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"Fine, then, why don't you just let Dave take you, then?"

"John, for fuckssake what are--"

The phone slams in the receiver and your head slams to the wall.

You are Jonathan Andrew Egbert and you are having the stupidest argument you have ever had in your life. To make it worse, you are pretty sure you're the one in the wrong here. With your twenty-seventh birthday not even three months behind you, you are pretty sure that you are (as your sister would say) far too old for this histrionic bullshit.

You sigh and sprawl out on your couch. Jade would be right, you can admit that. Fourteen years of loving Karkat and you know that parting blow had been a low one. You are an asshole. You raise your hand to push the bridge of your glasses up and scrub at your eyes with your fingers. How had this even started? You're sure you can't remember, probably something stupid. It was always something stupid with the two of you, even if you didn't always take the bait he laid out for you. You knew him better than that. Usually. Even if sometimes you just wanted to punch him in the face from loving him too much, a feeling that would in your younger years more than likely have made his pulse race but now just made your heart feel heavy and hard in your breastbone and, you think, his as well.

The argument you'd had wasn't the argument you wanted. Not that you ever wanted an argument, they just seemed to come part and parcel with Karkat Vantas. Even still, the fight was not the fight, you know? You did know, of course you knew. You were the one picking fights for once. If you had just come out and been direct, the way you usually were, you would probably not be sitting here on your couch feeling sorry for yourself. You know that, but you didn't do it so here you are.

And yet.

Fourteen years of loving, and why wouldn't he move in with you? You hadn't been dating the whole time, of course. When you'd met you hadn't even understood you loved him the way you did, or what that meant. You were just kids, playing a game that was bigger than you'd ever understood. Once upon a time you had been a kid playing at being a god, and now you were a god playing at being an adult. You wonder, briefly, if you will ever understand. But you had been kids and you hadn't understood the complicated nature of loving somebody like that yet. He hadn't, either, he still didn't maybe. His culture, his people, his planet, they didn't have a word for loving and you'd had to teach it to him when you were seventeen and sticky-drunk on Jade's girlish wine coolers and summer moons and you'd kissed him, just once.

You remember.

You remember that this was all you got, this one kiss and this one night where you told him you loved him and he hadn't understood but you'd tried to make him, and then life came. You were growing up, you had to, even if you didn't want to. So college came, and you fought and you left and he stayed behind and when you were nineteen Rose told you he was dating Dave and your heart broke.

Dave had not been invited to your birthday party that year, and you will never quite forgive him. Even if he is still your best friend and you want to.

Then you were twenty-three and he was working at the movie rental place by your apartment. You hadn't even known he was in the city, you hadn't spoken in years. He was perfect, still, was perfect now and oh, God, you really did love him. Five years apart and all you'd managed to do was date a series of assholes with all his bite and none of his unspoken love. Though if you were ever grateful to Dave for anything in this tangled mess of a relationship the three of you had now, it would be that in his lack of love Karkat had figured out what you had been trying to give him all along.

He still wouldn't move in with you.

Your phone rings. The caller ID is Rose-- there is nothing you want less right now than to hear her even, measured tones telling you that acting this way was not the way to get what you wanted. You already knew that, and she already knew you knew, and it was a stupid argument you didn't want to be having. You had a movie review to write for the magazine, anyway. Your laptop is sitting on your coffee table. You make no move to go to it or answer your phone. You are, you decide, in the throes of agony and cannot be bothered to do anything at all. Except perhaps call and order a calzone from the Italian place down the street because nothing filled that hole in your heart like melted mozzarella and vegetables.

Karkat stands you up for your evening plans. You try not to be disappointed, because fair enough. You were still an asshole, and you continue to be one every minute you don't call to apologize. Damnit, you don't want to apologize this time, you want to wallow in your hurt feelings and wonder what it is that kept him from moving in with you. It wasn't that it was your apartment, you would gladly move into his if that's what it took even though it was shitty and in a neighborhood that made you nervous. He didn't understand the idea of a bad neighborhood and it was cute. You smile, thinking about it, but stop that nonsense immediately. You are mad at him, remember? Keep it together, Egbert.

Maybe, you think, it's his job because your place is farther away than his and he doesn't have a car because he hates them. You chew contemplatively on your calzone and think about this. If you offered to drive him to work every day, would he accept? You work from home, it doesn't matter much to you. Ah but, he doesn't like being dependent on anyone, or anything, and maybe that was it after all.

You turn on the television but you aren't watching it. He was supposed to spend the night. It's nearly two in the morning but your bed seems lonely and you don't want to be in it without him. Maybe you should call to apologize, after all. Your phone is next to you on the couch, taking up more space than it should. Do you call? Do you not call? You don't want to give in too soon. Was that how this worked? (No, John, and it was Rose's voice, patient and understanding.)

You are not very good at being angry. Less than six hours, and you are picking up your phone and pulling up his number, speed dial 2.

His ringtone is coming from outside your door.

You practically trip over your own feet trying to get to the door fast enough, it is ridiculous and you don't care. You hate fighting, which makes your relationship stupid and everyone tells you this. Tells you both, you should just have dated Rose like Karkat told you to. Yet here you are and you slam your thigh on the table you keep in the hall for your keys and piles of unopened mail except you don't even care, do you, because he's on the other side of the door even though you are an asshole. The door slams against your wall hard enough to make him wince in sympathy for your security deposit. There he is, in a sweater that doesn't fit him and pants that fit too well and God, he is beautiful. He hasn't slept, you haven't slept either.

"Egbert," he begins, but you cut him off by shamelessly throwing yourself at him like you're sixteen and a girl and not at all the bastion of manliness you usually are. He sputters in your doorway. He is insulting you and underneath you can hear that he loves you, your face buried in his chest because he's taller than you now and you think I am so glad. Even though that makes no sense.


You pull back and you look at him, because he was saying something and you weren't listening. You are grinning from ear to ear. You are just so relieved, overwhelmed with it. You're not a complicated man, really, or so you've been told. Straightforward as an arrow, simple as one too. You had a fight and you regret it, but he's here now and so you are happy, because even though you're twenty-seven and you've fought before more bitterly than this you were sure, sure that this time he wouldn't want to come back.

"John, we have to-- Oh for fuckssake stop that, John, I have to fucking talk to you, asshole."

You're still ignoring his words, pulling him into the hall and closing the door. You kiss his neck, the only bit of him you can reach without stretching, his shoulders through the rough wool of his sweater, pull his hands to you and you kiss those too. Finally his words stop and he leans down to kiss you, the way you want him to. You're not good at talking and he isn't either.

This, though, you're good at this. His mouth on yours is perfect, his claw-tipped fingers raking down your back sharp enough to thrill through the thin material of your tshirt, you settle all your arguments this way. Unhealthy, perhaps. There a thousand things you don't know how to say without making one of you angry, though. Your fingertips caressing the sharp ridge of his hipbones say it all.

"You came after all," you murmur. He can't hear you, you're saying it into his chest as you pull his shirt up and over his head. Your tongue ghosts over every plane and angle, perfect if only to you. He shivers, a noise of need and want from above you. You lived for that sound, sometimes. Grey skin flush with that blood of his that he hated and you adored because it was his, his and you loved him oh God did you love him.

"Let's-- not out here, John, your floor is gross." You laugh. He smiles. The both of you move to your bedroom, which is no tidier than your living room but has a bed in it that you throw him down onto. He growls at you appreciatively, Jesus fuck. Where your shirt went you don't know, but you're both still wearing pants. This is painful, the force of how much you love and want this man, your spaceman, your alien, your own personal extraterrestrial encounter over and over making you ridiculously hard. You'd be seventeen forever for him, you think.

You think about pulling off his pants with your teeth or something else from a movie you watched late at night, but that's too hard and takes too long besides. Some desperation is welling within you, some hole you can't fill with calzones or words but only with the cool touch of his hands on your body. You do it the normal way. They land over your lamp, which you regretfully turn off.

"Should I leave my glasses on?" The way you ask it is a mockery of seduction, a joke, the way you always talk but the question is a little serious. You think, though you have never asked in the four years of your relationship, that he likes them. He snorts at you, pulling himself onto your lap instead of answering. The motion of his black tongue over black lips is hypnotic, the flash of sharp teeth simultaneously terrifying and thrilling. They slide over your collarbone. You gasp, a breathy sound that in no way expresses how bad you kind of want to skip all this and just fuck him stupid. He kneads the flesh of your ass with his hands, he grinds his hips against yours and your cocks grind together.

"Fuck, man just-- can I--"

"Shut the fuck up John, yes, for fuckssake you don't have to ask every time." His voice is satisfyingly broken up, even though neither of you have done much of anything. You wonder if that neediness is in him too, the one entirely unrelated to the brush of skin against skin. You are taut with wanting, so when he picks up his hips your breath hitches. He catches your eye, beautiful in the neon half-light from the signs outside your window. You want to look away because it's weird, it's embarrassing and awkward when he just stares at you like that, luminous and huge as a star. You are trapped. You don't mind. He slides his hips down, one hand gently guiding you into him, sticky-slick because alien biology you try not to think about when you fuck him.


That was you, because he has slammed his ass down onto your lap so hard it steals your breath away. He's warmer than usual inside, hot from the summer and the room and your body, tight and he keens above you. His teeth sink into your shoulder, the edge of pain mixing with the tight shudders of pleasure that wrack both of you when his hips swivel a little. You wanted to fuck him but he's above you, fucking himself with you and that's okay too. That's more than fucking okay, you scrape your fingers over the ridges that cover his spine, slide your hands up his neck and into his hair. There is a place, just next to the base of his horns, where you know if you rub just so--


Just hearing your name pushes you up to the edge tonight. Pressure from your hips to your balls, a sort of tightness you can't even begin to articulate well because to you it is the force of loving Karkat. This is stupid and sentimental, to describe something as simple as coming this way, but so are the both of you, perhaps. You try to arc your hips up into him from your position sitting with your back against the wall when he slides down again. His breath is coming hot and fast now, both your bodies slick with sweat. You can't last much longer, you really can't. One hand is fondling his horns but you let the other come between your bodies to pull him off in sharp jerking movements you'd learned since long ago he loves. Above you there this a litany of curses like prayers, his eyes half-shuddered. He tightens around you, his teeth spear his lip, there is a faltering in his rhythm.


That face, so close to coming and it's you he's grinding against, you he's keening and moaning for and you totally lose it, crying out but not stopping the movements of your hands until he makes a choked noise and comes too, all over the both of you. It is ridiculously gross and so hot.

For a moment you stay that way, panting and looking at each other. Words press against your teeth. You bite them down for now. Eventually he slides you out of him, stretching out next to you. An arm is thrown carelessly over your messy torso. You almost protest, but suddenly you feel so tired. You slide down, too, so both your heads are sharing your shitty pillow. His eyes close. He is smiling at you, just a little bit around the edges of his mouth. It's a beautiful mouth. You kiss him.

"Marry me," you say, surprising even yourself. His eyes don't open but he snorts again, shaky derision.

"That's not even legal in this state, John." He pulls the blanket over you both. You hadn't noticed but you felt cold now. He did that to you. He's talking like you're kidding.

"I'm serious," you protest. That sudden emptiness presses up against your throat, constricting your breathing.

"John," his eyes open to show you he is serious, too, "trolls don't get married. That's a human thing." You know that. He knows you know that, so his voice is soft when he says it. There's something you can't puzzle out behind his words, a strange tilt to his face. You want to know what it means, because you are suddenly afraid. There is this uncertainty in you. A thousand delicate tendrils of unknowing wrap around your heart.

There it is, you realize. There is the thing that is pushing you, that you were fighting over with different arguments. You are afraid, and you want to insist on something stupid because you don't know how else to keep him. He escaped you once before. Your stomach drops when you think he might be doing it again. Rose and Kanaya got married you want to say, even though that's barely even true because Rose doesn't believe in it. Tether him to you, keep him because you are so, so afraid. Your fingers twist in the sheets. Don't go but he's right here.

"But," he starts. His voice is so quiet you almost miss it. "Since you're such an asshole, I guess I could move in."

Your heart stops.

"Are you sure, because you really don't have to if you don't want to. I don't want to make you or anything, and--"

"Shut up," and then his lips are pressed to yours so you do.