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==> BE DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE

 

Your name is KARKAT VANTAS and you are A DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE. In fact, you are THE DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE, with a proper capital T-H-E, because you're pretty sure that, for some unfathomable reason, you are the only miserable shithead working at this sagging cocksack of an establishment that hates this job.

 

Get a job, your best friend SOLLUX CAPTOR had suggested. Do something meaningful with your pathetic existence. Something meaningful, like brewing fucking coffee for the over-privileged asshat addicts at this hellhole disguised as a university. Coffee is meaningful, Sollux had argued, you're practically giving the gift of life, like a damn life-granting birth doctor. They should be paying you millions, not peanuts.

 

You're pretty sure Sollux just wanted free coffee, which is why you've never so much as upgraded his order from a grande to a venti, because the fucker absolutely does not deserve it. You, on the other hand, allow yourself an unlimited supply of the shit, free of charge, because you've fucking earned it. Venti. Black. Just the way you like it. Vats and fucking vats of it, enough that KANAYA MARYAM, assistant manager and the only reasonable person in this poor excuse for a coffee house, has labeled a pot specifically for KARKAT'S PROZAC and worked the extra coffee beans into the budget. She's had enough experience with your coffeeless rages to understand the benefits of keeping you readily supplied.

 

It's a pro - no, it's THE pro, the only one, of working in this sweaty ballsack hell of a coffee shop, and fuck motherfucking Sollux dry, because of all his asinine, pisspoor ideas this was the worst.

 

==> KARKAT: BE DISGRUNTLED

 

This is not hard - you already are disgruntled, you don't need to be any more so. You work a shit job in a shithole coffee house on a shitty fucking college campus full of shit-for-brains douchebags and hipster tools who like to do pretentious hipster blasphemy to a perfectly good cup of brew, going above and beyond pardonable sins like milk and sugar and moving straight into the unholy territory of "flavor shots," powdered confectionery cinnamon nutmeg crap, and - the mother of all grievances - whipped cream. On coffee. Cretinous, goddamn fucktards and their goddamn pussy iced mochas crap.

 

There's a CHEERFUL DINGY BELL that chimes every time the door opens, and you're pretty sure that sound is the bane of your existence and will haunt you in your nightmares for the rest of your natural-born life. Jesus fuck, just the thought of it makes your brain hurt and your ears quiver and your fists clench like you're Pavlov's fucking dog. You need another cup of coffee.

 

==> KARKAT: HELP YOURSELF TO FIFTH CUP

 

You tilt the last drops from your Karkat’s Prozac pot, and how the fuck did this shit get empty? You remember that Kanaya is off today, something about her girlfriend's thesis something, and you're stuck with the single worst employee in the history of the world, because you're still not quite sure how a blind girl got hired as an assistant manager at a coffee house.

 

"Fucking coffee's out," you growl at her, perched on the counter like she owns the damn place, grinning at you in a scary uncanny way considering she can't actually see where you are.

 

"Do I look like your goddamn barista?" she sneers back, raising her cup-full of damning evidence to her still-grinning lips. The fact that she works here still flummoxes you, and she drives you absolutely stark raving mad, but as far as people go you could do a lot worse than TEREZI PYROPE. You'll never admit to finding her anything more than "tolerable," but considering she's the only other employee allowed any, let alone unlimited, access to your stash you have a feeling she already knows.

 

"You look like a goddamn waste of space," you tell her, making an effort to punctuate your point with a good deal of emphatic slamming as you refill the coffee maker.

 

"How was I supposed to know it was empty, Karkles?" She giggles in that appallingly sing-songy way girls do, and it’s hard to judge which rankles you more, the nickname or the laugh.

 

You turn around with an undoubtedly snappy and sizzling burn on the tip of your tongue, which promptly dies at the sight waiting for you. Terezi is still sitting there, and you don't understand that infuriating grin because really, how does she fucking know, but you've finally realized that you two aren't alone. He's there. The true bane of your entire, pitiful, putrefied existence, the holy prince of sacrilege against coffee, practically the devil incarnate himself, beaming up at you with the biggest blue eyes you've ever detested and the dopiest grin you've ever imagined on another mug.

 

==> BE THE DEVIL INCARNATE

 

You cannot be THE DEVIL INCARNATE. You can, however, be JOHN EGBERT, the customer patiently waiting for the attention of one KARKAT VANTAS. Not that you know his last name. Honest. You don't. You just...okay fine. In your defense though, it really wasn't that hard, it's not like there's an overabundance of guys named Karkat at HSU. Plus it doesn't hurt that your best girl friend, ROSE LALONDE, is dating one of the other employees.

But that's not the point.

 

==> JOHN: GET TO THE POINT

 

The Point is that you've been here waiting patiently for almost five minutes now, even though there's no one on line in front of you. Karkat, you've noticed in the past, seems to consider the bell above the door as his personal cue to help himself to more coffee, as if he relies on it to suffer through the otherwise unbearable agony of waiting on a customer. You find it rather adorable, truth be told, but you're pretty sure that Karkat would spit in your coffee if you shared that impression out loud. You also find it considerably alarming that you think that's kind of endearing too.

 

==> JOHN: WEREN'T YOU GETTING TO THE POINT?

 

Right. The Point is that you've been standing here for almost five minutes, patiently listening to Karkat grumble mostly to himself as he makes more coffee. The other girl, the one your best buddy DAVE STRIDER insists is a "total babe," shares a knowing and amused smile with you that leaves you sufficiently impressed by her skills. The Point is that Karkat's been growling and slamming things, completely oblivious to his customer until now, when he is staring at you with a kind of charming combination of exasperation, annoyance, and guilt shaping his sharp features.

 

"Hi Karkat!" you say as cheerfully as possible, both because you want him to know you're not upset about having to wait and because you know his irritation is directly proportional to your enthusiasm.

 

"Oh goody, is it 4:00 already?" Karkat responds. A secret part of you does a victory dance - sarcasm aside, you can't help but notice that Karkat knows what time you come in every day. Or, at least, every day that he's working. Which is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, not that you keep track or anything.

 

==> JOHN: IS THERE ACTUALLY A POINT?

 

Not really. You just like gushing about the cutest damn barista you've ever seen. Particularly the way color flushes his neck when you order a GRANDE CAFFE VANILLA FRAP WITH EXTRA WHIPPED CREAM AND AN EXTRA SHOT OF COFFEE. Barely restrained fury looks good on Karkat.

 

"You blasphemous motherfucker," he groans, contemplating the empty plastic cup in his hand as though he'd like nothing more than to peg you right in the face with it. The girl, in another noteworthy display of female mangrit and blind aim, whaps Karkat upside the head.

 

"Fuck off, Terezi," Karkat hisses, scribbling on your cup before turning back to the coffee machines. Despite the lack of crowd, and therefore lack of back-counter barista for him to pass the labeled cup off to, Karkat never passes up the opportunity to write mildly insulting nickname on your drink. Today, presented to you with a sour look and a handful of change that you dutifully drop in the tip jar, the plastic cup bears the word FUCKFACE in his surprisingly neat block print.

 

"Thanks Karkat!"

 

You're not completely certain, but it's very possible that the thud you heard just before the tinkling sound of the door closing behind you was Karkat's forehead hitting the countertop.



 

==>  KARKAT: HATE SUNDAYS

 

You do fucking hate Sundays. You always have, as a general rule, passionately disliked them, because while everyone else thinks they’re just great you know the truth - Sunday is just the precursor to Monday - life's little round of foreplay before its weekly Fuck You. You really hate this particular Sunday though, because this particular Sunday you are at work on your day off, and the only hideous nightmare more offensive than working on your day off is working in a coffee house on a college campus on a Sunday.

 

This is Eridan's shift, spineless hipster twat, but he promised to swap out his mocha chai pond scum for your plain black brew for an entire week, officially monitored by Kanaya to ensure he sticks to his end of the bargain, if you work his Sunday shift for him just this once. This seemed like a pretty easy way to get one up on the flaming toolbag, until Sunday morning rolled around and you were reminded of how much Sundays at this shitshack suck.

 

They’re always the same, which would normally be a good thing as you’re generally a fan of consistency, but in this instance just means that every time you have to show your miserable mug in the coffee shop on a Sunday morning you find yourself experiencing the kind of agony that is usually reserved for melting your eyeballs out of your skull with acid. 

Nobody shows up all morning. This would be nice, if it didn’t make for the most painstakingly slow buildup to what you know is a shitstorm of an afternoon. They roll in all at once, like some universal, campus-wide alarm clock summons the zombie hoards of hungover fuckasses, sweating straight beer and still wearing a combination of last night’s clothes and pajamas. The nauseating masses stumble in in droves, demanding caffeine like it’s the antidote to a slow-acting poison, or maybe the magic pill they need to turn them all back into functioning quasi-adults in time to pull together that paper due tomorrow morning.

If you were A LESSER ASSHOLE, or a HERPDERPING DO-GOODER you’d probably enjoy this part, when the douchebags are reunited with their drug of choice and gazing at you, their savior, with glory in their eyes. You’re not, and they don’t and you fucking hate Sundays.

 

==> KARKAT: BE A HERPDERPING DO-GOODER

 

Physically impossible. Try JOHN EGBERT.

 

==> KARKAT: BE A LESSER ASSHOLE

 

Unlikely.

 

==> KARKAT: WAIT FOR JOHN TO COME IN

 

There is a higher probability of you becoming a HERPDERPING DO-GOODER.

 

==> KARKAT: WAIT FOR JOHN TO COME IN

 

Why would you do a completely moronic thing like that? He’s the anti-christ, the archangel of ruining your life, the mass murderer of a million cups of perfectly good brew. You don’t even know why you know his name, or that he comes in at 4:05 like clockwork, and you definitely are not waiting for John to come in.

 

==> KARKAT: LOOK FORWARD TO JOHN COMING IN

 

Eat shit and die.

 

==> KARKAT: FINE. STAND AROUND AND SULK

 

You already are standing around, but you are not sulking, shit-licker, you’re brooding. Besides, even if you were sulking, you’ve already been established as the disgruntled employee, and thus have every right to sulk, brood, mope, pout, or perform any other such physical expression of your sour mood.

 

==> KARKAT: MAKE FRESH POT OF PROZAC

 

That’s the first good idea you’ve had all day. You take your time with it, dumping out the old grinds, washing the pot clean until it’s crystal clear and pristine. You waste twenty minutes fussing about in a painfully obsessive manner, and are rewarded with the most perfectly brewed pot of prozac you ever thought possible to make.

 

==> CHEERFUL DINGLY BELL: DING

 

Really, it's more of a tinkling chime than a ding.

 

==> KARKAT: COMPULSIVELY CHECK WATCH

 

You don't wear a watch, and even if you did that would be completely fucktarded of you to do that since you're not expecting anyone and you definitely have at least another hour before you get - oh fucking fine. It's 4:06.

 

4:06, and you busy yourself with your coffee as you brace yourself for the onslaught of nerdy glasses and a glaringly blue hoody, which is the only reason you recoil slightly at the blindingly white-blonde in place of dusky black-brown. The only reason. It’s certainly not because ROSE LALONDE scares the everloving Christ out of you, and it's definitely not because you were expecting...someone else.

 

"Karkat," Rose nods.

 

"Lalonde," you say back. You have less than zero interest in being on the receiving end of her armchair psychology shtick, and therefore choose your words very carefully when she's around. By that, of course, you mean you say next to nothing and hope she leaves as quickly as possible.

 

"Kanaya," you yell, twisting your head back over your shoulder towards the back room, "girlfriend."

 

"Is everything alright? You looked startled when I came in, I hope I didn’t alarm you.”

 

You're not sure how to dodge the small talk, but you're going to do your level best. Especially considering nothing is ever small talk, not with Lalonde. It looks like small talk, sounds like small talk, smells like small talk, and at the end of the conversation she'll be diagnosing you with PTSD from that time you fell out of a tree when you were six and ushering your sob-stricken body straight to the counseling center, and as much as that sounds like shoving-hot-coals-up-your-own-rectum fun, you'd rather not.

 

==> KARKAT: ENGAGE IN SMALL TALK

 

No.

 

==> KARKAT: ENGAGE IN SMALL TALK

 

No.

 

==> KARKAT: BE PSYCHOANALYZED

 

Fuck it, fine. You engage in small talk with Lalonde, insisting that you weren't scared or startled, just a little surprised that someone was actually coming in. It's usually pretty quiet this time of day. She is halfway through a sentence that starts with "if anything's bothering you..." and undoubtedly ends with "I just want to know all your deepest darkest secrets."

 

Kanaya, sweet mother mercy, the beautiful and benevolent coffee goddess from on high, appreciates a good sense of urgency and comes bustling out of the kitchen before Lalonde can finish her thought. You very nearly hug her in relief, which is a behavioral impulse so unlike you that you're almost tempted to let Lalonde at it, just to see if she can figure out why you're suddenly a drivel-dripping moron.

 

"I was just about to tell Karkat," the blonde says, accepting both a kiss on the cheek and a to-go cup of her favorite tea from her girlfriend, "that I've never seen anyone so disappointed to see me in my entire life."

 

"Is that so?" Kanaya muses, ignoring your spluttering indignation next to her. She checks her watch, and she is the kind of good, responsible person who actually both owns one and wears it regularly, and laughs, and you're suddenly grasping back at all those warm opinions you mentally granted her earlier, because you know where she's about to take this.

 

"It's four," she nods sagely, goddamn know-it-all, good-for-nothing hag. "He thought you were John."

 

==> KARKAT: BEAT HEAD AGAINST COUNTER

 

It's tempting, very tempting, but if you did that you would miss Lalonde's reaction, and something is telling you it might be an interesting one. Sure enough, she contains her surprise to her usually impassive eyes, but you recognize the rapid fluttering of eyelashes and, more importantly, the slight upward tilt of a pale eyebrow.

 

"John?" she ask Kanaya, and it's like you're not even there honestly what the fuck kind of bullcockerky is this? "John John? My John?"

 

==> KARKAT: PAY ATTENTION

 

And now you're listening. You are. You are paying attention, because in an entire semester of suffering through the scandalous desecration of the glorious coffee bean at the hands of one John FUCKFACE Egbert, you never knew before right this very moment that he had any connection with Rose Lalonde, your almost-boss's girlfriend.

 

This is interesting.

 

No, no it's not. Stop it now, this is not remotely interesting, because you could not give a single iota of fucks right now, or right ever, about John Assdouche Egbert, fuck you very much. Stop it. Stop it now.

 

"I've never seen John in here on a Sunday," Kanaya informs you. You refuse to look either of them in the face, but you're sure as shit that Lalonde is bursting with a thousand questions, and you swear to every deity you've ever heard of that you will eviscerate her with a stirring spoon right here in the middle of the shop if you ask a single one of them. "Not much for Wednesdays or Fridays really either. Strange boy, that one. Who only needs coffee on certain days of the week?"

 

She and Lalonde leave you with that, like it isn't patently, painfully obvious what she just inferred.



 

==> JOHN: BE APPALLINGLY LATE FOR CLASS

 

Like that's some kind of controllable option. You are appallingly late for class, and it is not remotely your fault, because you had absolutely no control over the fact that your 3:00 class let out 25 minutes late. Honestly, who does that, no nice, normal educator, respectful of other professors and other classes and students who have a paper due Thursday and an exam Monday after that and winter break looming on the horizon and an adorable, angry barista to woo. Normally you have plenty of time to kill as you stop in at the coffee shop next door to the building your 4:20 class is held in, and now you barely have time to glance at the frosted glass door as you sprint by, shooting a mental apology ray at the cranky boy behind the counter for both douchelord professors (you kind of like that one, you might borrow it from him more often) today and a poorly scheduled lab practical yesterday.

 

You heard he had a run in with Rose Sunday, and by heard you mean got your ass grilled by Dr. Rose for nearly 45 minutes straight over lunch earlier today, and you're torn between actually wanting to apologize for anything she may or may not have said and crowing victoriously over the fact that, since you've never so much as mentioned to Rose that you've ever been there, and since you've been stopping in four days a week for four months now and Kanaya's never said anything before, you figure it must have been something Karkat said or did that sparked Rose's notice.

 

You barrel into class and hurl yourself into your seat just in time for the professor to do his stereotypical class-opening throat-clearing, and spend the next 70 minutes straight daydreaming about what Karkat's give might have been and what you're going to say Thursday to try and find out.



 

==> KARKAT: BE DISGRUNTLED

 

You live in a constant state of disgruntled discontent, you need something more specific than that.

 

==> KARKAT: BE DISGRUNTLED THAT JOHN DID NOT SHOW UP MONDAY OR TUESDAY.

 

Fuck off. What twisted shithole of an idea has wormed its way into everyone's brains and hooked scaly-ass claws into their brain matter, and why is everyone suddenly jumping on this bandwagon of Karkat and Egghead canoodling over coffee crimes? That'll happen when the sun sets green and pigs fly out of elephant asses, because there's no fucking way in all the ways of all the fucks that you are going anywhere near John Asshat Egbert with a ten foot pole.

 

Besides, no one said he was obligated to show up anywhere. It's a coffee house, for fucks sake, not a standing dentist appointment. So what if he misses a day here and there? Even if it happened to be two days in a row. During the last week of classes. Like he's just going to up and leave at the end of the semester without so much as a "thanks for the coffee," and holy Jesus Christing motherfucking fuck the worm has gotten your brain too what is this shit, someone must be spiking the coffee. That's it, yes, someone's definitely spiking the coffee, because otherwise how could you possibly even be considering such asinine bullshit about the scum of the coffee-drinking Earth?

It is kind of inconsiderate though. Really, the very least the dicklicker could do is swing by for one last passing insult before he disappears for an entire month. Maybe even longer - you’ve never quite figured out what year he’s in, or what if he’s going abroad next semester or something and you’re not going to see him for months and months, not until next September and really the least he can do is get one more fucking cup of that hideous shit he considers a drink.

You’re pretty sure it’s high time someone bash you over the head with one of the oversized metal coffee pots Kanaya keeps on the shelf over the sinks. Or maybe you should do everyone a favor and drown yourself in the nearest vat of hot water, because for the love of christing fuck and all unholy assfolly, you are actually sitting here being disgruntled that John did not show up on Monday or Tuesday.

==> JOHN: DON’T STOP FOR YOUR GRANDE CAFFE VANILLA FRAP WITH EXTRA WHIPPED CREAM AND AN EXTRA SHOT OF COFFEE



But you haven’t had one since Saturday, and more importantly you haven’t seen Karkat since Saturday, and you really just can’t stomach that for another second longer. You don’t really have time for it, you promised your erstwhile study partner and current writing savior VRISKA SERKET you’d meet her in the library at 4:15 so she can go over the rough draft of your paper, and you know if you’re even a minute late she’ll leave. 



Oh well. If you bring her hot chocolate she’ll forgive you.

==> JOHN: STOP FOR YOUR GRANDE CAFFE VANILLA FRAP WITH EXTRA WHIPPED CREAM AND AN EXTRA SHOT OF COFFEE





Don’t forget the hot chocolate for Vriska.

==> JOHN: STOP FOR YOUR GRANDE CAFFE VANILLA FRAP WITH EXTRA WHIPPED CREAM AND AN EXTRA SHOT OF COFFEE AND DON’T FORGET THE GRANDE HOT CHOCOLATE WITH WHIPPED CREAM

You aren’t going to forget the hot chocolate, except the minute you walk in the door it occurs to you that that was probably a Bad Idea. There’s never a line at this time of day, who drinks coffee at 4:00 PM on weekdays, so naturally the one day that you’re in a rush to get to your librarymeetingnotdate is of course the day there are four people in front of you.

You could leave. You should leave. You don’t need it that badly, actually it’s kind of chilly outside and you don’t really need a cool drink, and you really really don’t need to be late. You’re all set to leave, too, until Karkat looks up and catches sight of you waffling by the doorway, and you swear to all holy powers above that he maybe kind of looked pleased for half a second before he remembered to scowl and dive for his ever-present coffee.

Yup. That decides it. Besides, you’ve already committed to being late, what’s an extra five or ten minutes? You’ll just bump the grande up to a venti for Vriska and she’ll get over it.

==> JACKASS AT REGISTER: TAKE EIGHT HOURS

Well lets not get carried away. It’s just that clearly this is not a non-fat mocha with skim milk and chocolate syrup, it’s definitely whole milk, and as you can tell from the non-fat skim milk calories matter.

==>  KARKAT: MAKE NEW DRINK FASTER

You don’t make a new drink. What you do, in fact, is move behind the counter a bit, slam some pots around in a seemingly convincing manner, put a new lid on the old cup, and hand the imbecilic twat the exact same drink. His sigh of contentment and smarmy, condescending “that’s better,” makes you hope he gains at least two pounds from it.

Because really, that’s the best insult you can think of?

Apparently it is.

==> JOHN: TRY NOT TO GET IMPATIENT

You’re trying. It’s hard, but you’re trying. Especially when ASSHOLE #2 orders five drinks. Five. You’re not even sure how she’s going to carry all five of them, not unless the coffee shop has recently invested in those nifty drink carrying trays that you always used to want from the drive-thru at McDonald’s because they seemed so cool and important. Based on the look Karkat is giving her, though, it doesn’t matter whether or not the coffee shop has them, because he’s certainly not going to give one to her.

==> KARKAT: WATCH ANNOYING OVERACHIEVER TRY TO BALANCE FIVE DRINKS

You do, with pleasure. The other two people on line (John and Not-John) do too, and you kind of hope the amused satisfaction on John’s face when she tries to open the pull door with no hands is not a figment of your imagination.

==> JOHN: TRIP THE GIRL IN FRONT OF YOU AND BEAT HER TO THE REGISTER

Well that’s rude. It doesn’t matter anyway, you got so distracted watching that other girl juggling five cups that other other girl beat you to it. She’s just ordering a single tea though, so that’s fine you can wait a little bit longer.

==> JOHN: ORDER GRANDE CAFFE VANILLA FRAP WITH EXTRA WHIPPED CREAM AND AN EXTRA SHOT OF COFFEE AND VENTI HOT CHOCOLATE WITH WHIPPED CREAM

“Hi Karkat!” You’re in a rush, but that’s no reason not to push his buttons just a little bit.

“Usual blasphemic bullshit?” he grumbles, and it still never gets old to you that Karkat knows your order.

“And a venti hot chocolate with extra whipped cream please, and as soon as possible otherwise I’m dead.”

He frowns at you, like he’s not quite sure how to process this sudden upheaval in the daily routine, and you can’t help but sigh a little impatiently as you glance not-so-surreptitiously at your watch. 

This only seems to baffle him further, and seriously, you don’t have time.

“Karkat,” you snap, waving your hand in his face. It’s kind of rude, you admit, but nothing compared to what Vriska will do to you – you’re getting dangerously close to the kind of late that even a venti hot chocolate won’t smooth over. “I’m seriously late, so sometime today maybe?”

==> KARKAT: BE BAFFLED, BUT ALSO BE A BARISTA

Yes okay, you can do both. You can make John’s drinks, both of them, the shitty one and the slightly-less-vomit-inducing one, at the same time as you ponder the hitherto unknown bite of impatience in Egbert’s voice. You didn’t know he was capable of something coming so dangerously close to sass, and as reluctant as you are to admit it, it’s…interesting.

You are not a half-wit shit-for-brains zombie like the rest of this campus, though, so you can successfully multitask enough to finish off the two drinks and ring them into the register despite the way his eyes are slightly narrowed behind his dorky glasses. He hands you a ten and doesn’t bother waiting for his change, and you didn’t get a chance to write his name on the paper cup, which is really probably better because who knows who that was for and how thrilled they’d be with SASSHOLE.

Then again, since when do you care about offending Egbert, or his friends, or his newfound sassitude, or the fact that he just ran out the door without so much as a goodbye.

You don’t.

Obviously.




==> KARKAT: HELP WAITING CUSTOMER



Don’t be ridiculous, it’s 5:59 AM, otherwise known as the asscrack of dawn and stupid o’clock in the miserable pre-dawn morning, no one in their right mind is awake and conscious and coherent unless they’ve been forcibly dragged out of bed by the snarly-toothed hellhound known as a part-time job.

==> KARKAT: UNLOCK FRONT DOOR AND HELP WAITING CUSTOMER



Seriously? There’s actually someone outside the door?



You fumble through the mess of keys on Kanaya’s keyring as you shuffle blearily towards the front door. This would probably be a significantly easier process if you were willing to relinquish your death grip on your sweet nectar of the gods, but you’re not, and therefore will continue squirming about trying to navigate one-handed through a hefty keyring. 



There actually is a waiting customer, and you waste so long gaping at the miserable bastard peering through the frost-covered glass that you hardly notice that you’ve finally gotten the door open. John Fucking Egbert is standing outside, stupid blue hood pulled up over his head and huffing smoky puffs of air in the frozen hell tundra, and it’s too early in the morning for you to pretend you’re anything other than shocked and intrigued by his appearance. 



“Fuck it’s cold as shit out there,” he grumbles, shouldering the door open and brushing passed you towards the register like he’s singularly focused on the idea that the counter = shitty wannabe coffee shit. 



You, for lack of a better option, and really, it is ass o’clock in the morning, stumble after him until you’ve re-established your superiority as holy caffeine supplier from your place behind the counter. You blink blearily at each other for several long seconds, coffee cup lingering on your lips as you register that his stupid sweatshirt is on inside out and his slightly lopsided glasses are covering dark circles under his dull stare.

“Early morning?” you grunt at him. Fully-awake you would be appalled at your civility, but all men forced to be awake before sunrise are created equal. 



“Late night,” he grumbles back. “Paper due at 9:00. Four pages to go. Need fuel.” 



This is a language you speak. You are almost regretful that it’s the High Holy Asshole, otherwise this could be a Serious Bonding Moment.

“Grande Caffe Shitfuckery Blasphemous Pisswater?” you guess, already reaching for the plastic cup with your spare hand.

==> JOHN: SNORT DERISIVELY



Yeah right. As if you’d drink that sugary crap right now. For the love of god, you said you needed fuel, not a heart attack in a disposal glass. GRANDE CAFFE VANILLA FRAPS WITH EXTRA WHIPPED CREAM AND AN EXTRA SHOT OF COFFEE are mid-afternoon treats, an extra tasty little snack with an added boost of caffeine to get you through late afternoon labs, not real coffee.

“Fuck no,” you snort derisively. “Coffee. Black. Venti.”



Karkat stares at you like you’ve just spoken Klingon at him, and for half a second you’re concerned that maybe you did. Your sleep-deprived brain catches up with you in time to remind you that you do not, in fact, speak Klingon, or any other languages other than English. 



“What.”

It’s not a question, not really, and if you were more awake, or had more time, you would be intrigued by this fascinating turn of events. As it is, though, you’re minutes away from full-on panic mode and need to expedite this process as quickly as possible so you’re safely back in your own room before the hysteria strikes. 



==> JOHN: CLARIFY YOUR REQUEST FOR THE DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE

“That. In your hand. I want it. Straight coffee, nothing else, in the biggest size you have. Venti is the biggest size, yeah? Nothing bigger?” You spare the few extra seconds for the slight edge of sarcasm to slip in, and oh man the look on Karkat’s face is almost enough to stave off the oncoming doom. He’s still staring at you like he’s not sure who you are or what you’re saying to him, and even though you were in a rush the passing seconds of incomprehensible Karkat are actually calming you down rather than freaking you out.

“You want actual real coffee. And you take it black.” He seems to be having trouble wrapping his head around this, and you can’t help it. A giggle slips out, just one, and this is quickly turning into an even better idea than you originally thought, because your amusement at Karkat’s befuddlement is better than any caffeine boost.

“Well yeah,” you nod, biting back a grin. “I always take my coffee black. It’s the only thing that wakes me up properly, I’m not a real human without it.”

==> KARKAT: PROPOSE TO JOHN



You actually consider it.

==> KARKAT: GIVE JOHN SUPERIOR BREW FROM PROZAC POT

That you actually can do. You put down your own cup long enough to pick up both a venti paper cup and a sharpie, scrawling across the cup even though there’s no one to pass it off to. John watches you with a poorly concealed smile on his face, and you don’t give a flying fuck because really, you just considered proposing to him. 



Instead you turn to the back wall and grasp the handle of the Karkat’s Prozac pot, thus making John the second person in the history of this campus and this coffee house to be granted a drink from your own personal brew. You fill the venti to the absolute max and seal the lid carefully over the top, careful not to spill a drop and relishing in the fact that he’ll have no need to remove the lid.

In another fit of practically-a-proposal, you don’t bother ringing it up. Since it’s come from your stash, and since Kanaya has already budgeted for your unlimited free drinks, you reason that there’s absolutely no point in John paying for it anyway - he’ll just throw the numbers off. Or something. Yeah. 



==> JOHN: ACCEPT DRINK FROM KARKAT

He hands you the full-to-the-brim cup of glory, and you’re so distracted by the urgent need to get that sweet nectar in your mouth as quickly as humanly possible that you almost miss what he says.

“Good luck on your paper,” he mumbles, fumbling for his own drink as though he needs an excuse to hide his face behind something, and you let him. Thank him profusely for the free coffee. Take an extra second to smile again before you head back out the door, because you really do need to get back to that paper.



==> JOHN: EXAMINE BLACK SCRIBBLES UNDER YOUR THUMB

You hadn’t even remembered to check his nickname of the day, which is a testament to entirely how tired you are, since you usually look forward to seeing what new and creative insult he can come up with almost as much as your caffeinated goodness.

You shift your grip on the paper cup and pull your thumb out of the way, squinting through your slightly-steamy glasses at the black block letters.

In place of FUCKFACE, HORRORTERROR, SACRILEGIOUS TWAT, you find numbers. 


Ten of them, in fact.

Arranged in what looks most suspiciously, most gloriously, like a phone number.