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Put the Lonesome on the Shelf

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“Choicest endgame scenarios: go.”

Karkat pauses where he’s been sifting through your hair for the last couple minutes like he’s lost something in it. He loves the texture; you’ve caught him rubbing his cheek against your head like a grumpy cat. Troll hair is coarse, like a horse’s tail. Or so you imagine. You’ve never seen a horse outside the 4th of July parade at home, and you definitely haven’t been close enough to grab one by the ass handle.         

“Uhh...we don’t get killed?” Karkat says.

“Way to dream big, bro.” You smoosh a pillow between your feet, holding it trapped before it can kamikazi off the end of the couch. “Maybe we’ll find five boondollars by the side of the road and then come in second place at the spelling bee. This hope-machine is too crazy, Daydream Believer. Put the brakes on.”

Karkat growl-snorts. He’s not going to ask what the fuck you’re talking about because a) he doesn’t actually care and b) he’ll expect you to bullshit whatever response you give and yeah, pretty legit concern there.

It’s late and you’ve got the rec room to yourselves. As soon as Karkat had sat on the couch you’d tackle-pounced him, maneuvering your head into his lap, and so far he’s been too distracted by your babbling to remember to put on whatever heinous romcom he’s got cued up on his husktop. You’ve got hells of strategies in your mental sylladex, including makeouts, lap-dances, and bullshit philosophical conversations.

 “For serious, though,” you say.

Karkat’s fingers rub in restless circles where your horns would be if you had any. Feels nice. “Not dead and also not indentured to a cake-slinging sea witch.”

“Getting warmer.” You tap the bottom of his chin. It’s not a pap, but it’s close enough that he flushes and shifts. Is that an octopus in your jeans or are you just shamefully turned on by quadrant fuckery?

From this angle you can see the tiny protrusions of his fangs over his lip, the soft yellow of his eyes, a feline glint that throws back the ambient glow of the lightgrub in the corner.

Lightgrub . Christ. You gotta stop hanging with trolls.

“When we win, the game makes a totally new universe, right? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?”

“Fuck ‘supposed to’.” Karkat gives the hair at the back of your neck a little tug. “That’s how it works. Worked. We won, we made your universe. We just got bulgeblocked by your god-modded woofbeast before we could take our rightful place as absolute rulers.”

You snerk, because the most iconic symbols in your culture come from the t-shirt logos of a bunch of candy-corn horned LARPers, and that is ridiculous. Which means it’s definitely true. All the truest things about your life sound made up. A video game swallowing reality and your bro turning out to be your dad and also his own dad. Rose becoming a possible incest plotline. You dating a grey, belligerent alien who is also a dude. And by dating you mean creating a metropolis out of empty cans and cereal boxes, watching awful movies and reading hilarious books. Also boning.

“You’re lucky you dodged that bullet, tbh,” you say. “God of Blood--okay, not gonna lie, that sounds pretty badass and also kind of like a shitty metal band--but it’s probably actually gross. Dudes, like, spitting blood at your feet and cutting themselves, sacrificing small animals in your name. All your clothes would be in that shitty burgundy.” You tug at his sweater. “That part might actually be an improvement.”

“You know I can reach your throat from here, right?”  

You tip your head back, pulling your shirt down a little to bare more skin. “Yeah. Got an itch, could you get that for me, babe?” He snorts and drags his claws over your Adam’s apple, way too gently to be a threat. “Loving those pornstar fingers,” you croon.

Karkat growls, and you feel it in the pit of your stomach. He’d made the mistake of telling you what trimmed claws on a troll mean, i.e. that you’re planning on sticking them in delicate orifices on a semi-regular basis. Vriska and Terezi had sure gigglesnorted enough when they’d seen his hands.

“We’re headed to a new session anyway,” Karkat says. “If anyone ends up gods of the new world it’ll be your lusus and his friends.”

“Yeah, let’s not go there.” The teen-reprise of your bro is not your favorite subject, and definitely not right now, when you’re half hard and buzzed on the little shivers Karkat’s nails send down your spine whenever he scratches just right. “It’s gonna be an intersection of three different sessions with like fifteen players. And there’s...what, five bosses, and some of them weren’t even generated by the game? I’m thinking that any and all rules no longer apply.”

You don’t know much about the upcoming battle your meteor is hurtling toward. Vriska has dropped some hints and you’ve heard stuff in dream bubbles, though not as often as you could if you actually stopped to shoot the breeze. You tend to abscond at the sight of Doomed Daves. Save yourself some weirdness.

“A whole new universe could be cool. But I hate the idea of having to sit around and wait for someone to reinvent the internet.” You adjust your shoulders so Karkat’s bony knee isn’t digging into your ribs. “Or we might just get a hard reset. You know, return to factory settings.”

Karkat settles his attention on the slowly unwinding coil of light on his husktop screensaver and asks in what he probably thinks is a totally offhand tone, “Would you want that?”

“To go back to Earth?”

You haven’t thought about it much—no point, really, with it being all exploded. You may need to take some time to consider….and yeah, okay, total lie.

“Nah. Houston weather sucks and I don’t want to take the SAT’s. What about you?”

Karkat gives your hair a bewildered yank. “Essay teas?”

“Would you want to go back to your shitditch planet?”

“Fuck no.” He doesn’t even pretend to consider it for ironic purposes. “The best thing that ever happened to Alternia was it un-happening.” He slumps down lower on the couch, the ends of his hair sticking in staticky bunches to the cushions. “It took me a long time to admit I thought that, though. What kind of festering hunk of hoofbeast excrement thinks their whole race is better off blown up?”

“The kind that spent his whole life isolating himself so he wouldn’t be murdered by a bunch of elitist fuckwads,” you say, gratified when Karkat laughs. You’re still feeling out what’s okay to joke about and what’s not. It’s a process, and not one you ever thought you’d care enough to bother with. “It sounds even worse than Texas, which I didn’t think was possible. It’d be just like the game to dump us all there. Like, reboot the worst of all possible worlds just to fuck with us. We’d have to live the rest of our lives eating bugs and calling things by really dumb names.”

Karkat snorts. “No offense, but the rest of your lives would probably be about a week. I don’t care how awesome you think you are, any drone that got a look at your pale, hornless ass would cull you on sight.”

“Naw, man. Cause in this fantasy scenario we’re all still gods and what’s-her-fish, Meenah, is Empress—.”

“Meenah’s a ghost.”

 “Fantasy. Scenario,” you remind him. “Everybody’s alive. So Meenah would be Empress and you would be her thrashcushioner--.”

Threshcutioner.”

“I know what I’m about, dude. You’d be her thrashcushioner and live in a palace and shit, and I’d be your hot human sexbro--.”

“Oh my god.”

“—And I’d have a gold cape and an asston of jewelry and fifty servants, and it’d be like every trashy yaoi Rose ever downloaded.”

“This is the worst fantasy,” Karkat says. “This is not what any reasonable person would term as ‘choice’. It’s pathetic and impossible and doesn’t even make sense.” All his bitching is underlaid by a vibrating thrum, like feedback. You put your palm flat against his sternum. He’s purring. Trolls purr, like big insectile cats.

“Your words say no, but your body says, ‘hell yes, Dave—regale me with all your bullshit AU’s. Tell me all the ways you’re gonna service my royal nook’.”

“Jegus fuck, can you just—.” Karket flushes dark and his jeans give another squirmy twitch. Tentadick officially interested.

“Here.” You sit up so you don’t dislocate your shoulder going for his fly.

“The fuck are you doing, douchelord?” He grabs your hand and growls. And you aren’t talking metaphorically. Trolls growl. Like big insectile dogs.

“Tell you when you’re older.” You swing a leg over, straddling his thighs and unzipping his jeans.

 He catches your hand. “Strider, I swear by the holy Horrorterrors, I will maim your skinny ass. Remember what happened last time?”

“Hmm…” You scratch across his thighs and nip at his throat. He shakes all over and the purrs get deeper. Karkat’s unreal levels of sensitive, a prickly, touch-starved little ball of quivers and gasps. He’s so thirsty for you and you love it. “Maybe I got a problem with object permanence? I forget about things as soon as they’re no longer in sight.” You show him all your teeth. “Maybe seeing your bulge will bring it all back.”

 Karkat stares at you and then starts to cackle. That’s the only thing you can call a laugh when it’s outlined on all sides by that steady rumble. “That is the worst line I’ve ever heard in my sad, short life, and I’ve had conversations with Eridan’s ancestor.”

“Carlos? Fuck that guy.”

Of course you remember what happened; Karkat’s face has never been that hilarious before or since. He’d been attempting to go down on you—a process generally involving a lot of mumbling about impractical alien anatomy and you repeating dude, do not bite me, please don’t bite me, holy shit, this is not safe, sane, and consensual, that usually resolves into soft, wet licks from a candy red tongue—when Kanaya had walked in.

She’d spluttered apologies, fled, and triggered an eruption of giggles out in the hall.

“Well,” you’d said to a mortified Karkat. “At least it wasn’t the Mayor.”

“No worries,” you tell him now. The tip of his bulge unsheathes to shake hands. “If anyone comes in I’ll just say I lost a quarter down your pants. No homo.”

Karkat growls, fisting fingers in your hair and jerking you closer.

“Sorry, fuck—yes homo, full homo, absolutely mrff!” A tongue is pushed into your mouth as punishment, your shirt forced up, blunt claws dragged over your back, chills shaking down into your guts. His bulge twists around your fingers and he chirs when you thumb the tip. You laugh and he bares his teeth.

“Yeah, like your sea-mammal noises are any less embarrassing--.”

You tip your head back and moan. “Oh, Mr. Vantas, ooohh…” He bites your neck and the moan isn’t so fake anymore. Dick-constriction is starting to be a serious issue here. “Fuck, okay. Your room or mine?”

“Yours—you’re the one with a giant concupiscent platform that you use for sleeping— argh, Dave, no, fuck no!”

He tries to yank out of your grip but you don’t let go, pulling him up from the couch and then up over the couch, getting one hand under his ass to carry him bridal-style. “Dude, you’re heavy as fuck.”

“Then put me down you shit-snuffling bulgesore!” He’s whining but he’s not struggling very hard. He just hates being reminded that you can fly and he can’t.

“Chill.” You focus on drifting toward the door and not scraping your head on the ceiling. Flying is second nature by now, but maneuvering around a small space still isn’t easy. “A god does not deign to walk upon the ground. Can’t let all my worshipers see me crawling around in the dirt like a goddamn wriggler.”

He gives you the grouchiest, most go fuck yourself with a rusty pipe look you’ve ever seen. You’re going to make him trill and purr and scream out a whole orchestra of alien sex noises. Your name is Dave Strider and this is your life now. No matter how you all end up--as gods, slaves, a stack of pretty corpses--you’re happy and it’s dumb and also amazing. You’re grinning like an asshole.

“What, fuckwit?” Karkat says. You want to kiss his face.

So you do.

 

 

--
You might be a bit confused
And you might be a little bit bruised
But, baby, how we spoon like no one else
So I will help you read those books
If you will soothe my worried looks
And we will put the lonesome on the shelf

"You and I" by Ingrid Michaelson