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love and caring

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When Gamzee messages you to tell you that you’re going on a date, you wince in real time and get ready to tell him, yet again, that you just don’t think it’ll work out between the two of you. It’s not that you don’t value him as a friend, really you do, but—

Then he clarifies that you’re going to be meeting up with Dave Strider. And you delete everything you’ve just typed, and swallow. Hard.

You say that’s not a very funny joke, Gamzee.

He says he’s not joking, and that you can kick his ass yourself if he turns out to be lying. You smile a little at that, because there’s no way you could ever beat Gamzee in a fight. It’s nice of him to pretend for you.

The restaurant Dave picks is pretty nice for one that will allow you in. It’s not that you’re a troublemaker, because really, you do your best to keep your head down. It’s just that once you hit 8 sweeps and applied to leave your district, you had to go in for a medical documentation like every other troll coming of age, and the medical officer had shaken their head after measuring your horns. A week after moving into your new apartment in New York, you received a letter from the city legally banning you from most forms of public transportation, as well as certain tourist-heavy neighborhoods during peak hours (which they helpfully listed for you). You did wonder how the city expected to enforce this completely, but then again you’ve seen human law enforcement in action. You’d rather not press your luck.

Dave pulls the chair out for you with a flourish, and you have to stop yourself from giggling. It’s undignified and probably uncool to do so. There’s no Alternian cuisine on the menu, which suits you just fine, because you don’t really have a taste for that stuff; the only ones who really partake of it are Alternia-hatched highbloods, and certain fetishistic humans who like to talk a lot of hot air about their refined taste buds. That, and it’s incredibly expensive because there’s not really a means to reproduce it faithfully, so certain ingredients have to be engineered.

You’re nervous, and it’s lucky for you that Dave can fill the silence so well. You’ve had an enormous flushcrush on Dave for sweeps now, embarrassing as it is to admit. He’s just so... What’s the word you’re looking for? Cool? Smooth? Gamzee tells you that that really isn’t the case, and you suppose you should believe someone who’s so close to Dave, but then again they are kismeses.

At his suggestion, the pair of you go back to Dave’s place after dinner. The floor is a tangle of wires, and you trip more than once; you try not to take it personally when he laughs, trying to laugh a little yourself. He looks like he respects that, though.

His DJ equipment way outclasses anything you have at home in your small-time efforts to create music. You have GarageBand—he has a rig and a proper set of turntables. Personally, you’re content to just admire his equipment, and you say as much before you can stop yourself.

“Admiring Dave Junior?” Dave asks, thrusting his hips out as he gestures at his crotch, his hands like a frame. You flush bronze and look away, because as much as you would like to, you know, admire that equipment, too, you’ve kept your crush a secret for so long you can’t shake those habits of denying yourself.

“Hey man, it’s alright, it’s cool,” he says, taking a seat next to you on the couch. “If you wanna look, I give you full permission. I’m Willy Wonka, and this is your golden ticket to the willy show.” That makes you snort-laugh, if only because you never thought you’d hear Dave Strider refer to his genitals as a willy. “I mean, this isn’t some friend-date.” He pauses. “Unless you want it to be, in which case I can just haul my ass all the way back to the Bronx just to yuk it up in Gamzee’s dumb face.”

“Wha—no, no, uh, it’s not a friend-date. It’s not. Ha, ha...” You put a tentative hand over his, which is currently resting on his own knee. You think you see a flicker of a smirk, and he squeezes your hand with his other one. Then he shifts to grasp that hand and pull you up from the couch, leading you to his DJ equipment.

“That’s a lot of knobs,” you say, and Dave is laughing again as you realize what you just said. “I mean buttons! And sliders! Ugh, why are there so many words for human bulges?” you whine, trying and failing not to blush again. You’re too old to be getting so embarrassed by silly bullshit like this.

“Because human ‘bulges’ are fucking great, that’s why,” Dave murmurs into your shoulder. You shiver a little bit, and not in a bad way. He’s really close to you, presumably just to watch you fuck up his presets, but he doesn’t say anything when you hit play and start pushing sliders experimentally. You’re not sure what he left in here last, until it becomes clear that it’s a remix of a sample dialogue from My Little Pony. Your own laughter takes you by surprise as much as the choice of music, but then again, you should have expected as much from a Strider.

“Just fuck around,” Dave suggests, and his voice is a little low for that to be totally innocent. You think. “We’re not doing any real work tonight, that would be time-consuming and kind of annoying.”

After a good 20 minutes, you’re actually having some fun with it; you haven’t changed the song drastically, but you like the added elements and you think it’s a pretty good beat. You let yourself smile, and that’s when Dave gets the drop on you.

“You’re pretty fuckin’ cute when you smile, you know that, right?” he says, which is when you realize that he’s pressed up against your back, so you’re not even sure how he figured out you were smiling. Oh, except probably you laughed a little, and you personally find it hard to laugh without smiling. “I mean, uh, pitiable. Pitiful. Whatever word it is you trolls equate to cuddly bullshit.”

“Dave,” you say with a sigh, turning down the music. “Did Gamzee put you up to this?”

He doesn’t move. “A little. Who cares?”

“It’s not right. You don’t really like me like that.” You feel stupid for saying this stuff, but you’d rather not become what humans refer to as a “pity-fuck”, as nice as the term actually sounds to you.

“Whoa. Stop.” He detaches from you and moves to your side, where he can get a look at your face. “Did you or did you not have fun tonight?”

“Well, yeah.” You shrug.

“And what have I done tonight to make you feel like I don’t like you?” His eyebrows pop up from behind his shades.

“I mean, nothing, I guess,” you admit, laughing a little bit at even that brief bit of expressiveness.

“So quit it.” Like it’s that easy, and he catches you rolling your eyes. “’Sides, I mean, it’s nice with you, you know?” You don’t realize right away that Dave’s leading you by the hand again, this time back to the couch. “It’s not all strict rules about what kind of a relationship we’re in, or what we’re not allowed to talk about, it’s just, you know.” He sits down, and you follow. “It’s nice. Easy.” Dave’s leaning in. “Fun.”

The thing about kissing Dave is that nice doesn’t quite cover it. You’re not that great at kissing, especially because you’re trying not to tear Dave up, but he’s pretty good at making up for your ineptitude and dodging your teeth. His fingers push into your mohawk and tangle there, which gives him a better grip to push deeper into the kiss, get wilder with it.

And then he’s actually pulling at your hair, yanking your head back to bite at your neck, very goddamn suddenly. You gasp more with surprise than anything else; his attentions do feel pretty good considering his teeth could never hope to pierce your skin, and he’s definitely passionate about it, breaking up the bites with kissing and sucking. It’s just... You push at his head, and he comes up immediately with kind of a confused fish face that makes you laugh inappropriately.

“What?” he asks, trying to rearrange his fish face to something a little more dignified.

You rub at the patch of scalp he’d been pulling on, grimacing. “You’re just a little, uh, that was a little black? I mean, for me.”

“The fuck?” There’s anger in Dave’s eyes for a hot second, but it quickly gets replaced with understanding and even a little embarrassment. As much embarrassment as he’d willingly show you, anyway. “Oh. Oh, Jesus Tav, are you a fucking stickler for these dumbass rules too?” That might be as close to an apology as you’re gonna get.

“They’re not dumb,” you say with a frown. “It’s my culture. Which, uh, maybe you didn’t notice but there’s not that many of us? And there’s all kinds of laws prohibiting us from being ourselves?” You pause and listen to what you just said. “I mean, uh, wow, not like that. I didn’t mean to get that angry, over you just pulling my hair a little, I mean it’s not that big of a deal—”


You look at him, rolling the side of your lower lip between your teeth.

“It’s okay, alright? I’m sorry, I’ll like, respect your culture and shit.” He does look adequately sheepish, you think. “The sweetest, gentlest makeouts you ever had.” He leans in again.

It’s incredibly difficult to resist him. So you don’t.

In the end, “nice” doesn’t do this night justice. Maybe you really should thank Gamzee later, sincerely, is what you think with Dave’s dick in your mouth. He told you to watch the teeth so you do, maybe a little too much but that’s probably your own paranoia that you’re terrible at everything you do. Right now that fear isn’t getting much validation, because Dave’s whole body is undulating with what your tongue is doing to him. You don’t have a lot of experience with human genitalia, but it seems pretty simple in comparison to yours. Light touches make him shiver; massaging circles along the shaft do even better.

After he comes, he exhales a short puff of air and sinks down against his couch cushions. “Holy shit,” he says, laying the back of one loosely curled hand against his flushed forehead. “I, uh, wasn’t expecting that. From you. I mean—”

“I’m not a prude,” you say as you lay your head on Dave’s naked thigh, making sure your horns are parallel to his hips. The skin feels like burning. “I like the traditional rules for quadrants? But, I also like having fun? So, uh...” Oh good, you’re resorting to up-speak. You want to slap yourself a little.

“You’re a fuckin’ dreamboat is what you are,” Dave murmurs, running a rather affectionate hand through your hair, and you blush bronze. “Lemme do something for you.”

“Uh, let me just get a glass of water,” you say, rising. As much as you hate to break the mood, the aftertaste of Dave’s genetic material is kind of like what your mouth tastes like in the morning, and it’s not pleasant.

“Sure, Tav,” he replies, his eyes starting to clear of afterglow. As you move toward his kitchen, you see him pull out his phone. You can already see greyed-out purple text from previous conversations, which means he’s texting Gamzee. That makes you smile briefly.

Then you realize that he's texting his kismesis, casual, friendly even, and the smile drops. You hurry to the kitchen, and stay there long past finishing your glass of water.