s.

There’s some back and forth - he apparently knows somethings up and is relentlessly questioning you - until he brings the idea of going to his place up. You’re startled but by no means put off, turning your phone hesitantly in your cut-up hands. You decide to shoot Rose a message and get her opinion.

turntechGodhead [TG]
began pestering
tentacleTherapist [TT]

TG: rose

TT: Yes? Is everything alright?

TG: karkat asked if i could stay over

TT: I see. Overnight?

TG: yeah

TT: Would you like to? You can always come over tomorrow.

TG: i guess

TG: im just worried i might fuck something up

TG: or ill be like

TG: inconvenient

TT: I doubt there’s anything to worry about Dave, after all he wouldn’t have invited you over if he didn’t want you there.

TT: In the words of every rom-com ever: “go to him”.

TG: i guess youre right

TT: Oh brother, I’m always right.

tentacleTherapist [TG]
ceased pestering
turntechGodhead [TT]

You message Karkat to say you’re coming and shove your phone into your back pocket. Grabbing your bags, keys and slipping on your red converse you stand in the doorway, listening to the silence of your apartment for possibly the last time. Cars passing by from the open window, the tick of the Naruto clock in Bro’s room, the muffled chatter from the apartment next door. You scuff your feet on the hallway mat and slam the door behind you.

The walk to Karkat’s isn’t long, but you’re drenched by the time you’re standing outside his front door. You knock reluctantly, contemplating whether you should have sent him a message first. Two weeks isn’t a very long time to know somebody for, and even though it feels like you’ve known him so much longer than that, you know it’ll probably still be weird.

Karkat opens the door within maybe 9 seconds, looking like he’s just done an olympic course. His eyes shoot open at the sight of you and anxiety catches in your throat. You run your hand through your soaked hair and try to smile. “Hey, Kitkat.” It sounds dumb - but you don’t know what else to say without freaking him out more. You should have known this was a mistake. You should have just stayed home.

“What the fuck happened to you?!" He whispers sharply, grabbing you by the sleeve and tugging you inside. He’s looking around the room - which is remarkably clean, holy shit - as if someone’s going to pop out from any corner. He then ushers you up the stairs and into what you assume is his room, closing the door behind him. “Are you okay? Jesus christ what happened?” He asks, a little louder than before, and you wave your arms dismissively before dropping your bags on the floor.

“Hey, everything’s fine dude, don’t worry,” you say, almost laughing. You can’t tell if it’s funny because of your underlying discomfort from the whole situation or because of Karkat’s tendency to turn every situation into a soap opera.

Karkat opens his mouth as if he’s going to continue drilling you for answers, but instead chews his bottom lip and looks at his socks. You move to sit down on his dark-grey bed, and he moves to opens the door to his room. “Are you hungry, Strider?” He asks, cocking his head slightly. Your stomach jerks at the thought of food: you only had a bag of cheese puffs for lunch, and you tend not to have breakfast.

You try to keep your composure, leaning back and casually saying “I could eat.” Karkat rolls his eyes (which is his only talent at this point).

“My brother Kankri’s doing some traditional Mexican food,” he mumbles, running his right hand over his left sleeve. You wonder briefly if his entire closet is only occupied by dark grey jumpers, and if the hardest decision he makes everyday is whether he’ll wear a turtle or crewneck. Your eyes wander back to his, where he stares at you sharply, expectant. “Well? Do you like Mexican?”

“Uh, sure? I’ve never tried it - why are you eating so late, anyway?” You ask, sitting up on his bed. The duvet is so thick you’re a little scared you won’t be able to stand up again.

Karkat rolls his eyes (again). “My dad is coming home tonight. When he’s gone a while, Kankri likes to make something familiar since he lives off takeout whenever he goes off,” he explains, moving to fold his arms and rest against the wall, one of his feet wedged between the frame and door to stop it from closing. “Wait, you’ve never tried Mexican?”

“The only takeout I’ve had is Chinese - are you Mexican? Holy shit can you speak it?” You ask, leaning even further forwards and grinning. He rolls his eyes for the third time but you can see him holding back a smile.

“Mexican isn’t a language, idiot. But yeah, I speak pretty good Spanish. We have relatives over there so my dad likes us to practice, tú tarado,” there’s a harshness to his tone but now a definite smile on his face. “I’m going to tell Kankri you’re here, make yourself at home,” he says, pushing himself up from the wall and sliding out the door - then he quickly pokes his head round to add “don’t snoop” before closing it.

You wait until you hear his feet pad down the hallway and soft chatter downstairs until you stand, eyes tracing over the shelves and ornaments he has stacked on them. You send Rose a reassuring text that you’re there safely, before running your fingers over a china crab on his lower shelf and looking at picture frames. Theres only a few - one of him with what you can assume is his relatives (they’re all big eyed and dark haired with wide smiles - apart from Karkat of course. He and what you guess is his brother have slightly lighter skin than the others pictured, so you assume his mom must be white or something.)

The other pictures are of people you’ve met before; Terezi, Kanaya, Gamzee, there was even one of John, oddly enough. You turn around and fall back onto his bed. His room isn’t that big: there’s a bed pushed up against the wall opposite his door with shelves either side of it, a small chest of drawers next to his bed, and a wardrobe and desk at the foot of it.

There‘s a comforter in the middle of the room under a table with some books and papers stacked on it. You lean towards it to see if it’s anything interesting, and notice one of the sheets has your name on it. As you lean further to get a better look, the door swings open and you jump back in surprise.

“My brother said there’s enough for you - but in the meantime, here.” He says, reaching out and handing you a plate of cold chicken nuggets. You reach for them gingerly and quietly thank him, resting the plate in your lap. Karkat sits down beside the comforter, reaching into his hoodie pocket and producing two cartons of chocolate milk. “Take one of these too.” You both sit quietly for a little while. You’re usually quite embarrassed to eat infront of people because you feel kind of... vulnerable? But with Karkat it isn’t so bad, plus you’re starving and he’s not paying you much attention. You finish most of the plate before sliding onto the floor beside him and putting the straw into your carton. He glances over at you - his feet now tucked underneath the comforter, and lies his head on the table. His phone lights up with a message from Kanaya, and your eyes catch the time. It’s only around eight, but it feels so much later. “Hey, do you like Mario Kart?” He asks, rasing his head up from the table. His curls are all matted on one side. Has this dude ever put in product? Or even brushed that monstrosity? You nod slowly in response, readjusting your aviators. He stands and tugs your sleeve, and then seems to remember something. “Ah fuck, sorry, would you like to change shirts? Yours is like, soaked,” he says, darting towards his wardrobe and opening the doors. You would normally have declined, but you have been dying to know if his fashion sense varies from just grey jumpers, so you choke out a “sure” and stand behind him to peer into his closet. There are quite a few options to choose from, but you take intrest in a black and white striped sweatshirt, and he passes it to you. “You can keep it if you like, I hardly wear it. White doesn’t suit me,” he explains, closing the doors. You take it from his caramel-toned hands, your fingertips brushing against his briefly. You’re broken out of your lightheaded state quite suddenly as you remember your binder. And even if you didn’t have to worry about the binder, you have scars on your torso - front and back. Going to the bathroom would just make him suspicious - more than he already is. You can’t get changed now. “Uh, yeah, I’ll eat first so it doesn’t seem like I’m just like, stealing your clothes to your family,” you laugh awkwardly and chuck the sweater onto his bed. He raises an eyebrow, but shakes his head in acceptance. “Let’s just go play mario kart, dude.” The two of you end up having a pretty alright time - Karkat plays as fucking Wario EVERY time, and you play Waluigi out of pity on the second round. He doesn’t win once, and every single time he falls off on rainbow road he gets so mad Kankri has to yell at him from the kitchen. At one point (after your tenth victory) Karkat groans and leans into you in defeat. It shouldn’t have mattered, it should have been irrelevant, but you immediately tense up. You can’t work out if you’re happy or uncomfortable. You’re about to tentatively lean back onto him, but before you can do anything the door swings open and (who you presume is) Karkat’s dad walks in. You jump and elbow Karkat slightly, who has already moved away, but is much more composed than you are. “Hey, dad. Nice trip?” He asks casually, standing to switch off the game of mario kart. His dad nods, then turns to you and your skin crawls. It’s always been like this, being around other people’s parents freaks you out. You couldn’t look John’s dad in the eye for years and you still struggle not to flinch when he enters the room. You try not to think too much about why you’re like that. “Dinner is ready, everyone,” Kankri announces, poking his head around the door. Karkat nods and tells you he’ll get your plate and meet you in his room. You’re embarrassingly relieved to not have to sit with his family, and nod - maybe too enthusiastically - before heading towards the staircase. You catch Karkat’s dad’s eye on your way up, and he gives you a warm smile.