“Dude,” Dave says. “I’m not a fan of being the Karkat of this conversation, but for real. You totally have to get your head out of your ass.”
“Fuck off,” You say, intending a casual tone, but still showing off an edge of sharp vulnerability. “You are completely 100% wrong about this.”
“I may not have grown up on quadrants like every other alien I’ve ever met, which is super weird, by the way,” He says. “But I’ve heard Karkat talk about them approximately a billion times, and I’ve seen them in action half that much.”
“Congrats on your cultural awareness,” You grumble.
“Thank you,” He says. “Anyway, you and Bluejeans are so fuckin’ pale for each other than it’s actually a bit pitiful to be aware of, which is makin’ me feel kinda weird, so if you could just get in a pile and pap each other, it’d be much appreciated.”
“Fuck you!” You say, throwing your arms up in the air. “I am not pale for Barry goddamn Bluejeans. I have never pitied anyone less than I pity him. There is no part of his obvious vulnerability that inspires even a twinge of pity in me. I’ve never wanted to pap someone less in my life. I’d be more likely to get in a pile with fucking Merle than him!”
“Cool,” Dave says. “If you want to lie to yourself, that’s fine. I won’t be joining in, though, so keep that bit in mind, if you please.”
“I’m not pale for him!” You cry.
“Alright, man,” Dave says. “That’s cool, my matesprit likes to be dramatic and he used to lie to himself a lot, too, so I’m used to this shit. Not that I’m gonna wax red for you, that’d be weird as all fuck.”
“It would,” You agree. “But it’d be better than this conversation.”
“Oh well,” He shrugs. You groan in frustration and wonder why you hang out with Dave Strider so fucking much.
“Jade,” You say. “I appreciate your perspective on most matters very much, but you absolutely do not know what you’re talking about in this case.”
“Alright,” She agrees easily. “If you want to keep being a dumbass, I won’t stand in your way!”
“He is absolutely not pale for me,” You say. “And, for that matter, it could be so awkward to pity him and his sister at the same time. We work really closely, and I don’t want to ruin that.”
“Like I said,” Jade says. “I won’t stand in the way of your idiocy.”
“You’re not listening at all,” You say, frustration growing.
“She’s listening,” Dirk pipes up from his place at a nearby workbench. “She’s just stubborn when she’s right.”
“Oh, great,” You say, throwing your arms up in the air. “Now we’ve got another peep from the peanut gallery. Okay, Dirk, what’s your perspective? Please, enlighten me on how Taako and I should totally be moirails.”
“You’re so pale for each other that it’s actually disgusting,” Dirk says. “And the fact that neither of you will admit that simple truth is even more irritating.”
You groan and smack your head on the table.
“I didn’t ask to be lectured by teenagers,” You say.
“Yeah, you kind of did.” Jade says, smacking her robotics project with a wrench. It whirs to life, and she shouts in glee.
You groan again, longer and louder this time.
“There, there,” Dirk says. “Eventually you’ll stop being dumb. Or dying will finally take, and then it won’t be a major concern.”
“Very comforting, Dirk,” You say. “As a necromancer, I appreciate that so much.”
“You’re welcome,” He says. You hit your head on the table again, hoping briefly that you’ll develop a head injury severe enough to end this horrible cycle early.
“Try talking to Taako again?” Your wonderful matesprit asks as you walk through the door to your house. Hive. Place of residence. Building where you live with the love of your life. Whatever.
“Yup,” You say. “Went about as well as you’d expect. Kinda makes me feel for you, all those times you tried to make us understand quadrants.”
“Even you weren’t this obtuse,” Karkat says. “Maybe John, though.”
“Fair,” You say, flopping down on the couch next to him. “Hey. Hey Karkat. Babe. Darling. Most pitiful creature in existence. Dearest heart, most handsome dude in all of paradox space, no, scratch that, most gorgeous being ever made in all possible iterations of every universe, even the ones populated entirely by supermodels, actually especially those ones because, like, supermodels as a whole are such a weird standard of beauty and you’re so much better than -”
“Dave.” Karkat says, flatly. “Get to the point.”
“Love you,” You say, grinning and leaning in for a kiss. He gives into your request, rumbling in that wonderful way that is absolutely like purring.
“Love you too,” He says as you separate. “Flushed as red hot as LOHAC for you.”
“Aw, babe,” You say. “Flushed as red as our blood, and always will be.”
“Okay,” He says. “That’s as poetic as you’re getting for at least another few weeks, and much as I’d like to bask in that beautiful moment, I’m just gonna get some popcorn and we can make fun of a shitty movie.”
“God, I love you so much,” You say, reverently, staring at his ass as he walks to the kitchen.
“And we’re both all the more lucky for it,” He calls back. “Enough butter to clog both of our arteries and kill us if we weren’t immortal?”
“You know me so well, babe!” You shout, and revel in the accuracy.
“Dude, this is embarrassing to watch,” You say, and your brother just moans like a whale in response. “Even Dave was calling you out? Damn, bro, get it together.”
“Shut the fuck up, Lup.” Taako groans. “You’re flushed for him and you won’t do anything about it.”
“Totally different,” You say. “Concupiscent relationships are super common on every plane, so there’s way crazy alien implications all the time. Pale shit is totally fine, comparatively.”
He rolls his head sideways and stares at you, eyebrow raised.
“So you’re saying Cap’nport and Merle aren’t valid?” He teases. “And that it was super chill when Lucretia flipped pitch with that chick six planes back?”
“Okay,” You say. “Shut up. Not my point at all, and you know it. Maybe I’m not willing to deal with being flushed, but you and Barry are hells of pale and it’s nauseating, but would be less so if you’d just fucking make it official.”
“It was super wild to see Lucy pitch-flirt, though.” He says, and you nod.
“So weird.” You agree. “Kinda hot, too.”
“Okay, fuck you, I’m out,” He says. “I don’t want to hear that. You’re my twin and she’s basically my sister, fuck you, I’m so, so out.”
“Talk to Barry!” You shout after him. He flips you off and gags as he walks down the gangplank.
“Rose,” You say. “This feels like an invasion of privacy.”
“It is,” Your wife agrees. “That’s why we’re doing it. It’s an interesting type of cultural exchange, and besides that, I have a bet with Dave and Karkat about how long this is going to take.”
“Not Dirk or Jade?” You ask.
“Dirk’s betting for after they leave, which is cheating and he knows it, and Jade’s already lost.” She says. “Jade is far too optimistic with these things. It does bring in more profit, though, so it’s not a total loss.”
You open your mouth to respond, and then hear the now-familiar sound of Taako entering your range of hearing.
“Fuck!” He shouts. “I am so done with kids judging my romantic life.”
“You too?” Barry asks from where he’s leaning against a rock and scribbling madly in a notebook, pages strewn all around him. Taako jumps in surprise, not having seen him, and then, upon taking in the mess that is Barry Bluejeans, visibly softens.
They are so pale for each other, it’s passed heartwarming and moved directly to frustrating that they aren’t doing anything about it. Even you and Karkat weren’t quite this bad, and Karkat has told you multiple times that, “In retrospect, Kanaya, we were the two most blind people on that meteor, romantically speaking, and Terezi and Vriska were both present.”
It was harsh, but fair.
“Yeah,” Taako says, sitting down overdramatically next to Barry, subtly rearranging the papers around them. “What’s it about for you?”
Barry pauses, takes in a deep breath, lets it out, and carefully looks at his notebook, though he’s ceased writing.
“How we should just get down to it and be moirails.” He says, voice so much steady than you ever would’ve guessed. It’s kind of impressive.
Taako looks quite shocked. His eyes are wide, and he’s actually speechless for a longer moment than you’d imagined, especially as he and Dave seemed to have formed some kind of hellish feedback loop in which neither of them shut up, ever, and they only encouraged each other. It was, possibly, the actual worst thing to have ever happened.
“Oh,” Taako squeaks. “Right. That. Same, actually.”
There’s more silence, in which Barry starts visibly shaking, emotional wreck that he is.
“Okay, no.” Taako says, scooting closer to him and reaching out a hand to - oh gracious, finally - pap him. “Shoosh the fuck back to chill. Good job on initiative and all that, fine, it’s totally true and I’m insanely pale for you, you pitiful fuck, and obviously you’re nervous as shit so you’re into this mess, too. Now get up or I swear I will make a pile right here out of your sciencey notes.”
“Don’t do that,” Barry says. “But yeah, Taako. I’m incredibly pale for you, too. Also, we’re both messes, so like. It’s completely fine and I will embrace it. And you, probably, so. Deal with that.”
“Damn, Bluejeans,” Taako says. “Mad respect, yo.”
“Please stop talking to Dave.” Barry sighs. “It’s bad enough to hear it once.”
“Fair,” Taako shrugs, standing up and pulling Barry up with him. “Now let’s get back to the ship and make the best pile ever, and lay in it for so long that everyone stops gossiping about us getting official.”
“Sounds fantastic,” Barry says, gathering his notes. “Also, I get observation, which is why I didn’t stop you, but show’s over, Rose, Kanaya.”
“So it seems.” Rose says, floating gracefully down from the tree limb the two of your were perched in. “And what a show it was.”
“Congratulations,” You say as you take Rose’s hand and lead her away before she and Taako start something. It’s always so terribly dramatic when they do. “It’s good to see that you two came to your senses soon enough that our betting pool can have a satisfying conclusion.”
As you and Rose leave, you hear Barry mutter, “Betting pool?” and Taako make a noise of outrage. Any other day, you’d worry of repercussions, but you know better than to be concerned of any attacks from a pair of recently official moirails. They’ll be too high on shooshpapping and feelings jams to do anything remotely confrontational for at least a day.
Speaking of, you’re probably due for a feelings jam with Karkat. You walk back to the hive you share with your matesprit with complete contentedness surrounding your thoughts, likely due to the tangible relief that was emanating from Barry and Taako.
Those two will be excellent moirails, you’re certain.
You’re marking out words from journals, for the third time today, and you’re about to have to stop once more. Your vision is becoming blurred from tears, and you can’t allow any smudges on these pages.
You’ve reached the cycle on Earth C, which was good for all of you. One of the few in which you all stayed alive, in fact, and the only one able to keep itself safe after the Hunger’s attack. Or at least, so they claimed. You think it likely, what with all of those powerful child-gods. There was a plan for Roxy and Jade in particular to transport their part of the plane to a safe zone, and you hope so much that they managed it.
This journal is particularly painful to block out. Not only was it a good cycle all around, it’s going to be so harmful for Barry and Taako. You don’t want to separate them, but having them together is too likely to spark up those pale feelings, and Faerun doesn’t have quadrants.
You can’t risk it.
You raise up the marker you’ve been using, and strike through the line detailing Magnus stumbling upon Taako and Barry’s first pile, and something deep in your chest cracks even further.