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Stitch Two together

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The project begins in a fairly straightforward manner: Karkat is going off on another one of his leadership rants, and you've taken out your knitting to pass the time. Eventually you become aware of Jade leaning over your shoulder to watch. Usually you cannot abide such behavior, but you suppose you can make an exception for her.

"That is so neat!" she exclaims quietly, and you allow yourself the ghost of a smile. "Can you teach me, Rose?"

You consider it for a moment; it certainly can't be any more tedious than Karkat's ridiculous speechifying, and it would be nice to share your hobby with someone. "It would be a better use of our time," you say, and riffle through your sylladex. You draw out two spare pairs of needles and skeins of yarn, one in black and the other in fluorescent green, and hand one of each to Jade. (They are all ordinary needles alchemized from your first pair shortly after your revival. The Thorns you have safely captchalogued; you've made mistakes, but you're not stupid.) Setting aside your other project, you pick up your fresh yarn and needles and begin to relate the age-old tale of the rabbit that hops around the rock.

You've walked Jade through her sixth clumsy stitch, and have demonstrated twelve of your own, when you become aware of someone looming over you. "Problem, Vantas?" you ask coolly.

"Yes there's a fucking problem," the troll seethes. "The problem is you have a shorter fucking attention span than a retarded grub and would have been culled on the spot if you'd had the misfortune to be born on Alternia. Instead, you somehow survived to your adolescent nymph molts and you are now thorns in my abdominal periphery. Did either of you malformed nookstains even hear a word I said?"

"Leadership is a great and powerful burden which you have been cursed to bear," you paraphrase; you are quite familiar with the general outline of his speeches by now. "We are unworthy scum who do not even deserve to have one so great as you look after us, let alone lead us into an uncertain future, when by all means we should have had our asses handed to us by the lowliest imp on the battlefield minutes after entering the game."

"Also, if we only listened to you, all of our problems would disappear like that - poof!" Jade adds. "You are the most supreme fuckass in the land and we should all submit to your will, 'and Equius you had better not be getting off on this you sick fuck'." She says the last in what is really a rather good impression of Karkat's ranting voice, and you are hard-pressed not to giggle in an undignified manner.

Karkat scowls and stomps off, muttering about snarky broads, horseshit, and lucky guesses. You watch him barely more than a second before returning to your needles; you have more important things to take care of.

You walk Jade through several rows before you are satisfied she has the basics. With a promise to join her again in the morning, you recaptchalogue your own supplies and retire to your room for the evening. You spend another hour on your own project before at last preparing for bed; Jade seems to have gotten the hang of knitting quite well, so you anticipate having plenty of time to work tomorrow.

----

Your immediate reaction upon reaching the Communal Socialization Block the next morning is dismay: Jade is there with her needles and yarn, as you had agreed, but she has been joined by Feferi, Nepeta, and Equius. At least two of the trolls' expressions are hopeful and eager, which tells you all you need to know.

You rarely use your powers as Seer of Light these days, having gotten more than your fill of them during the game. However, your title means that you tend to instinctively make choices that will yield favorable outcomes, the result of subconsciously knowing the flow of luck. A quick Look into the future, though far too brief to reveal any particular details, assures you that this is once again the case. Moreover, you realize that you probably should have expected this: with your collective new universe still incubating, your companions have started to grow restless, tension still high even though the game has been won. Learning a new skill would be the perfect distraction for most of them, and you resign yourself to the fact that your class load will likely grow before it shrinks.

Schooling your thoughts (your expression well under control as a rule), you approach the small group. "Good morning, Jade. I see you've brought guests with you today?" You may have accepted reality, but it is no reason to break character, after all.

"Hi, Rose!" Her smile is just the tiniest bit guilty, and you are somewhat mollified. "Yeah, Feferi and Nepeta saw me working on my, um, thing last night, and wanted to know what I was doing." She gestures with her knitting, which has grown a surprising number of rows since you last saw it. Or perhaps not so surprising; Jade is a fair hand at mechanics and has a good eye for detail as well. "And then I told them you would be teaching me more today, and they wanted to know if they could learn too, maybe?"

You regard Equius. "And you?"

He returns your stare through broken lenses. "This 'knitting' of yours seems like an acceptable activity for my moirail to learn, as well as an exceptional opportunity for the two of us to spend time together. Thus I thought it fitting if I were to join as well." He shifts a bit closer to Nepeta as he speaks, and you graciously do not comment on his overprotective streak.

"We'll need to alchemize more supplies before we begin," you inform them, and suppress a smile when the girls let out a cheer, Nepeta throwing her arms around her moirail in "an extremely impolite display" and Feferi's interspersed with glubs. Jade smiles extra hard at you, and you think that this is perhaps not too much of an inconvenience if it is to indulge a dear friend.

Alchemizing the proper materials takes a while, of course. In addition to each of the girls wanting to make the perfect pair of personalized needles (you have to assure them that they will be allowed to make more once you get to socks and the like), Equius needs a pair that won't crumple at his touch. This takes quite a bit of brainstorming, but eventually you manage to alchemize a pair out of diamond and titanium that seem to be STRONG enough, though Equius still holds them gingerly.

There's also the incredible lot of yarn you've amassed. Everyone had wanted different colors and styles, and it doesn't cost very much either. You admit that you may have gone a bit overboard yourself with the magic-themed yarn, but it turned out so well you hardly think anyone could complain. (You still do your best to hide the slightly glowy supernaturally-themed yarn underneath it.) Unfortunately, even the five of you together lack the sylladex space to captchalogue all of the yarn. You solve this problem by pushing all of it into a single troll-tempting pile and letting Equius attempt to take it all at once; luckily, he manages to acquire SABLE with ease.

Eventually you all make it back to the Communal Socialization Block. Equius ejects SABLE into one of the corners, and each of the newcomers takes a skein before you settle at one of the tables. With Jade's assistance, you again share the tale of the rabbit hopbeast who by now has quite a busy schedule of running around rocks.

It is with a strange sense of satisfaction that you watch your pupils begin work. Feferi attends her work with much muttering about tentacles and seaweed and urchins, while Nepeta makes something of a mess of the yarn and has a tendency to jab rather enthusiastically at the imaginary hopbeast, with Equius making concerned noises about the needle points over her shoulder and very little progress on his own work. Jade flits between them and her own work, offering suggestions and anecdotes, for all she's been a knitter less than twenty-four hours. You offer your own bits of wisdom when they appear to be stuck (or tangled up, as happens far too often to Nepeta), and are overall rather pleased with the progress they are making.

You are already considering smiling when you see Kanaya pop over on the transportalizer. The corners of your lips turn up almost automatically at the sight of her, and she smiles warmly in return. Her gaze then turns to the company you've gathered and her expression to one of surprise, then contemplation. A moment later, she transportalizes away again.

A bit perplexed, you turn your attention back to your students. There is a pattern you think Nepeta would like, and if she can manage to learn to increase and decrease stitches without tying herself up, you believe you will share it with her.

You are midway through your second lecture on the ambulatory habits of hopbeasts when Kanaya reappears, this time with a large basket hanging over one arm. You find yourself smiling a bit more widely than before as she approaches the table. "I hope it would be permissible for me to join you?" she says.

"I can think of no reason why not," you reply. You make a show of moving over a bit to accommodate her when she chooses the seat next to you, though you are careful to go only barely farther than is necessary for both propriety and function. Up close, you can see that her basket is filled with small sewing projects, one of which she selects and begins work on.

Kanaya smiles brilliantly at you. "I believe you were explaining about a hopbeast?"

"So I was." You return to your lecture, privately glad that you decided not to work on your personal knitting project; it would not do for the recipient to get so close a look at the surprise you are making for her before it's finished.

You are interrupted some time later by the rantings of a maladjusted insectomorph: "Sweet bulgemunching mother of fuck, there's more of you!"

There is a small crunching sound that you later learn, to your disgust, is Equius attempting to grit his teeth. "Karkat, though you are an exceptional leader, I must again request that you refrain from the use of such lewd speech."

Karkat rolls his eyes. "Yeah, how about when hell fucking freezes over? You'll know when that is by the fucking ice forming on the walls."

Feferi's cheeks puff out in annoyance. "Don't be such a fish-in-the-mud, Karcrab. Knetting is a lot of fun!"

"Yeah, Karkitty!" Nepeta chimes in. "It's purretty relaxing, too! Purrhaps you should give it a try since you're so stressed all the time."

"No, no, and fuck no," Karkat responds. "I don't have time for such a retarded activity, and neither should any of you nookwhiffers. If you bulgechafes still want to sit around polishing fucking sticks all day, be my guest!" Having said this, he transportalizes off in an angry huff.

You regard your compatriots with amusement. "Well," you say, "I believe this means our esteemed leader has officially endorsed our local Stitch and Bitch chapter."

----

You are not even remotely surprised when there are more people waiting for you at Stitch and Bitch the next morning. Dave and Sollux pick knitting up easily enough, the former using fuchsia needles and chunky pink yarn with a metallic thread wound in, the latter doubling up on yarn with one skein blue and one red and needles to match. Terezi is having a tougher time of it.

"You just need to bring your good fairy down on little bunny Foo Foo's cottontail," Dave tells her.

Terezi frowns at her crimson needles and the mess of brightly-colored knots in front of her. "Easy for you to say, Coolkid; that hopbeast just won't sit still and accept justice."

"Perhaps a different method would be more suitable," you suggest.

Terezi perks up. "A different method? No hopbeast?"

You nod, and arrange the needles and some new yarn in her hands. "What you have here are Jack Noir and the tools of justice. You tie Jack to the pole, stab him, and throw him off a cliff." You suit word to deed, demonstrating each step to a much more interested Terezi. "Jack is both persistent and roachlike, so you repeat the process as many times as it takes until he is completely dead."

Terezi cackles gleefully and attacks her knitting with renewed vigor. Satisfied, you sit back and return to your personal project, only to switch it out with speed rivaling your ecto-sibling's when you hear the transportalizer activate behind you.

"I apologize for being late," Kanaya says, taking the seat next to you. "I would have liked to be here sooner, but I was held up in the hallway."

You would ask what held her up, but the transportalizer activates again and Vriska appears, answering your question. You raise a single eyebrow at her. "You do realize that the 'bitch' in this organization's name is the verb rather than the noun, correct?"

Vriska flips her hair over her shoulder. "Bite me, Lalonde. You teaching that knitting thing I keep hearing about, or what?"

Not quite smiling, you gesture to an empty chair and proceed to weave Vriska into the work.

Aradia and Tavros show up not quite two hours after Vriska. You don't glance up from your work, though your fingers know the stitches well enough that you barely need to look at it anymore. "Have you come to learn to knit?"

Surprisingly, it's Tavros who speaks first. "Actually, uh, my lusus, taught me hook-based loop weaving," he says. "I haven't had anyone, to do that with, for a while, though, so I thought, maybe, I could join you?" You peer over your work to see that his cheeks have caramelled slightly, and in one hand he's clutching some lumpy-looking yarn and something that closely resembles a crochet hook.

"I would be very interested in learning," Aradia says before you can answer Tavros. "I've seen evidence of this sort of craft at archeological sites, and some lususes still teach them. I wasn't able to pick up hook-based loop weaving, though, and never met another troll or lusus who practiced one of the arts."

You're surprised to learn from two sources that fiber crafts actually had evolved on Alternia, since so many trolls had seemed unaware of their existence, though perhaps you shouldn't be. They certainly couldn't be fighting or fucking all the time, and clothing needed to come from somewhere, after all.

You recover yourself quickly and gesture to the table. "There's more than enough room for the two of you here." You're gratified when they immediately move to join the group.

Tavros fidgets in his seat for a moment, then asks, "Is there any, uh, fibrous plush filling material?"

This time Kanaya answers: "We alchemized some yesterday so that Nepeta would have something to stuff her knit-construct purrbeast with."

Nepeta nods vigorously. "It worked purrfectly!" She pokes the olive-green knitted kitten she finished in the late afternoon, eyes shining, then gets back to work on its dark-blue 'meow-rail'.

Your attention is drawn to Feferi, who is humming happily and knitting something complicated in alternating red and blue. She'd taken to knitting rather like a fish to water (if you'll forgive yourself for thinking it) and had almost immediately started a rather impressive project. You ponder for a moment why the color pattern concerns you before recalling the shipping chart you'd once glimpsed in Nepeta's respiteblock. "Feferi, you wouldn't be making that sweater for Sollux, would you?"

Feferi blinks at you. "Yes, I am. Is that im-port-ant?"

"Many human knitters believe that making a sweater for someone with whom you're in a romantic relationship will hasten said relationship's end."

Feferi glubs sharply and fumbles with her needles. "That's not reely true, is it?"

"My lusus said, the same thing," Tavros says. "Tinkerbull told me that, uh, it would end a relationship in, a full bilunar cycle. He said it could happen, with almost anything, but that complicated things, are worse. But he also said, that weaving a strand of your hair in, would keep that from, uh, happening, so you could try that, maybe?"

Feferi immediately plucks a long hair and wraps it around her blue yarn. You focus very hard on your own project to keep from noticing how many of your other companions are now contemplating their own hair.

You're honestly a little worried about your personal project. Not in the Sweater Curse sense - you've already knitted a hair of your own in, if only to alleviate sneaking paranoia - but in terms of the amount of time you've had to work on it. While you were fairly close to being done when Jade first asked for knitting lessons only two days ago, you've mostly devoted your free time to your side-project since then. At first it was solely a teaching aid, but now it's grown to have a life of its own. With all of the time it's eaten, you've begun to wonder when you'll have a chance to finally finish your personal project, or if your new one will simply take over.

Then there's the fact that you'd rather your personal project were a surprise for its eventual recipient; this is made more difficult by how she's taken to sitting next to you in Stitch and Bitch sessions. Even if you manage to finish your teaching work relatively soon, there's no guarantee you'll be able to switch to your preferred project during social hours.

When the transporatlizer goes off again, you are forced to acknowledge yet another obstacle to your goal: the interruptions of insufferable alien pricks.

"Lalonde, you have officially convinced me that your bizarre stick-polishing games are contagious," Karkat announces rancidly. "Not only are they rotting the already badly depleted thinkpans of every idiot who tries them, merely glancing at them entices morons into their yarny grasps until they're more tangled up than a retarded carnivorous silkshitter caught in its own web - something that a few of them should already know more than enough about." He stares at Vriska as he delivers this last bit, and she narrows her eyes and hisses through her fangs at him.

"Got a point in there, Vantas, or are you just here to vent hot gas?"

"Serkit, if I'm venting hot gas, it's only because my life has become an open festering sore on the pestiferous surface of our acquaintance, and the churning bile below needs an outlet before it fucking ruptures the entire shitty crust above it. The vile poison and carnage that would spew forth from that would make a horrorterror cry for its lusus and empty its bowels in its recuperacoon. If I didn't have a reason to be here, I wouldn't even bother being in the same fucking room as you sorry wastes of space."

"The longer you remain here, the more convinced I become that you are actually interested in participating in my nefarious 'stick-polishing games'," you say, interrupting his rant. "Since you claimed to have a point, perhaps you should get to it before I have more reason to believe you've succumbed to contagion."

Karkat huffs in irritation and does so. "Egbert wants you all to know that he made some disgusting human food for lunch and you're welcome to come and stuff your faceholes with it, though you're probably just as happy to consume your brightly colored fibrous silkshitter excrement. He also wants you to know that tonight is movie night, at which will be shown some dumb human monstrosity featuring human Nic Cage and a retarded treasure, as well as the troll classic, 'In Which Two Rustbloods Are Wrongly Accused Of Murdering A Greenblood Storekeeper, Resulting In One Of Them Having To Contact His Neophyte Legislacerator Moirail To Defend Them In Court; Featuring Seven Legislaceration Scenes And Two Instances Of Quadrant Flipping Between The Legislacerator And His Matesprit'. While you definitely have better shit to do besides sitting through the first one, the second one is actually worth your time, so leave your fucking craft sticks back at your respiteblocks."

His errand finished, Karkat tromps back to the transportalizer and flashes away. While everyone else gets back to their projects, Vriska in particular muttering about fucking mutated bastards and their diseased brains, Kanaya turns to you, a faint green staining her cheeks.

"Rose," she says, "I was wondering if perhaps you would be interested in accompanying me to the nutrition intake block later to sample John's human cuisine, and then in attending group movie night together?"

You smile gracefully in return, and dearly hope you're not actually blushing. "I would enjoy that very much, Kanaya. If everyone is well set here," you address the rest of the table now, "I hope you won't mind me absconding early; I seem to have developed plans for this evening, and there are things I need to take care of first." You recaptchalogue your supplies and head for the transportalizer before anyone has a chance to object, your hand brushing Kanaya's shoulder as you go. Before you wink out, you can make out that she's turned an even darker green and is smiling down at her sewing.

You're smiling to yourself as well; you'd been hoping to work more on your personal project tonight, but you'll gladly rearrange your schedule for something more appealing, and time with the young jadeblood is highly appealing indeed.

----

You are pleasantly unsurprised the next morning when, upon arriving at Stitch and Bitch, you find that Gamzee and Eridan have already joined. Eridan seems to have taken two of his pointier shitty wands to work with rather than going for actual knitting needles, and appears to have started knitting his own scarves; you can only imagine that he's using the most pretentious, environmentally sound yarn available. Gamzee, on the other hand, looks to have coaxed Tavros into teaching him hook-based loop weaving, and is leaning in close to ask questions. You have to admit that you're rather impressed with Tavros' skill yourself; there's a cute plush bull thing with fairy wings sitting not too far from him, and it doesn't look knitted. Of course, you're not entirely sure it's Tavros' skills that Gamzee's observing...

Your time off from Stitch and Bitch yesterday afternoon was also more productive than you'd anticipated. You'd ended up making quite a bit of headway with both your private and public projects, to the point where the former is nearly finished and the latter is only missing a couple of key elements. Settling in at the table, you pull out your public project and have begun working the next part in when the transportalizer goes off twice in quick succession.

You hide a smile when John approaches the table, a reluctant Karkat in tow. "Hi, everyone!" John chirps. You nod politely to him while the rest of the table says their own hellos. "Wow, Rose," he says to you, "I knew you'd be good at knitting, but I never expected you to get everyone into it!"

"I myself am surprised at the number of students I've acquired," you reply. "Many more and I'll have to open a formal school."

John giggles a bit at this. "Think you could fit two more into your class, Miss Lalonde?"

"I don't see why not. Though you'll have to tell me who this second student is, assuming you are the first."

At this, John elbows Karkat in the side; the troll crosses his arms and huffs. "Look, I'm willing to admit that your ridiculous stick polishing games are not the most retarded idea in the history of both our universes, if only from a team bonding perspective. It would obviously be seriously detrimental to said team bonding if the leader were not in attendance, no matter how much of a waste of time this stupid activity is otherwise."

You raise an eyebrow sardonically. "Ah. Of course."

Karkat seems to be done talking, so John pipes up, "Does that mean you'll teach us how to knit?"

You smile your most meaningless beatific smile at Karkat (and one that's nearly sincere at John) and gesture to the table in front of you. You scoot your chair a bit closer to Kanaya's as well, which should give them more elbow room even if it eats a bit into yours. Pulling the final two colors for your public work over to demonstrate with as you lecture your two newest students, you spare a moment to reflect on the success of this project; while it is much more involved than you thought it was going to be when you first started it with Jade, you find you are rather satisfied with the end results.

Then John gets his yarn tied in a huge knot somehow and Karkat is beginning to curse even more than usual at his knitting needles, and you are out of time for sentimentality. It's probably just as well.

----

It's late that evening when you're next at the Communal Socializing Block. Everyone else retired several hours ago, and while you'd left for your own room at the time, you'd been planning to continue knitting.

You pull your now finished public project from your sylladex and spread it out on one of the couches. It's become the size of a small blanket, and the sixteen distinct colors clash and compliment each other in turns. You think it turned out rather well, all things told, even if Karkat does tend to take the 'bitch' in Stitch and Bitch a bit more to heart than anyone else.

You settle down on the adjacent loveseat - you don't quite want to muss up your completed blanket yet - and pull out your newest project: a pair of muffatees in charcoal gray. You're actually rather pleased at not having gotten much work done when Kanaya transportalizes in. With a smile, you recaptchalogue your knitting and scoot a bit to one side, silently inviting her to sit next to you. She does so, her arm brushing against yours.

"May I ask why you wanted to meet me?"

You consider your words even more carefully than usual before you reply. "I am not certain if giving gifts as a romantic gesture is something that is reflected in Alternian culture, nor which quadrant it might fit in if it were." From your sylladex you pull a lacy knitted shawl mainly in black with trim in jade green and lavender, and hold it loosely between the two of you. If Kanaya were to look exceptionally closely, which you are quite sure she will at some point, she would find a collection of hairs in one corner, woven into the fabric in roughly the shape of a heart. "Giving 'tokens of affection' is quite common in human culture, however. I hope the notion of sharing such affections with me is something to which you would be amenable?"

Kanaya takes the shawl from you with trembling hands. "Pale or flushed?" she asks, voice barely above a whisper.

You cover her hands with your own and meet her eyes. "I believe the flushed quadrant is the one that involves sloppy inter-species makeouts? Because that is essentially what I intended to indicate interest in."

With a smile that is nearly blinding in its joy and sincerity (not to mention glowy Rainbow Drinker powers), Kanaya wraps her arms around you, the shawl caught between you. "It is a wonderful gift," she murmurs in your ear. "I will treasure it."

Your blood pounds in your veins as you return the gesture, and you're sure Kanaya, alien vampire that she is, can hear it. You can't bring yourself to mind. Both of you have become adept at using words to their full advantage, and you can tell that she wasn't just talking about the shawl then. You hold her tighter, warmer now than any knitwear could make you. If you were to take a moment to be honest with yourself, you might admit that this is the happiest any project, knitted or otherwise, has ever made you.

Perhaps later. For now, you are perfectly content to be lost in her arms.

"Rose? I believe you mentioned something about sloppy inter-species makeouts?"

Hmm; belay that. "I recall doing so, yes."

"I would like to suggest that now is a perfectly opportune moment to engage in such activities."

"As a matter of fact, Miss Maryam, I quite agree with you. Let the inter-species makeouts of a sloppy persuasion commence."

Okay, now you're perfectly content.