Your name is Dave Strider and you are 26 years old.
You have just gotten engaged.
The problem being that you have just gotten engaged to your best male friend in a furious fit of stupidity, champagne, one-upmanship and a weird warm-glowy feeling that occasionally (or more than occasionally) rolls around in the pit of your stomach and makes you act like a moron. You have, over the past 13 years and much careful experimentation, dubbed this “The Egbert Effect”.
You would like to state, for the record, that you are definitely, completely and 100% NOT A HOMOSEXUAL.
As Bro carefully describes to you what, as the DJ, he’s going to play at the reception (almost entirely a medley of Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha), you carefully nurse a Rock Star and vodka like a 16 year old girl who just popped her cherry at prom and try to figure out what the fuck happened over the past decade or so to land you in this mess.
The date is April 13th 2010, and, unlike April 13th 2009, it’s not a date of any huge cosmic importance. No apocalyptic video games being played by children to determine the fate of humanity, no first contact, no cultures clashing, interspecies romances blossoming, just a quiet spring day in the suburbs of Washington, USA, and one young man’s 14th birthday.
It was 1 year ago he last met his best bro of many years, DAVE STRIDER, but it is today that he will meet him again!
Your name is John Egbert and you are incredibly excited.
The grin as you greet him, hug him, is wide enough to break your face, and though he just stands there, stoic and unmoving, you know he’s stoked as well.
Best friends know these things.
You barely restrain a scream of delight when Dave presents you with a pair of ECTOGOGGLES which the NOTE OF AUTHENTICITY declares as the real pair Dan Aykroyd wore on the set of Ghostbusters, and you almost want to change your entire wardrobe just so you could wear them all the time.
“I swear, by the time we’re 20 I’ll have ended up buying you Nic Cage so you can keep him in your closet and sniff his sweaty gross-ass mullet now and then,” he says sardonically.
The next few hours turn into a good-natured argument about the cleanliness of Nic Cage’s hair, and you couldn’t be any happier.
-- arachnidsGrip [AG] began trolling ectoBiologist [EB] --
AG: Hiiiiiiii John!
AG: I see you! >::::P
AG: What’s the smelly Strider 8oy doing in your hive, huh, hero?
EB: oh, hi vriska! i’m uh...just gonna ignore the idea that you guys still have that viewport thing.
AG: Oh please, John. Like I’m going to snoop on you!!
EB: oh, i got your present, by the way! it was great, thanks. :)
EB: dave’s staying over!!! oh man, didn’t i tell you?
EB: like a million billion hundred times?
AG: Yes, in fact, you did.
AG: Nearly 8teen times, to 8e precise!
AG: 8ut I didn’t mean that! I meant what is he DOING?
EB: uuuh. well he’s doing a bit of my pokemon game i was stuck on.
EB: and telling me how much my team sucks. uh no, dave, my team is AWESOME, so shut up!
AG: Uuuh, no, John!
AG: And stop playing that stupid human “Pokemon”. It sounds waaaaaaaay too much like Fidusspawn for a cool guy like you!
AG: Stupid stupid dum8 dum8!
AG: I mean what were you doing........
AG: Earlier? ::::O
This is a fantastic question.
What WERE you two doing earlier?
"So how's that girl in math class treatin' you, Egbert?"
You look away from the screen, and your go-kart screeches off the tracks. It was only a matter of time. You said you thought you might have a sort of half crush on a girl in your class a month or so ago, and Dave - for some reason - has become obsessed with the whole thing. It’s nice he cares, but it's been getting annoying.
"Oh, uh, Amy? Man, she's nice, but I really don’t think she’s interested in me being her boyfriend!"
Dave stares at you, his mouth twisted in that way that tells you you’ve said something stupid and he's trying to work it out, like riddling out how you could possibly be so dense, and how he could best verbalise exactly how dumb you are. It looks sort of like he needs to fart.
"Egbert, a girl could be sitting in your lap giggling and pulling down her top till her nipples are popping out and you'd still be saying," he ignores your blush and cry of "Dave!" and takes on a squeaky northern voice that you presume is supposed to be yours, "Oh I don't think she likes me like thaaaat, Dave!"
"Well I don't know! How do you tell if a girl likes you or not?"
You look at him as though he just started talking like Rose in the depths of her broodfester throes.
"Flirting, Egbert, flirtin'. That's how you tell if a chick digs you. Lay on a bit of that dorky Egbertian charm and see how she reacts," he says, and ruffles your hair affectionately. A bit of a weird habit for him to pick up, but you can’t help but kind of like it.
"Yeah, sure! Because I am sooo smooth, Dave! Like, Ben Affleck levels of smooth! I'll just bounce animal crackers on her belly and be as charming as Ben, shall I?"
"John, Ben Affleck is about as charming and smooth as old crumpled sandpaper wrapped around the world’s most crooked wrinkly dong," he says, and waits for you to recover from your giggling fit before continuing, "Look, if you shove a fucking cracker down a girl's drawers, she ain't gonna be happy with you. Liv Tyler must have gone straight to her trailer to wash crumbs from her pubes after shootin' that scene."
You pause the Playstation, leaving Coco Bandicoot's kart hurtling towards the lava, to throw your arms up in defeat.
"Well I don't know, Dave. Do you flirt with girls a lot?"
There is a split second of Dave actually shutting up that tells you all you need to know.
"No, alright, but I know this shit alright. Bro taught me all about how to play the game. And he is, like, the grand pimp macdaddy. I mean seriously one smooth operator. So I'm, theoretically, and genetically inclined to be, an expert."
"That's not the point, shut the fuck up. I just don't wanna get my hands dirty with the nasty-ass girls back home. So do you want my help or not?"
He gives you a look. It's one of those weird looks only Dave can pull off, all intense and expectant despite those big gold-framed shades covering his face, but it looks kind of pre-prepared. Like he's stood in front of a mirror or under a camera lens perfecting it.
It's a look that you think is probably supposed to be cool and intimidating, and just makes you feel the same kind of fondness when you look at Casey blowing a bubble. You just want to hug him and laugh.
"Alright, dude. School me!"
"Fine, babe," he answers, and after you raise an eyebrow at the sudden cheesy pet name, he quickly adds, "Strider flirting tip number 1: pet names. Useful with chicks who are also friends. If they don't go down well, you pass 'em off as a joke. Girl blushes or smiles or calls you something back, well. That’s just great."
You shake your head.
"I can’t say babe with a straight face dude. It sounds stupid."
"No way, Egbert. It’s foolproof. Try it."
Try it? You're pretty sure a girl hasn't suddenly materialised in the room. And using it on him seems...well, it's not gonna help you keep a straight face, that's for sure.
"C'mon Egbert, you a man or you a mouse, bro?"
"Jeez, jeez, calm down, uh, sweetie."
You burst out laughing, and Dave sighs as though you've just dropped about a million levels on the echeladder of his respect. Your title is probably now something like PITY NERD FRIEND EXTRAORDINNAIRE.
"No, okay, you can't laugh. And sweetie ain't right, you're not her fucking grandma. Babe, or baby, maybe, they're classics."
You burst out laughing, and Dave seems to just barely able to restrain the urge to wrap the cord of your Playstation controller around your neck. Your title is now NOT WORTHY OF SHOVELLING THE SHIT OF MY DEAD PONY.
"Okay, I'll take this seriously, Dave. I really do want to learn more about this. Especially from you, my sweet little hummingbird."
You manage not to start laughing, but that's mostly because you're thinking of Cameron and Trisha Poe, and Cameron's unyielding love and loyalty for his sweet daughter Casey and oh man you can hear the music, you're just going to start welling up if you think about this any more...
"Oh jesus, you're going to fucking cry. Hummingbird, really? Well...if you can say that with a straight face, reckon that's the best we can do. But we better move onto things that might be a bit easier for ya," he says, exasperation dripping off his every syllable. He shuffles a little closer on the bed, discarding the controller completely, and resting a hand on your thigh, and you jump like you've just been electrocuted.
He looks at you, you look at him, and for a very brief second, something changes in the room, and then...
"Jesus, John, what are you, a little yippy chihuahua that jumps and pisses the rug if somebody pets it? Chill, bro, I’m demonstratin' my next flirting technique."
"Oh," you say, laughing, embarrassed by your goofy reaction. It’s understandable though, he didn't exactly give you warning, and you don’t exactly have people touching your thighs all the time!
"Contact, dude. Nothing big, nothing on her chest or ass, no squeezing," he continues, laying his hand back on your thigh, "Something so casual it might be accidental. If she goes "dude what the hell you doing?" you just look embarrassed, apologise and laugh, take your hand right outta there, and keep your distance. Know your limits. You don't wanna be "that creep" gals chat about at sleepovers, do you, dude?"
"That creep? You're the one going around touching peoples' thighs, dude," you say, rolling your eyes, "I dunno, I'm kinda awkward. I give out hugs a lot, but I'm not really good at...oh jeez, you're going to ask me to practice on you aren’t you?"
"Don't see anybody else here."
You steel yourself, trying to imagine Dave as that girl from your class. They both have blonde hair and freckles, even if Amy tends to wear hers in pigtails and wears dresses and is most definitely a girl, but you guess it isn't too huge a leap. You still feel incredibly awkward when you manage to put your hand on Dave's thigh.
You both sit there.
It seems to be lasting a very long time.
"Jesus, okay, fine, just don't look so terrified. Look at her when you do it, fucking smile, show those charmin' buck teeth of yours," he says, and you do look at him and crack a smile, not because he told you to, but just because you can't help but grin at how he says it.
"Charming? Oh, Dave, you flatter me!" you say, half-laughing and shoving him playfully. You see him almost smile (Almost! Damnit, you need to try harder with this!) as he shoves you back.
"Just saying, I don't know how you're not getting all the ladies with that big-tooth goofball grin of yours," he says as the awkwardness melts away and you two wrestle on the bed, lightly shoving, tugging and elbowing, neither of you really gaining the advantage or attempting to take it.
"All of them?" you respond, laughing, and he nods as you both stop, just sitting and smirking at nothing in particular.
"All of ‘em," he says, not missing a beat.
"Gee, then I really don't know why I'm taking your classes, Dave!" you say, your arms looped around his waist. You hadn't even realised they were there, but hey, he seemed comfortable.
"Yeah, you probably can't steel yourself well enough for the minor gay chicken involved," he says, and you're close enough you can actually sort of see him roll his eyes behind the shades.
"That is so not a thing."
He snorts and ruffles your hair.
"It so is, dude. Poor little Egbert, oblivious to the finer details of gay cluckbeast."
"I am so not oblivious. And I can so steel myself," you say, and, grinning at how much this is going to make your Prankster's Gambit explode, shove your hands up his shirt to tickle his sides.
Dave makes the most uncool, high pitched yelping noise you've ever heard and you managed to shove him back as he's reduced a wriggling pile of high-pitched giggles, punctuated with the lamest snorts, and all sorts of strained death threats.
"I will kill you," he pants as you stop, wriggling your fingers in front of his face.
"No way. You love me too much, dude."
"Like every shitty love poem that's ever been written by Victorian douchebags about their finest bro, dude."
"Bluh, that doesn't even make sense."
"You don’t make sense," he snaps back instantly, and you grin at him, sort of just letting your forehead drop against his for a second, kind of worn out by your tickle-attack. This knowledge of Dave's severe ticklishness will undoubtedly serve you well for the future, and you can't help but feel as if you've achieved something.
This thought is cut short as Dave presses forward and kisses you. You only have a little while to absorb it, barely a second where you actually start kissing back, not wanting to be outshone, and a little part of you is just a little, tiny bit disappointed when he pulls away.
"Wuh?" you manage, finally.
"By international gay chicken rules...kissing beats tickling. I win."
He picks up the controllers and throws yours at you.
"Now let me kick your ass at this as well."
You break out of your shell-shock and grin, gladly taking up the controller and proceed to show him that he shouldn't get too cocky.
EB: man things, vriska.
EB: we were doing man things.