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Post-Retcon Kids: Remem8er!

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“Wait, What Exactly Did You Do?”

“I DON’T KNOW I GUESS I WAS JUST A BIT ANGRY AT DAVE? AND MAYBE DROPPED MY SICKLES.”

“When They Are Usually Within Your Strife Specibus?” Kanaya sighs. She examines the deep gouge Karkat’s transportalizer. “... And I Suppose They Just Happened To Stab Themselves Into The Transportalizer?”

Karkat managed to look a bit angry though his cheeks tinged a bit darker than usual. Kanaya peers up at him and smooths over her pink sundress.

“I Suppose I Can Try To Help. Why Did You Ask Me Anyway? I Cannot Say I Am Particularly Skilled In The Field Of Engineering.”

Karkat shrugged from behind as Kanaya rose gracefully. “WHO ELSE WOULD I ASK? IT’S BEEN AWHILE SINCE WE’VE SEEN ANY GHOSTS AND I WANT TO CLEAN THIS UP QUICKLY SO I CAN GO BACK TO IGNORING THAT GRUBBY DOUCHE.”

Kanaya chuckles softly and heads toward her transportalizer. “Okay. I Will Get The Tools I Use For My Chainsaw. I’ll Be Back Soon!”

She vanishes with a flash of light from above. Karkat sighs and leans against the lab wall, sliding down slowly until he’s slumped on the ground. He’s actually quite grouchy, at least, worst than normal. That Strider just didn’t know how to keep his nose out of other people’s business! Him and his stupid raps have been swirling around Karkat’s ears all afternoon, making them twitch like crazy until Karkat couldn’t take it anymore; he snapped his coding book shut and tensely crossed the room towards the transportalizers… When Dave smirked and said:
“Hey, Karkitty.”

Maybe it was the aforementioned smirk, maybe it was the slow ache in his head from Dave’s awful music, or maybe it was because Karkat was extra grouchy, but in any case, Karkat flipped his shit in a way he hadn’t for a whole sweep... two years... whatever. He whirled and grabbed Dave by his stupid pajamas. Red was an awful color. Karkat had grit his teeth and snarled at Strider.

“LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE.” He hissed before hurrying on his way… to the situation he was currently stewing in. But now that he thought about it, Karkat was pretty sure Dave wasn’t trying to be mean. In fact, they had gotten along well enough in the last two years, hanging out with each other and the mayor… Maybe Karkat shouldn’t be such a nookslurping asshole and just apologize already. Man, past Karkat was such a dumbass! Clearly, Dave was his bro, and past Karkat should’ve been nicer to him. Why does present Karkat have to deal with his past self’s idiocy?

Karkat sighed and ruffled his hair, promising himself he would go and apologize to Dave soon. In the meantime, Karkat eyed the damaged transportalizer. It was the only way back to his bed- block (urgh, fuck these humans and their high blood vocabulary!), and he had completely wrecked it. By throwing a sickle with his totally massive and rippling biceps, Karkat had managed to stick the stupid thing. When he pulled the sickle out, all the wiring was spilling out like some sort of disassembled, stuffed creature, possibly resembling a bear, or perhaps a rabbit.

In the middle of his musings, Rose entered the transportalizer room via the alchemy room. Her hair was fluffed out, perhaps from running her fingers through it for some hours. She rubbed her eyes before noticing the pouting troll along the wall.

“Oh, hello, Karkat.” She yawned politely, covering her mouth before asking, “Have you seen Kanaya?”

Karkat sighed. When Rose wasn’t dealing with Vriska’s scheming, alchemy or communing with the zoologically dubious, she usually was joined at the hip with Kanaya. “YEAH, SHE’LL BE BACK SOON. SHE’S HELPING ME WITH SOMETHING AT THE MOMENT.” Rose quirked an eyebrow and he nodded to his transportalizer.

“Ah, I see. What in particular gave you the impression she’d be able to help you?”

“HER CHAINSAW. SHE’S ACTUALLY KEPT IT IN PRETTY GOOD SHAPE, AND I THOUGHT SHE MIGHT KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT WIRES OR ELECTRICITY IN GENERAL.”

“As opposed to your complete ‘hacker skillz’ with such a device?”

“SHUT UP, GRUBTARD. WE BOTH KNOW MY CODES ARE SHIT.” Despite the jab, Karkat smiled softly toward Rose. She really wasn’t so bad. “AND ANYWAY, CODING IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM THIS KIND OF STUFF.”

“Not to my knowledge.” Rose shrugged and moved closer to the transportalizer. “Actually, the way the wires and software work apart and together, it really does seem like some sort of coding format.” She knelt beside the platform and started sorting the mess Karkat made. “Look, the way these wires here, they work to send the electrical impulses of commands into the main system, like the start sequence of a code. Actually, here,” she points to some sort of screen running number lines, “this seems like the code needed to send anything in the first place? Or maybe that’s where it goes?”

“NO, THE TRANSPORTALIZER IS DIRECTLY LINKED TO ITS TWIN. IT REALLY HAS NO NEED FOR COORDINATES AT ALL.” Karkat shifted closer, crawling towards Rose. “AND SEE, HERE, THIS IS… UH…” Rose looked up at Karkat.

“Yes?” Karkat scowled and rolled back on his heels.

“FUCK. I CAN’T REMEMBER.” He admits. “WHEN SOLLUX WAS AROUND, HE TOLD ME HOW MOST OF THIS STUFF WORKS. IT’S KIND OF BEEN AWHILE.” Rose smiles kindly at Karkat just as Kanaya returns, now in her work clothes. He clears his throat sharply and lurches upward, stumbling over the edge of his transportalizer. “KANAYA. WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?”

“I’m Sorry, Karkat. It Had Been So Long, I Had Nearly Forgotten Where I Kept My Tools. And-”

“OKAY, WHATEVER. SORRY.” Karkat runs a hand through his messy hair and sighs. “SORRY. I JUST WANT TO FIX THIS AND GO BACK TO MY COON, PLEASE?” Kanaya nods low, accepting Karkat’s sharp manner.

“Hello, Rose. Do You Mind Taking This?” Kanaya hands Rose her beautifully embroidered makeup bag filled with different sized screws. “Okay, Let’s Take A Look.”

Kanaya joins Karkat on the transportalizer and crouches over the wires. “Karkat, Did You Sort These?”

“Actually, that was me,” Rose interjects quietly. “Rather, I did what I could. I don’t know much, only what I learned while figuring how to not kill myself while threatening electrocution with my mother.” Kanaya smiled at Rose kindly, and reached for her hand. Karkat averted his eyes. Gog, he wished he had this.

After a moment, Rose pulled away, and reached into the bag. “Hm, will this work?” The three of them worked together to try rewiring the transportalizer, Kanaya with various tools and Karkat and Rose pointing out wire patterns. Karkat really appreciated this; spending time with these two flighty broads actually made him feel relaxed. Nothing complex about two people already engaged in the red quadrant, and he certainly didn’t feel anything black. He just enjoyed the comfort of friends around him, teasing but pleasant.

At last, most of the wires were reworked into the transportalizer’s system, but a few they could not figure out. As well as the coordinates that Rose had fiddled with previously but she reclaimed that spot after determining the other wires unnecessary for the priority function; getting Karkat back to his room.

Karkat leaned back and stretched his spine, feeling the joints pop as he did so. Him and Kanaya had been hunched over their crossed legs for perhaps an hour and he felt stiff. Kanaya straightened, pulling her shoulders back in a regal manner as she stretched. “Could This Be Enough For Now, Karkat? I Do Think A Rest And Perhaps Meditating The Matter Of The Remaining Wires Will Do Us Some Good.”

“YEAH. ACTUALLY, THANKS A LOT. BOTH OF YOU.” Karkat smiled small at the two girls, ducking his head as he did so. “REALLY, THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP. IT MEANS A LOT CONSIDERING WE HAVEN’T ALL REALLY HUNG OUT SOMETIMES? I JUST APPRECIATE IT.”

Rose gasped, amused from where she was still bent over the wires. “Wow, Karkat, you? Actually admitting that we are worth something? Be careful, your feelings are as prominent as Terezi’s appreciation for the color red!” Kanaya smiled, covering it with a dainty hand as Karkat’s ears flushed. He scowled again, more for show than anything else.

“HEY, WHAT THE HELL? IS IT SUCH A STRANGE CONCEPT, ME, THE BRILLIANT, PERFECT TROLL MODEL ISN’T JUST AN ARROGANT ASSHOLE, HE ACTUALLY HAS EMOTIONS AND STUFF? WOW, HOW INSENSITIVE ARE YOU? I MEAN, CLEARLY THIS GUY IS THE STUFF OF LEGEND, SO I CAN SEE HOW YOU MIGHT GET CONFUSED, BUT TRUST ME BABE, IT’S REAL. IN THE FUCKING ORGAN MEMBRANE AND EVERYTHING.” Rose giggled and twisted a couple of wires.

“Well, I mean, I don’t know Karkat. The only legend I can think of capable of such a feat-”

Zap! The wires sparked, and the transportalizer hummed wheezily. Rose jumped back in surprise and Kanaya leaned forward to look. The machine groaned to life, whirling as a lazy light shone from above.

“WHAT THE F-”

The wires sparked again and Karkat and Kanaya stumbled as they tried to hurry away, slipping on each other.

“Wha-? Karkat! It’s Not A Transportalizer! Look!” While trying to stand, Kanaya grabbed Karkat, making him fall on top of her in her attempt to make him see. “It’s A-”

Beep boop! There was a great flash and Rose stood amazed, staring where her two friends had just disappearafied.

Chapter Text

Karkat blinks. The white fades from his mind and his eyes are fuzzy.

He is lying on the grass of a back lawn ring, tensed as if he was having a bad dream. He relaxes once more, his back soft against the damp grass beneath him. It was so lush and cozy. He feels as if he could spend all morning just lying here on this soft bit of land but what just happened? And what is up with that swirling color? Above him is a shimmery sea of green, shifting and whistling; he can’t quite identify yet…

He rolls his eyes around taking in the surroundings and tries to assess the situation while it’s peaceful and he remains slightly incapacitated (the grass just feels kind of nice, alright? It’s been so long since Karkat had felt something so alive that wasn’t another person or dead meat for dinner). He identifies the two cinder blocks near his head, leading to the entry of a tall, blue building, fuzzy around the edges. It looks old, yet casually elegant, as if it someone important built it and it has maybe been there for a long time. Cozy, but pretty.

He squints, blinking hard as he scrunches his nose, confused. Moving his attention back above, there fluttered a small flurry of leaves, twisting with a healthy breeze. And just beyond that is…

“SUN!” He yelps and scrambles backward, panicked and wanting purchase on the slick grass beneath him. He stumbles over the bricks and dives inside the blue building, slightly surprised it was open but mostly terrified his skin would boil beneath the violent rays of his planet.

The interior was blissfully dimmed, shaded from the harsh Alternian sun, only some inadvertent rays sneaking through the cracks of a light catcher on the invisible barrier. Karkat breaths a sigh of relief, safe now from daylight. He tenses warily and turns, scanning the darkness for answers.

He appears to be within some sort of nutrition block, a thermal hull and liquid containing tube off to the side, a grand, purple feasting plateau centered in the room. The wooden floor was dark, and the service plateau’s were bare but for some grime, presumably from cooking. Another entrance barrier was on the far side of the room, dark and closed but hinting pale, artificial light from the next block. Karkat slid closer, wary but curious. He tensed beside the feasting plateau, reaching for his strife specibus when suddenly the barrier creaked open. He leaps back, reaching for the barrier clicker, wondering if he would be desperate enough to go back into the treacherous sun once more…

A tall, thin woman enters, lavishly decorated in jewelry and a sleek black dress. She has tanned skin but heavy, dark makeup on her face makes it appear almost shaded black. Okay? Her eyes are blue though, pale enough to seem almost white from where Karkat was standing. She seemed somehow familiar to Karkat, despite her human appearance. What on gog’s good dusty Alternia would she be doing here? Actually… What the hell would Karkat be doing here?

He eyes the lady warily, hovering beside the barrier as she opened the thermal hull, her pursed lips and tight eyes indicating her distaste for whatever she saw. “Karl. Go down to the store and get some real food for the week. I’d rather not deal with such distasteful produce tonight.” Karkat squints at her. What?

She turns and glares coldly at him. “I did not ask.”

Karkat glares back, but his heart pounded. “You’re not my lusii, and I don’t take orders from anyone, not from an entitled high blooded like Equius and certainly not from you!” v His voice was strange, somehow more quiet than usual. He wasn’t scared, who said that, it wasn’t true at all! “Besides, I have better things to do, like get the fuck away from you!” He tenses and barges past her, slamming the entrance barrier open and speeds past a dark hallway into some sort of recreation block? It was dark here too, lavished in purple and a stout man with a smooth suit stood from a purple armchair, abandoning his reading material. … Was that a barkbeast?

“What did you just say to your mother?” the man barks, blocking Karkat’s path. “Why, I outta skin you now, runt! You do as your mother says or things might be gettin’ a bit rough, you hear?” Karkat just knew that voice! Startled, he shoves past this human, this man he knew so well, remembered the cold burn of his blade slipping over Karkat’s ribs…

Karkat pushes open another barrier, and slams it but was suddenly blinded. The sun! How could he forget? Karkat pitches sideway, covering his face with his sleeves and is suddenly falling… He slams hard into the ground, scraping his palms on the pavement and knocks his head. Cursing, he shoves himself backwards, wedging himself in the corner of the elevation platform he just sailed spectacularly off and the wall of the building he just left. It wasn’t much protection from the elements, but it was better than nothing as he panicked, worrying of the Sun and the people he just abandoned.

Yanking his sweater over his head, Karkat shielded himself the best he could from the fiery pain he had been warned of so vehemently his whole life, and winced at his throbbing head. What were they doing here? Where was here? And why the hell did Karkat end up here?

Karkat pants heavily, thinking of all the peace he had gained in the last two years. Hold his breath, right? That should keep him quiet while he figured out what THE FUCK was going on! He thought about his meteor, the Mayor and how relaxed he had become with the help of such an awesome dude. He thought briefly of Dave and his stupid pajamas pressed comfortably against Karkat’s cheek. His shoulders tense, but his heartbeat slows, Karkat squeezed his eyes. This has to be a dream bubble, right? But that wouldn’t explain why Noir was human, nor the black queen…

Something feathered over his shoulder and Karkat flings himself sideways.

“GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!” He squeaks, pulling his head out from his makeshift tent, balling his fists up. The light hit him once more and he cried out, cringing back into a protective ball.

“Karkat?” the soft, regal tone made him crack open an eyelid.

“... Kanaya?” Her sharp angles had softened, smoothed out. Her hair now flowed long and soft in a gentle breeze that allowed soft rays of sunlight to stir between strands. Rather than her sign, her shirt displayed hearts, and was white. But the most astonishing feature about her was…

“Kanaya. You’re human.” She smiles softly, clear tears in her slightly slanted eyes.

“Karkat. So are you.” Astonished, Karkat sat up. He squints but the sun seemed to be safe, so he decides firmly to flip his shit about that later and instead marvel at himself.

His skin was no longer gray, but a caramel brown. His claws were thin, and torn short. Running his tongue over his teeth, he felt where his dull, but significantly pointed teeth used to be. Instead, they were flat as a hoofbeast, and about as effective as his claws seemed to be. Reaching up cautiously, he encounters no horns, but with enough eye crossing, he could see his hair was now brown, a shade darker than his skin.

Panting low but quick, he looks in horror at Kanaya. “What… Happened?”

She smiles softly. “I believe your transportalizer was actually a disappearifier. We had never really noticed, but I do believe there were at least some there in the main transport block, perhaps for battle on Skaia. I woke up in my ‘room’ and happened to encounter an old friend on my way down the elevation steps. He told me you had come out here.” Karkat hugs his knees.

“So it is. I mean, that’s Jack, right?”

Kanaya tilts her head, long hair brushing over her shoulder as she regarded Karkat. “I have cause to believe that is some variation of him, yes.” Karkat looks away, down at his shoes. “And that woman, as you so earnestly discovered, our human ‘mother’ is the black queen.” Karkat sighs, and leans his head against the wall behind him.

“I guess there’s only one question left. … Kanaya, why the fuck are we here?” He rolls his head onto his arm conjunction to look at her. “What did I do to make paradox space decide it was a brilliant idea to strand you here with me in the flame infested afterlife that is my life?”

Kanaya scoots beside Karkat and plants a pale kiss on his head. “Paradox space is not trolling you Karkat. This must be necessary in order to turn us human, put us here. Come.”

She rose and offered a soft, manicured hand to her friend. “Let us discover our purpose, darling ‘brother’.” She smiles and Karkat rolls his eyes at her use of human wordsーRose’s wordsー before taking her hand to lift himself off the ground.

“Oh, I guess one more question. Where are we?” Kanaya hesitates.

“Well, Karkat, I’ve only been here as long as you, really. But I suppose if I had to make a guess, considering our circumstances…” She glances hopefully up and down the street. “I would have to guess…”

“Kanaya. I know you are the Sylph of Space. You were literally hatched to sense this sort of thing.”

She ducks her head, blushing a ruddy (red? Karkat is not alone!) color. “Karkat, we are on Earth. Post-Scratch.” He grows still. “I also believe, specifically, this place is called ‘New York’.”

She gestures to the buildings, the people. “Welcome to Rose’s home.

Chapter Text

Karkat flops on the bed. After getting yelled at by Dad Noir for not getting some proper food, the two (former?) trolls had the adventure of a lifetime, figuring out where the grocery store was when in fact they had never visited one in the accumulation of all their lives. It was confusing, but at last, Kanaya spotted some familiar Tab cans and they hurried to collect something they considered edible; Mom Queen wasn’t happy but the pair were satisfied with the half-dozen cans they managed to purchase (after almost being arrested for thievery). It had been quite the afternoon, and Karkat was looking forward to some peace.

“Karkat, get up. We have work to do.” He groans and rolls onto the soft underbelly of his human form.

“Kanaya, we fixed a transportalizer, time traveled, and were almost culled by the human flesh-drones. Can’t we take a nap? Just a short one. So short, not even Nepeta would be able to grasp its twitchy little tail for dinner.” She sighs and rolls her chair away from the desk.

“Karkat, I am not even certain what our name’s are. Would you at least help me examine the room? You don’t even need to move very much; this block isn’t exactly meteor-sized.” Indeed, the room was not the size of a meteor, Jupiter, Texas or Rhode Island. In fact, it was fairly small, perhaps the size of Karkat’s respite block. When he had one.

The room had cheerful, light blue walls, covered in flowers to give it an outdoor feel to it. A large viewing glass was open to the street above her bed, allowing large amounts of sunlight in before Karkat drew the white curtains over it. The bed was covered in pillows and various blankets, apparently handmade and carefully placed before Karkat landed on it. There appeared to be a corner with only cloth, a few pattern designs Kanaya decided she admired greatly. They were gorgeous and Karkat’s eye roll could not convince her otherwise. A soft green rug littered with sewing scraps laid center of the room and a desk adjacent to the bed was currently occupied by Kanaya, books, and various sewing paraphernalia. The desk was slightly askew, but clean.

Kanaya flipped through the various books that were neatly stacked on the desk, searching. Perhaps there would be something to help explain who they were, and why they were sent to Earth of all places. What were they supposed to do? The new session kids were either scattered elsewhere, or wouldn’t be around for 400 years. There were the human counterparts of game constructs, but they seemed to have no idea what Hivebent or rather, Sburb was. Despite finding nothing on their mission, Kanaya managed to discover a bit on who she and her ‘brother’ were through an school assigned introductory page she apparently wrote yesterday afternoon:

Name: Maya Martas

Family: Adopted, all of us (I am Japanese).
Dearest adopted brother - Karlos (Kar to me, Karl to my parents) is Hispanic.
Mother - Ghost of the Romantic era; Spanish.
Father - Italian mobster.

Favorite color: All of them.

Age: 15 years.

Favorite animal: Cat.

Favorite Subject: Home ec.

Hobbies: Reading, making clothes, and being a fashion genius, pardon my horn.

Friends: We just moved here, I only have my brother.

Starsign: Virgo.

Sylladex: Chastity.

Strife specibus: None??? Why would I need one?

What do you want to be when you grow up: I believe I would like to be a caretaker of some sort.

Kanaya sighs. At least some things never change. Really, she was a bit disappointed in herself. How could she give up her favorite hobby of all, landscaping? Or give up a strife specibus? What would her human self use to fight off the zombies of the night, as her troll self had done during the day? Kanaya added both to her profile. Someone had to pull some weight around here, and if she wouldn’t, Kanaya would. There was work to do, and a game to play dammit, and she well would do her best.

In Karkat’s room, it was dark and messy. Posters were everywhere and really, it looked as his hive had on Alternia, but more humanized. In place of his recupercoon lay the human bed, messy and blankets falling off. Clothes, popcorn and movie cases littered the floor and a small bookshelf off the side had some coding books and more movies. On the shelf, they found some notes, presumably from school. Kanaya warned Karkat they would have to review those later.

As well as learn of themselves, the two former trolls discovered something about their family. They hated their parents and their parents hated them. They avoided each other as much as possible, and Dad Noir would hide his reading material from Mom Queen. She would scold him and try to make him change his attire to something more suitable, but to no avail. Then they noticed Kanaya peeking down the elevation platform and demanded she return to her room, in their own haughty fashions. She absconded. As she had hurried up the stairs, Dad Noir yelled something she believed Karkat needed to know now.

Looking over her pitiful friend, Kanaya sighed. Tomorrow would be Monday. She quickly explained:

“Karkat. We must go to school.”

“No, Kanaya, I don’t grubbing want to!" He gripes, snuggling into the cozy platform. "Do you know how long it’s been since my think-pan has been exercised for something more demanding than remember our dancestors’ names? Not that I even performed so spectacularly on that fucking quiz, but probably since our own session, a whole sweep ago!”

“Nevertheless, Karkat, we must keep up appearances until we have determined what we are to do with ourselves. The game demands that we live human lives and so we must. Also, the fact that you keep calling me ‘Kanaya’... I do adore my name but I insisted you call me ‘Maya’. Please.” Karkat huffs and rolls over, fiddling with the headphones he found in his own dim, dusty room.

“Kanaya. You really are something special. You don’t need to change to fit in with some stupid, insulting character given to you. You just need to be you, no matter what infinitely omnipotent space tells you.” Karkat keeps his eyes on the wires, but Kanaya regards him fondly, and moves closer to smooth his hair. He tries to hum, but his human voice strands don’t register the noises he wants to make. “Fuck.” It forced him to keep his voice down, and now he can’t even show his affection! Kanaya just chuckles and brushes his cheek before standing lightly.

“Kan?” Karkat rolls upright. “Where are you going?” She smiles brightly and turns to leave her room.

“I don’t know about you, but I have school tomorrow.” He curses and hurries after her.

“Kanaya! Wait.” She slows and turns to look at him questioningly. “How the hell is this going to work? We didn’t have school before, and I never really listened, and…” Kanaya tilted her head and grabbed his hand.

“Karkat, what are you favorite movies?”

“Romance.”

“Precisely.” She tugged him to his room and began rummaging. “When is romance the most complex and confusing? About now.” She tossed aside “50 First Dates” and moved to a new pile. “If the same is true with humans, as I am sure it is, we will be able to find- Ah, see?”

She held out “Sixteen Candles”. “This is one of the movies of red and pale leanings, yes? They should be able our age, and should have some social characteristics we mind find helpful.” Karkat took the movie and eyed it doubtfully.

“At the very least, you may show me more movies you haven’t gotten around to yet.” Karkat looks at the movie, then Kanaya. Then smiles.

“Okay, I think it’s time to do some research.”

-**-

After a few false starts, Karkat and Kanaya got a nice rhythm. He would pick a movie, they would watch a few minutes of it, and compare with what they saw in another movie. They learned a bit of the social scene, and fumed over the complete lack of appreciation for morialligence. Then moved on to the next one.

Kanaya dug through a few notebooks and created profile cards for herself and Karkat. It had the name of the school, directions, and more written on them.

Kar(l) Martas:
Orchestra (HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN? Karkat, Stop with the Quirk.)
English (10) (We’ll see Each other There.)
Science (Biology) (See me There.)
Computer coding
LUNCH (Meet me At the red X on the Map! STOP F- writing on my schedule)
Current Events
Math (Algebra) (WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? Karkat, Quirk. OH, RIght.)

Maya Martas:
Math (pre-calculus)
English (10)
Science (Biology)
Home ecs (Hm, seems Interesting, I hope.)
Lunch
Current Events
Science (zoology)

“Kanaya,” Karkat started. “Is this really necessary? I’m not going to fucking forget to meet you. You’re my mor-”

“Ahem. I’m sorry Kar, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I am just a simple human girl getting ready for school.” He raised an eyebrow at Kanaya, who was packing her school supplies before going to bed.

“Was that really necessary? MAYA?” She looked up at him, eyes tired and glazed. “Sorry. I know this is important to you but we really need to just hurry up and go back. I don’t want to be here.” Karkat looked at his shoes. “I want to be on the meteor.”

 

Kanaya sighed and leaned back. “I know. But we can’t do that until we know what’s going on. And to do that is to play by the game’s rules.” She sighs. “I dislike it as much as you. But I understand that we need to follow the rules. For Rose.” She blushes slightly and Karkat’s mouth twitches.

“You’re really flushed for her, aren’t you?” Kanaya smiles broadly.

“So much that I deign to call it love, Karkat.” She rises and shoos Karkat from her bed. “Now go. I’d rather not be late to school on the first day.” She grins as Karkat moans in agony and drags himself from her room. “And Kark- Kar?” He pauses, waiting. “I’m sure I am not mistaken when I say, we are doing this for Dave as well.” His face heats and he’s glad the hall is dark. Gog, human skin was so thin.

“Yeah, whatever, Kan- uh, Maya.” He hurries to his room and waits for morning, upright and curled in on himself, listening for any signs Kanaya could be in trouble as he had throughout the game.

Chapter Text

“So Karkat, remember, you will meet me for lunch, yes?”

“Yes.”

“But after we see each other in the class of english.”

“Kan, I know.”

“Oh, and be careful. Just keep an eye out and maybe we will find some kids.”

“I know Kanaya, even though they don’t live here, and even though those that do won’t be here until Her Imperious Condescension has already fucked up the world with all the think pan addled, gauche fucking clowns to rule this shitty planet, even though a lot of fucking things that are messed up with this whole fucking situation!” Kanaya stops and stares at Karkat. They’re on the steps of their school, Roselyn (Kanaya had said nothing, but Karkat saw her perk slightly at the name [Maybe it’s a sign]) and Karkat stops too, eyes tight. She raises an eyebrow and he sighs.

“Sorry, Kan. This is just really fucking strange, and-” He cuts himself off and looks away. ”Sorry.”

“Kark- Kar… I know.” She moves closer and hugs him gently. He tenses at her warm, firm grip but tries to purr. Again, his throat chokes and and this time feels it rips.

“F- fuck.” He croaks and slips out of Kanaya’s grip, coughing the pain from his throat. She wraps her arms around his shoulders as the pain subsides and tears blur his vision. “Oh, fuck, get away from me.” Karkat keels sideways and lands hard on the steps, smearing his tears away… “What?”

“Karkat.” Kanaya sits beside him and wraps around his shoulders again. Gently, “Your blood color doesn’t matter here.” Karkat clears his eyes and stares at the sparkling, clear tears. After a moment, “Come on.” Kanaya rises and holds a hand out to Karkat. He takes it, cheeks blotchy and red from the exertion of nearly dying. Again.

They resume a slow incline into the buildings again, Karkat twitching his eyes around at the kids, Kanaya solidly piercing the crowd with her gaze. Karkat clings to her arm as she charges forward. Suddenly the bell rings and Karkat nearly jumps into a crowd of other students. They glare and shove him away.

“Freak!” Karkat glares, baring his fang- teeth -in a dorky way. They crack up and head in the other direction as Kanaya drags him away.

“Let go of me!” Karkat struggles, tense and torn between following Kanaya and beating the crap out of those assholes. Where were his sickles?

“Karkat.” She drags him close, and hisses in his ear. “It is time for school. Go. Now.” When she pushes him toward large double doors, Karkat snarls and a few students give him a confused eye. He straightens his backpack and boldly heads into class. “Good luck.” Karkat’s face tinges red and he heads toward the back of the room; apparently, he was a percussionist, who specialized the triangle, according to his music folder. He slips his backpack off his shoulders and grabs for his folder. He leans against the back cabinets, trying to flatten himself against the onslaught of band students. They shove past him, dragging huge horns and he ducks underneath a trumpet case as another kids hurries past. Fuck, this was a gauntlet of twisted metal and flying drumsticks!

Karkat tries to move away, and waits for the mass of people to settle in their seats. When they do and the bell rings a second time, a large man strides to the podium at the front of the room. He’s tall with a huge mustache but a shiny bald head. His glasses did nothing to help the squinty, watery eyes… Glaring right at Karkat.

“Martas!” He barks. “Come on, come on, get in your spot, where I can see you!” He points his conducting baton toward a spot besides the bongos. The bongo kid dimly eyes Karkat as he shuffles over. A triangle is set on the small table beside the bongos; Karkat places his folder on the table and raises the small instrument in front of him.

“Higher!” The man barks. Karkat glares at him but moves it to a spot above his head. “Yes, see? Because now we can hear you. If you kept it low, the sound would be lost. You have to get the sound past aaaaaall these wind instruments,” he gestures around the room at the various wind instruments and taps his baton on the podium, “See? Now.” He raises the baton again, and the instruments all twitch to the ready position. Karkat raises the triangle higher. “Aaaaand-”

The man sets a quick tempo and the band begins to play. Karkat struggles to follow the music (HOW THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO “READ” THIS?), when a very soft but tense violin strummed into his consciousness. It permeates his mind, invading his senses, the sound twisting sweetly as if a thin tendril of music was stroking his cheek, floating around his head as if it were an appendage of a horrorterror. Suddenly, the violin grew louder, claiming the center stage and speeding into a haunting tone, palpable, pain almost auditory as the slight player ghosted forward.

Her eyes were closed to the world, but her face revealed years of tension and hurt; her fingers vibrated over the pliable wood as she crescendoed in a flurry of notes. Karkat gaped over the pale lashes, straggly hair and hard face; she really kind of looked like… The shadows seemed to cling to her, even as she slipped into the semi-spotlight of the percussion area. Her dark clothes hung loosely, hiding the shape of her body and her hair hung limply down her back, different than he was accustomed to. As her final note reverberated through the room, her face smoothed and her eyes slid open. Karkat gasped, the sound lost in the sound of the clumsy bells but she seemed to notice his attention and stared at him full on. It allowed him a better view of the vibrant purple eyes that looked so much like a bouquet of lavenders set ablaze. They smouldered even in the dim lighting of the percussion section and glinted with something Karkat couldn’t name while his brain fizzled. Her eyes widen upon regarding him, and he opens his mouth to whisper: Rose…

“Martas!” Mr. Whatever barks. “Is there a reason you did not look at me for 4 measures?”

“What?” Karkat snaps to focus on the teacher. The teacher sighs and puts his baton down.

“I am asking if there is something more pressing for you to focus on? Surely you have memorized your part well enough to keep an eye on the tempo. So explain why your attention is not here.”

Karkat flusters, horribly exposed as half the class turns to look at him with dim interest. Only Rose turns away, having been looking at him before this disaster.

“I… I don’t know.” Karkat eventually spits out.

“Well then,” Mr. Gibbly (Karkat finally remembers his name) clears his throat and lifts his baton once more. “We will have a little talk after class.”

Karkat sputters but glances at Rose once more. She refuses to meet his eyes for the rest of the period, despite his staring.

-**-

After a wonderfully pleasant conversation with the dear music teacher; Karkat loses Rose. He only has a short window from there to get to his next class, so he hurries, hardly thinking as he rushes to meet Kanaya. As he arrives, she chatters with a group of innocent looking girls, all fashionable and beautiful. As soon as Karkat nears, they all turn away and Kanaya smiles brightly at him.

“Hello, Kar.” Her cheeks are flushed with enjoyment and she gestures him to sit behind her, the only unoccupied seat. “These are my friends,” she gushes. “They all have fine taste in their attire and have been rather open about shopping with me.” Karkat slumps into his seat as the bell rings; jegus, that was close.

“Kanaya, that’s great and all but-”

“They said we’re quite good friends already and would love to hang out and discuss fashion.”

“Kanaya!” Karkat snaps. “Hold on a grub fucking minute and cool your propelling rockets.” The apparently innocent girls give him a disgusted look. He leans closer to Kanaya’s audial lobe and opens his mouth. Then closes it. Should he really tell her?

“Martas!” the teacher barks. She’s a tall, thin women with a glare to match Gibbly’s. “Do you have something important to share?” He curses her to the outer ring and back without a cozy meteor before leaning back in his chair.

“Nothing,” he grumbles.

Throughout the next two class periods, Karkat tries to tell Kanaya about his discovery but each time fails to make a sound clear his voice strands, or a teacher catches him and promises detention. They seem to adore Kanaya.

By the time fourth period rolls around, Karkat is thoroughly discouraged and Kanaya promises he could tell her at lunch before kissing him on the cheek and hurries to follow her “friends”. Ugh.

Karkat drags his feet into his computer class and sits with his back against the wall, but near the exit. He’s made this a habit when he can manage, protecting his vulnerable support pole and offering him a means of escape. It gives him the perfect view to eye all potential enemies… And the motherfucking nookstain that just entered the door, what the fuck?!

Hair swinging loosely above his shoulders, plaid flannel covering his t-shirt, and cheap $12 sunglasses were not enough to hide the truth from Karkat. The hair was the exact shade the stupid meteor humans could get but not the trolls; he walked with the same gait he had upon first landing upon the meteor, tense and prepared for battle (though it had loosened as time passed), and the same clenched jaw he had whenever he was guarded. This tool with a record shirt Karkat would recognize anywhere (though he would hate to admit it,) was clearly the Dave Strider.

Dave scanned the room but when he sees Karkat staring, he stops. Some kids shove past him, but Dave stood as if the very time around him refused to release. Karkat holds gaze with those shitty sunglasses for a few seconds before Dave jerks his head toward the door.

“After class, we need to have a little conversation, buddy.”

Karkat squares his jaw. “Anytime.” He was ready for some gog damn answers.

Chapter Text

Kanaya settles herself on a stone bench beside a lush, green space beside the school. The trees twine softly with the breeze as a few kids hurry away to have lunch at home or at the nearby diner. Kanaya swishes back her long hair, smiling to herself at how it flowed with the breeze, and brushed along her shoulders. It had not been a safe look to wear with a chainsaw lest she wanted a gruesome end under normal circumstances but perhaps she could stand to leave it long. Just for a little bit. Earth seemed much safer judging the limp demeanor her new friends held and she had yet to find a chainsaw suitable for strife. Yes, she decides. She will keep this hair until it is unmanageable and unwieldy.

Kanaya happily tore into the lunch she packed (a can of rice stored within a pleasantly colored, paper bag she had prepared the day prior), hungry and eager to hurry on with the day. Humans were lovely she decided, shoveling a small helping of rice into her mouth barehanded. So eager to talk about fashion and oh, the home economics class! Kanaya had enjoyed her sewing quite nicely, stitches pristine and praised by the teacher. Kanaya couldn’t help the self appreciative straightening of her spine nor the small squeal of joy echoed by her human friends nearby. Here she was, an ordinary alien assimilating into a human social scene! It had truly been a fine day so far.

Crack! Kanaya leaps to her feet, rice toppling to the grass as she tensed, eyes turning to slits. So much for a completely ordinary day. A pair of boys struggle against the wall of the school and no one else is in sight. Kanaya hesitates; perhaps it would be unwise to intervene in such an affair. It looked almost like black courtship; ah, but humans did not have that. She then hears a low whine, recognizable across the universe and beyond species transfiguration; with a burst of speed, she jumps the tall boy tormenting her friend, her maybe moirail, and wraps her arms around his neck. She sees the tall one has a distal reaching appendage pressed tight against Karkat’s throat, his opposite hand pressed against Karkat’s digestive sack.

“Release.” She hisses, pulling insistently so the tall tormenter chokes and teeters back slightly.

“Another one?” A light, feminine voice grimaces and Kanaya feels a point against her side. “Move away from him. Now.” Kanaya keeps her grip firm but studies her moirail’s face for clues.

He’s wheezing, throat still not entirely released from the distal reaching appendage of this boy. Kanaya sees there is a small, jagged knife pressing into his now soft, human belly. His eyes are narrowed at a spot over Kanaya’s shoulder, presumably on the other female. His eyes land on Kanaya and he nods, but forces out, “You. Too. Fucking Derse Dreamers.”

There is a pause where nobody moves, reading everyone else but suddenly all relax, weapons pulling away and reaching appendages lowered. The tall boy reaches up to massage his throat, coughing lightly as he turns warily to Kanaya. She can feel the blood drain from her face, taking in sunglasses, a scratched record shirt, and the way Karkat is looking at him; pained, but also full of emotion. He slumps and Kanaya hurries forward to catch him.

“Karkat, you really should refrain from situations hazardous to your foreign transport tubes. And from falling.” He coughs and she rubs his back.

“Fuck. You.” He deliberately wheezes out, clutching her. “And it’s not my fault Captain Douchelord fucking jumped me. He-”

“He is not only a captain, but also a lord?” The other girl comments, a ghost of a smile forming. Kanaya freezes and Karkat tenses. “His level of power must be quite the intrigue. Please, I’d love to hear more.” Rose’s almost smile tightens when she grabs Dave’s arm and sees Kanaya staring. The two humans subtly adjust, casually stood close but their small knives present and left easily accessible should the situation call for them.

Karkat catches his breath quickly and pushes in front of Kanaya, calmly so as to not startle anyone.

“So.” He starts.

“So who the fuck are you and why can’t your pseudo-sister stop making eyes at mine?” Dave cuts in, empty hand clenching. “The fuck’s up, she got a raging girl boner or something?” His words are casual but waves of anger roll off him. Karkat hurries to placate him.

“No, see… Dave…”

“And how the fuck do you know my name?” Karkat internally rolls his eyes and resists performing a x1 facepalm combo. Barely.

“How about because we have a fucking class together? And before you start spouting your incomprehensible bullshit about how uncool it is for us to know your name, or about how you’re too fucking nauseous or nauseating or whatever for us unhip angular shapes, how about you let us answer your fucking questions? Preferably somewhere you can put your humorously insignificant weapons down and Kan- MAYA here can take a fucking seat.” He glances at Kanaya, who is now leaning desperately into Karkat’s shoulder.

Despite the unforgiving air, the humans considered Karkat’s offer, a silent conversation passing between them as they watch the two aliens. There really should be no issue; no, Kanaya is the blooddrinker queen, terror to sickening juggalos and gloriously revolting princes, slayer of the daily undead on Alternia. Yet here she is. Hiding behind a small, shaggy, mutant untroll, like no respectable wriggler would. Any hiding wriggler would have been abandoned in the caves. But to see Rose’s eyes. Rose had a disgusted look that slayed Kanaya like a hope-splode never would.

A look passes between the humans before Rose clears her throat and looks Karkat cold in the eye.

“I know you have no weapons. We may have lunch together. Here.” Kanaya smiled hollowly into Karkat’s shoulder. Rose spoke with an edge, as before she went grimdark, but held the same haughty tone. Dave seemed to be simultaneously more quiet and more aggressive.

Rose steps away, onto more plush grass before settling herself quickly on the ground. Dave joins her, blank as ever, but seemingly graver than the Dave on the meteor. Karkat huffs and Kanaya allows herself to pull away from his shoulder as they settle against the school’s side a few feet away from the ecto-siblings. Now that things have slowed, Kanaya could feel dull pain where Rose’s knife was planted a few moments prior. It may have been small, but there was no way she wanted near the blade being this humanly vulnerable.

Rose dug into her overstuffed backpack and pulled out a book. It was marked property of the library, but it was clearly a favorite of hers, as she opened to a specific page. It read “Grimoire for Summoning the Zoologically Dubious”.

“Again, who are you?” Rose charged carefully, keeping her eyes on the book. “I don’t suppose you’re connected to Derse, considering you accused us of that. You are not agents. But you are certainly not human, I can see it.”

Karkat clears his throat, shifting in a way that makes Dave and Rose dart their eyes at him. “Well. It’s kind of a long fucking story. You’re right. We aren’t human. But we’re kind of friends?”

Dave smirks bitterly. “Not fucking likely. I don’t have friends, not even Rose. She’s just in the same fucking barge I’m in. Carrying us across the fucking underworld like Ra on his way to rebirth and shit. Only difference, he fucking lives in the end.” He scoffs and Rose rolls her eyes.

“Brother dearest, I beg of you. Stop with the metaphors. They make no difference in our insignificance and I would rather not waste our drearily mundane lives listening to them.”

Dave tenses but before he can respond, Karkat interject. “Look, I said it’s a long fucking story and I’m kind of amazed at how normal you two are, in spite of trying to kill us. Please, can you two shut your vile, ugly word holes for all of 5 minutes so I can eat and try to explain the tangled mess that is the existing timeline of myself, Kanaya, you two, several other friends and a single Mayor?”

Silence.

“Thank you.”

“Wait.” Dave raises his hand, waving it as if he were in class, face blank but hints of amusement slipping despite his hard attitude. “Yo, teacher man.”

Karkat grinds his food with his teeth. “What is it, you sack of shit?”

“I vote that our girl here tell it.” Dave nods toward Kanaya. “I feel like it’ll be at least, sort of not dribble if she’s the one explaining shit.” Kanaya smiles smally at Dave as Karkat fumes. Dave smirks and quirks an eyebrow but his hand never leaves his knife.

“‘Sides, if you really wanna eat, you should now.”

Karkat looks down at the can in his hands, up at Dave, then at Kanaya. She shrugs and he sighs. “Fine. That’s not a bad idea, Dave.” Karkat begrudgingly curls around his can, and settles, waiting for Kanaya to start. Dave’s shades face her, and Rose looks up from her book once more.

“Well. Um, I suppose it starts with Karkat’s wriggling day?” Kanaya looks nervously at Karkat. He nods and gnaws at the side of the can.

“Well, me and Karkat are aliens. We travelled a long way to find you two, and John and Jade.” Kanaya sees a small hint of knowing in Rose’s eyes but continues on, waiting for glimpses of recognition, kindness, any hint of her friends within these Earthdwellers. “All of us are escaping your old world. The entire timeline of this planet was rewritten, and so your other selves, those we met in the old timeline, us, and a few others are traveling to the new timeline, hoping that Earth can be saved in the new timeline.” Kanaya pauses. “Maybe, I think, this timeline? Otherwise, I don’t believe we could manage to be here, we can’t interfere with a doomed timeline unless we caused it.”

Silence.

“So. Is that all you’re gonna say?”

Kanaya tilts her head slightly and smiles nervously at Dave.

“I’m sorry?”

“I mean, that’s pretty fucking chill of y’all to maybe come and save our tiny little planet but I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to end, too. Doomed, like you said. Just cuz you know, our mystical patron guides of shitty nonexistent places told us so.” Kanaya frowns.

“I’m sorry? I’m afraid I don’t quite-”

“Agents.” Rose interrupts. “Every once in awhile, one of two agents comes and tells us about the future. They warn us that we are pretty much going to die tragic deaths and that our descendents are doomed to wander an empty session. Void. Null. Whichever means nothing changes except for them.”

“Void.” Kanaya corrects. “It is a void session, but they can still be saved, Rose. We - you and I on the meteor - have been writing down everything we know about the game and I know we can save it!” In her haste, Kanaya scoots closer to Rose, who moves her knife up, warding off Kanaya.

Ignoring her, Kanaya gently takes her knife-hand. Rose is too shocked to move from Kanaya and her flushed face. “Rose, it is going to be wonderful! You’ve seen it. You’ve told me.”

Rose looks at her lap. She clenches and unclenches her fist there, looks at the hand holding her own.

“Kanaya?” Rose stares in the eye. “I lied. The other Rose did, at least. Because all I can see from where I am are two refugees from a doomed session, straight into another one.” Kanaya stares, stunned as Rose dissolves before her, pulling away. “Dave, I’m sorry, I can’t do this anymore.” Rose leans into him, and he abandons the knife, just holding onto his sister, soothing her and rubbing her spine.

“Rose Rose Rose, little Rosie, it’s okay. Listen to me, we’re gonna find a way.” His shades are aimed at Kanaya, the scrunch in his eyebrows the only outward sign of his rage.

“Dave, you don’t understand.” Rose moans. “You don’t see what I see.”

“Rose, you told me in between all the booze binges-”

“Dave you don’t see it! You don’t look at me and see me die. You don’t see the sea witch that guts you. You don’t see Jade stabbed clean through.”

“Jade.” Karkat frowns. “Wait, I thought-”

“Yes, Jade.” Dave glares impatiently through his shades, never letting go of the knife between the humans and aliens. “She’s kind of like a scout den mother for us orphan slime children. She kind of didn’t give us a choice either.”

Rose freezes and returns to her previous position, seemingly relaxed. The only indication of her fit was a splotchy face.

“Yes.” She continues monotone. “Jade is rather lovely. At least, until she tried to sober me up.” Rose glances between Karkat and Kanaya. “Anything else to say or ask before I get wasted, please? I’d rather get it all out of the way now.”

Kanaya’s blood pusher squeezes to hear this defeated tone from her matesprit.

“Rose. You know I’m here for you to talk to. I can help you, please.”

Rose eyes Kanaya carefully. “I think I’d rather drown out my sorrows. Or see Jade.” She glances toward Dave. “Tell me why you aliens are so interested in us and then I can mellow out?”

Dave sighs rather disappointedly, patting his backpack. “Anytime sis.”

Rose nods, too eager, and turns back to Kanaya. “Tell me whatever you want, so I can drink and maybe hang out with my girlfriend later.”

“Girlfriend? What the fuck?” Rose frowns at Karkat.

“Yes. Jade is my girlfriend. At least.” She sighs and looks at her lap. “She should be.”

Chapter Text

“Given that we’ve found them-”

“Kanaya, they know fuck all about anything beyond their own fucking sorrow.”

“Still!” she insists. “They must know something, they must have some purpose. Why else would they be here?”

“Simple.” Karkat kicks a rock. It bounces off of a garbage can. “They’re bi-products of our earthlings, doomed and useless to paradox space other than being the alternates of our humans.”

“Karkat!” Kanaya tugs on his arm, stopping him. They were on their way home, after spending their afternoon sharing information with the earthlings. The siblings seemed particularly intrigued by their alternates, sometimes amused and other times annoyed. They also seemed slightly disturbed by the presence of John and Jade. When Kanaya had attempted to question them, Dave insisted she be patient until they saw Jade; she knew much more than either of the shabby siblings.

“They have a purpose.” She insists. “Every alternate timeline has a purpose, always sending a message. I refuse to believe you would give up on friends so easily!”

“This timeline is our second chance.” Karkat pulls away. “Ours, not theirs. They’re doomed because they aren’t from any session and they can’t be. It’s just cruel that they’re allowed to exist here.” Kanaya allows him to hurry ahead and pretends to not notice the tears threatening his eyes.

She sighs and glances down at her phone.

 

Sent at 4:13 p.m.
Rose, Karkat And I Will Be Happy To Visit Jade Tomorrow
Hold Onto Hope
Yea, no proeblm bab, ;D

 

Kanaya sighs. She was briefed on the human sopor “alcohol” when her Rose was intoxicated before Vriska’s vicious banishment of the habit.
They really could use her guidance.

-***-

 

Blissfully, Rose was mandated to be sober for school, and had no chance to fulfill her wishes and indulge in the foul drink by way of Dave reminding her of their visit with Jade; the four would leave after school together and walk to the more metropolitan part of town where Jade’s house was. He comments the oldest of the Earthlings would scold Rose and most likely cause an uproar over the matter should she be drunk in the English residence. Though she moaned and griped, Rose maintained a bitterly clear head, storming ahead of the group. Kanaya followed close and teasing, and Karkat moped slightly behind her, unaware of the afternoon plans until moments before departure.

“Karkat, we might get some answers.”

“No, fuck you, this is just going to be miserable and sad. Rose will probably start crying again.”

Despite this threat, Kanaya remained firm. They would visit the Jade human Karkat had loved to troll more than a sweep ago.

Dave prefered to lag slightly behind the trolls, hands deep in his pockets. Karkat could only assume one held the knife previously held against his own vulnerable abdomen. After brief consideration, Karkat matched his stride with Strider’s. Though barely imperceptible, Karkat saw the tensing of his jaw. How easy it was to read Dave’s face after ample time to practice; Dave was nervous, and trying hard not to show it.

“What do you want, man?”

“To talk to you.”

“Go with your freaky stalker friend. She’s doubtless more interesting than me, being all alien and a vampire and shit though fuck if I can understand how that happened.”

Karkat rolls his eyes. “I told you, it’s a mutation of her blood caste. Anyway, freaky vampire shit doesn’t bother me anymore. She’s not an alien to me but you are.”

“Yeah, but according to you, we’re all besties where you’re from. Get stuffed and leave me alone.”

“See, that’s just it.” Karkat kept his eyes trained on the ground but his voice rose with passion. “Where I’m from, we have a lot of fucking alternates and timelines to sift through. Nobody is the same, except for John Egbert, that fucking piece of trash.” Dave’s eyebrow raises and a the thin line of his mouth softens slightly. “Anyway, I’m trying to say everyone has their own story. I may know a lot of fucking shit about you, but you’re different than him.”

“How?”

Karkat closes his eyes for a few seconds, remembering his Dave.

“You’re quieter.” He says at last. “He always had his weapons ready, too, during his session but got really comfortable on the meteor. Shit’s gonna get him killed.” Karkat watches Dave from the corner of his eyes. “You don’t go on as many tangents as him, and don’t make his jokes as much but I know you think I’m fucking hilarious.” Dave almost laughs but turns it into a heavy scowl. Karkat smiles privately at the ground. “He likes me a hell of a lot more, too.”

“I don’t-”

“That’s why I want to get to know you. Please?” Karkat looks at Dave, who looks at the ground as they follow the girls at a small distance. “I want to know you as you, not as an alternate of my Dave,” he promises.

Dave smiles harshly. “Your Dave?”

“My version of him.” Karkat amends. “But I don’t want to think you’re him, I want to think of you as you. Please.” Dave’s smile fades quickly and he keeps his head low, pushing the sunglasses perched on his nose slightly higher.

They walk another couple blocks, where the buildings are close and the paths get busy.

“What do you want to know?” Dave mumbles, kicking a rock at a trashcan. It makes a hollow ding, and bounces into the street.

Karkat smiles, teeth pressed tight together before asking, “Why do you wear sunglasses, you insufferable tool?”

Dave shakes his head. “It’s for your benefit.” Karkat raises an eyebrow but doesn’t question it. He was aware Meteor Dave used them as emotional defense, so this Dave probably did the same.

“Why don’t you trust us?”

“You haven’t given me any reason to.”

“Why is your hair so long?”

Dave is stumped. “Why?”

“It’s kind of long. On Alternia, it’s safer and usually pretty easy to keep it short using a blade or whatever.” Dave flicks his head, hair falling over his sunglasses. He ponders this for a moment.

“Your hair sticks up, Shorty. But.” Dave brushes his bangs over with his left hand, right still clasped in his pocket. “I always figured I look pretty cool.” Karkat smiles at that, looking up at Dave.

“You look like a fucking tool, dumbass.”

Dave laughs short and combs over his bangs again. “Whatever you say, Fluffy.” Karkat rolls his eyes but self-consciously pats down his hair.

“Dave.” Rose calls back at them. “What have you been telling him?”

“Nothing much, sis.” Dave places a hand on Karkat’s back and propels him forward, rushing ahead to catch up with the girls. “Calling him names and being vague.” Rose trudges onward but calls back.

“Well, of course you’re name calling. Remember, anything equivalent to ‘Captain Douchelord’ will be prophetic; I must add it to the “Tome of Cankerous Insults and Cantankerous Names”.”

“Yeah, sis, whatever you say.”

“In any case.” Rose spins sharply, Kanaya almost bumping into her as the boys catch up. “We are almost there. I told her about our visit beforehand, and you should count yourselves in luck; John happens to be visiting and it’s not often we have seen the eccentric, old jokester.” She smiles tightly. “Any questions?”

People bustled past the four kids, the streets narrow and crowded here. Pedestrains mindlessly bump past a scowling Karkat.

“I’d ask, but you don’t answer any of my fucking questions. You’re just like my math teacher, she goes ‘Oh, heart, my sweet children, might I offer help?’ then turns around and fucking ignores the class, whose practically soiling their pants into a lovely lawn ring in their attempt to get her attention. Her merciless chalkboard screeches are like the wretched banshees that sound the arrival of the Dark Carnival before they wreck havoc on another hivescape of treasonous trolls and yet the dumbasses try in vain to gain her approval.”

Rose smiles mildly at Karkat before about facing. “Good, let us go, class. The headmaster awaits to shower us with gluttonous prizes for our great victory. In what you might ask? Our brilliance in field chemistry of course.”

“How many points did we get?” Dave calls, nudging Karkat forward again.

“I think it’s rather fair to say we got all the points this time. President Bill Clinton would like to meet you, Dave, are you prepared to meet such a man, as great as he is and as lowly as you are?”

Dave nods and then stops, for the group arrived before a great building. Though mere brick, it loomed over some of the other buildings and looked rather cozy. Above the door, in bright green, seemingly painted by hand was a message on the brick reading “English CORP :B”. Karkat admires the multicolored doors, they way the light seemed to make it shimmer, and the colors shift among stripes.

“So what do you think of old English’s ability to chose a single color scheme?” Dave knocks on the door and the colors shifted vibrantly; blue, orange, green, purple… “I’ve never figured out what it means.” He admits. “She designs everything like this but we’re not sure why.”

Kanaya gives him a strange look.

“What?” Before Kanaya can answer, the door opens. A tall, slim woman answers, pale and elderly. The wrinkles under her eyes are hidden slightly by the thick glasses she wears. Her dress is simple, in light fabric with shimmery, thin stripes: pink, blue, yellow and green wrap around her softly. Rose shivers but gives a gracious smile.

“Hello again, Miss.” The woman smiles softly at Rose.

“We came to meet Jade, of course. Do you mind if we come in?” The maid moves out of the doorway and Rose glides forward, displacing her elegant shoes from underneath her swishing skirt before moving further into the house. Karkat and Kanaya follow suit, and Dave offers the Pretty Mistress a fistbump. She smiles and completes it before closing the door and moving away to a different section of the house.

“She’s always been around; Jade loves her.” Rose explains. “She has nearly always watched over Jade, as our agents did for us.” Rose hurries upstairs, purple socks slipping gently over the hardwood.

“Exiles, Rose.” Kanaya sighs and follows swiftly after her. Karkat looks over at Dave.

“The fuck do you want?” Dave raises an eyebrow at Karkat. “We going after my slime sis or what?”

“I have two problems with you, Dave.” Karkat ticks them on his fingers. “You have not once since my arrival offered me a legendary fist bump. In this universe, or any other, I would expect my totally rad bro to give one to me but no. You give one to the Paleo-Maid.” Dave starts upstairs, thumbs in his pockets.

“Two, your sweetly ironic socks aren’t mismatched! Of all the blasphemous bullshit I’ve dealt with since starting Sgrub over a sweep ago, this takes the prize. I mean, pink kittens with bows, yes but what about the purple hearts on the other sock to match? And furthermore-”

Karkat is cut off by a sudden pair of chapped lips against his own. He didn’t see Dave move, doesn’t even think Dave looked in his direction. He was just suddenly there. The lips pull away swiftly.

“Now shut up, I’m the only one who can rant like that.” And just as quick, Dave was gone. Oh. Fucking flashstepping asswipe! Karkat was gonna give him a piece of his mind for that kiss… A kiss? Fuck. That was really fucking good.

Karkat grumbles his way up the stairs and tries hard not to think about it. When he reaches the top, those shades had taken a cozy seat at the breakfast bar.

The room was open but comfortable. Karkat’s climb rewarded him a view directly across from the breakfast bar and beside a second staircase leading further up. There was a hardwood, shiny floor but rugs of various colors dotted the ground. The furniture was worn old and sagging into happy smiles of color: green mostly, but the whole rainbow was depicted everywhere. Despite the time weary furniture, most of the technology was up to date. A stereo rested upon a polished table, a large TV was before several of the sofas. The kitchen had intensely magnified microwave setting and devices that made preparing food instantaneous. What do you expect from the clever Jade Harley?

Kanaya and Rose were settled on top of a striped couch before the television, on opposite ends but facing toward each other. Dave had just propped his feet upon the breakfast bar when Karkat entered.

The troll rolled his eyes and started to reprimand him but a cheerful voice beat him to it.

“Dave! Get your smelly, coolkid feet off of my table!”

Dave grins and rises, looking somewhere to the right of Karkat.

“Good to see you, too, English.”

Karkat flinches away from the sudden voice and eyes the newcomer who arrived from the 3rd story. Long skirt, long hair, a brilliant smile on her face, came dear, sweet Jade Harley- or rather, English. Glasses perched atop her nose, a vibrantly colored flower tangled in her hair, Jade looked cheerful and content. Karkat’s eyes widened in shock.

She tilted her head at his confusion, aged face crinkling with more wrinkles as she frowned at him. She smooths some of her shiny gray hair away from her face.

“Is something wrong?”

Chapter Text

After an ungodly tantrum of the universal constant of unfair on all made aware of Past Karkat’s “complete and utter fuckup equivalent to the procreation of Kristen Stewart” and a defensive maneuver on Dave’s part, Karkat had become pinned by beanpole Strider. Arms crossed over his chest, knees touching his nose, Karkat wrinkles his nose at Dave, who was hovering just over Karkat, pressing Karkat’s legs into his chest, consequently, also pinning his arms.

“Dave. You smell like sewage.” Dave’s lip twitches but he scowls.

“Lay the fuck off.”

“Says the garbage literally fucking breathing my air disposal. Whoops, I think it got clogged, let’s see what kind of sewage is clogging up my pipes.” Karkat began to hack his throat, searching for the proper pitch to drive Dave mad.

“Revolting.” Dave pulls away, kneeling beside Karkat. “If you flip the fuck out again, I will end you.”

“I’d like to see you try, you abhorrent, maggot eating-”

“Karkat!” The girls had finally unfrozen, and Kanaya slips from the couch to his side. “Get a grip on the handle before I ram it up your rear,” she hisses. Karkat grinds his teeth but pushes himself until he’s crouching beside Kanaya. Rose had moved over to Jade, and Dave followed. They converged in the small entrance to the upstairs, whispering low but quick.

Karkat licks his lips. “Kanaya, that’s the girl we trolled only a sweep ago. The girl I almost went ashen for. She’s…”

“Beautiful and wonderful and the same. But you need to realize this isn’t our Jade, either. She has had a lot more sweeps to mature, and this is, apparently, her house you befouled with a good amount of curses on the universe. Perhaps you should apologize.”

Karkat groans quietly and gives Kanaya his best “are-you-serious” look. She arches one perfect eyebrow and nods to the archway over the staircase. Karkat sighs, and stretches upward, though admittedly, not far. Jade moves the two youngsters behind her and plants herself firmly in the entryway, crossing her arms. Karkat rubs his neck and takes a step closer.

“Jade, I-”

“Oh, no. Hold up, small fry.” Karkat frowns and goes to protest. “I said shut up, fuckass!” He stills, warily eying one mad Jade English. Furiosity radiates off her, and Kanaya can’t help but think of how formidable she looks. What an enemy Jade English makes.

“You come into my house, better yet, my home, and take the courtesy of cursing, wrestling, and disrespecting society without even a proper hello?” Karkat opens his mouth, then closes it. He looks back at Kanaya who shrugs, confused.

“Um, sorry?”

Jade takes 2 long strides (gog, she grew to have gorgeous legs, even in age) and crushes Karkat in a huge hug. He gasps, her strong arms constricting him so he could barely think about moving. Kanaya looks over them to Rose, who looks entirely disinterested. Dave is fiddling with his pocket (Kanaya had noticed it held his impressive, new age flip phone. Nerd).

“Kanaya, what are you waiting for?” Kanaya snaps to attention, sees Jade reaching for her. “Get in here!”

“Oh, uh.” Kanaya swishes forward, long skirt swaying as she folds herself gently against Karkat’s back. It was rather awkward. Kanaya muses, she thinks she’d rather be pinned by Strider than forced into a hug by a firm Jade.

Muffled, Karkat hisses, “Can I reconsider her quadrant to black?” Kanaya prods his side, pleased when he still flinches as a reflex to previous tickle fights. Victories well earned, despite the complete lack of attack from the other side; he could be very stoic when it came to being embarrassed by his moirail.

Finally, Jade releases them and smiles a gorgeous smile. Teeth poking forward, eyes crinkling around her vibrant eyes, Jade seemed in her element with the wonky, colorful living area. It matched her personality.

“So!” She exclaimed. “Who’s hungry?”

-**-

It almost seems as if everything was normal. Jade invites the young ones to stay for dinner, which Kanaya graciously accepts as Karkat glares. She chooses to ignore it. Rose introduces the pair as Maya and Karl and before they could protest, Jade chattered nonstop, happily moving about the kitchen. The ectosiblings sit nearby, listening to intrigue of Jade’s company, calmly discussing her stocks and creative inventions. They help her devise names of her inventions (skulltop and feltcouch included) as Jade slides around gracefully, baking something so good, Kanaya’s mouth waters.

She watches Rose stretch eagerly over the countertop and studies the small smile gracing those blackened lips. For the first time, Rose and Dave seem genuinely relaxed, looking adoringly at Jade and laughing at some newbie exploding the lab yesterday. Dave is at ease teasing the old woman; despite her age, Kanaya senses Jade was still their best friend. But Rose.

Her face lights up every time Jade turns to her, smirking triumphantly whenever Jade laughs. Dave catches Kanaya and rolls his eyes at his sis. Could she be anymore embarrassing? he seems to say.

Kanaya smiles faintly at him then looks to Karkat. He’s been staring daggers at Dave or at the ground all afternoon. Deciding all was well with the humans, Kanaya turns subtly toward her pseudo-moirail.

“Is something wrong?” He starts. He wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings.

“What?” He asks.

“You’ve been rather. Er. Distracted.” Kanaya directs her eyes back to those shitty shades.

Karkat bristles. “It’s not something you need to worry about.” He eyes Dave anxiously. “At least, not right now. We have a mission to focus on.”

“Right!” Exclaims Jade. The aliens jump. When did she get so close to them? “We can talk about that soon, I promise! But let’s just enjoy, because who knows when we’ll have another chance to do this? Here, help me, Rose!” The pair of Earth girls carry large platters of food to another room, and place them on a big, dark-green table. Jade removes her apron and tosses it onto the kitchen floor. “I’m sorry, I’m just so excited! It’s been a long time since I’ve had so many friends together at once!”

Rose settles beside Jade, Dave across from her. Karkat decides to sit by Rose, mumbling to Kanaya that he’d be safer from that stupid grub slurper. Kanaya places herself beside Dave, and rolls her eyes at the phone in his pocket.

“So!” Jade enthuses. “Tell us everything!” Kanaya nervously meets Karkat’s eyes.

“Well.” she states.

“Yeah. Well…” Karkat licks his lips. It was a long story, and shouldn’t Jade know it? The pair try to get enough courage to talk until nodding, Jade softens.

“Sorry.” She sighs. “I’ve been waiting to meet you guys for a long time. You could almost say a lifetime!” She slumps slightly. “I guess I just forgot this wouldn’t be a very nice story.”

Karkat hurries to make amends. “It’s not your fault, just a lot of people have died, even-”

Bang! A door slams.

“Hello?” A cheerful voice calls. The diners freeze, some with food in their mouths. Jade’s eyes widen.

“Jade? Where are you? You know I’ll only be here a few days! Come give your brother a hug!”

“John.” Karkat finishes with a whisper. Kanaya straightens in surprise and everyone remains frozen. Until a messy haired, glasses clad man pops his head in the doorway and grins.

“Hi there!” He greets the young ones. “I’m John Crocker, but you can just call me John! Put it there, don’t leave me hanging!” John steps through the door and reaches out a hand. Numbly, Kanaya sticks out a hand. Before anyone could warn her, she squeezes and the flower on John’s lapel attacks, shooting water directly into her face. John laughs heartily, blue eyes shining. Stunned, Kanaya sputters, looks down at the mess, looks back up at John. His smile fades tentatively.

“Um…”

“Ha!” They both jump, hands slipping apart.

“Hahahahaha, oh man!” Dave is smiling broadly and offers a fist bump to John. “Bro, that was sweet, her face!” John breaths a sigh of relief and returns the brofist.

“Yeah, dude, so sweet!” Jade and Rose relax and smile at John. Karkat glares at the doof that just made a mess of his moirail. She dabs at her face with a napkin, still confused.

“John!” Jade chirps, standing to give her brother a hug. “I’m so glad you made it! It’s been forever since I’ve seen you!”

“Yeah, I know lil’ darling.” John drawls in a cringeworthy southern accent. “It’s okay lil’ hummingbird, I’m here now.” Jade playfully punches him in the stomach and laughs at his grimace.

“So you saw that one, did you?”

“Of course! Man, that was pretty good, I loved those stupid cheesy characters, and oh man, Nic Cage. I’m telling you, he’s one of the best-”

“Ahem!” Jade shooshes John and turns him to the center of the table. “Karl, Maya, meet John! John, these are-”

“Hold on!” Karkat stands. “I have something to say.” He glares at John. Kanaya eyes him anxiously. “First of all, my name is Karkat. This is Kanaya. John, I hate you. But also what about our-”

“Stop!” Jade cries. She covers John’s ears.

“Jade!” He whines, scrabbling at her iron grip. “What are you doing?”

“Hold on, I have to take John to his room!” Babbling over Karkat’s protests, Jade ushers John up to the living room, talking loudly over everything her brother had to say. Kanaya glances about her, confused.

“Why-?”

“He can’t know.” Rose huffs. She settles deeper into her chair and pulls Karkat down. “That’s why we introduced you by your human names; Jade wanted your stories before John got home.”

“Why can’t he-?”

Dave snorts over Karkat. “Think about what you know of John. He’s a dork with a selfless complex, incapable of believing anything that’s not right in front of his eyes. He refuses to believe the truth… He got his agent,” exile, Kanaya mouths. “Fired when they were little, and we have no idea what happened to him. Batterwitch probably did something.” The Derse Dreamers lowered their heads in sadness and respect. “His innocent stupidity got someone killed. He doesn’t know what war means, especially when it’s-”

“Okay!” Jade exclaims, dragged in by John. “We’re done, and I hope you’re all done and maybe done with dinner so we can leave John-”

“No.” Karkat interrupts, crossing his arms, licking his lips nervously.

“Sorry?” Jade blinks at him.

We’re not finished.” He affirms. “But doesn’t mean we can’t have a nice chat.” He settles down once more before the slightly cold lasagna. Kanaya understands and nods.

“John, please tell us about yourself. You and Jade, even.”

Chapter Text

Despite her understanding, Kanaya is still unsure about this. But what choice was there? They wanted information, and who better to get it from the ‘witless wonder’ as Karkat had named him? Even if they ruined his life in the process.

“So Egderp- uh, Copper-”

“It’s Crocker.”

“Crockderp.” Seemingly satisfied, Karkat nods at Kanaya’s grin. “Tell us where you’re from, Jade hasn’t gotten around to it.” John clears his throat and sits himself next to Kanaya, cutting himself some lasagna before answering.

“Well, uh, we were adopted. Our mom is kind of… Away. A lot.” John frowns. “Um, she got Jade first, and a few months later, me! She used to roam the country, kind of like an explorer, until she wanted to settle down with us kids.” He smiles and takes a bite of his food. “She was great. I mean, Mom was kind of busy, building a world class empire of food! I don’t mind because I got to eat a lot of cake as a kid.” He grins now. “Still do, actually. I’m lucky I perform so much, otherwise, I doubt I’d be in very good shape.”

“Empire of food?” Kanaya frowns. I suppose that’s one way to do it…

“Well, all sorts of things, lately! She has technology and toys… Um, Jade actually wants to be like her, but better! Right?” He eyes Jade nervously, as if expecting her to explode. She takes a deep breath but smiles. Someone does not like mother dearest...

“Of course! Who wouldn’t want to be like Mom? Taking over the world, piece by piece? It’s a game me and her have, that’s why I’m making things, too!” She gestures around. “Even furniture now.” She laughs. “I bet you’d love a cozy, little couch wouldn’t you, John?” His eyes widen and he smiles, pleased.

“Jade, you know I’ve lived that life already, and I told you, it’s just not for me.” He sighs and scratches an ear. “I just hope my son…”

“Knows you love him, Jegus, Crocker, you can relax, we all know you were a terrific dad, chill it on the back burners, please.” Dave crosses his arms and leans back. John looks over at him, smiling.

“Thanks, Dave. You know, I just, worry? I mean, the great Colonel Sassacre was an amazing prankster!” John sighs. “He just never got around to being a good dad. I hope I learned from that. I hope I taught my boy well.” Jade reaches over and pats John sympathetically.

“John, trust me. Everything worked out okay, and I think Dad would be proud of you.” John smiles really small. “I mean that! Please don’t be sad, John!” Jade worries, biting her lip. Deciding that this emotional pastime should move along, Kanaya clears her throat again.

“Dave, we never really heard much about you. Rose, actually, you either.” The elderly siblings straightened, years of struggle slipping away with interest in the young orphans.

A silent war plays between Rose and Dave across the table before Dave sighs. “Yeah, whatever.”

Pause. Kanaya shuffles a bit in her seat, getting comfortable for story time. “See, uh, I was found. In the forest. In a crater.” Silence. Dave sighs and scratches his fork on the nutrition plateau. “Okay, well, some park ranger found me all on my lonesome and shit, rotting horse carcass beside me. They think I was left there or something for maybe a few days… Was half starved and crying my poor demon eyes out when they found me. Anyway, so, they found me, cleaned me up, made sure I was fed, put me in foster care, and have been shipping me across the country ever since.”

Dave scrapes at his plate, chewing the lasagna he already swallowed. “I mean, I ran away a few times. People can be real assholes, and I just didn’t want to deal with people’s shit for too long. But one guy, the Adolescent Recapturer, or some shit, he would constantly be on the lookout for me. He took care of me, sometimes. Tried guiding me some, taught me how to live.”

Dave smiled at his plate. “Man, that guy had some messed up ideas to self defense but like, he was pretty damn sweet. Anyway, I landed here in the Big Apple a few months ago. But I haven’t seen him since.”

Dave finally looks up from his plate, concern straining his jaw. “Of course, that was when I met Rose. Jade found us both. I’ve kind of been mooching ever since.”

“Oh, Dave, we both know you help out a lot more than you’d like to admit.” Jade smiles at him. “Besides! You get along well here, and I do hope you’ll stay! At least, maybe for a bit longer. You guys are great.”

“Huh?” Kanaya looks curiously between Jade and Dave. “Stay for what?”

“Well, I mean both of them! I want them to stay here, like maybe live with me, but I can’t convince them.” Jade sighs and then smiles half teasing at the Derse children. “Maybe I’m not cool enough for them. Just a millionaire inventor with access to all the apple juice and books I want and they still refuse my friendship! Am I not cool enough, Karl?”

When Karkat doesn’t answer, Kanaya glares across the table, where his eyes are glued to his lap, shoulders slumping in such a defeated way, Kanaya is easy when she kicks him. He jumps, startled, but face completely open for once. Kanaya is stunned at how wide his eyes open when they’re not pinched with tension.

“What?” He croaks. Concern flutters across Kanaya’s face, but she tilts her head toward Jade. He clears his throat and turns in his chair to face her. He speaks almost monotone, “I’m sorry, Mrs. English, I wasn’t paying attention. Did you say something?”

Kanaya frowns at his disconnected and bland tone, but Jade just gave him a half-smile.

“Don’t worry about it! I was just being silly of course, but well, do you think I’m too old to be your friend?” Jade started off cheerful enough but worry had edged into her voice by the end. She was genuinely concerned if her friends thought her too different to remain that way. Kanaya smiles and reaches out to pat Jade’s outstretched arm.

“Of course not, Jade. We are most certainly friends and I believe Kark-l thinks the same. Right?” Kanaya looks over to him, where his shoulders slump a little more, his eyes sad as he smiles at Jade.

“Of course. You’re absolutely one of the strongest, coolest girls I’ve ever met.” Kanaya worried at his soft tone but Jade just smiled and cheered.

“Hooray! See, if these newbies can think I’m a friend, why not you guys, my oldest and dearest friends?” She accuses Rose and Dave. They have a brief and silent conversation before looking up at sweet Jade.

“Of course we’re friends, English.” Dave yawns. Jade huffs.

“No, stop it! You both act like I can’t see you’re dumb little looks, like you know something I don’t! I’m not stupid, and I just hate when you guys treat me all innocent. I’m a lot more than that, and it bothers me so much that you just treat me like a dumb, silly child!” Jade shoves away from the table and storms off.

“Jade!” John calls, panicking slightly. He stumbles a bit trying to untangle himself from his chair, but hurries after her when he does. Concerned, Kanaya gapes at the siblings.

“Why did you do that?” Dave shrugs and picks at a hole in his jeans.

“Well, we do know something she doesn’t.” Rose sighs and nods, adjusting herself to a more elevated position.

“She dies soon.” Rose’s voice is bland and she looks pleadingly at Kanaya. “She adopts a boy that falls from a meteor, as we all did. She takes care of him for a few years. And then dies.”

“John is even worse.” Dave interjects. “He dies in a few months.” His voice says memorized speech, but his clenching fist conveys the deep hurt he feels for the bucktoothed comedian. Kanaya slumps slightly and looks to meet Karkat’s eyes.

Karkat ignores her and glares at them both, face disoriented with pain. “So?” He grimaces. “Enjoy it while you can.”

“But what’s the point?” Rose snaps. “The only people on Earth who truly cares for us are about to drop dead, and we can’t even stop it. People who we actually love, and they absolutely will die in a matter of months. They have to leave in order to maintain this timeline and make sure our protegees will not meet the same fate as us.” Rose flips her bangs away. “There’s no hope for us! I’d know, being the Seer of Light.” She smiles bitterly. “Seer of Luck. What absolute bullshit, everything I see is absolute bullshit!” She yells, slamming the table. Kanaya jumps and Rose storms away, shadows seeming to cling to her. Dave leans toward her then decides better of it. He turns to Karkat.

“So, small fry.” Karkat jumps and faces Dave with a look telling how close he is to crying. Kanaya looks at him with a look of such sympathy, he takes a deep breath and nods at Dave.

“May as well tell y’all Rose’s story, anyway. Her and Jade gotta cool down and I suspect they’ll end up curled in each other’s loving embrace, John holding on for the sake of cuddles.” Kanaya sighs.

“I don’t suppose we could make them feel better right now?”

“Nah, leave them at it. John has an even fucking worse time, cuz he still doesn’t really get it. There’s no time to really tell him, and it doesn’t really matter.” Dave shrugs. “Dumbass won’t ever really know.” He stretches, scratching his messy hair. “Let’s go sprawl on one of Jade’s dumb couches.”

Dave leads them back into the cozy living space by the top of the stairs and slumps back into a green couch. “Sit.” He nods at the multi-colored couch facing him. “One thing you can say for old English, she has a hell of a comfy couch.”

“Yeah, you can say a lot of things about her.” Karkat grouches, but lands with an oof! onto the indicated couch. Kanaya leans back on the far side before leaning over her knees.

“Dave.” she finally sighs. “How are you so calm about this?”

He shrugs and lays himself out on the couch, apparently having decided he could relax. He either didn’t find the trolls frightening or felt he was safe at Jade’s house. “I mean, I fully accept the ultimate demise of me and my friends. Kind of comes with understanding time.” He pops his neck. “Man, my foster homie told me so much. He sort of taught me what the stupid Sburb deal was and then taught me a lot about kind of accepting reality? Just kind of, let things happen how they’re supposed to happen. I guess that’s pretty timey.” He shrugs awkwardly, leaning on one elbow.

“Well, I guess. But we all sort of had to deal with that through the game.” Karkat decides to fold himself into the corner of the couch, shoes dirtying the couch as he holds his legs close. “But I mean, you’re taking it much better than Rose.”

“Yeah, her shit is Light, so like, a lot of the spotlight in the future she gets to know about. It’s supposed to be good things but she focuses a lot on how much we’re all gonna die.” Dave sighs and throws back his head dramatically. “I dunno, she said she’s seen a lot of like, the timeline you guys are from? How things could’ve been at least. She’s like, 100% sure I was in brolove with John and that her and Jade could’ve had a thing. I mean.”

He sits up suddenly, glasses aimed right into Kanaya’s eyes. “She has seen them young. And Jade was absolutely beautiful.” Kanaya frowns slightly.

“But she still is.” Dave whispers, almost to himself now. “I don’t care about whatever but she’s kind of gorgeous? No matter what. If she had dog ears and a tail I’m sure I’d still love her.” Karkat smiles without humor.

“You’re not far off.” He admits. “Jade and her lusus kind of became one through dumb Sburb shenanigans.” Dave stares at Karkat (at least, he doesn’t move or talk, so Kanaya assumes he’s staring,) for a minute before opening and closing his mouth.

“The fuck?” He finally manages. Karkat snorts and glares crudely at him.

“Dave, you’re kind of fucked in terms of romance. Everyone is fucking stupid anyway, so don’t worry about it.” Dave draws in a breath, holds it, then releases it. Karkat continues to stare him down. Unaware of their moment, Kanaya clears her throat.

“Dave, tell us about Rose.”

He leans back, still eying Karkat but replies, “not much to. Kind of a lot like me… she was just lucky for landing where there were fucking people. A lot of people would hike in the forest she landed in so she got found. Put in an orphanage. Actually.” Dave looks at the stairs and sits up. “Okay, imma pull a Rose, cuz man, the way she talks when she’s on a roll is fucking rad as hell.” He smirks and sits all aloof.

“ 'Twas a shitty winter day of December 4. A happy woman with an eloquent red scarf rushed up, over the next hill. But instead of seeing the usual gorgeous scenery of wild New York, her smile faded into a beautiful ‘y’ face. She moved to the crater, and picked up the small child with a rabbit in arms. It was filthy as hell. But she looks at the child and whispered ‘da CRAPE?’. She took the child to the police and when none claimed the tiny baby Rose, she was fitted in a unisex gray outfit she wore until she turned nine. The orphanage crushed her soul, only relieved by the whispers of the Wary Questioner. She would ask Rose rhetorical questions, guiding her to think and choose what was best for the future. She was careful, but the Batterwitch must have gotten her; she never visited Rose again. Rose’s soul was absolutely consumed with the horror of the great tentabeasts of her dreams. Many times she told a person to watch out, but they never listened. ‘I warned you, bro’ she would whisper. ‘I warned you about stairs’. Her fellow orphans feared her purple eyes and ominous warnings. They shunned her and she retreated into books from the public library. Her selections were limited, but ultimately, inspired her to be the gothic chick that plays violin sometimes. Her gray, dull self was reborn into a black, heartless Rose that accepted death and wrote beat poetry to express her misery. She met me. Decided I was the same as her. I taught her how to kill, and she shared with me her visions. Jade found us, and that was that.”

Kanaya was torn between laughing at Dave’s perplexing storytelling and crying for Rose. Poor dear. Karkat appeared the same, but finally settled for barking out a laughter.

“Dave, the amount of shit that spews out of your mouth would cause a loadgaper to choke.” A simple tear clung to Karkat’s eyelash.

“It’s so damn beautiful.” Dave smirked and nodded his head in thanks.

“Thanks, you pulchritudinous, maudlin slush.”

The trolls didn’t know what that meant but Karkat looked like he wanted to punch Dave anyway.

Chapter Text

TO PAST ME FROM PRESENT ME
FUCK YOU
ETERNALLY
SINCERELY PRESENT ME

TO FUTURE ME FROM PRESENT ME
ALSO FUCK YOU I HOPE YOU DIE AND ENJOY ALL THE FUCKING BENEFITS PRESENT ME WORKS HARD FOR
SINCERELY PRESENT ME
SIGNED IN MY REVOLTING MUTANT BLOOD
*KARKAT VANTAS*

 

Karkat continuously writes messages of hatred to himself, ignoring his homework and his own thoughts because he sucks and is not in a healthy mindset like Kanaya who continuously works to help friends. Kanaya is helpful. Kanaya is perfect. Karkat sighs and slams his head on his desk.

Kanaya enters, drying her hair on a dark purple towel. Her silky jade pajamas hung softly as she leaned in Karkat’s doorway.

“Dear, the ablution blo- er, cleaning facilities are open.” Karkat grips his desk, grinding his broken nails into the wood. Kanaya takes his hand, holding it gently.

“Kar.” she probes. He does not meet her eyes. “Do you need to talk?”

“No, you’re not my moirail. Go away, we have stipulated education.” He shoves away from the desk and moves to his closet, his hand sliding out of hers.

“Karkat.” He reaches for some black sweats, vaguely reminiscing Terezi’s favorite pair. It feels like forever since he’s talked to her. “Karkat.” Kanaya moves near and places her chin on his shoulder. She did not intend to fail her pale duties over flushed emotions again.

“Karkat, we may not be moirails, but you are a very dear friend. If there is something you want to go over, I can be here for you.” Karkat’s head swam. The new session. Dave. Their doomed friends. How would he even start?

“What are you thinking in terms of our friends’ imminent demise? I feel that could be a huge concern.” Karkat sighed and moved to curl up on his respite platform (he refused to give into human terms). The steel rails complimented his gray sheets, which he wrapped around his bare ankles, having disrobed to his boxers and giant sweater when he got home to nap. Despite his hatred of dream bubbles, Karkat had given in after so many encounters travelling the outer ring. He met no one significant, just some more shitty wizard Eridans and grumpy Solluxes.

“I mean. It sounds like what I’ve been saying. They have no purpose.” Karkat ground his thumbnail into the metal rail. “They die and we take over this bitch. End of story.”

“It doesn’t really sound accurate, considering our current presence. And considering your dissatisfaction with this end.” Kanaya settles at Karkat’s desk, dark hair tumbling over her shoulders. She glances at the desk and raises an eyebrow at Karkat’s declarations of self hatred.

“Karkat, this really isn’t healthy. Perhaps Jade is right and you should just hate-marry yourself.” Karkat glares at Kanaya as she chuckles.

“Kanaya that idea is such shit, I could flush myself down a loadgaper and excrete less digestive fluid at the scent of the toxic waste apparent there than I am right now. Oh look at that, my digestive fluid is in infinite more supply than my fucks. I’m actually all out of fucks right now, they got sold out with all the shits, there’s none to give. Sorry Kanaya, we are all out of everything but the delectable lasagna expelling out of my food tunnel.” At this point, Kanaya was laughing softly to herself and Karkat was fighting a smile.

“Jegus fuck, I am so done with my own shit.” Karkat groans and rubs his eyes. “I kind of feel like I’m done flipping it. I quit. No more grub-shit-patties, I’m closing up this shitty nutrition chain so that not another grub-shit-patty will be flipped, nor any more dirt starch fried.” Kanaya tried to look impressed.

“Well Karkat, this is a big step. Are you sure? Not another shit flipping? Not even for a communal grilling party?”

“Nope, there will be no shit-patties. Only oblong carcasses. Those are incredibly more delicious and not at all disturbingly shaped at all.” Karkat shivers. “Human food is disgusting.”

Kanaya smiles. “It’s not entirely terrible. In any case, this is off topic.” She leans over the top of the chair. “What do you want to do about our friends?”

Karkat sighs. “There’s not much to do. Paradox space does whatever it wants-”

“But the only way to get through this is to follow your instincts.” Karkat hugs his legs tighter. “What do you feel is the right action to take?”

“I don’t know?” Karkat questions and rolls flat onto his bed. “I don’t make plans. I just sort of. Feel. Making plans is more Vriska’s thing anyway. We can’t stop their deaths and I agree with Rose. There’s nothing we can fucking do.”

Kanaya tilts her head. “Normally, I would not contradict her. However, this Rose has no hope. She is reckless, as when listening to horrorterrors and then setting forth the scratch, remember?” Karkat remembers. She had been practically suicidal, destroying anything and everything just to fight the game and then get it over with.

“Now this Rose is in the same position. No hope. One end. Except she sees no way to fight the fate given. Her only joy in the people she knows will die.” Karkat bristles.

“I’m sorry, but how is this supposed to be helpful?”

“Maybe it’s not.” Kanaya smiles hollowly. “Maybe I’m stating facts in hopes you can help me.” Karkat squints at her.

“What does this mean for Dave?” He quickly amends. “And John and Jade? What do you think they’re thinking?”

“Well, John has no idea. He is simply living life as he would have without the game.” Kanaya smiles. “And seems to be doing rather well. Certainly not the most important in the world but he’s happy. Hm. Jade, though having a rivalry, almost similar to the ones with our lusii, seems to be rather cheerful. I think she even means it.” Karkat sighs and wiggles deeper into his mattress.

“Yeah, those assholes are always happy. Even in all this shit.” He mumbles.

“I know they weren’t your main concern, but I am happy for them. Our Jade had a lot of stress, living alone so at least some form of her is free to be everything.” Kanaya smiles softly. “I do hope she is okay. I know she is strong.”

“She is.” Karkat mumbles. “She’s stupid and ugly and thick-panned but strong.”

“As with our current human companions… I know they’re strained. Rose of course has seen the future.” Kanaya frowns. “And some form of the past? In any case, she is unhappy. Our good friend Strider,” Karkat’s breath slows, “seems. Broken.” The aliens frown. “He puts up his wall, and it’s like when we first met. He has yet to become himself.” Karkat nods furiously.

“I see that, too. I think he wants to, but he’s. Afraid? Hopeless? But then he wouldn’t have kissed me-” Karkat stops. Kanaya perks up from her chair.

“He what?”

Karkat covers his heating face.

“Strider is the ultimate dumbass and of course decided to force his disturbingly pink, slimy oral opening on mine. Before absconding up the ascension slats.” Kanaya rolls her eyes and moves from the desk to the edge of the bed. Karkat refuses to move.

“Karkat, this is huge! Why were you so unwilling to share?”

“I don’t know, maybe because your matesprit’s alternate self is depressed and they’re all going to die, and the douche-”

“Karkat, everything is awful and terrible. You do not ignore one of the few bright lights in your life.” Kanaya smiles, blushing faintly. “This is. Definitely important to you, because I know you believe it’s important. Tell me.”

“I don’t know!” Karkat grouches, glancing at Kanaya. “I was yelling at him probably because he’s an insufferable tool, when he just… Moved. He was suddenly there and it was…”
Kanaya nods in encouragement, smiling brightly. Karkat groans but smiles.

“I mean. I’ve kissed Terezi before, but she was dead. This. Was…” Karkat for once, had no words.

“Nice.” He settled. After a moment, Kanaya shook him.

“Nice? Of all the incredibly long winded, horrifically gastly blocks of text you have provided over the sweeps, and then speeches to motivate us with Sgrub, all you can say is ‘nice’?” Karkat grins and shoves a pillow at her.

“I don’t know, I really wasn’t thinking? It just suddenly happened, and before I could move, or think or anything about anything, the asshole ran away!” Kanaya groaned and smirked. “What a little shit, am I right?”

“Yes Karkat, as small as a cheese critter. I can’t believe you didn’t do anything! I’ve seen you pitying him more and more, I just can’t believe it took a whole other Dave for-”

“But Kanaya, I’m not sure if I am?” He cut her off suddenly. She looked curiously at him.

“What?”

“I’m not sure if it’s pity. I mean…” Karkat scooted into a sitting position, struggling for the words.

“I mean. I care for him. A lot. But.” Karkat’s eyebrows scrunched unhappily.

“I have no fucking clue what I’m feeling for him.” He confesses.

Kanaya waits a minute before launching, “Karkat, of all people, you should know-”

“Don’t you think I’ve thought that?” Karkat groans. “I mean hey, there’s no asshole better at quadrants than me. Textbook. Do I want to know his emotions? Do I want to give him happy emotions? Do I want to give him angry emotions? Do I want to tell him to shut up about his emotions?” Pause. “The answer is yes. To all of them. So what the fuck is this?”

Kanaya’s eyes widen in shock. “It’s. All of them?”

“Well, not all at once. But I just. Want. Everything. Like with Terezi, I just.” Karkat sighs. “I’m a total fucking mess. I can’t just stick with one quadrant and it’s driving me insane.” Karkat barks a short laugh. “It’s vacillation to the extreme here.”

Kanaya is silent, studying the frustrated boy before her. What could she say? This was beyond anything she had heard of. Something that…

“Karkat?” She asked softly. He grunts acknowledgment. “Karkat this is reminding me of the dream bubbles.” He says nothing. She sighs.

“I know you tend to ignore everyone but I rather enjoy listening to my dancestor. She’s complained about yours often enough.” Karkat mumbles insults and rolls over to look at Kanaya.

“She told me of how on Alternia, he had a love that transcended the quadrants. I’m wondering if this is what you’re feeling?”

It was the only offer she had, but Karkat chewed it over (his pillow). After a moment, he said, “I don’t know if I’d call it love. But I think you’re on to something.” After a moment, Karkat shuddered. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll think it over, whatever. Either way, there’s fucking no chance of figuring out that guy. He’s a useless tool, and I just-” Karkat shrugs. “In every universe.”

“Yes, it does seem that way.” Kanaya muses and musses Karkat’s hair. “Either way, I intend to visit Rose tomorrow. I intend to brighten her day, even if she would prefer the companionship of another.” Kanaya nods to herself and stands. “I was hoping you might come?”

Karkat shakes his head and waves his hand. “Fuck that, I have hivework to focus on and I know you’re going to be coveting your matesprit.” Karkat’s lip twitches. “It’s okay, just try to not piss Rose off. She’s normally intense, but impending doom doesn’t seem to support her mood.” Kanaya rolls her eyes.

“Karkat, not everything is about my pity for her. I do care for her wellbeing as a friend, too.”

“Yeah, right.” Karkat rolls his eyes. “You were made for each other.” Kanaya sighs and takes her towel with her.

“Goodnight, Karkat.”

Kanaya glides to her room, brushes her hair until it’s soft. She thinks about Rose, and how to get home, and what on Earth is their purpose. She fiddles over her outfit, trying to determine her best human clothes. Finally settling on a bright pink dress (similar to the one ruined through Sgrub), Kanaya puts together some things and texts Rose.

 

Sent at 11:11 p.m.
Goodnight Rose
I Will See You Tomorrow, Yes?
Of course. Shall I prepare tea or do you intend to woo me with your own cooking?
I Just Wanted To Spend Time With You
I know, it was a joke. Utilizing a language tool called ‘human sarcasm’.
I Am Familiar With Such A Device
Oh. Good!
I’m glad that extraterrestrial creatures are capable of such developmental advances.
Do you need to write it down in order to remember it?
Um
I Think I Will Talk To You Tomorrow
Haha, my work here is done.
Good morrow, madame.
Rose
Don’t Lose Hope
Goodnight

 

-**-

 

After a few minutes, Karkat motivates himself to get into the ablution trap. He sits until it turns cold and when he goes to bed, he messes with his mop of hair, thinking until he falls asleep.

Chapter Text

“Given your fondness for culture, I decided to bring the best human culture I know.” Kanaya holds up a greasy bag. “Burgers.”

Rose laughs, pushing away from the side of her orphanage. It loomed over, gray, dull, and oppressive but Rose seemed to absolutely dazzle in her laughter.

“Ah, but of course! What other culture does this great planet hold? Nothing more than a deliciously ground up meat carcass, freshly unfrozen by the grease of its mutilated brothers.” Rose took the bag cheerfully, looking inside as Kanaya crossed her arms. “And fries? You must have taken copious notes for such splendid details.” Kanaya smiles and relaxes, pleased that Rose seemed so happy.

“Anything for you, my darling. How could I not, for one of such grace and beauty?” Rose smiles up hesitantly, as if she was unsure to take Kanaya seriously or not.

“Oh, sweet friend, shall we ascend to my tallest room of my tallest tower?” Kanaya bobs her head and follows Rose into the building. A variety of children are sitting around, reading or playing with worn looking dolls.

“We have a few thing here.” Rose narrates as she mounted up the stairs. “We share rooms, sometimes, but mostly have the pleasure to keep to ourselves. It can get woefully dull, so I much prefer the library, but it’s not bad.” Kanaya follows with ease, eying a little girl with curly brown hair. She has a doll in a purple dress circling the platform floor. She looks up to wave briefly at Kanaya, smiling with two front teeth missing.

Oh dear, I do hope they grown back soon… I know Equius managed but it is rather dangerous… Mercifully, Rose did not have the highest room of the tallest tower. It was only the second highest room. Despite being a troll of excessive grace and strength, Kanaya had to admit being winded from the climb. She blames it on her human form, gulping in air as Rose settled herself with the bag of food.

The room itself was small, adjacent to another that was closed. Rose left her door open, most often she said, to counsel interesting patients. Willing or unwilling, Kanaya couldn’t have guessed. A rickety desk was set against the wall beside a shelf, scantily furnished with books, spare shirts, and a few memorabilia. After asking permission, Kanaya examines them with interest. Most were oddly shaped rocks, worn smooth by what Kanaya could only guess was Rose’s own nervous doing. Heh, that one looked like a hoofbeast.

“A what?” Rose smirks, munching a few fries. Kanaya glances briefly over before continuing to examine the rock.

“Hm, a horse,” she answers absently. “If I recall correctly, you had one by the name of Maplehoof. It had a heart on its flank.” She rubs the matching indent in the rocks side. “Just rather interesting, is all.”

Many others had worn patterns, and were rather similar in being cylindrical. When questioned, Rose smiled sheepishly and admitted, “I’m rather fond of chess. I tried to make some of these into respective counterparts to chess pieces.” She picks one up, shaped less like a horse, more like a nakodile of Dave’s planet. Kanaya mentally shrugs at this as Rose continues, “quite frankly, I’m fascinated with it. I don’t play much, as everyone is certain I read their minds when I do,” she smiles in Kanaya’s direction. “But I love to write strategies, and possibilities. I’ve incorporated some into this thing I write, I’ve called one ‘The Circumference of the Ouroboros’.” Hesitating only slightly, she slides off her bed and grabs a notebook from her shelf, sifting through loose leaflets.

“I designed it as a means of reflecting my character arch, the battle between Calmi the last of the wizards…” Rose mused, unperturbed by the odd expression on Kanaya’s face. Rose plucked through a few pages before tossing the notebook on the bed, notes spreading as she pointed to various chess diagrams, explaining to Kanaya. Rather overwhelmed by the mass of diagrams with twisting, shifting circular form of the chess pieces throughout the pages, Kanaya tried to decipher the work as she nodded to everything Rose said. Another form caught her eye, with the chess pieces arranged almost as a mirror.

“What’s this one?” Rose looked over the page Kanaya chose, careful to keep its place.

“This one is ‘The Auryn Trap’. Similar idea, but created to mislead the opponent. It also relates the division of my character…” Rose prattles on about strategy and how to play the game with a broad perspective, relating it to her wizard story. Kanaya’s mouth twitches upward, imagining Sollux’s reaction to the dual system.

Kanaya listens to Rose, pleased to see her so animated and lively. The focus makes her radiant, filling the room with a soft, sunny glow despite the consuming, secretive black clothes and the platinum blonde hair. Rose glows with passion, constructing her world around Kanaya through her description and expression. They sit on the edge of Rose’s bed and discuss the glorious battle of Calmi and the corrupt wizards. Rose admits to have not yet found a suitable confrontation for the Auryn move to be used, but is waiting for further plot development to incorporate it.

“Rose, this truly is incredible.” Kanaya breathes. “I truly think you should get this story out there, the language and meaning is absolutely stun-”

“Kanaya.” Rose smiles. “Of course I won’t. It’s disturbingly antagonistic.”

Kanaya blinks. “I’m sorry?”

“Have you been listening?” Rose smiles fades. “The whole purpose of it is to offend the Batterwitch.” It’s almost as if the world tipped and all the joy Rose brought in drained away. Kanaya frowned.

“Then there is only more reason to?” Kanaya picks at the nearly forgotten fries. “Why wouldn’t you want to perturb her in some way?”

Well, why should I?” Rose frowns and picks at her bedding, eyes lowered. “I’m not afraid. I just don’t see the purpose in encouraging such riotous behavior. There is nothing that can be done.” With the last of her passion drained away, Kanaya didn’t know what to say. They sat for a moment in silence, Rose’s eyes downcast and Kanaya’s aimed at the duly shiny hair.

“Why wouldn’t you?” She finally asks. “Knowing the future, you might want to bring some light to the situation. In this case i am referring to light as happiness not knowledge.” Smiling softly, “You have plenty of that.”

Rose flicks her head up, brushing her hair out of her face. “I wouldn’t because there’s no purpose in it!” A new passion rose, this one angry. “There is no purpose in my current existence. The fight belongs to our progeny, because it is them, not us who will fight for this world. Rather, this universe. I do not matter, nor Dave, nor Jade. You matter, because you will be one of the ones to do something about it!” Rose scowls and starts gathering her notes. “More on the point, this story is useless. It will do nothing, because it does not matter.”

Kanaya leaps up in alarm and firmly grabs the notebook. “Rose, hand me the book.”

Rose looks stunned. “Why should I?” She pulls angrily. “It doesn’t belong to you!”

“It does now, this story is part of me, just as it is a part of you and it will be to all who read it.” Kanaya pleads, tugging on the book. “I understand your melancholy, but Rose, I am begging you to listen.”

Rose huffs and tries to take her book. “Leave it,” she sighs, a mix of furious and disillusioned. “I assume I remind you of ‘other Rose’ and I am not her. I’m not and there’s nothing you can do, nothing I can do to make things different so I’d rather you leave me be.” She shakes her head, dislodging some long strands of hair. “I’m not her, she is the important one and you can’t change that, Kanaya.”

Kanaya softens, releasing the book slowly. “Rose.” Voice sweet as honey, Kanaya settles back on the bed and moves closer to Rose who tucks the notebook against her chest.

“I’m not her.” Rose insists, slumping into herself, wrapping around the book. “I’m nothing compared to the alpha Rose. That’s why she exists, to be a better version. The only true version.” Suddenly embarrassed, Rose straightens and moves back to place the notebook on her shelf. She keeps her back to Kanaya.

“You’re quite lovely, Kanaya.” Rose confides softly. “I would love to know you best. But I know your mission is to return to your meteor and save the world.” she laughs slightly at the wording. “Be it may how cliche that sounds.” She turns, leaning against the shelf panels to look at Kanaya. “We need to get you back.”

Kanaya holds a hand out to Rose. Taking it softly, Kanaya looks Rose in the eye and speaks truth that resonates with the dead beyond the universe.

“Rose Lalonde.” she begins. “You are you. You can never be alpha Rose. But throughout space-time there is only one you and you never quit. You never give up. You have something special to do in this universe, just as we all do. It’s not any other Rose’s role, it is yours. And I believe your role is this.”

She again pulls out the notebook, running her fingers over the pages. “Rose, you have more passion about this book than I’ve ever seen meteor Rose have in just about anything. Yours is complex, refined and researched with a care that reflects almost motherly. Your daughter will someday learn about you. And I think this is the legacy you should leave her.” Rose looks down.

“Kanaya she will save the world. What can I do?”

“Be an influence.” Kanaya persists, squeezing Rose’s hand. “Your daughter will save the world so you can be a role model of sorts. How do you think she gets there?”

“Paradox space.” Rose mumbles. She looks anywhere but Kanaya’s face but leaves her hand where it is. Kanaya pretends to not notice the silent tears.

After a time Rose clears her throat and straightens, walking over to Kanaya’s things. “You brought knitting?”

“I thought it would be an efficient pastime.” Kanaya allows Rose to hold the needles, in fists like a child.

“John once tried to get me into knitting.” she informs, face still red but returning to a more neutral expression. Kanaya hoped she’d done some good. “I never was effective but that may have been a result of my ah, other hobby.” Rose laughs thickly. “Gracious, a result of my drinking! I stabbed myself so many times, I just gave up on the task all together.”

Kanaya smiles patiently. Lovely Rose. “Allow me to teach you then.”