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Muddy Pages

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"This isn't how I pictured this dig going, not gonna lie." In the middle of a surprisingly local woods, three figures, damp with rainwater and sweat, tried to dig up something worth their while. Dave stopped to take a breath, wiping some soil off his knees before glancing between his dig-mates. Unlike himself, neither seemed to be in fouler spirits.

"Hush up, doing it yourself never hurt anybody!" Chipped in Aradia with her trademark optimism. Despite being smeared with grime and soaked, her strong frame and unerring positivity leant itself well to this situation.

"Tell that to my shoulders." Dave grumbled, getting back to digging "And my shirt. If I'd known we were doing it ourselves, in the rain, yet at the same time stewing in ass end of summer heat, I'd have brought something I was chill with ruining."

"And would that have stopped you complaining?" Jake snorted from his own trench "I swear, you ought to have selected a different career my good boy, this one seems to rub you up the wrong way."

Dave groaned in frustration "I'm a paleontologist, I get paid to stare at dead shit and be like, yeah, it's dead. You assholes are the ones who decided it was a fucking excellent idea to come out here in the middle of wet season to look for something we don't even know whether-"

Clunk.

All pretence of the slick mud was dropped, Dave falling to his knees to push aside the thick slime, to find a large stone slab, with a fresh graze mark from where his careless shovelling had hit. The other two were already dropping in to join him, excited by the telltale silence of 'Dave shut up, that means there's something vaguely interesting'.

Aradia looked over the dimensions and confirmed what Dave had been thinking. "Judging from the shape and size, as well as the relationship to the foundations we found, I think it's a tomb of some sort."

"Yeah, exactly what I was thinking." Dave's voice gave away his grin. Finally, something he knew how to do.

"Well if there's something here, I suppose we ought to call in that dig team?" Jake chimed in, the only one unenthralled by the appeal of possible dead shit "Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed fucking with Dave-"

A face-full of mud later, Jake would regret that sentence.


 

The rain stopped just after the dig team arrived, and within the next day, the site was fully exposed, laid out for the more exact members of their team. Dave, professional oogler of dead shit, was of course called out to confirm that the graves, were in fact, graves. Surprise, they were.

The vast majority of them were damaged or caved in, but a few seemed fairly viable. In came the usual debate: should we open the boxes of dead shit? Another surprise: yes. It seemed like a useless venture though, six tombs in and nothing to show for it except what was either a stick or a rib. Dave wasn't licking it to find out. The seventh tomb was the saving grace of the dig.

The grinding slab was lifted to reveal an extremely well-preserved body, a few features such as a mass of black hair, a prominent arrow wound in the chest, and the lack of matter around the wrist bones standing out especially. Dave had the marvellous (at least to him) of examining the corpse. It was buried with respect, bit not in a way that suggested high status. A well-decorated soldier? A famous musician? It might not be a healthy habit to get into, but Dave always enjoyed the speculation more than the answers. Answers he would get, however, as a beautifully preserved journal lay tucked between the body's thigh and the wall of its tomb. Careful in the removal, Dave slipped it out.

"I wonder if it's rude to read the thoughts of someone who's been dead for hundreds of years." Aradia said thoughtfully as she examined the artifact in the safety of the tent, carefully plucking a stray spider from the spine.

"I wouldn't say so. And good gracious is this a rare opportunity, we can actually find out what the poor chap was like!" Jake weighed in, peering excitedly at the ancient book, jittering ever so slightly.

Dave was lost in thought, and must've gazed at it for too long to the point of even Aradia giving him a funny look.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you had a crush on our new friend!" She teased, promoting a snort from the crusher in question.

"Hey, I like my men the way I like my- what's something with lips?"

"Tulips?" Jake suggested.

"Pussy?" Aradia lesbianed.

Through his laughter, Dave took the journal from Aradia "Both very good options. I'll give mudman's sweet teen diary a quick perv over and make some notes, you kids go play in the dirt before Jade makes you have a shower." As if realising how dire such a situation would be, the two hurried out, leaving Dave with his own thoughts as well as those of a centuries-old corpse.


It didn't take long to abandon his note-taking as Dave got lost in the historical sauce, parsing through the pages with a growing addiction. The author was a farm boy with big opinions about the state of his world. Antiquated language left him wondering from time to time, but this guy also seemed to have big opinions on when to curse someone out. Those opinions were "always" and "without mercy". Authentic historical texts weren't known for their humour, but Dave found himself chuckling from time to time.

The tale progressed into a more intriguing one, the kid progressing into a young man. A few stories of lost fistfights and catastrophic run ins with the local guards made Dave think this protagonist was probably a bit inept, but his heart seemed to be well placed. He started wondering if they could've been friends, flipping pages from tales of market places and how the harvest was going, ancient doodles, and of course, the overhanging curiousity about how this particular person died.

The journal turned from a rare find to a potentially priceless artifact as the story continued, until it became clear that this farm-boy, the one who Dave had spent the last day perving up the personal thoughts of, had in fact grown up to be the leader of a local rebellion. It was pretty well known from local records, which explained the circumstances of burial. He had a fair few people dedicated to the cause, stories of ancient espionage and intrigue being woven by a voice that was becoming more and more clear in the head of the unexpected reader. He could almost see him at this point, strong and tall from working a farm for most of his life, dark hair the same as the body he left behind. It was strange.

Dave was disappointed, not surprised, but oddly emotional to turn the page on an account of a plot to sneak into the nearby keep to find the next page blank. The story ended there. It made sense of course, anyone who knew what to look for could tell the corpse had been dealt an early death, but it was a shame. He thought he'd have liked to know the rebel's name after reading five years of his life, but the writer had seemed to be almost avoiding saying it. It was a shame, body names like "Lant Street Girl" and "Bamburgh Body" seemed dehumanising for someone who had written with such life.

He made a decision the night after closing the diary. The storm that had been kindly absent for the last three days was rolling back in, so the site would be closed until it passed on, and he wouldn't be called back unless more viable tombs were opened. So, he left the tent during the night with the journal and went to the still-open tomb, slipping the diary back where he found it.

It was strange to him how a corpse had gone from a specimen to a living being in a matter of days. Looking at him, he was just as dead and wrinkly as ever.

"All dried up like guy jerky..." Dave mumbled. It was strange to feel sad about this. He hadnt noticed the rain beginning to plonk down on his shoulders, but he cleared his head and stood up.

With an almighty slap, he slipped backwards, yelling out a choked yelp as his hand caught on a bit of broken stone, a large cut opening across his palm. He lay there for a second out of both shame and pure appreciation of the comedic tension of the moment before sitting up, groaning as he saw the gash on his hand, and that he'd managed to get blood on the carvings. Damn, if it wasn't for the incoming storm, he'd be worried Aradia would be mad.

Desperate to maintain some pride, Dave climbed out of the trench, throwing one last look at the rebel before heading in to get changed. He had to leave at ass-o'clock in the morning the next day, so he had no time to dwell on dead boys. Still, he looked back.


"Gonna have to replant the fucking begonias..." Dave mumbled, peering out of his kitchen window to what used to be his back garden, but seemed now to be a frog resort of some kind. Frogs liked puddles right?

The rain hadn't stopped in the last two days. The whole 5 hour journey from the dig site, it had rained. All through dinner with Jake and Aradia, it had rained. All through the night, kept up by the pat pat pat and the throbbing in his palm, it had rained. Rain rain rain. Poor rebel guy would be a soup by now, he supposed, stirring some sugar into his coffee.

He zoned out, gazing out of the window at the dark sky and the soaked grass, fingers drumming in time with the beat of the rain. He felt strange, he always felt out of sorts after a big find but this was really strange. He wasn't sure he liked it.

Snapping himself back to reality, Dave headed to the living room, plopping down onto the sofa and reaching for the TV remote. He coaxed his cat off of it (not his choice but when your sister's cat has 14 kittens it's sort of the rules you take one), and switched to whatever channel seemed easiest to ignore, gazing off into space.

Pat pat pat, drum drum drum, blah blah blah, noise noise noise.... KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

Swearing as hot coffee stained yet another clean shirt, Dave grumbled and got up. Who the fuck was visiting him at 5pm on the wettest day of the year, and how soon could he get them to leave so he could return to his brooding?

He pulled the door open to see a person he'd never seen before, and almost immediately shut it. A smaller man, skin darker than Dave's but just as heavily freckled. In fact, they shared a few similarities. Freckles, dimples, some nasty scars, and the exact same shade of red eyes. What they didn't share was the look of seething rage on the smaller of the two's face, the dirt-caked skin, or the extremely ragged clothing that looked like it was grabbed from a museum.

Dave, dumbstruck, took about twenty seconds to say anything "Can I help you or are you just gonna stab me?"

The smaller figure inflated with rage "You very well cannot fucking help me, at least not now. First you read my diary, then you wake me up, nice going numbnuts, you're the worst grave robber on the fucking earth." He spat out.

Dave's nonplussed expression was all the man needed, and with a wet slap (there goes another clean shirt), he thrust a dirty, soggy book against Dave's chest.

"Well????"

Dave looked at the book. Leather bound, written in antiquated language, old, old, and old. It was the rebel's journal.

"How did you-"

"Get this? You know when someone's buried with something, it's typically easy to fucking get?"

Dave looked up with a start. No. No fffffffffffucking way.

"No."

"Yes."

"N-no?"

"Consider: Y-yes?"

Standing before Dave was an ex-corpse, the writer of the journal he'd spent the last few days becoming attached to, not only in the flesh, but with a hell of a lot more of the stuff than he had when Dave cracked him open.

"Congratulations, dumbfuck, you're a necromancer, and now we're bonded. Are you gonna let me in? I'm freezing my ass off out here."

Dave stood aside.

Chapter Text

"...So is it magic or body switching or-"

"HEAVEN ABOVE CAN I DIG MUD OUT OF MY ASS IN PEACE?!?"

Dave sighed, leaning against the wall with a thunk. He wasn't quite sure if the reality of a 873 year-old corpse currently hogging his bathroom was really sinking in. Good Christ his life was weird. And here he was an hour ago, bored shitless. Was it weird to prefer this? He thought it was weird. But then again, this whole situation was pretty batshit, all things considered enjoying the company was pretty bog standard.

"No offence but I thought you'd be taller." Dave called through the wall, a response of angry splashing hitting his ears.

"Oh really? And I thought I was dead. You think I don't have fucking questions right now, you absolute philistine? I'm the one who just woke up! I don't know where I am, what these little containers are for, any of it! Don't you dare act like this is easy on me you dick."

Dave groaned "Okay that's fair but don't you think that it's a little weird that you're alive now? I mean, that's pretty strange to me. I don’t personally think that’s unreasonable? You were a corpse when we met." A groan passed through the wall. If the risk of getting punched or more shirts ruined wasn't much lower in this situation, Dave was pretty sure this conversation would be less frustrating in the same room.

"I was buried with a revival seal, moron." He said in the sort of snooty voice that only proved he didn't get it either.

"Oh okay." Dave said a little wearily, slipping down to sit on the floor, unlocking his phone. He couldn't keep this to himself, Aradia, local eater of dirt and fellow dead-shot-oogler, would lose her mind over this, and Jake and Jade would have so many questions. Not to mention Kanaya was obsessed with those of the undead persuasion, and if he told Rose she'd probably either threaten the magic out of his new friend or psycho-therapify the Christ out of him....

He locked his phone again.


 

The rebel looked much better not covered in mud, Dave had to admit, as they sat in the spare room while he towelled his hair out.

"Soooo-" Dave began

"One more question and I swear I'll- I'll-" The rebel sighed "Dammit, I'm not much of a fucking threat while I'm wearing your clothes am I?" He raised his arms, the dressing gown swamping his body. Dave was skinny, but stupidly tall. Karkat was tiny and fat. Not a good combination for clothes sharing. He sortof looked like a vaguely pissed moth.

Dave snorted "Trust me, I don't doubt you'd try to beat the shit out of me, but I'll give you a break. After one more."

Flopping onto his back, the rebel sighed "Fine, but make it quick."

Dave leant back so he could still see him "You got a name or did they get invented with indoor plumbing?"

The rebel snorted a little "Karkat. Vantas." He added, glancing up at Dave. It had obviously been a while since he'd said it.

"I'd say it's a pleasure but it's mostly just confusing." Dave smiled a touch "Dave Strider." He'd offer a handshake, but secretly, those scars on Karkat's wrists kind of freaked him out. Not that he didn't have his fair share, but good lord they were concerning.

"Weird name. I do have a question though." Karkat rolled onto his stomach, resting his head in his hands "What year is it?"

Dave snorted a bit. He hadn't even considered that "2019. Pretty good year." Or at least it is for him because this is a happy fic and things are good here motherfuckers and you cannot stop me. “Good president, black gays like yours truly are allowed to exist… Yeah that’s the only relevant political information I can think of.” Dave shrugged “Starbucks released new flavour lattes last week?”

"Jesus fucking Christ." Karkat gasped and clamped his hand over his mouth "Oh fuck don't tell anyone I said that."

Dave laughed, foreseeing some interesting culture clashes "Nah, don't worry, blasphemy isn't really a thing people give a shit about anymore. Thank Christ or I'd be up the ass-end of god's wrath."

"Oh good, I never believed in all that bullshit." Karkat admitted "Dad dragged me along to the services but I never really gave a rat's ass about it." He shrugged a bit "Anyway, wow, that's.... A long time to pass." He looked out of the window beside the bed, obscured by the pouring rain "It's strange, most people I knew were convinced the end would be coming soon enough. That's a long fucking delay."

Dave realised he was staring, which made it lucky that Karkat was lost in thought, and he cleared his throat "Okay, yeah, weird and everything. Wild. Straight up crazy. But I wanna ask one teeny tiny last thing."

Karkat groaned, sitting up "Ergh. What."

"How come you talk like that? Aradia said anyone who lived here would have a wildly different accent a century ago, and judging from the architecture of the tomb, that burial site was at least 900 years old when it was- well, buried."

Karkat was staring now. Two pairs of the same eyes "I'm not sure? I mean, shit, how come I'm alive? How come your bed is so squishy? How come your hair is so light when you've got dark skin? What the fuck is a president? How come all of this? I don't have any fucking answers! You're the one who woke me up! You figure it out, you're the grave robber."

Dave gasped in what he hoped didn't sound like too genuine offence even though it was "I'm not a grave robber, I'm a palaeontologist."

"That's a made up word." Karkat said sharply.

"All words are made up." Dave shot back. Finally, binging Marvel movies with Jake paid off. The only good ones were Black Panther and Captain Marvel. And Antman but that was partially because they both fancied Paul Rudd. Oh and Thor Ragnarok that was good too- oh Karkat's talking again.

"-with some of my friends so I'd say that's Latin but I'm not sure? Either way. Fake fucking word." He stuck his tongue out, not realising Dave hadn't got a word of that. Well he had, but less words than Karkat had said. Presumably.

"Right. Cool. Sounds good, uh-" He looked around a bit "You should put some proper clothes on that bathrobe can't be all you're wearing." He said in an attempt to change the subject, since he had no idea how to communicate without something getting set on fire in his brain.

He got up and dug through his old clothes "Here, I got this on a fishing trip with June and her dad. Still don't know why I went on that, but this should fit you." He thrust a grey jumper into Karkat's arms and an old pair of jeans.

Karkat looked at them and frowned "Jesus, how shitting rich are you to own stuff like this?" He lifted the sleeves, scrutinising the stitching as if it was the finest garment he'd ever seen.

Dave snorted a bit "That jumper cost me a tenner dude. Keep it, grey, it'll look good with your hair."

Karkat looked absolutely gobsmacked but nodded "Should I.... Meet you downstairs?"

Dave nodded "Yeah, sounds good, uhhh- yeah, I'll put food on. No offence but you look a little.... Deflated." He gestured vaguely to the shape of him.

"Hey fuck you, I haven't eaten in almost 900 years." Karkat snorted, meeting Dave's eyes for a split second before standing up "...Privacy?" He said after a second.

Dave nodded awkwardly and backed out, heading downstairs. He headed to the kitchen and started looking through the cupboards for something decent. He wasn't trying to impress his new... We're they friends? His new associate. He wasn't trying to impress him, but come on, this guy hadn't eaten in centuries, he wasn't gonna give him canned soup and toast.


 

Karkat finished getting changed, looking at himself in the wardrobe mirror. Dave was right, he did look a little deflated, didn't he? He adjusted the sweater, grey and huge with a crab-shaped logo for the fishing lake emblazoned in red on his chest. Bright red. Bright, bright red.

Idly, Karkat ran his hand over a spot above his heart, but shook his head a bit. As wild as this was, he'd survived. Those who killed him hadn't. By all means, he won. So many things people wanted him dead for, the "him" not even half the reason. He was being dramatic, but the fact that he survived, somehow, was a bit of a power trip.

He sat down, head spinning a touch. God, this was weird. The walls were so brightly coloured, and the surface beneath him was so impossibly soft. Back in his time, this was was beyond the height of luxury, it was insane to think this could be reasonable. It was bizzare. Not unwelcome as such, just bizzare. It hadn't really hit him yet that he wasn't getting back to his own time, but honestly? He was okay with that. He wasn't in any rush to go home, and he knew fine well he couldn't, he wasn't stupid. But everything was different. Even his hands. Scars he wasn't used to.

He was getting a bit lost, wandering around these weird thoughts he was almost certain no other human being had ever had to deal with. Almost certain. Almost and completely positive no one had to deal with being blood-bonded to a sarcastic asshole in weird glasses after being dragged out of your eternal sleep. Though he had to admit, things could be worse. At least Dave seemed nice enough.

He cleared his throat to clear the air, before getting up, adjusting his sweater. God, he was swamped in the thing, he thought as he headed downstairs. If he was stuck here, he had to get some comfortable clothes. Maybe he'd keep this though. It didn't look too bad on reflection.


 

"-But that's why I just need something simple, nice and quick, nice and easy, and tastes good! And no, I'm not making mac and cheese you're the only one who likes it." Dave half-yelled into his phone, dashing around the kitchen for no particular reason other than he was full of nerves.

"Oh come ooooon." Jade's voice came through the speakerphone on the bench "If you're trying to impress someone that's what you should make, it's like the one thing you make better than Jane. And the only thing you make that's never shit."

Dave let out an offended gasp "Excuse me my 3AM frankenburgers are legendary." He got down a tray and hurried to the fridge "Anyway, who says I'm trying to impress anyone?"

"We were each other's comp-hets, Dave, I know what it sounds like on you. Kinda whiny, worse jokes than usual." She explained, unable to hide her laughter "Anyway, who is it? As far as I'm aware first date isn't a home cooked dinner, and to have you panicking like that there's fucking definitely something funky happening."

"A: It's not a date, Jade. 2: I'm not panicking, Jade." Dave blatantly panicked "It's just- uh... Friend of mine." Dave panicked harder "Met him on the dig, covered in mud, gonna let him crash here since the rain's so bad." Yes. Perfect. Dave Strider, master lore-weaver, king of misdirection and lord of plots and- and Jade's still talking.

"I'm not entirely convinced but I don't want a fifty minute monologue I'm too nice to hang up on!" Jade teased, exchanging snorts for a few seconds "Just- Mac and cheese, it's good and you drown every carb in the vicinity in cheese ANYWAY, so I know you've got the stuff in too!" She pointed out, the smugness palatable.

"You are unbearably self satisfied when you're right."

"That's Rose's thing, not mine!" She protested.

"It's a lesbian thing then. Come to think of it, so is Kanaya, and whenever Aradia guesses the bone type first she gets all smug, it’s so weird and-"

"Dave! Your date." Jade reminded him.

"Right. My date. My not date. My definitely not a date." Dave paused for a second. Not a date... "My how would that even work he's a 900 year old zombie... date."

"What?"

Shit. "Gotta go, tell you how my date- NOT A DATE- goes later." Dave panicked again, hanging up and putting the bag of cheese on the counter with a groan "...not a date." He mumbled, mostly for himself before picking up the bag of cheese from the bench.

"...I'm gonna take a shot in the dark-"

"JESUS BASTARD CHRIST!!!" Dave jumped, spilling a hell of a lot of cheese down his front and stumbling back to lean against the counter, opening and closing his mouth a few times in the face of an utterly amused Karkat "Uh. Hm. Yeah there's no recovering from that, is there. Hey." Dave mumbled before crouching to clean up the mess.

"A bit dramatic, fucking hell." Karkat snorted, coming over and crouching with Dave to help clean up.

"That's rich coming from the one who shows up in the middle of a rainstorm with extremely plot relevant information." Dave pointed out.

"Not gonna ask what you mean by plot relevant, but...." Karkat held his little handful of cheese "I guess that's fair. Where do you store this?"

"Oh just chuck it away, it's all dirty now, Scoliosis likes to sleep here."

"Again with the made up fucking words! You're like a dictionary but for words that DON'T EXIST!" Karkat rolled his eyes, before looking back at his perfect little cheese pile "Seriously though, I can just chuck this out? I'd have still eaten it."

"That's why your era had the plague. I think. I'm not quite sure on dates but I think there was a plague in the 12 century?" Dave scratched his head a bit "Plagues aside, just dump it."

"Right." Karkat nodded, ambling around the room until Dave pointed to the bin, prompting Karkat to go release the mound into its burial place, before looking at Dave with a slight, assholish grin "You're staring again."

Dave nodded "Yep, sure am, that's weird, anyway, mac and cheese good with you? Oh shit you've never had mac and cheese before, have you? Did you have, like- ancient mac and cheese? Ye Olde Macaronius et Cheddar?"

"If we did it for fucking sure wasn't called that." Karkat rolled his eyes, before rolling up his sleeves. Lots of rolling on this boy. "Okay, do you need me to go pick anything, boil some water or whatever?"

Jesus almighty shitting Christ this was gonna be interesting "Uh- no. I appreciate the offer but I just buy shit. Pretty well paid, don't need to worry about that."

"Pantry then? Fucking hell you're rich..."

"Oh, uh, nah. Fridge. Cold box. Food befreshener. There's a sword in there too." Dave jabbed his thumb fridgewards. Karkat, curious, but obviously very apprehensive of this silver box of below-average temperatures. He reached forwards and pulled back a few times, before coughing awkwardly and pulling it open with the flair of a Scooby-Doo gotcha moment.

"Oh my shitting god, that is a lot of meat." He mumbled, gazing from shelf to shelf in astonishment. Aaaaaaaand of course Dave chose the one recipe he could do that was vegetarian.

He sighed "Yo you know what a sausage is right?" He asked, glancing at Karkat, who nodded. Dave reached in and grabbed a packet "It's gonna be a weird as dick, but good as ass meal. Call it a welcome home present. And by home I mean, like, aliveness, not home as in here, you don't live here, though Jesus Christ you might have to oh shit am I gonna have a zombie roommate?"

Karkat laughed, punching him on the arm "Oh shut up, I'll find some work and hopefully be out of your house soon enough. I can always find a barn or something in the meantime."

Jesus. "Okay, dude, I'm not gonna make you break into a fucking barn, you can just stay here, I genuinely don't care."

"I'm not a damn freeloader, don't act like I fucking couldn't!" Karkat's voice was getting louder again so Dave took that as an indication to Defuse Things.

"Bro I wasn't calling you a freeloader! I meant I've got the space, and it's technically but not-so-technically-it-could-show-up-on-legal-documents-" He took a breath "My fault you're here in the first place?" He poured probably too much, but hey that's the fun part, cheese into the pan "I think you can claim that spare room for as long as you need it. Make it your own. Germinate. Put down some fuckin roots like a weird tree. Zombie tree."

Hm. HM. He was offering to be roommates with a zombie and he did NOT want to consider the implications of that.

"If you're offering? I mean, shit, I don't know fucking anything about this new world, so it'd be useful?" Karkat tossed back and forth, looking around the room with curiousity "Okay, so the thing is, I'm thinking about how that revival seal worked, and there's a chance that leaving possibly could be shitty for me? Like I said, we're bonded now."

"...Oh jesus." Dave mumbled, picking up the now-completed pan of sauce, sloshing into the tray "Okay, so- is that why we have the same eyes now? Like, fuckin... Blood magic, keeping us linked?"

"What? No, my eyes have always looked like this- look. Shit. I'm not a fucking mage okay? I'm a farm-hand and a shitty rebel leader, that's all. But, anyway, magic bonds are apparently real fucking important?" Karkat stressed, leaning against the counter, making wild hand gestures as if to indicate the sheer fuck-you-upability of not giving magic bonds the respect they deserved. Clearly moved by the gestures, Dave nodded.

“...So magic is real then.” Dave said out loud as if that'd stop it being true. No such luck. “No offence but that’s not normal. At all. Like. Wildly not normal.”

Karkat laughed a bit “Not my fault, you’re the necromancer.”

“Jesus titting Christ I’m a necromancer.”


 

“-so they might come over at some point so we need to get our stories straight.” Dave explained in that convenient, easy-to-read manner, through a mouthful of mac and cheese. It was as good as Jade said, rich, creamy, and he was pretty sure he'd just gone and did something with the sausage mixed in. He'd have to think about writing it down and inevitably forget. “I was thinking we could say you were an old friend from college but Aradia wouldn’t recognise you, which is a problem. So we need a game plan.”

“Or you could just tell the fucking truth? Do you not have 'if I go crazy don’t tell the church' pacts anymore?” Karkat grumbled, trying to look even vaguely disgruntled despite the fact he’d almost cried due to the sheer delight of Baby’s First Mac 'N Cheezy. A truly religious experience even for the hard of faith. “Look, what are they gonna do? Worst that they’ll give you is some funny fucking looks.”

Dave put his fork down and gave Karkat an intense, burning look “You haven’t met my sister.” He whispered gravely “Yeah she seems like a cool emo lesbian who you wanna be besties with, but she is a menace when it comes go finding things out. Like, I love that bitch, she’s wonderful- don’t tell her I said that- but if she finds out you’re undead??? You will never know peace again.” He sat back, satisfied with his menacing speech “I don’t think Kanaya would make things easy either to be fair. She’s a sucker for spooky shit. The only person who I can think of who wouldn’t ask awkward questions is Sollux but he’s a professional apathetic.”

Karkat rolled his eyes “I know who none of these people are, but I do know I’m fully fucking capable of acting natural. I mean, in my time, being the godless sort, it had to be second fucking nature.”

“Godless? Like, just cause you’re an atheist?” Dave looked a bit puzzled “Shit dude that’s gotta be annoying. I grew up in the south so I definitely know what that's about.”

“Well... That, and-“ Karkat looked nervous “Look, I’m not too fucking sure how much this shitpot world’s changed, but I get the sneaking suspicion people probably aren’t a fan of sodomites?”

Dave blinked in utter confusion for a second before it hit him like a bus “OH, you’re gay.”

Karkat went red, though it seemed to be more from holding his breath “Well you don’t have to say it out loud!” He hissed, head whipping from side to side as if a pastor was gonna climb from the wallpaper to arrest him for gayness “I do like women, but I found men in the same way if that makes sense?” He whispered, before inflating as Dave laughed “HEY SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH! This isn’t funny!”

”I know, I know!” Dave assured him, sitting back from his own empty plate “It's okay these days, people don't care anywhere near as much, I promise! I know, like, personally. I feel that shit deep in the core of my extremely talented and deeply, sickeningly cool body. In the ancient words of ancient texts of old-ass mythology; same.”

“Same?!?!” Karkat shrieked "What in the name of the vilest piece of shit to ever be pushed out does that  mean?!"

“Same. No ladies for me though. Just the guys. For some reason, a lot of guys are assholes. I mean girls can be too but I just don’t find them attractive- and I guess nb people I do find attractive but I’m not sure whether you’d know what that means? But yeah. Guys. Love 'em. Loved 'em, I mean, I'm not seeing anyone. Not that you'd care, I'm not even sure there was dating back in Ye Olde Karkatland, I mean, from what I've read at least-" S L A P. Karkat slapped his hand over Dave’s mouth.

“Dave if you don’t shut up I’m actually going to tear off your fucking lips.”

He said that with false venom, and he was smiling. The threat, however, seemed genuine.

Dave shut up.


 

Dave lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling blankly, a million thoughts cavorting in his brain. Reason one: He had a zombie room-mate. Reason two: Zombie room-mate is kinda a dick but in a way that’s somehow endearing. Reason three: Zombie room-mate is cute and also likes guys in a sort-of thirteenth-century way. Reason four: Dave is regretting eating that much cheese before before bedtime.

Dave felt weird. He’d been doing that a lot lately. Feeling weird. But now he had a much better reason to he supposed. I mean, there’s an ancient bisexual rebel leader who’s also a short-ass ball of rage currently asleep in his spare room. Assumedly. Dave was pretty sure his spare room was comfier than a barn. Anyway his brain's getting off track again.

He sat up and stretched, reaching for his shades. Not ideal for low light, but he couldn’t be bothered to put his contacts in and he hadn’t seen his frames in over a year. He poked them up his nose and squinted at the clock. Three AM. A reasonable hour to go piss, get distracted, and play Cookie Run on the bathroom floor for thirty minutes, surely.

Dave got up, adjusting his hoodie so it wasn’t pulling his boxers upa. Was he dying, height of summer in a winter hoodie? Yes. Yes he was. But he was also transgendering here motherfucker, and despite the fact he was almost 100% certain Karkat wouldn’t care, he wasn’t sure whether he was completely chill divulging that information quite yet.

He shuffled his feet to get rid of that weird Bed Feeling, before trudging over to the door and yanking it open. He went and did his business, forgetting his phone so he just hummed to himself, before heading out onto the landing. He was halfway to his bedroom when-

“Dave.”

He yelped, jumping and stumbling into the banister, trying to regain his composure and almost falling over as he turned to Karkat “Uh- Hi.”

Karkat, hidden behind a fog of darkness and prescription eye protection, looked a bit uncomfortable nonetheless “I can’t sleep, that bed's bizzare. Also, it’s so fucking hot I think I might be I’ll, am I sick or is the future just fucking roasting all the time?”

“I mean- you, uh, might be sick? I don’t imagine being dead and then getting un-deaded is great for the immune system?”

“The what now?”

Dave had a terrible thought “Oh Jesus you’ll need vaccinations, we should get you vaccinations, like, tomorrow, cause I don’t want you bringing back the plague. I think there's a vaccine for that. I mean- I don’t want the plague? Do you want the plague? Does anyone honestly want the- Mmf.”

Satisfied with the placement of his hand on Dave’s mouth once again, Karkat groaned “Please, for the love of all that’s good and bad and fucking ambiguous, shush. I don’t have the plague. I was joking. Now sh, tell me something I can do to help me sleep or WHATEVER, just no more babbling out of your asshole!” He removed his hand and folded his arms.

“Right. Okay. Well I’m the worst person to come to for sleeping advice. Wanna go watch some TV?”

“Don’t know what that is, but sure.”

Dave had a TV in his room, so rather than go downstairs, he sat beside Karkat on his bed, backs to the wall, and prepared for Karkat’s amazement as he loaded up Netflix. Karkat, however, seemed unfussed “Dude are you seeing this?” He said homefully, slapping his arm gently.

“Huh?” Karkat looked at the screen and snorted “If I react to every single thing I haven’t fucking seen before, it’s gonna get boring real quick. I don’t understand your crazy electricity bullshit, but I’m guessing this runs on it. Wahoo, incredible, someone 900 years out of his time doesn’t understand something, absolutely fucking astonishing, someone write this down, he’s having a reaction!” He finished decisively, folding his arms. Dave’s mouth hung open a bit, but he nodded.

“... Makes sense. Anyway, She-Ra time.” He said with a slight snort.

He’d chosen She-Ra for a few reasons. One because it’s fucking good. And two, because god damn him if he was about to let someone who’d never seen gay shit in media go without his gay shit in media. He was a gay bitch, he knew that feeling and he was making it his mission to make this zombie roomie of his a proud-ass motherfucker.

 

He thought about things for a second, and he was pretty sure this was a roommate thing to do. Karkat was his roommate. He had a zombie roommate.

And honestly, that was fine.

Chapter Text

Hours drifted past. Dave and Karkat had truly gotten lost in the lesbianly sauce that is watching She-Ra at 4am. And after a number of arguments on why Catra was redeemable (Dave won that one), explanations of what “Milf” and “lesbian” meant, and a wonderful announcement that real magic is probably nothing like that, Dave, they’d gotten through season 1 and 2, and the sun was up. Dave stood up and groaned a bit “Okay, gonna go feed Scoliosis then we can keep watching. Unless you want breakfast now?”

Karkat, dazed and sleepy, shrugged a bit “Dunno. I’ll come with you though.” He was definitely more polite when he was sleepy. Somehow, his volume remained unchanged. Dave was relieved he didn’t have an apartment, god knows Karkat would have gotten at least ten noise complaints already.

Together, the two sleep deprived idiots shuffled their way downstairs, neither with more dignity than the other. Not that either regretted the way they’d spent their night, in a completely non flirty way, they were just. Really sleepy. They’d need a miracle to stay awake all day. Or perhaps, just a god in human form.

“Hi!” Jade called with a wave from her place at the counter, chipper and unflinching as Karkat and Dave shrieked with the cadence of Shaggy and Scooby. You decide who’s who. She was the image of early bird, hair freshly braided the previous day, skirt not yet covered in dirt (give her time), and a toothy smile on her face. Against those two, she looked like a pure ray of unfiltered green sunlight.

Once he’d chilled the fuck out, Dave knocked her on the shoulder “What did I say about breaking into my house.” Dave grumbled, putting the kettle on and pretending to be patient.

“I have a key!”

“It’s still breaking in before 10AM.”

“It’s 11:38 numbnuts.”

Dave looked at the clock on the wall, squinted, then nodded “Hm. You sure seem to be. Correct. But hey consider this, you didn’t tell me you were dropping by today and it’s still technically an illegal, evil crime.” He pointed out with flawless logic.

Jade snorted, hopping down from the stool and placing her mug back down. Whatever it was it was probably amazing and iconic “Don’t be a fucking wet blanket! I wanted to come meet your new not-a-date-roommate-who-you-conveniently-never-mentioned-to-your-best-friend-ever-ever-EVER!” She wasn’t even winded.

“Okay first of all-“ Dave stirred a coffee for Karkat, mumbling 'fast bean liquid' as he handed it over “I texted Janelle from the sewing shop first thing.” Jade sighed in relief “And second, Jade, meet Karkat. He’s weird. But cool. Really loud as well. Don’t ask too many questions.”

Jade rolled her eyes before walking over to shake Karkat’s hand “Hi there! While I understand coming after Janelle from Fab-Ricated in Dave’s friend list, I can’t believe he’s never mentioned you! You sound pretty nice.”

Karkat nodded, shaking back. He said nothing, however, as he was utterly entrenched in his bean juice, so Dave piped up “Okay if I choose to ignore the breaking in-“

“I have a fucking key.”

“-Subjective, but even then, how’d you know Karkat’s staying with me? I just told you about our definitely-not-a-date.” Dave pointed out, leading the way to the living room now that everyone had an appropriate beverage.

“Look, I understand being entranced by butch catgirls, that’s like half my life, but you tweeted-“ She got her phone out. Custom phone case. This woman does PLASTIC WORKING in her spare time! “ 'watchin spop with the new total zombie roommate, fucking tight' and then like eight emojis that only your siblings can vocalise.” She sat sideways in the comfy armchair, legs bobbing in time with the rain outside “You’re not exactly an enigma.”

Dave panicked and immediately decided the best idea was to reveal as much as possible “And you’re not gonna question the zombie thing??”

Jade laughed, slipping back a bit to take a sip of her Mysterious Beverage “You tweeted that at 7 in the morning, and the only things that get you up at that time is dead shit or Animal Crossing, of course you bozos are total zombies!!! I mean, remember that rave Fef dragged me to and I in turn dragged you to? You wanted to go home at 11! You’re a Sleepytime LIGHTWEIGHT, Dave!”

Karkat resurfaced “I have to say, I’m completely and fucking entirely in support of Dave getting slammed.” Dave grumped supremely, taking over as local storm cloud since Karkat looked absolutely delighted.

Jade looked offended at Karkat’s comment, deeply, mortally offended “Dave! How DARE you not introduce me to this fellow connoisseur of the fine art of lovingly bullying you!!!” She stood back up and threw her arm around Karkat’s shoulders “Sorry, I have a new best friend.”

Dave snorted a bit “Fair enough, guess I won’t bother giving you the leftover mac’n cheese.” He said offhandedly.

Jade opened her mouth to protest, but was interrupted by Karkat “Ex-fucking-scuse me, she definitely is NOT getting those leftovers, I taxed them last night.”

Jade squinted at him before taking a step back “Okay, friendship over, I always get the leftover mac’n cheesy whenever Dave makes it, and if you wanna encroach on my god given right, I am not above throwing down, and trust me, you’re like a full foot shorter than me, I could kick your ass in a heartbeat.” She said completely seriously. Mac’n Cheesy is a very motivating foodstuff.

“I may be small but I could still attempt to kick your ass in return.” Karkat threw back. He looked about as intimidating as a puppy in a Christmas jumper, but also seemed dead fucking serious.

Jade grinned, poking Karkat on the forehead “I’d love to see you try, bitch-boy.”

If Dave wasn’t aware of Jade’s intense lesbiance, he could’ve sworn they were flirting. At least a little. Maybe it was just the Catradora residue still coating his think place. Either way he was staring again “Okay here’s a top tip, how about we cease doing that particular activity, and get right on to makin' brunch.”

Jade broke eye contact with Karkat “Sounds good to me!’ She bounced over to help. That girl’s mood could shift faster than a cat hearing the pull-ring click.

Karkat was left stood there, watching the pair of them scuttle around preparing whatever the fuck a brunch was. Jade seemed nice and easy to vibe with, which he appreciated. He was seemingly stuck here, which he didn’t mind at all after mulling it over. He seemed to have more friends here than he ever did back home. He’d miss his brother a bit, but it wasn’t unbearable, and he DEFINITELY wasn’t complaining about the food.

Jesus, he needed to stop having dramatic inner monologues when other people were around. It was getting to be a problem.

“Hey isn’t Nepeta at yours this week? How come they didn’t tag along?” Dave asked as he sorted his part of brunch, nudging Jade with his elbow

“Oh, they were at work last night, they’re shattered. Besides, can’t a girl spend some quality time with her bestie every once in a while? At least in a way that doesn’t involve being gay and doing crimes, which I’m not complaining about but I’d rather just chill on a weekend.”

Dave nodded in understanding “Well at the very least, I’m glad you and Karkat aren’t at each other’s throats or anything, he’s a decent guy.”

Jade glanced over at Karkat, who seemed deeply invested in the power socket. She could tell something weird was going on, but if Dave wasn’t comfortable talking about it, that was his decision “Of course he is, if you’ve got any sort of thing going on with him.” She elbowed Dave teasingly, adding the thing he’d just passed her “As long as he’s not too much of a bitch to you, I think I can stand him.”

Dave smiled, relief at Jade’s approval clear on his face. He had siblings and everything but Jade felt closer sometimes “Good to know. Anyway you’re stirring that too fast, give it here....”


The three were laughing away at some embarrassing story Jade was telling, dirty plates lying on the living room floor being licked clean by Scoliosis, when the door rang. Dave, who had been leaning against Jade in the cute way you do when you’re besties, groaned and stood up “I’ll get it.”

“Darn, I thought you were leaving.” Jade teased, shoving him a bit as he got up, turning back to talk to Karkat as Dave left.

“Okay. So. Just to confirm some stuff real quick, are you technically living here now? Cause I can tell Dave’s lying about something but I’m not gonna push it.” She said quietly, glancing over her shoulder to the doorway.

Karkat looked a little surprised “I think so? I don’t really have any other fucking place I could go, so, shit, guess I’m stuck right the fuck where I am.” He was a little miffed, maybe she didn’t mean to imply anything, but he wasn’t about to let anyone think he was a layabout. He didn’t have a reputation for anything in this particular time period, which made a change. He wasn’t gonna let it be a bad one!

Jade raised her hands defensively “Hey, relax! I was just asking, jeez. Last time he had a roommate it went downhill real fast.”

Karkat perked up a bit. Yes, he was due to live a new life with every chance to try again, but one thing would never change; he was a gossip-slut until his re-dying breath “What do you mean by that?”

“Nope! Nuh-uh. Not my story to tell! That’s Dave’s business.” She folded her arms stubbornly, one flying out to slap Karkat’s arm as Dave walked back in.

“Hey does anyone want a mini-bag of skittles? I got blazed with Sollux a while back and ordered a box-full, turns out you have to sign for that.” Dave lugged a sizable box onto the coffee table, setting about opening it with his sword-shaped keyring.

Grateful for the change in subject, Jade bounced up “Oooh! I’ll definitely take some.”

“I thought you hated skittles?”

“I do, but Feferi loves them.” She grabbed a handful and stuffed then in her skirt pocket “I have to kiss that woman, but dammit, I can’t say no to her. Hey, dump-ass,” She threw a bag at Karkat, hitting him right in the noggin “Try these! The blue ones are actually good as all hell.”

Karkat looked puzzled, trying to crack the mystery of, woah, I don’t know what plastic is and now I’m being told to eat this thing, aw well here fuckin goes I guess. Dave, thankfully, was on hand to swoop in like a mother eagle. Or whatever bird is appropriate “Hey don’t open it with your teeth, apparently adults think it causes universal entropy or whatever. Pull the tab like a normal twink.” The supposedly normal twink demonstrated purposefully.

Karkat was more embarrassed than annoyed for once in his double life. Grumbling incoherently, because who has time to write out grumbles, he pulled it open and popped a skittle in his mouth. And boy howdy if the mac ‘n cheese was transcendent, this grumpy motherfucker had just reached god damn nirvana.

All anime sparkles, he finished the bag within moments, getting a laugh out of Jade “Shame on you Dave, I told you to spread the gospel of The Blue Ones years ago! They’re the only good skittles.” She elbowed him “Your buddy looks like he just saw bigfoot.”

Rubbing his ribs, Dave rolled his eyes “Yeah yeah, praise be to the Blue Ones, but it’s never come up, is that so hard to believe? That I didn’t have time to spread your weird jerkass skittles religion?”

“Okay NOW you’re just being a bitch about it!”


 

 Skittle wrappers and empty cans of cherry pepsi scattered the bed, Jade, Dave and, supposedly reluctantly, Karkat, gathered around Dave’s laptop like a fireplace on Christmas morn, bathed in the warmth of She-Ra. Well, for the most part. They got through Season 3 no bother, considering. Well. Dave was crying a little and Karkat was throwing a tantrum, but hey, it is what it is.

Jade shuffled to sit up, watching Karkat flip his shit with a slight grin “You do realise there’ll be more episodes? The show isn’t just leaving off like that.”

Karkat stopped shouting whatever he was shouting and looked at her, mouth hanging open a tough “WELL NO ONE FUCKING TOLD ME, DID THEY?!” He shrieked, plopping down on the edge of the bed and folding his arms tightly.

Dave poked him on the shoulder, face much drier now “Dude, chill, the next season is due pretty soon. And we can watch that together as well, though with how many skittles we got through today we may have to change up our snack choice a little.” He flicked a wrapper across the bed “Oh shit do you know how to brush your teeth?”

Karkat opened his mouth to yell again before Jade shoved past to stand up “Okay, not getting into that, no thank you!” She laughed, dropping her phone back into her pocket. One of many. Her family was a family of cargo bottoms, and they were the only ones who could pull them off so flawlessly “Nep just texted me, they wanna get pizza, so I’ll see you two later?”

Dave nodded, leaning back against the wall and budging up so Karkat had more room, which he immediately scootched into “Yeah obviously. Remember it’s a criminal crime to do what you did this morning again though. I’ll report you to the crime guys or whatever the fuck cause I’m not calling the cops on my best friend.”

Jade rolled her eyes “Yeah yeah yeah, I’m taking the rest of the blue ones!” She grinned, dodging out the way of a poorly thrown empty pepsi can.

“Don’t touch the mac and cheese!”

“DAMN.”

Dave laughed a touch, leaning back into the pillow behind him and glancing at Karkat as the front door thumped. Karkat caught him looking and met his gaze “What?”

“I was just thinking….. Do you know how to brush your teeth?”

Karkat twisted a bit “Well obviously fucking not.” He folded his arms a little tighter. He was gonna cause a Particularly Miffed black hole if he sulked any harder “Anyway, actually relevant question; who exactly was she? I mean she seemed pretty cool, even if she is a huge fucking snack miser, but are you two like, dating, or-”

Dave snorted “God no. I mean, I love her, but she’s like a weird sister. Kinda. Actually scratch that Rose is a weird enough sister to fill that box. Nah, me and Jade are just really good friends. Besides, I’m gay, remember?”

Karkat shifted a bit, staying quiet for a second “It’s weird hearing you talk about it so casually. Out of all the things I got shot for, that was definitely the fucking worst.” His finger twisted up in the sleeve of his sweater a little “It’s gonna take some getting used to.”

Dave nodded in understanding “I get it, trust me, I grew up in a pretty narrow-minded place. Like, 127 Hours narrow. Not that I’m saying it was as bad as you had it, but these days it’s a bit easier to be yourself.” He patted Karkat’s shoulder awkwardly, which coaxed out a small smile.

“Yeah.” He paused again. He wasn’t sure about coming forward with all this stuff so early on, but who else did he have to talk to? Everyone he ever conspired with was dead “Okay so if this is still considered weird just forget I ever mentioned it but, fuck, uh- What about guys who didn’t…. start as guys?” He looked up at Dave “Is that allowed now too? Cause shit, if it is I’ll be shocked.”

Dave thought for a second before the lightbulb dinked above his head “Oh! Right. That’s called being trans. And wild, crazy, insane, I know, but cha’boy is that as well.” He raised his arms, as if this would exaggerate his transness to a visible degree “Trans as hell my dude. So’s Jade.”

Karkat lit up like a fucking Christmas tree. It was the first real smile he’d shown off since getting here, and it hit Dave like a softball to the chest. Uh-oh.

“Seriously? Fucking hell I am so glad I died.” He bounced a little, hands wiggling a little at his sides. A good sign “I put a lot of work into convincing people I wasn’t a girl, I guess it still works.”

Dave had to take another second “Oh shit, dude, same hat.” He offered him a high five, which he then had to explain.

Strangely, he wasn’t annoyed by explaining it anymore. Had he even been to start off with? That little expulsion of joy was so familiar to him. The ache of people not calling you the right thing, and the joy in realising that you’re not the only one, and yes, you’re not crazy, it was so painfully fucking familiar. Karkat was an adult, he should’ve had this moment years ago, but better late than never.

He was glad Karkat had died too.


 

Karkat had fallen asleep. Dave hadn’t quite yet, the streaky sunset from the window too bright to consider it, but he was alright. Karkat had fallen asleep slumped onto his shoulder, and he wasn’t gonna fucking move him. The dude hadn’t gotten a lick of sleep the last night, and also he just stopped being dead. So for the meantime he just fucked around on the Sims, doing whatever it was you did.

He must’ve moved his arm a bit too quickly because Karkat stirred, grumbling in the most Karkatly way possible “Ugh.”

“You good? You looked seriously passed out there.” Dave commented, poking Karkat on the shoulder, budging up so he had more room to sit up.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Believe it or not being dead isn’t actually that good for resting.” He stretched, making a weird groan “How long was I asleep?” He asked, sitting up properly and tucking his feet onto the bed.

“Uhhh, about four hours?” Dave looked at the time “Five.” He corrected. It hadn't seemed anywhere near as long as it had been “You were out like a damn light, I guess you needed it.”

“Yeah, I think we’ve established that.” Karkat got to his feet, looking to Dave as he did. There was less venom in his own voice than he was used to. It tasted better. “So are you gonna teach me how to ‘brush my teeth’ or whatever? You made it sound important.”

“What?” Dave processed what Karkat had said “Oh. Right, yeah, I guess. I think I’ve got a spare in the drawer.” He put his laptop to one side and stood up, stretching a bit, bones crunching with a bonely crunch, before leading Karkat to the upstairs bathroom, and digging through the drawer for his spare toothbrush.

The lesson went fairly well, though the idea of sticking the toothbrush in his mouth was clearly sacrilege for Karkat before Dave thoroughly explained the benefits of brushing. He still didn’t mind explaining, not in the slightest, but having an undead roommate was a lot of work. Still, Karkat looked extremely proud of himself and his breath smelled way better by the time they were done.

“Congrats, you’ve acquired another basic life-skill, courtesy of America’s favourite zombie-trainer.” Dave did a dramatic bow, earning him an elbow in the stomach from Karkat “Okay, I deserved that.” He groaned, hugging his stomach tightly. For a small guy Karkat could hit like a damn bullet.

Karkat snorted “Yeah, you did.” He looked out of the bathroom window. The sky was a dull shade of cornflower “Thanks for helping me with all this bullshit. I think if I had to learn this myself I’d feel pretty damn useless.”

“Yeah, so would I. Wouldn’t be though, as far as most of my exams told me, hygiene hadn’t been quite figured out when you were growing up. Still, your chompers are in a pretty good state, considering you didn’t know what brushing your god damn teeth was until a few hours ago.”

“Yeah, it’s weird, I had broken ribs and no hands for about a week before I died, and yes I would’ve fucking noticed if I was wrong about that.” He looked at the scars around his wrists. They still made Dave’s stomach drop “I mean, I’m not complaining? Shit, I need these things.”

“Yeah, you do. Anyway, we should probably get back to going to bed.” Dave changed the subject, patting Karkat’s shoulder in passing “We can talk more about magic hands in the morning.” Why did you say that Dave. You don’t WANT to talk about magic hands in the morning Dave. Why are you such a lil bitch Dave.

“No offence but I’d rather not.” Karkat made a face.

Oh thank god. “Yeah that makes sense. Either way, let me know if you need anything.” He awkwardly patted Karkat’s shoulder.

“No, I mean I’d rather not go to bed. Not to be weird or anything, but like. Could I sleep on your floor or something? The room you put me in doesn’t have a lock.”

Dave was a bit surprised, but nodded in understanding “Got it, but you can just use my room, I’ll use the one you left. Makes way more sense.”

Karkat relaxed a bit “Thanks, that’ll probably help a lot.”


 

It didn’t. About three hours later, Karkat concluded that he couldn’t sleep, and gave up, concluding that he Just Couldn't Do It tonight.

It felt a bit rude to look around Dave’s stuff, but what the fuck else was he meant to do? He pushed dirty laundry around with his foot as he wandered around the room in the dark. He supposed he had the advantage of no artificial light growing up, he could see no bother. He came to Dave’s bookshelf. Not huge, but an average selection, and began to leaf through the first thing he found.

He quickly grew bored. It was dark and he was tired, and reading was just giving him a headache. So many terms he didn’t understand. So many words he’d never seen before. All the letters were so identical, it was just unnerving. He’d been so caught up in how nice the luxury and freedom afforded by the time period was, that he’d let the fact that things had changed slip his mind again.

Dramatic monologues really were becoming a problem. He should probably spend less time alone in his own head, but he couldn’t exactly wake Dave at this hour. Though it had been pretty easy to sleep earlier on in the day. He wondered if that was just sheer exhaustion.

He flopped onto his back and stared at the ceiling, almost longingly. He was tired and confused and his chest felt tight. He had nothing to mourn, but he was doing it anyway.

God dammit.

God. Fucking. Dammit.

He wasn't gonna get any sleep in here, so even if he wouldn't in the other room either, he might as well try something else.

He picked up his book. He already had a headache, no point in not taking advantage of the fact that it probably couldn’t get worse, and grabbed the blanket from Dave’s bed, shuffling out of the door, not bothering with the lock he hadn’t closed, and found a nice space on the floor of the spare room. Just within reach of the arm hanging over the edge of the bed.

He fell asleep without much issue after that, the book lying forgotten.

The floor was way more comfortable.

Chapter Text

All things considered, the new living situation was going pretty well. Karkat was settling in nicely now a few issues had been solved. The morning after he’d slept on Dave’s floor, they’d dragged Dave’s turntables into the spare room and the spare bed into Dave’s room, so they were both sleeping better, for one. Neither of them quite knew why, but they were. Thank god because Dave could be a right bitch when he was tired. Karkat was always a bitch, but when he was tired? He was a mythic bitch.

For another, Karkat, as loud and obscenely dramatic as he was, actually made for an excellent housemate. He was tidy and helpful (with plenty of complaints), and though there wasn’t much to do, Dave found himself a little less choked by his own jackass thoughts, which he wasn’t about to complain about. Inner monologues were still an issue for both of them though.

Karkat was too proud to admit how much Dave was helping him, but he really was. There was no way he could’ve done this on his own. He was only a week in and he felt way more relaxed than he expected to in a world he wasn’t used to at all. Not used to, but honestly still loving it. He’d cried a little when Dave introduced him to pizza.

However, they had a wild and terrible challenge to face. A challenge some would shrink away from in terror; Karkat needed new clothes.

“I don’t get what’s wrong with the stuff you lent me.” Karkat protested because of course he did, looking down at the grey jumper he’d barely taken off since he’d got here.

“Okay, 1: they’re my clothes, you need your own.” Dave plopped onto the sofa beside Karkat, scratching Scoliosis' forehead. Karkat was extremely taken with the cat, and the feelings were returned “2: you’re getting wild stinky bro. You have so few things to wear that your stonk is gettin severe. Gotta draw the line somewhere.”

“Okay, first of all, fuck you? That soap stuff smells incredible, I must’ve used it all up since I got here. And second, you’ll have to tear this jumper out of my double-dead hands, it’s the comfiest fucking thing I’ve ever worn.”

Dave snorted. Once they’d gotten over the shock of Necromancy Is Real And Lives In Your House, the fact that Karkat was an ex-corpse had become endless joke material “You can keep the weird fishing jumper, it looks a hell of a lot better on you than it did on me.” He leaned back, catching Karkat’s profile “But we need to go out anyway, we’re out of milk and bread, and I drank the last of my apple juice, and if I don’t get my fucking AJ I’m gonna get jitters.”

“Okay, okay, Jesus.” Karkat gently moved Scoliosis and stood up “I haven’t left your fucking house since I got here, might as well see how the world’s been cocking things up lately.”

Dave got up and grabbed his jacket from the hook “I gotta warn you, you’re gonna see way wilder things out there than you’ve seen in here, and I can’t exactly explain things in public.”

“No shit.” Karkat pulled on his shoes. Turned out he was the same size as Dave’s brother, and since he constantly left things at Dave’s, Karkat didn’t have to have his toes out in public. The scandal, ankles are one thing, but toes? Too much. “Listen, with last night’s explanation of 'dummy thick', I think I’m ready for just about fucking anything at this point, since it seems that making decent fucking sense died with me?”

Dave snorted “Oh shut it you didn’t even have vaccines.” He pointed out, opening the front door “Look, you’ll be fine. We’re just going for a few things, and we live in a city, as long as you don’t do anything that’ll get you arrested, we’ll be fine.”

“No promises.”


 

They made it to the local shopping centre without much issue, other than Karkat throwing up a little in the car. A little. Dave really needed to get him vaccinated at some point, on that vaguely tangential note.

But either way, they were pulling a trolley out of the line in about twenty minutes, Dave digging around in his pocket for the shopping list he’d forgotten.

“So you have one big place for everything?” Karkat asked too loudly. Well, he did everything too loudly but this was pretty inconvenient.

“Technically, yeah.” Dave said with slightly more common sense, even though he’d gotten a lot louder since Karkat moved in “I mean we have shops that sell specific things too. My friend June, her family runs a weird joke shop slash bakery. But you come to a supermarket for most things, yeah.”

“Do they do those skittles things?” Karkat said with urgency. He was above puppy dog eyes, he told himself, trying to make his expression a bog standard pleading look, but from the expression on Dave’s face it was working either way.

Dave was struck with the abrupt realisation that he had to get Karkat some stuff to try. The poor bastard hadn’t even tried brownies yet. Absolutely unacceptable. “They sell way more than Skittles my good bitch, you are in for a treat.” He flashed a slight grin and led the way.

 He was just about to say they’d get the essentials first when another trolley dunched into theirs, causing Karkat to screech like a slightly injured parrot. A familiar voice, more shredding than grating, that could give Karkat a run for his money met their ears, and a symphony of fresh hair dye, about eighteen bracelets, and the tackiest Hawaiian shirt in ten miles met their eyes.

“Dave if you even THINK about buying skittles without getting your favourite butch some I will actually bite your arms off.” Terezi leant onto their trolley with a toothy grin.

Dave went pale. Oh no. “Okay you know I’m glad to see you, always am, but I’ve got a good thing going with Karkat, so please, tell me; is Vriska with you and if so which direction do I go to not see her.” He started looking around in panic, not even being dramatic.

“Fucking chill she’s getting bread.” Terezi rolled their eyes, elbowing in the general direction of his ribs “Who’s your friend? I literally cannot tell. It’s usually jade but somehow you have other friends too.”

Dave sighed a bit, both in relief and irritation “Terezi, this is Karkat, he’s my... new roommate. Can I avoid your wife now?” He practically pleaded.

Terezi grinned “Don’t be so fucking rude.” They held their hand out about 60° in the wrong direction to shake Karkat’s hand.

He gave them a confused look and leant over the trolley bar “Yeah, uh, Dave you are kinda being rude? Her wife can’t be that bad.” He glanced at Terezi with a slightly weird expression. Someone with alternative eyes may have been offended.

“Their wife, and trust me, she really, really- oh Jesus.” Dave groaned as he spotted a familiar face, immediately passing through the five stages of grief “This is hell, I’m in hell, good fucking luck everyone this is where I die.”

A tall stick of fake blonde, double denim, and the gayest flannel under the sun came into view, an easy expression full of snark and a walk full of confidence. A bitch? Yes. Working it? Also yes.

“Hiiiiiiiii Daaaaaaaave!” Vriska dumped a shitload of bread in her and Terezi's trolley, throwing her arm around Dave with a shit-eating grin “Fancy seeing you here! I thought you only left your house in absolute emergencies.” She scruffed his head like the cartoon bully she practically was “Yet here you are! Being, dare I say it, sociable!!!!!!!!!”

“Believe it or not, I actually have friends. Including some that like me.”

“Awwwwwwww, you know you love me.” She grinned, squeezing Dave around the shoulders. They had a weird friendship.

Karkat was grinning with the same time as the other two. He liked Dave plenty, but watching him be bullied in a way that wasn’t inherently mean was pretty fun to watch.

Dave struggled out of Vriska's iron, lesbianly grip, rushing to push the trolley again “Yeah, cool, I’m taking Karkat to get vaccinated after this so I need to go and you need to stop talking to me.” He said with no pause for breath “Vriska, Karkat, Karkat, Vriska, gotta go, bye.” He grabbed Karkat’s hand and steered him towards the frozen aisle.

Karkat looked behind him back at Vriska. Funny as it was.... “I hate a lot of things but I don’t think I’ve ever felt such immediate fucking distain.” He admitted “Like she didn’t piss me off but I feel like someday she will.”

“That’s, like, Vriska’s whole deal. She can be fun sometimes but she’s awful. How Terezi can be married to her I’ll never know.” Dave sighed, slowing down a bit “We’ll probably bump into her again. They’ve got our scent.”

“And I’m sure you’ll fucking protect me from the unimaginable horrors of your weird friends or whatever. Can I have my hand back?”

Dave sputtered a bit as he realised they’d escaped the spidery hurricane about twenty seconds ago and he was still holding Karkat’s hand. He snatched it back “Sorry, guess my white knight instincts write kicking in.” He joked to cover up his embarrassment “Next thing you know I’ll be carrying you on my silver shopping cart, off into the sunset.”

“Yeah, well I’m not a fucking princess so you don’t need to protect me.” Karkat grumbled, but there was no malice.

There was an awkward silence, so Karkat grabbed the trolley bar “Come on dickhead.” He grumbled, shoving the trolley and almost tripping “Introduce me to the wonderful joys of modern goods acquisition.” He elbowed Dave in the ribs.

Dave grinned “Okay, but now you get to enjoy the true modern experience; being fucking terrified of Vriska.”

“Oh trust me.” Karkat assured him with a grin of his own, looking over his shoulder “I already am.”

He looked back at Dave and they ran off into the frozen aisle. Time to get this zombie some ice cream.


 

Well, now he had an excuse to clean out that manky cupboard. Other than it being manky.

Dave and Karkat had spent the last hour dodging about the supermarket, listening hard for the telltale cooling of the air that signalled the approach of Vriska, and consequently running for their lives, giggling like school children the whole time. An advantage of this was that their trolley was full without many arguments.

Karkat found himself pretty proficient at involuntary hide and seek. Probably all that hiding from the guard for being an anti-establishment trans bisexual who picked more fights than he’d planted.

Dave dove behind a freezer, pulling Karkat behind him. Their trolley was abandoned halfway across the store, agility at its highest.

Karkat, snorting behind his hand, leant up to look around the corner “I think we lost her near those boxes of tiny crunchy things.”

“Cereal, and yeah, but the amount of times I’ve been ambushed after the cereal aisle...” Dave shook his head forebodingly, still grinning like an idiot.

Karkat leant on his knees, looking around carefully, falling silent aside from the occasional snort at the ridiculousness of what they were doing, and Dave caught himself staring.

He had to stop doing this. As nice as Karkat was to look at, and as much as Dave enjoyed just looking at him, Karkat was gonna think he was a creep or something. Something bad anyway.

He kept staring though. The grin on Karkat’s face was making his chest feel funny, and he realised with an intense rush of all-too welcome dread what it was.

Shit.

Karkat looked back at Dave, breaking the moment “We’re clear. Come on, let’s go get our stuff back.”

“Yeah, yeah, sounds good.” Dave nodded, barely even paying attention as Karkat grabbed his wrist and pulled him along. He was about to have another internal monologue before she spotted a familiar pair of blue spider-web pattern Docs step out of this aisle in front of them.

“SHIT.”


 

Dave wasn’t sure he’d had this much fun on a shopping trip in years, and Karkat certainly never had, so neither of them particularly minded the dusty knees from dashing behind the freezers. Or the bump on Dave’s head from when he’d collided with a shelf of pepsi packs after Karkat accidentally tripped him. Or Karkat’s brief nosebleed from smelling bleach for the first time in the cleaning aisle.

They were a bit of a mess by the time they got to checkout, but they were smiling like morons, the both of them.

“Do you think she’s still here?” Karkat asked, helping load the big bag of penni onto the conveyer “It’d be annoying to have to run while all our stuff's here.”

Dave shook his head, glancing behind him. It’d be just like her to prove him wrong “Nah, the checkout is a Vriska free zone. She’ll be an inconvenience to every single person she knows indiscriminately, but people she HASN’T spread her bitchy tendrils of surprisingly reliable and earnest friendship to are off limits. Unless they’re annoying.”

Karkat chuckled a bit. Genuinely. A testament to how comfortable he was “Thank god, my feet are killing me.” He dumped another bag of cat food on the belt “You have a lot of friends.”

His tone was edging on accusatory, as if he was saying Gotcha, you son of a bitch, you know a lot of people!

Dave glanced at him, considering what he’d said “Huh. Suppose you’re right. I guess I’ll have introduce you to my family at some point. Since we live in the same house, none of them phone ahead, and one of them carries a sword.”

Karkat pretended the last bag was stuck to hide that he was a little embarrassed by the idea “You mentioned siblings, but-“

“No parents. Five siblings, four of which aren’t dead.” Dave elaborated, moving to bag up their stuff.”

Karkat looked a bit surprised at that “That’s. A fucking lot? Jesus, your house must’ve been busy.”

Dave laughed a bit “Nah, I only lived with my older brother. One of them, anyway. My other brother moved out when he was 10 to live with my older sibling.” He paused in his familial exposition to pay for their stuff.

Karkat leant against the conveyer, watching Dave pretty closely ”I had a brother. And a dad and I had a mom at one point, but I don’t think they’d be able to fit in a family reunion.”

Dave snorted, moving their bags to the trolley “Yeah, bit of a shame that. If they were anything like you, though, I guess I’m lucky I got short-changed.” He laughed, gaining another elbow to the ribs. He was getting a bruise there now, but it didn’t hurt too much “I think I’m decently happy with just the one of you, yeah?”

Karkat grinned, helping load the bags back into the trolley “You better fucking be.” He shoved Dave, who very much fucking was.

Very much.


 

“-So it’s really difficult to clean, so let’s avoid anything made of that, but we can definitely start you on your way to have a basic human lifestyle.” Dave scooped up a basket as the wandered into the nearest clothing place.

Karkat made a face “Okay but, fucking hell, do I REALLY need more than one outfit? I’m perfectly comfortable, thank you very much.”

Dave stopped, folding his arms “Look. You may have been asleep in dirt for a longass time, and you might be, like, 60% feral, unvaccinated, and used to eating, like.... Rocks or whatever, but if you’re living in my house you are NOT having fleas.”

Karkat folded his arms, trying to look less adorably pissed and just look regularly pissed. He remained cute pissed. “Fucking FINE, you know you don’t have to take care of me, right?”

Dave rolled his eyes “Yeah yeah I know, there’s pride in hoboism or whatever the hell you think that’d achieve. Come on, I’m just talking, like. Some pants. Some shirts. Maybe some underwear if you’re willing to take such a dramatic leap into the modern era.”

“Why dies this spiel sound familiar...” Karkat grumbled, before letting out a Karkatly-dramatic sigh “Alright, alright, I’ll wear other clothes.”

Dave grinned encouragingly and began leading the way around the forest of clothes.

While Karkat could find something to bitch about in just about anything, he quickly warmed up to the clothes shopping experience. He kept reaching out to touch the new and exciting fabrics, which Dave patiently let him do. He’d be pretty damn excited if he’d never seen velvet before. Velvet was exciting anyway.

It was a completely different story when they reached a section of party clothes. All shiny and glittery, Karkat looked like a god damn moth. Slightly more threatening than before, but a moth nonetheless.

He unhooked a single item. It was another sweater, but a bit thinner, and it had a butterfly made of sequins across the chest. It was slightly fitted at the waist, but it was definitely big enough. Reaching over Karkat’s shoulder, Dave popped it in the basket.

“Looks cozy. Pretty cheap too.” Dave noted, trying to reassure Karkat he wasn’t being a problem with the discretion of a skyscraper.

It must’ve worked, because Karkat looked delighted, showing off that snaggletoothed grin Dave was becoming so very fond of “What’s that shiny stuff on the front?”

Dave shrugged “It’s either sequins, glitter, or magic. I can never tell those three apart.”

Karkat shoved him “Yeah fucking right, you’ve made it very clear you don’t believe in magic.” He headed over to a section housing a LOT of jeans.

“Dude.” Dave snorted, looking at a pair of ripped jeans that he actually quite liked “My roommate is a zombie from the 13th century. I don’t think I’ve got a choice at this point.”

“Well when you put it that way.... No. I guess you don’t.” Karkat grinned, picking up a pair of grey jeans and showing them to Dave “But other than fucking necromancy, I guess, I don’t think you have to believe in the rest of it.”

Dave put the jeans in the basket “I dunno. I’m almost certain my sister’s roommate is a vampire? I mean, Rose attracts weird shit, so I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“That’s rich, coming from Mr “’my job is to look at dead shit and I have a fucking undead roommate'.”

Dave snorted “Point taken.”


 

Shopping trip successful, and four decent outfits later, Dave was driving them home. Karkat was leaning on the window, looking idly into the buildings they passed.

“Y’know if you’re gonna be dramatic I can put on some mood music.”

Karkat threw a pack of chewing gum at Dave’s head “Don’t be a dick. I’m not being dramatic, I’m thinking, a foreign concept I’m sure.”

“Pretend it’s not. What you thinking about? Zombie stuff?”

Karkat shifted a bit “I guess? I mean, everything’s different, guess I’m a bit culture shocked.” He picked at a small hole in the seat “Like, fucking hell, I know I should be used to it by now-“

“No, you shouldn’t.” Dave said firmly “When I moved out of Texas, it was hard for me to adjust to things. I didn’t know where anything was, things looked different, it was wack. It took me, like, a month to get into the grove of things. You’re in a different century, bro, you’re fine.

Karkat smiled “Look, I know I should be embarrassed by how much I say this, but, thanks. Y'know, for not turning away the muddy jackass who showed up ready to wreck your shit.”

Dave snorted “Oh shut up, you’re not as much of a dick as you like to think. I don’t mind you living with me as long as you flush and don’t touch my cheezits.” He knocked Karkat on the shoulder playfully.

Karkat sighed, slipping down in his seat a bit “Anyway, I think it makes sense that I prefer this bullfuckery to what I had before, its just weird.”

“A lot of things are weird.”

“Yeah.” Karkat looked at Dave, who wasn’t looking at him. He looked longer than he thought was remotely normal, a weird feeling starting in his stomach and working up his chest.

“Yeah, things are pretty weird.” He mumbled. The weird feeling grew a bit stronger, and he felt a bit fuzzy. In a good way.

And then he threw up.

Chapter Text

Karkat wanted to get a job.

He relayed this fact to Dave through the bathroom wall, busy washing off the carsickness-induced vomit from himself, with his usual tradition of spending at least an hour in the tub. Motherfucker liked his ablutions.

“Dude why the hell would you WANT a job. I mean is it just cause I keep going to work and leaving you in the house?” Dave called through, sitting in his usual spot against the wall.

The angered splashing typical of these surprisingly common conversations hit Dave’s ears “Listen, I don’t give a shit whether you leave me alone, though yeah that is kinda boring. I’ve spent most of my life pre-necromancy as a farmhand, it feels wrong to just sit around doing fuckall. I don’t care if it’s rewarding or whatever, I just want to be doing something productive.”

Dave thought for a second. Admittedly, he could relate to that. Being idle led to being bored which led to his brain being a big ol’ bitch. And yeah, his job was hard, dirty, and distinctly avoiding a full description due to the author not knowing what entails fully, but it was interesting, and he was proud of a lot of the work he’d done over the years. Not least of all digging up someone who he’d gotten so close to in such a short space of time.

“Okay, I can understand that, but how are you gonna go about it? You’ve got no references and I’m honestly not even sure you went to school. Did they have schools back in Ye Olde Karkatland?”

“Fuck off, I was raised with farming knowledge. I didn’t need to learn any other trades.” Karkat said in a defensive tone. Somewhat better than his offensive tone “Is there any jobs you can do without qualifications these days? You act like you need to have gone to school for three years to sell cabbages.”

Dave thought. He could probably get Karkat in good with some of his friends, but what would even work for him? Certainly not customer service if he intended to avoid a homicide charge. Maybe an announcer of some sort? He definitely liked the sound of his own voice.

“What would you be okay with doing? I mean there’s a lot of things you could do but let’s be real, you’re not exactly easy to get along with sometimes.” He thought of the week previous where Karkat had managed to literally shatter the blender while Dave had left to sign for a package.

“I’ll take that. But honestly I’d be okay with anything I think. I’m not looking to have fun, I just want to not be doing nothing.”

Karkat was a touch guarded about how bad he felt for being a freeloader. He really was desperate to get off his ass and work, but damn if he didn’t feel shitty for not giving anything back for Dave. As much as their situation was wildly bizzare, Dave being a decent enough person to see him through learning about a new world did not go unnoticed.

“I just wanna stop being idle.” He reaffirmed, his voice far from inviting argument.

Dave sighed dramatically “Well if you’re gonna subject yourself to the cruel clutches of capitalism I’m at least gonna come along and laugh.”

And he did.


Two weeks later, eight prospective jobs, none fit.

Dave had first thought to use his own job to help Karkat, so they’d tried to get him in at the museum most of his digs sent to, and he personally worked giving tours. In the gift shop. Which didn’t work out. That didn’t even get past the interview.

“-And then I thought, hey, maybe something where he doesn’t have to interact with other human beings directly? Transcription services was my first go but he has no idea how to use a computer and refuses to type in anything but all caps.”

Dave flopped backwards onto the sofa, head pinching his phone to his ear. The screen showed the name June and a goofy picture of a ghost “He’s at Jade’s place right now, she’s been looking for someone to help with the cafe so she can spend more time in the greenhouses.”

“Yeah but this guy sounds like a huge dick!” June laughed through the speaker “Are you sure working in a cafe is a good fit for someone like that?”

“He’s a little intense and an even littler bitch but Karkat’s not a dick, okay? He’s just loud, rude, abrasive, and hard to get along with.” Dave paused “Okay maybe kinda a dick. But he’s cool. He’s a decent dude and he’s nice to be around.”

“That’s pretty gay.”

“You’re pretty gay.”

The front door slammed and Dave jumped. Scrambling to sit up and reaching to try and wipe the blush off his face, he peeked around the doorframe “Karkat?”

Karkat, coated in a combination of whipped cream and fertilizer, gave him the sort of glare that promised that asking questions was signing your own death warrant, before storming upstairs to get washed.

“That tiny motherfucker's gonna bleed me dry in water bills.”

June laughed “How long has he been living with you at this point? Also, it’s a CRIME that you haven’t introduced us already. I can’t believe I had to find out through Vriska that you had a new roommate. Vriska! The only butch you can’t tolerate!”

“Hey get fucked, you know what she’s like when she wants information.” Dave shuddered. The year he had her for their discord server’s Secret Santa was an experience he didn’t think he’d ever forget “But I dunno. Bit over a month? Month and a half? I dunno, time ain’t my jam.”

“And you still haven’t introduced us.” June tutted dramatically, sighing in a terribly-acted manner “You wound me, David. Deeply and fatally.”

“I’ve had a lot on my mind! It’s not easy being this hardass.”

“Yeah yeah, all hail mighty coolkid. Listen, I’ve gotta go, I’ve got a shift, but if you’re coming to D&D tonight, we can talk more about your weird new roomie.” There was a sound of shuffling from her end “I know you don’t like playing with Vriska but at least she makes combat fun.”

“Fine, but only because if I don’t Per's gonna be under leveled.”

“Yeah, yeah, bring you weird wet boyfriend or something. Later!”

“Bye nerd.” Dave hung up, flopping onto his back and subsequently dropping his phone on his face “Fuck!”


Karkat was stewing both metaphorically and literally, the hot water reaching his ears, doing nothing to hide his pout.

WHY was GETTING A JOB so fucking HARD???? He had skills! He was pretty strong and knew how to cook and clean, and he soaked up trivia like a damn sponge. And Dave said he was fun to watch. Why couldn’t employers see what a catch he was?

He sunk a bit deeper into the water. If not for the fact that he’d been reborn in mud he’d be risking ear infection. The radio gabbled on in the background. He couldn’t figure out how to tune it so it was on Dave’s preference, what he’d described as an “epic cringe comp of over-zealous nerds”. He obviously didn’t mean it though since this was all he listened to, and he knew just where the irony-to-reluctant-sincerity line sat.

There he went, thinking about Dave again. Karkat’s ears slipped fully into the water, blocking out the radio, currently being ran by some guy with a lisp.

He thought about Dave a lot. A huge amount more than he thought about anyone else. And he couldn’t say it was just because they lived together because he never thought about his brother this much when he was still alive.

Karkat dipped fully into the water, eyes squeezed tightly shut to block out the sudsy water. On some level he knew it felt different than a friendly thing. He’d spent hours with Jade already and he was pretty sure they were friends, but the two feelings weren’t remotely similar.

Dave said he liked guys. Being open about that was a foreign concept to Karkat. But that tiny fact continued to make him smile.

The narrative-induced trance snapped, Karkat bursting free of the water at the sound of pounding on the door. He’d conveniently return to this train of thought later.

“WHAT?!”

“Okay fucking chill.”

Karkat sighed, lying back down in the water “What is it?”

“I’m going over to June’s to play D&D, it’s kinda like a board game. I’ve got some spare dice if you wanna come be a nerd with us.”

Karkat considered. He wasn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of meeting new people, but he didn’t exactly have much else to do that night. And spending time with Dave was better than sleeping three hours early and waking up at 6am.

“I’ve got nothing better to do.”


Karkat definitely had better things to do.

Spending time with Dave was nice, and Karkat was enjoying that aspect nonetheless, but as Terezi moved onto the third page of backstory (printed on both sides) for their new character, Ruby Whitestrike, he was starting to have second thoughts.

It didn’t help that Vriska sat behind the DM's board, grinning both menacingly and adoringly as her wife rambled on and on. June was holding her new character sheet, obviously eager to show it off, but waiting her turn. She’d been introduced to Karkat and he’d been outraged to find she couldn’t give less of a shit about his spikey personality.

Dave was sitting sideways on his chair, talking in hushed voices to an extremely skinny person tapping away at a laptop, to whom Karkat hadn’t yet been introduced. He was just about to ask when Terezi ended their rant in the best way possible.

“-And she’s a really sexy dragonborn with two swords, the end.”

“I thought you were actually gonna play something that wasn’t a dragon born or kobold for a second there.” June teased, flicking one of Terezi’s dice at them, before smoothing out her own sheet. Karkat prepared for a rant but June kept things short n sweet.

“My new character is called Gale Forsithe, she’s an Air Genasi Warlock and she has a war hammer and a pet lizard called Casey.” June took pride in her self inserts.

“And she’s a lesbian?” Vriska confirmed, almost threateningly.

“Obviously.”

Everyone glanced at Dave, including Karkat.

He lifted his phone to eye level “Peregrine Marradus, Kenku Bard. She raps to heal people.” He said curtly.

“Great, now if Sollux and your weird new friend aren’t playing-” Vriska paused, eyes boring into Karkat “You’re not playing, right?”

Karkat felt challenged. He opened his mouth to say something rude when he felt something set on his thigh, and he saw Dave’s hand sneaking away. A rumpled sheet of paper with a bunch of numbers, blank traits and name boxes. A sheet for a level 2 fighter.

He got the idea.

“Actually, Vriska, I am playing.” Karkat said sharply, brandishing the sheet like a knife

Vriska's mouth curled into a grin. Her entire demeanour screamed 'I'm about to ruin this man’s whole career' “Oh really? What are they called?” She sneered. She was mean, but she wasn’t a bully. However, she took her gaming seriously.

Karkat suddenly forgot every name in the English language.

He panicked.

His eyes landed on the stairs “Stair ... Phone.” He glanced at the nearest wall “...Wall...Ace.”

Dave shot him a proud look that made his stomach turn over “Stephanie Wallace.” He said smugly, back straightening “She’s a.... Protection fighter.” He confirmed with a glance at the sheet “She... Was born on a farm, then died trying to fight against injustice, but... She was brought back. Accidentally.”

It was kinda funny how his personal tale made such a good on-the-spot character backstory, like someone thought of it for no reason at 3am.

Vriska laughed a bit “Finally! Someone who isn’t Terezi brings some BACKSTORY! I misjudged you, shortstack. No dice though?” She dug through her pocket for a second before throwing a little drawstring bag at Karkat “You can borrow mine.”

Karkat smiled a little as he looked at the dice inside. It was nice feeling welcome, even if it was just a little. Even if it was from Vriska.

“That’s everyone then? And you’re DEFINITELY not playing, two-face?”

Karkat glanced at the last person in the room, who glanced back, before looking at Vriska, pushing his glasses up his nose, and going back to what she was doing.

Vriska snorted “No game from her then. I don’t know why he keeps showing up to these.” She flattened out some paper “ANYWAY, back to business. You all find yourselves...”

Karkat nudged Dave while Vriska explained the set up “Who’s that guy in the corner?” He whispered, glancing at them.

“Sollux, a friend of ours. They’re trying to sort June’s laptop since she sent it off the rails with some wack amateur coding.” He leaned closer to Karkat to explain.

“Hey, it isn’t that bad.” June interjected, budging closer to Dave to whisper more effectively. She was still very bad at it.

“You managed to factory reset your settings and delete all your audio drivers.” Sollux said in a dull tone of voice. A voice that had seen many sunrises, not by choice. “With one page of code. It’d take some effort for me to do that, so that’s saying something.”

June grinned sheepishly “I was trying to make the volume bar bigger so I guess that’s where the sound comes in.” She sat back up to continue listening to Vriska, who was explaining a blatant self-insert npc to the gentle encouragement of Terezi commenting that she sounded hot as fuck every five seconds.

Karkat paused for a moment “What do I call Sollux?” He asked cautiously “You used all three there, that’s pretty fucking confusing.”

“I’m bigender.” Sollux interjected without looking up “Two polarities when it comes to gender. In my case, none or all. Couldn’t care less about pronouns, call me whatever the hell you feel like.”

Karkat glanced at Dave, who nodded, before nodding as well. A lot of it didn’t make sense to him, but considering he was a mud zombie from the 1200’s who didn’t know what soap was a month ago, someone not caring what they were referred to by wasn’t confusing enough to fit into weird.

He turned his attention back to their dungeon master.


It was blatant that Vriska loved the sound of her own voice, but frankly, Karkat was learning to like it quite a bit as well. The story she was weaving, even after just two hours of gameplay, was blatantly exciting and clever. He was wondering where it’d end up, and frankly was quite enjoying this D&D business. He was even getting alright at it!

Relatively

He’d botched his first perception check and fallen for a winch trap. Their first battle, he failed two death saves. He’d managed to get them kicked out of the village they were meeting a prospective job at, and somehow managed to lose every weapon in his possession.

He was moderately frustrated and threw a minor tantrum at the village bit, but then the pizza had arrived and he’d shut up quickly.

Vriska had guided their characters to a burial hall cursed by an unruly goddess, and after beating the shit out of several ghosts, she told them they’d each found a ring with a skull-shaped gemstone on it, only for them to be handed a replica by Terezi. They made their own jewellery.

“There’s two blue, two red.” Vriska pointed out, prompting them all to glance at their rings. Karkat’s was red, matching Dave’s. “Perri, Steph, you two are going left, Ruby, Gale, right.”

Dave started to ask questions about random stuff in the tombs their characters were exploring, while Karkat watched him, idly turning a d12 between his fingers. He was pretty certain at this point he was enjoying himself.

There were two strangers in the room and two people he hadn’t been too fond of. He was playing a game he’d never played before. By all accounts he should hate every second. But he was warming up to everyone in the room, he was having fun, an idle doodle of his orcish fighter, Stair-phanie Wall-ace, scrawled on the back of his character sheet, and his stomach was full. He was having a nice time.

Which is why he exploded when Vriska announced that Stephanie had been killed in a cave-in.

“WHAT?! ARE YOU TELLING ME I SAT HERE, GETTING FUCKING INVOLVED-” “Karkat.” “IN YOUR STORY, FOR YOU TO JUST KILL OFF MY CREATION AND CALL IT A NIGHT?! WELL I’VE GOT SOMETHING TO FUCKING SAY ABOUT THAT, YOU STONE-COLD BITCH-” “Karkat.” “HOW COME YOU’RE THE ONLY PERSON WHO GETS TO KILL THESE BASTARDS?! MAYBE GHOST STEPHANIE WILL COME BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF ARACNIS! WOULD YOU FUCKING LIKE THAT?! NO I DON’T-”

“KARKAT.”

Karkat jumped and looked at Dave, who’d just shouted. He carefully patted the space beside him before Karkat sat down.

The other four people in the room were shaking with ill-contained laughter. It became less contained as Terezi shrieked with laughter, pounding the table with one ring-coated fist.

“As I was saying...” Vriska said in a voice trembling with mirth “The gemstone on your ring glows, and you’re flooded with a red mist. The boulder on your chest is reduced to dust, and Stephanie sits up.”

Karkat fell silent, cheeks boiling crimson. He was embarrassed, but rather than feeling humiliated, he felt something crack. He was cracking.

He burst out laughing, snorting and grinning, cracking up as he realised how stupid he must’ve seemed.

Beside him, Dave got that now-familiar pang of oh shit at the sight of that smile.

Karkat, still shaking and grinning, sighed, reaching forward for another slice of pizza before sitting back in his chair. He felt happy.

He definitely, definitely felt happy.

“Moving on, are we still in the damn cave or…?”

_

The game was over for the night, each of them tired from a night of roleplay and too much pizza. June had fallen asleep at the game table, so they’d all quietly packed up, covered her in a blanket, and left.

Vriska and Terezi just got on their bike and took off, but since Sollux couldn’t drive, he was waiting for an Uber, so they were just hanging with Dave and Karkat in June’s living room until it got there.

Karkat was tired. He hadn’t talked with this many people at once in centuries, and while he’d definitely enjoyed himself, he was ready to have a break now. So he just sat there and watched as Dave and Sollux chatted away, mostly just staring at Dave.

He was pretty out of it after such a weird evening, so he wasn’t paying attention much. He knew he was looking forward to the next week, but not much else. He hardly thought about responding with a yes when Sollux asked him a question, he just did it automatically.

After about ten minutes of staring at the ceiling, he fell asleep.


Karkat woke up in bed.

His hair was a mess and he felt super groggy, but he didn’t feel bad. He turned his head to peer at the window. The sun was shining outside, and Dave’s bed was empty, so he must’ve slept pretty late.

He sat up and realised he was still in his clothes, rather than the pyjamas Dave leant him, so he got changed after finally dragging his snoozy ass out of bed, before heading downstairs.

Dave was sat in the living room with Scoliosis in his lap, and glanced up as Karkat shuffled in, grunted a response, and flopped dramatically onto the sofa.

“Sleep well?” Dave asked, patting his shoulder without looking away from his phone.

“Yeah. Thanks.”

Dave paused for a second “So. I have some. News.”

Karkat unburied his head and glanced at Dave “That’s the tone of voice you use when I’m about to become a threat.”

Dave gave him a slight nod “You’re correct.”

“And how far away do you want to move before I find this out?”

“Not very because you’re my friend and I trust you not to go absolutely apeshit on me?”

“Fair enough. Okay, lets get this bullshit out of the way.” Karkat shuffled to sit next to Dave “What’s wrong?”

Dave paused before handing Karkat his phone.

Karkat looked at the screen. There was a YouTube channel (which at this point he was very familiar with) on the screen. It had the same name as that radio station Dave always had the radio tuned to, and on the most recent upload, a familiar face in the video.

“DnD Fresher Loses His Shit.” Karkat read out. He didn’t even have to click to know exactly what the video was.

“Yeah, trust me, you’re not the first person Soll has done this to, congrats, you’ve been initiated.”

Karkat hesitated, and Dave panicked. Oh shit, was he actually upset?

“Y’know I can ask him to take it down-“

Karkat burst out laughing, doubling up and trembling as Scoliosis leapt from the room.

“THIS is what you were worried about? Dave, I’ve been publicly fucking executed before, I don’t give half a shit about some embarrassing video on some idiot video website. It was fucking funny.”

Dave grinned “Thank god, because it’s got 20,000 views since last night.”

Karkat’s eyes widened and he glanced at the view count, holding steady at 21,413 views. He also noticed that it was half past four and realised why Dave was home from work already.

“Jesus Christ, I thought this dumb radio station was a local thing?”

“Nah, Sollux runs it as a podcast as well, so it’s pretty damn popular. At least for a podcast about fuck all ran from a local place.”

Karkat laughed shortly, in the way that still made Dave’s stomach feel weird. That outburst again straight up made him think he might be sick, but like. In a cool way.

“So all those people thought I was funny?” Karkat grinned a bit, liking the video for good measure “Fucking hell, I guess it was as stupid as I thought it was.”

“Yeah, it was pretty stupid.” Dave snorted, dodging a rib-bound elbow.

“Kinda sucks that this won’t make any money, if all I have to do is scream at things to endear myself, I’d be rich.”

Dave thought for a second. And his face split into a grin.

“Dude, don’t make that face, it looks like you’re gonna split, it looks weird.”

“Yes but I’m being smart and smug, shut up. I just got a very good idea.”

“Good idea like that job at the pet shop where no one thought to tell me I’m NOT meant to touch the weird shiny-ass bugs?”

“No, an actually good one.”


Dave was driving home from work, the rageful tones of Karkat ranting about something not worth ranting over blaring from his radio. Ever since he started working with Sollux, he’d been not only letting off steam and having fun, but he’d been making a bit of money doing it. Not a huge amount, but decent enough that he wasn’t trying to give into capitalism anymore.

Dave would be heading to pick him up at five, when the show finished. How Karkat didn’t constantly have a sore throat was beyond him, but he was grateful for it. As fun as Sollux could be when he was in the right mood, there was something comforting about listening to Karkat be happy.

Dave looked out of the windscreen, thinking about nothing, just listening to the radio. Sollux was talking about something stupid, and Karkat was laughing about it. Everything other than that was blurry, and he kept listening, sad when it was over but happy for it having happened. He just liked listening to him. For some reason, he made him feel weird in a wonderful way, and he couldn’t quite describe him.

And then he could.

If he hadn’t been on an empty street he’d have caused a damn pile up. Dave slammed his brakes and froze, staring at the radio with an open mouth.

Oh.

Oh shit.

Oh shit.

“Oh shit.”

He'd just remembered he was gay.