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Rose: Remember (Rashomon Roshambo)

Chapter Text

DAVE: what the fuck are you talking about
DAVE: ok somethings wrong
DAVE: this whole conversation is falling apart this isnt how it originally went at all
ROSE: Aw. We were making good progress, too.
ROSE: Why did you have to go and remember?
DAVE: this happened months ago
DAVE: does this mean im dead
ROSE: What do you think?
DAVE: stop it
DAVE: this is so sick you using the dream bubble bullshit to pick apart my psyche
DAVE: am i dead or asleep
ROSE: If you're starting to remember, you should be able to tell me.
DAVE: god dammit
ROSE: Maybe I'm just as confused as you about it?
DAVE: yeah right
ROSE: Am I dead or asleep, Dave?
DAVE: i dont know
ROSE: Try to remember.
DAVE: i remember waking up here
DAVE: after getting shot
ROSE: Yes.  What else?
DAVE: then the cage bunny came
DAVE: he gave us the bomb
DAVE: whered he go anyway
ROSE: She's around.
DAVE: the bunnys a she
ROSE: Her name is Liv Tyler.
DAVE: dumb
ROSE: Take it up with John.  What else?
DAVE: we were talking about who should go
ROSE: Do you remember what we decided?
DAVE: no
DAVE: wait
DAVE: wasnt i going to go
DAVE: is that what happened did i go and now im dead
ROSE: Not quite.
DAVE: whats not quite
DAVE: that i didnt go or that im not dead
ROSE: Do you remember anything else?
DAVE: no
ROSE: What about why you went to fight Jack?
DAVE: sure
DAVE: i did that
DAVE: because
DAVE: ...
DAVE: uh
ROSE: Well?
DAVE: wait
DAVE: which time
ROSE: What?
DAVE: which time i went to fight jack are you talking about

==>

ROSE: Are you trying to out-smartass me?
ROSE: Or is this the result of Time Shenanigans, which you will undoubtedly claim only you as a licensed Knight of Time can adequately fathom?
DAVE: no rose come on this is a serious question
DAVE: though yeah its hard to explain
DAVE: with all the time shit going on
ROSE: Obviously I'm picking up where we just left off.
ROSE: When you were ambushed on LOFAF.
DAVE: well that sure narrows it down doesnt it
ROSE: You only ever told me about one such occasion.
ROSE: I'm doing what I can to jog your memory.
DAVE: its uh
DAVE: its jogging i guess
ROSE: Nice.
ROSE: So what about Jade?
DAVE: ...
DAVE: what
ROSE: You didn't tell her your expedition with her would result in your death, let alone one she'd inadvertently cause.
ROSE: Or that she'd be stuck with the job of resuscitating you.
ROSE: Did you?
DAVE: oh ffs
DAVE: do we seriously have to ride the groundhog day express all the way to the end
ROSE: Excuse me?
DAVE: what am i really supposed to say
DAVE: hey were gonna hunt frogs til you shoot me through the jack
DAVE: then i die and youve got to make out with me
DAVE: that kind of changes how the whole thing goes doesnt it
ROSE: Not if you're "supposed to," right?
DAVE: what does that even mean
ROSE: I guess you're right. No reason to make an effort to empathize if doing so comes at the price of oblivion.
DAVE: OH NOES this conversation just got bumrushed by a
DAVE: by a
DAVE: shit what did i say last time
DAVE: by a mudslide of fucking awful
ROSE: It wasn't already awful, believing you might be dead?
DAVE: you dont know ANYTHING
DAVE: about what i was feeling or what happened on lofaf
DAVE: blah blah blah
DAVE: im breaking out of THIS loop so hard right now
DAVE: just shattering that motherfucker
DAVE: gotta get a goddamn broom in case you step on broken loop bits
DAVE: sorry rose but in this case you really dont know anything
DAVE: youre obviously not even paying attention to what im saying
DAVE: its rerun season in paradox space and ratings just keep going down
ROSE: Are you sure?
DAVE: i dont have to time travel to see whats gonna happen here
DAVE: now i have to make a call
DAVE: do i live up to your totally unfair characterization of me and what ive just been through
DAVE: or do i try to break the news to you as gently as i can
DAVE: at least theres no way you can kill the messenger
ROSE: I guess I'm learning to be impressed by your sense of obligation to inevitable misfortune. It's a strange case of inspiration through futility.
DAVE: oh fuck it
DAVE: look i know for a fact now that im dead
DAVE: and i bet you are too

==>

ROSE: Oh, I have to hear this.  Assuming it’s not just another defense mechanism to keep me from expecting greatness from you.
DAVE: ok you know what little miss grimdark festerthroes
DAVE: you can just watch me psychoanalyze myself out here in the open ill save you the trouble
DAVE: though im not sure if im doing you a favor or not
DAVE: lets see how much blood i can put into this masterpiece
DAVE: ill call it
DAVE: "dave gets stabbed again only this time its alpha dave"
DAVE: by edwin fucking gory
ROSE: Edward. Edward Gorey.
ROSE: Not that I know, among his many outstanding works, of any such tawdry morality play. It would need a suitably alliterative title.
ROSE: Like, "The Canticle of the Careless Chronological Cavalier."
ROSE: Hold on a second.
ROSE: Stabbed, did you say? Not shot?
DAVE: yeah you heard me right
DAVE: you finally see how far off the rails this freight train is going
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Do go on.

==>

DAVE: ok so the first time i went out to fight jack
DAVE: which is the time youre so obviously thinking of
DAVE: i saw my entire bloodstained timeline tangling through the forest like a mix tape that got eaten by the tape deck
DAVE: glad those shitty things ended up in the dumpster of history
DAVE: and knowing it had to be that way because of stable loops
DAVE: and watching jade watch me die
DAVE: and forcing myself to keep quiet because loose lips make bad trips
DAVE: i was already pretty convinced nothing good could come of time travel but that was just the last staple in the sarcophagus
DAVE: you cant do anything on your own terms youre just tugged along for the ride until its game over
ROSE: Yes.
ROSE: That is indeed the unfortunate episode to which I was referring.
DAVE: i thought of it as protecting her and keeping her alive
DAVE: but more than that
DAVE: i was protecting her illusion that anything was at all fair
DAVE: so she could do what needed to be done
ROSE: That's an interesting angle on the subject.
ROSE: There is of course nothing about the way the universe is set up that requires it to be fair.
ROSE: In fact, much of the evidence points towards callous indifference.
ROSE: But you're right that in order to remain functional, we still need to imagine the possibility of progress and our role in it.
ROSE: We need to believe we can take decisive action to improve our lot.
ROSE: Like blowing up a giant bomb right before we reset our universe and cease to exist as ourselves anyway.
DAVE: yeah sure go ahead
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Huh.
ROSE: Really?
DAVE: yep
DAVE: go for it
ROSE: You're not going to try to talk me out of it again?
DAVE: nah
DAVE: i mean i already tried and it didnt work
DAVE: so instead
DAVE: im going to tell you the other half of the story
ROSE: All right.

[ ... ]

Chapter Text

DAVE: the second time i fought jack on lofaf was totally different
DAVE: i wasnt using time travel at all
DAVE: and suddenly i was in the zone no past no future
DAVE: only a razor thin present in sudden death overtime
DAVE: like this corny zen master shtick where they spout off about how you have to be one with the blade
DAVE: mostly bullshit but i sorta see what they might have meant
ROSE: That sounds like even more of a suicide mission than the one I was prepared to try and dissuade you from attempting.
DAVE: yeah well
DAVE: i didnt say it was a good idea
DAVE: to fight jack again given how it went down the first time
DAVE: it was by far the dumbest thing ive ever done and thats saying something
DAVE: the cubic zirconia in the crown of my all-timeline blooper reel
DAVE: but it was also
DAVE: one of the most honest things ive ever done
DAVE: committing totally to an outcome without second guessing myself continually
DAVE: and i owned that mistake
DAVE: it was mine
DAVE: looking back on my illustrious career of irony i gotta say
DAVE: it was nice to own something for a change
ROSE: How gratifying.  Because of course we both know that in the end, being a true hero is really all about you.
DAVE: well duh i knew that was what you were driving at
DAVE: but actually that was the amazing thing
DAVE: especially when i think about what a sad excuse for a hero ive been so far feeling all sorry for myself and shit
DAVE: with the weight of predestination on my shoulders
DAVE: this time was nothing like that
DAVE: for once i wasnt thinking about myself at all

==>

ROSE: ...
ROSE: I have to say, you're being uncharacteristically forthright about all this. I did not expect that.
ROSE: In fact, none of this conversation is going the way I expected.
ROSE: We are officially in uncharted waters.
ROSE: So, keep talking whilst I figure out where we sailed off my mental map, the better to navigate myself away from the treacherous shoals of unfounded expectations and towards more solid ground.
DAVE: well like i said it wasnt about me this time
DAVE: i was so completely focused on saving jade
DAVE: that i just jumped right into the battle headlong
DAVE: it was chilly at first like sticking my toe into this great icy ocean of liquid fear
DAVE: but as i stood there getting barked and slavered at and wondering which other pajamas i left my doggy treats in
DAVE: i sort of got used to the water and i realized
DAVE: there is no fear in the present
DAVE: its all the looking backward and forward that fucks you up
ROSE: But isn't it the looking backward and forward, at least in the sense of anticipating likely consequences, that enables you to make responsible decisions?
DAVE: well yeah but not if youre just looking at the consequences of what you already decided
DAVE: with the flow of time holding you hostage at gun point
DAVE: you already made the bad decision way back when you started tracing your way around the stable loops and now its just reality telling you you were wrong for the rest of your short crappy life
DAVE: thats not good planning
DAVE: its just fucked up
ROSE: Also, I didn't expect you to step so squarely into the middle of such a hackneyed trope as riding in on a proverbial white horse.
ROSE: With nary a detectable hint of irony. Is he serious or isn't he?
ROSE: Now there's a Zen parable. I must be dealing with a true master.
ROSE: So, brave Sir Strider. Did the gallant Knight of Time succeed in his errand to save the poor damsel in distress?
DAVE: hahaha no way
DAVE: for one thing thats not even a remotely accurate description of any part of what was actually going on
DAVE: jade isnt some kind of glitzy tournament prize for best jouster
DAVE: we cant finish this shaggy dog story without her
DAVE: also i lasted fifteen seconds before getting owned so hard
DAVE: stabbed in both the front AND the back like a pathetic noob
DAVE: not with welsh swords or anything but they were sharp enough
DAVE: then i just lay there and bled out all over jade AGAIN
DAVE: how ironic is that
ROSE: ...Oh.
ROSE: Wait, stabbed in the front and the back simultaneously?
ROSE: Is this some new trick of Jack's, using his First Guardian powers?
ROSE: What did he do? Stab you through himself somehow?
DAVE: what rose you didnt follow that
DAVE: just think it over
DAVE: think it over
ROSE: This doesn't make any sense.
ROSE: You haven't had time to fight Jack again after I...
ROSE: Um.
DAVE: yeah haha after you what
ROSE: Have you remembered yet?
DAVE: you mean after you beaned me with a yarn ball and stole the damn moon that i told you it was my job to go explode in
ROSE: Mmhmm. That was it.
ROSE: A description both succinct, and accurate in most of the details.
DAVE: ive remembered more than i ever wanted to
DAVE: and dont think i wasnt unbelievably pissed when i found out
DAVE: in the previous godawful loop through this freudian double reacharound
ROSE: Wait. You're saying we've had this conversation before?
DAVE: but now ive gotta ask you rose do you remember what happened
DAVE: where were you the night shit went down on lofaf
DAVE: honestly if youre the queen of remembering shit then this ought to be a cake walk for you
DAVE: like walking all over that cake
DAVE: get all that icing up between your toes and feel it squish

==>

ROSE: Ah, rambling about baked goods sounds so much more appetizing than rambling about grilled meat.
ROSE: Much as I hate to deflect this delicious turn of conversation, too many things still don't tally.
ROSE: I fail to understand your abrupt change of heart about accompanying me on the mission to blow up the Green Sun.
ROSE: Or where you're coming from with this apocryphal, if entertaining, story about a second fight with Jack.
ROSE: You didn't have time to get back to LOFAF by now.
ROSE: You had no reason to believe Jack would still be there.
ROSE: Also, what motivation would you have had, having just been killed by Jack, to return and fight him again immediately?
ROSE: Only this time, forgoing your primary tactical advantage?
DAVE: that is for me to know and to smugly congratulate myself for knowing while you flounder about trying to deduce it
ROSE: Throw me a line here!
DAVE: rose youre thinking about it the wrong way this is future dave
DAVE: if theres one thing im not short on its the fucking future
ROSE: So you're from another timeline? A doomed one?
DAVE: ding ding ding we have a winner
ROSE: But you remember what I did to get here.
ROSE: So you must have branched after that.
ROSE: And more importantly,
ROSE: You're here in the dream bubble discussing this with me.
ROSE: So you know that I'm on the mission right now.
DAVE: if youre gonna ask me how it all turns out then let me just say
DAVE: your shitty stolen suicide stealth sortie sucked
DAVE: you exploded the bomb but it didnt do what you thought
DAVE: we were all suckered
DAVE: and the whole thing came to nothing
ROSE: But if you're from a doomed timeline, how do I know that your offshoot doesn't branch farther in the future?
ROSE: To what extent was that dependent on my actions in this mission?
ROSE: And, how can I consider anything you're saying to be reliable?
ROSE: As much as I would love to play along, everything you've been saying is consistent with an extremely elaborate trolling effort.
ROSE: Even though I'm not sure why you would waste your time on that.
ROSE: But you're the only one of us who seems to have time to spare here.
DAVE: oh sweet virgin grub mother of jegus
DAVE: facepalm x2 combo
ROSE: Well, following Occam's Razor, it's only one thing I would have to suddenly understand.
ROSE: As opposed to, for example, jack everything.
DAVE: well ill be honest at this point im not completely positive that youre who i think you are either
DAVE: or that youll be able to remember what i think you should
DAVE: dooming dozens of alt daves to gruesome ends is bad enough
DAVE: but out here where all the timelines tangle together in a snarl of the meta skein of the worst yarn fate ever told
DAVE: revealing too much to you could cause some seriously weird shit
DAVE: if i understood you right loops dont have to close out here
DAVE: you could just prevent me from having existed in the first place
ROSE: Well then, we're at a stalemate.
ROSE: You can't reveal too many of your own experiences without posing risks to the integrity of paradox space.
ROSE: But I can't remember things that never happened, as far as I'm concerned, unless you give me some kind of independently verifiable information.
DAVE: yeah that does sound like a chicken and egg kind of situation
DAVE: where the chicken and the egg sort of sidle around each other in pointless greasy circles
DAVE: till they both end up on someones cheap ass mcmuffin
ROSE: Yet another fast food metaphor. Must be time for lunch.
ROSE: You know, just before going grimdark, I had been in touch with an associate of infallible accuracy yet dubious virtue.
ROSE: Let's call him White Text Guy.
ROSE: He admonished me, as a Seer of Light, not to ask for my fortune to be told, but to seek it myself.
ROSE: Which, whatever one may say about the questionable value of the rest of his advice, seem like words to live by.
DAVE: well youve already gotten this far i guess
DAVE: what have you got to lose except maybe my sanity
ROSE: Indeed.
ROSE: My own, perhaps?
ROSE: Still, having thoroughly examined all of the facts currently on the table, these alleged memories still aren't coming to me.
ROSE: So, Dave, the sports ball is on your side of the court.
ROSE: Show me a sign.
ROSE: Just one.

Chapter Text

What? No, man. Just no.

This should not be up for negotiation. It isn't your MO. All the reasons you made up to avoid having to do this come rushing ready-made to wait on the tip of your tongue: You were horribly disfigured in the accidental explosion of a BAKING SODA VOLCANO. Your protective eyewear keep your MUTANT EYE LASERS from slicing everything into microtome-thin ribbons. Everything you see is way funnier with the AUGMENTED IRONY FEED you've alchemized into them. The shades are SHAME SENSITIVE, for those especially embarrassing episodes with trans-universal ecto-family members. They look like shades, but in fact they are your ACTUAL EYES and you physically can't remove them.

And yet.

You wish you were so creative with solutions to the actual impasse. Right now you can't think of any other piece of "independently verifiable information" that would convince this snippy bookshrew that you aren't just beaning her with your own ball of impossible yarn.

Also, what she'll see will, in the worst case, not be an immediate spoiler, and might not immediately prevent her from doing what she first set out to do on this little jaunt out into the void. Another dead Dave? They're a dime a dozen.

At best? It'll shut down this pointless back-and-forth, and let you start having an actual conversation. Which you both sorely want and need right now. It's going to be a long ride through all this nothingness.

Past Dave would never have even contemplated it.

But the whole point of this exchange so far has been that you aren't Past Dave.

Not anymore.

Chapter Text

ROSE: ...
ROSE: Holy shit.
DAVE: yeah
ROSE: Well.
ROSE: That's certainly independently verifiable.
ROSE: So at least you weren't kidding about being dead.
DAVE: rose although my sense of humor has always been morbid as fuck
DAVE: and despite not being known for giving the cliffs notes version
DAVE: even i gotta admit
DAVE: that joke would have been way too long to be still funny by the end
ROSE: True on all counts, I'm afraid.
DAVE: burrrnnn
DAVE: oh man that ones gonna sizzle for a while
ROSE: Where'd you get the new duds, anyway?
DAVE: wait what
ROSE: So crisp and freshly pressed?
ROSE: Did you seriously take time out from this frenetic endgame rush to alchemize yourself yet another suit of fashionable combatwear?
DAVE: oh shit forgot to change
ROSE: You wear it well, I have to admit. As bloodstained as it is.
ROSE: I've always had a soft spot for men in uniform.
ROSE: Especially when that uniform is, basically, pajamas with a cape.
ROSE: Wait.
ROSE: John was wearing a suit not entirely unlike that when I saw him, after I went grimdark and had my own ill-fated bout with Jack.
ROSE: So! You made god tier, Dave. Congratulations.
DAVE: um yeah thanks
DAVE: i guess
DAVE: it wasnt really something i tried to do
ROSE: But I have also been informed that after making god tier, it's much harder to get yourself killed for good.
ROSE: If you died in the alpha timeline, you had to have died either a Heroic or a Just death.
ROSE: Where "Heroic" and "Just" are determined according to circumstances that, while nebulous and uncertain, are surely not subject to manipulation by shadowy, nefarious characters who wish us to fail.
ROSE: Whatever you may think of yourself, from the time I've spent talking to you just now, I have a hard time imagining you could have encountered a Just death.
ROSE: So that would mean, ironically, that paradox space itself has just confirmed you as the hero you always wanted to be.
DAVE: whew what a relief
DAVE: for a second there i thought i was going to have to wade through the rest of this hells of boring nonexistence without any external validation whatsoever
ROSE: Hang on, hero boy, I'm still working through this.
ROSE: How did you make god tier with so little time left? Was that part of your motivation for going to fight Jack again?
ROSE: He certainly would have done the job, although I'm having a hard time imagining Past Dave would go seeking such a gratuitous demise.
ROSE: And your Quest Bed would have been on LOHAC, but you said your battle took place on LOFAF.
ROSE: So, that doesn't make sense either.
ROSE: You might have died Heroically on LOFAF, but you wouldn't have ascended there, if I understand correctly.
DAVE: this still feels like a lot more work than you just remembering
ROSE: Ah, but wait!
ROSE: We each have two Quest Beds. That's another tidbit I worked out while trawling the interstices of our session for forbidden fruit.
ROSE: Why would yours would be on LOFAF, though? Unless you have some deeper in-game connection to Jade than I realized, one only Skaia would know about?
ROSE: You would have to have gotten killed somewhere else.
DAVE: truly you have a dizzying intellect
ROSE: Wait till I get going!
ROSE: Where was I?
DAVE: quest beds
ROSE: Oh yes. So if your Quest Bed isn't on LOFAF, where would it be?
ROSE: Although I had high hopes of preserving our existence into the next session, I doubt there are Quest Beds waiting there for our pre-Scratch selves, when the Scratch as an in-game mechanic is meant to reset us entirely.
ROSE: So it must be somewhere in what remains of this session.
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Along with mine, perhaps.
DAVE: right
ROSE: Of course.
ROSE: There could be a Quest Crypt right here on Derse's former moon.
ROSE: That would benefit me, when the moon exploded with me on it.
ROSE: But it wouldn't help you.
ROSE: Not unless... you caught up with me somehow.
ROSE: Because you were determined for me not to do this alone, and were done arguing with me.
ROSE: What would have triggered that chain of events, though?
ROSE: I started this whole conversation to keep you from doing that without tipping you off that that was a thing you could do.
ROSE: Did I just fail spectacularly at stalling you?
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Ohhh.
DAVE: was that the first faint glimmer of recognition
DAVE: please say yes
DAVE: its taking all my willpower not to just hit fast forward
ROSE: There was a stowaway.
ROSE: Who would have jeopardized my mission.
ROSE: It wasn't you. It was a Dersite agent.
ROSE: You found out about him after remembering the events that led up to me knocking you out. And promptly sped your way here.
ROSE: So you did come on my mission after all.
ROSE: Meaning we would both have been here in the Furthest Ring when The Tumor exploded.
ROSE: Meaning... we both made god tier.
ROSE: So I should be wearing, not these pajamas,
ROSE: But these.
DAVE: hallefuckinglujah

==>

ROSE: Well! That certainly does change the equation somewhat.
ROSE: With Jack facing not one, but three ascended players,
DAVE: four
ROSE: So Jade ascended too, then!
ROSE: Perhaps we would have had at least a fighting chance against him.
ROSE: But that isn't what happened, is it?
DAVE: you tell me
DAVE: youre the one whos on a roll here with the mad deductions
ROSE: Hmmm.
ROSE: You made it sound as though you were facing Jack alone.
ROSE: So the five-ways duel is probably not how you, and the rest of the players in your timeline, were slain.
DAVE: good guess
DAVE: it felt like a lot more than five ways but youll get to that later
ROSE: You also said that the explosion of The Tumor didn't have the effect White Text Guy had led me to expect.
ROSE: That we'd been suckered.
ROSE: He led me to believe that The Tumor would destroy the Green Sun.
ROSE: Yet...
ROSE: He never actually said that.
ROSE: He said only that it had enough power to destroy the Green Sun.
ROSE: And that we would deliver it to the Green Sun's location.
ROSE: Oh, by the nine thousand tentacles of outer darkness.
ROSE: We didn't destroy the Green Sun. We created it.
ROSE: I guess that shouldn't come as much of a surprise to me.
ROSE: Our misinformant claimed that lies of omission weren't a thing, instead blaming me for not having asked the right questions.
DAVE: wow what a bullshit excuse
DAVE: who is this douchebag
ROSE: Let's just say I hope to have no further dealings with him.
DAVE: seconded
ROSE: So, let's see. What have I learned so far?
ROSE: In your timeline, which is the same as my timeline up to and possibly including some indeterminate endpoint in the future,
ROSE: You came on an expedition with me, and the bomb went off, which created the Green Sun and killed us instantly on our Quest Beds, causing us both to ascend to god tier.
ROSE: Making us directly responsible for powering Jack and Lord English, the two most destructive beings in the history of paradox space.
ROSE: Not a great scorecard for us, I have to say.
ROSE: I'm kind of astonished we didn't simply die a Just death, pulverized under the crushing pressure of our inflated expectations and simultaneously incinerated in the inferno of our epic failure to meet them.
DAVE: dude im not sure its really fair to pin all that on us
DAVE: can you blame us for a thing we were trying to do the opposite of
ROSE: I would think so, from the standpoint of cosmic judgment on the marginal value to reality of our continued existence.
ROSE: Anyway, at some later date, you fought Jack again on LOFAF for reasons having something to do with Jade's safety, and lost.
ROSE: But I haven't finished remembering, or deducing.
ROSE: What happened to me?
ROSE: Did I share your timeline to the end, and thus your violent fate?
ROSE: Something crucial is still missing.
DAVE: jesus h pancake flipping christ
DAVE: you have literally the worst fucking memory of anyone ever
ROSE: Hey! I got this far, didn't I?
DAVE: ok look this is gonna take forever if we do it your way
DAVE: heres a great idea that has absolutely zero chance of going wrong
DAVE: since its a thing we can do here in mindfuck mansion
DAVE: why dont i show you around some of my own memories

Chapter Text

> Dave: Give tour of meteor to snippy bookshrew.

DAVE: alright take a look around
DAVE: this was the closest thing we had to home for a good long while
ROSE: It seems oddly familiar.
ROSE: Those... rugs. The patterns in them?
ROSE: The brushed metal floor. The air ducts.
ROSE: Where is this place?
DAVE: the books
ROSE: Ummm.
ROSE: Sorry, no.
DAVE: ffs
DAVE: you were literally the only one here who could interpret any of that cryptic sburbian garbage
DAVE: youd think you would remember all those inscrutable fucking diagrams and rune circles and shit
ROSE: Rune circles?
DAVE: this one
DAVE: with the green binding
DAVE: just look at this
DAVE: this
DAVE: uh
DAVE: haha right of course thats all i remember
ROSE: Hilarious.
ROSE: What exactly was I supposed to take away from this book?
ROSE: It's certainly of limited scope as an anatomical guide.
ROSE: And there... doesn't appear to be anything else in the pages.
DAVE: look you were being even more long winded than you were earlier
DAVE: you could hardly blame me for missing a lot of the details
ROSE: Oh, not at all. Actually, this is quite instructive.
ROSE: It shows where your mind really is most of the time you're pretending to listen to me.
DAVE: wait no come on
ROSE: "I'm sorry Rose, I didn't actually hear any of your path-critical exposition about our session. I was distracted by visions of --"
DAVE: its not what you think
ROSE: "Erect phalluses."
DAVE: stahp
ROSE: "Dancing across my mind, bouncing ever so gaily on their return to the Oedipal Complex."
DAVE: dammit no let me explain
ROSE: Oh yes. By all means.
DAVE: it was karkat
ROSE: Who?
DAVE: ...
DAVE: while i want to strangle you for forgetting
DAVE: that was one hell of a bullet i just dodged there
ROSE: Reeeaaally.
DAVE: ANYWAY
DAVE: im seriously running out of patience
DAVE: is it really such a bad thing if i just tell you

==>

ROSE: I suppose we could just reconsider the parameters of this whole interaction.
ROSE: But I'm enjoying myself.
ROSE: Even if there weren't some greater unspecified danger from a quick reveal, I'd want to carry on.
DAVE: well at least tell me this so we stop playing infinity questions
DAVE: you know how jade used to have those strings on her fingers
DAVE: since her memory was even worse than yours
DAVE: would you have left anything here for yourself around here
DAVE: like
DAVE: "break glass in case of debilitating amnesia"
ROSE: Nnnnnn...nnnno.
ROSE: Not obviously.
ROSE: Why don't I just have a walk around the room and take a careful look at everything, recognizing that what would have been significant to you might not have been to me.
ROSE: Assuming I or any version of me has ever been here, that is.
DAVE: yeah why dont you
DAVE: imma make myself a cup of coffee
ROSE: Make me one too, if you don't mind?
ROSE: It might help me focus.
DAVE: tall grande or venti
ROSE: Make it a big one.
DAVE: skinny or fat
ROSE: Whatever we've got on hand.
DAVE: sugar
ROSE: No thanks, not this time.
DAVE: idiotic seasonal pumpkin spice
ROSE: Hey, I'm not afraid to admit that I like pumpkin spice.
DAVE: you were supposed to ask
DAVE: what pumpkin spice
ROSE: That sounds like something John would say.
DAVE: since he cant be here with us for this momentous occasion
DAVE: i thought id fill in for him
ROSE: Just get on with it.
DAVE: whatevs

> Dave: Make coffee.

**bangcrashbang**

DAVE: arright
DAVE: two hot revitalizing cups of shitty coffee
DAVE: fresh out of the weird pod
ROSE: Thanks, Dave. You're too kind.
ROSE: **sip**
ROSE: Ah, yes, that does help.
DAVE: you actually like that stuff
ROSE: It's pretty foul, actually, but I can feel the caffeine working.
ROSE: And...
ROSE: That tang, of. Of.
ROSE: Huh.
DAVE: what
ROSE: Let me see that book again.
DAVE: its all yours babe
DAVE: boners galore
DAVE: five hundred straight pages of cryptic ouija dong
DAVE: hatefully hand drawn by the angriest troll in the incipisphere
ROSE: Mmhmm. Except for this part.

> Rose: Flip through book.

ROSE: I'm guessing this is what I was telling you about.
ROSE: The details of the next leg of our journey after making god tier.
DAVE: wait howd you do that
ROSE: As my memories return, I'm able to incorporate them into the fabric of the bubble.
ROSE: I'm alert enough now to know that I have been here with you, or someone who looked and sounded like you.
DAVE: the road to hell is paved with fake daves huh
ROSE: So our grand plan to save ourselves was to ride this meteor through the Furthest Ring into the post-scratch session?
ROSE: Elegant in its simplicity, though I imagine incredibly tedious, depending on how long the journey was.
DAVE: you have no fucking idea
ROSE: Oh, I am rapidly acquiring one.
ROSE: Hm, it's funny literally reading through one's own memories.
ROSE: I would have gotten to this point in my research about a year after we departed the remains of the scratched session.
ROSE: Having learned about the mechanics of null sessions, void sessions, and the identities of the post-scratch session's players.
ROSE: Namely, alternate-universe versions of our respective guardians.
DAVE: what im wondering is why the fuck you were congenitally unable to remember any of this before
DAVE: when i was like this close to losing all of my shit
DAVE: like entire collections of priceless coprolites misplaced for good
DAVE: and crack scatological search teams coming back empty handed
ROSE: From food metaphors to fecal metaphors... right.
ROSE: The lengthy digestive tract of your subconscious ends here.
DAVE: it sure as hell does
ROSE: It was the taste of the coffee.
ROSE: Have you ever noticed smells or taste being a particularly potent trigger for memories associated strongly with place or time?
DAVE: huh
DAVE: maybe
DAVE: like that rusty metal smell of pavement after a thunderstorm
DAVE: or the delicious cheesy goodness of cheap burritos
ROSE: That's the idea.
ROSE: It works better when the flavor is unique and associated with an emotionally significant time or place in your life.
ROSE: I was never a big coffee drinker before coming onto this meteor.
ROSE: So this is the only place I would have had it.
DAVE: but what about your pumpkin spice thing
ROSE: Gingerbread. And select liqueurs.
DAVE: gotcha
ROSE: So if you want to accelerate this process, maybe we can look for other olfactory triggers.
ROSE: Anything else to eat or drink around here?

Chapter Text

DAVE: uh
DAVE: yeah theres stuff to drink here
DAVE: but im not sure if thats what you really want to do
ROSE: By which you mean?...
ROSE: Ah.
ROSE: Why do we even have anything like that on board this meteor?
DAVE: thats an excellent question
DAVE: and the answer will tell you a lot about where this is headed
ROSE: Wait, don't tell me. It's like grub sauce, only fermented?
DAVE: actually
DAVE: you made it
ROSE: ...
ROSE: I did what?
DAVE: one day when you were nervous as shit
DAVE: you hooked up some copper tubing to the spare alchemiter in the lab
DAVE: and you brewed up a batch of space hooch that wouldve eaten clear through the floor if youd spilled any
DAVE: fortunately or unfortunately i guess you drank it all
DAVE: im not in touch with as many dark gods as you but im pretty sure theyre the only ones who know what it did to your liver
ROSE: That's. Um.
ROSE: What the hell was I thinking?
DAVE: look you told me to spit it out so im spitting it out
ROSE: No, that's okay.
ROSE: I'm just trying to square that piece of information with everything I know so far, and figuring out, you know.
ROSE: What it means. About who I might be.
DAVE: tbh we were all kind of having a rough time
DAVE: you got it when you realized the trip was three goddamn years
DAVE: thats way too long for two fucked up humans and a bunch of even more fucked up trolls to be all dressed up with nowhere to go
DAVE: substance abuse and sloppy hatemakeouts were pretty much inevitable
ROSE: I can see how the conditions would readily promote such activity.
ROSE: But. I.
DAVE: but you cant see yourself doing it
ROSE: Oh, I can see myself doing it all too readily.
ROSE: And I'm disappointed in myself.
ROSE: It's not the future I would have hoped for.

==>

DAVE: rose i get that you might be a little sensitive on that score
ROSE: Rather, yes.
ROSE: I had hoped to avoid turning into my mother until I was at least thirty-one.
DAVE: ouch
DAVE: shes my mom too you know
DAVE: dont be talking smack about our mom
ROSE: There were plenty of ways I imagined taking after her.
ROSE: Passive-aggressive mind games with fridge magnets.
ROSE: Hiding behind oversized wizard kitsch in the hallways.
ROSE: Elaborate funerals for our dearly departed pets.
ROSE: Despite the veneer of antagonism, I feel those things brought us closer together, in ways I would expect only you to understand.
DAVE: yeah see she was cool after all
ROSE: But the alcohol? Pulled us apart.
ROSE: It never made her abusive, just... impossible to relate to.
ROSE: I would sit in my room for hours and judge her for her absence with every click of my knitting needles.
ROSE: In many respects I felt like I was raised by Jasper.
ROSE: I never thought I would turn out the same way.
DAVE: hey come on how do you know you did
DAVE: maybe you just hit the sauce too hard that one time
DAVE: why does it have to be a federal fucking issue
ROSE: My own timeline still isn't coming back to me.
ROSE: But I could hear it in your voice, the way you hesitated for just a little too long when I asked.
ROSE: Apparently I was completely useless after this point.
ROSE: Which makes it more than just a personal failing.
DAVE: well im not saying going full wino was a good idea or anything
DAVE: pretty sure it was a solidly rotten life decision in my timeline
DAVE: what im saying is you could cut yourself some slack there
ROSE: Dave.
ROSE: I was the Seer of Light for our session.
ROSE: The one who was supposed to have a clear enough head, once we arrived, to deliver the strategy we needed to win.
ROSE: If I was drunk... or worse, habitually drunk, given preconditions in the environment and... my family history...
ROSE: I wouldn't have failed myself only.
ROSE: I'd have failed everybody. And, crucially, the unborn universe.
ROSE: Quite possibly all of paradox space, given what we knew of Lord English's trajectory.
ROSE: What slack is there in a timeline with that kind of tension?
DAVE: arright i picked a crappy metaphor lets start over
ROSE: The need to keep the thread taut under the weight of potential, without snapping, is what makes the long journey so deadly.
ROSE: We can't sustain this level of urgency for three years when there's no imminent threat for us to react to.
DAVE: yeah thats what i
ROSE: Unresolved fight-or-flight responses make us all increasingly neurotic and, ultimately, cause us to break down.
DAVE: jfc how is that not exactly what i said just now
DAVE: except with like twice as many words
ROSE: So we get bored, and doodle genitalia in our books of lore.
ROSE: Or raid our pantry to build towering fortresses of canned goods.
DAVE: hey cmon rose we
ROSE: Or we throw ourselves a one-woman keg party to drown our anxiety.
ROSE: And then we lose.

==>

DAVE: ok ive got enormous beefs with your dissing of can town
DAVE: like the all you can eat steak dinner of massive rage protest
DAVE: how is building awesome shit at all equivalent to getting hammered
DAVE: have you ever actually tried being bored for a change
DAVE: it might do you some good
ROSE: We don't get to be bored, Dave. We can't afford it.
DAVE: we couldnt afford NOT to be bored
DAVE: like ok fine we couldve prepped some more for the final exam
DAVE: but even the top of the class has to take a study break sometime
ROSE: So why didn't we --
DAVE: and back to my other point which was
DAVE: youve been hung up about our moms boozing since like forever
DAVE: not like we really ever talked about it but it was always sitting there right in your fridge waiting to jump on the first person dumb enough to go scrounging around in there for some aj or something
DAVE: and it smells terrible so its time to put on the old rubber gloves and clean that motherfucker out
DAVE: i get that were under pressure but come on
DAVE: this isnt about the session performance at all
DAVE: or about drinking or even being drunk is it
ROSE: Isn't it, Dave?
ROSE: What is it about, then?
DAVE: being A drunk
ROSE: And how are those supposed to be different, exactly, for me?
DAVE: see that is
DAVE: that right there is my entire fucking point
ROSE: They're not different.
ROSE: They're the same thing, Dave.
DAVE: they are totally not even the same kind of thing
ROSE: Explain, if you think you can.

> Dave: Try to explain.

DAVE: what im saying is
DAVE: fuck
DAVE: lemme just
DAVE: ok what im saying is that right now you dont have to be perfect
DAVE: you dont have to try so hard to not be our mom
DAVE: as if being her would really be so terrible but anyway
DAVE: youre not our mom
DAVE: and in my official goddamn capacity as the knight of time
DAVE: im begging you not to hang your entire sense of yourself and what you might have done on the question of whether you did or did not get completely wasted
DAVE: in a timeline were not even sure is yours yet
DAVE: but who gives a shit if it was
DAVE: ive gotten real used to watching myself fuck up and die
DAVE: and ive gotten real tired of it
DAVE: which is why i swore off time travel in the end
DAVE: but by that time i was the undefeated world champion of fucking up
DAVE: and you sound terrified of being even vaguely associated with a parallel universe in which you didnt get it right the first try
DAVE: so like
DAVE: the fact that you maybe fell off the wagon
DAVE: and then woke up in the gutter covered in mud with a hangover the size of planet fucking jupiter
DAVE: its history who cares
DAVE: it doesnt get to define you unless you roll over and play dead
DAVE: you dont have to do it again the next day
DAVE: and if you dont feel like you can keep from doing it yourself
DAVE: you dont have to do that either
DAVE: youre surrounded by people who got your back
DAVE: like all this stuff about keeping the rope tight
DAVE: you talk like youre the only one pulling on it

==>

ROSE: ...
ROSE: *sigh*
ROSE: Maybe you're right.
ROSE: But, you know.
ROSE: *Did* I do it again the next day?
DAVE: did you listen to like
DAVE: any of that
DAVE: i mean i could tell you but
DAVE: you know how karkat loves to get into fights with his past self
DAVE: and go on endless shitflinging benders about how stupid he was
DAVE: i think this is you doing something like that
DAVE: youre more ashamed of the thought that youd be the kind of person who would do it again the next day than you are of having done it
DAVE: and if you keep running away from that its gonna follow you
DAVE: like that murder of dumb shitty birds we started the convo with
ROSE: So, suppose that's true.
ROSE: What do you think I should do?
DAVE: normally id keep you on the straight and narrow
DAVE: and not let you get anywhere near that stuff again
DAVE: but this is a bubble full of shared memories
DAVE: so if youre from my timeline after all
DAVE: youre already the person who got shitfaced and did dumb things
DAVE: its you
DAVE: you just gotta face up to it
DAVE: then you get your other memories back too
ROSE: What do you mean, "face up" to it?
DAVE: i think you know what you have to do
ROSE: I just...
ROSE: I'm not sure I can do that, Dave. Please don't make me do that.
ROSE: I hope I just wake up before I have to do that.
DAVE: i get that its hard
DAVE: its legit scary from where you are right now
DAVE: so i
DAVE: dude i cant believe im suggesting this but
DAVE: ill do it with you
DAVE: so youre not alone

==>

ROSE: Peer pressure, huh. Classy.
DAVE: this is the complete and total opposite of peer pressure
DAVE: that would be like if i thought it was a good idea myself and was making you prove something to me about how cool you were
DAVE: i am approximately a million percent confident that your weird horrorterror moonshine is going to be the worst fucking swill ive ever tasted
DAVE: i fully expect to spend an arbitrary amount of space ghost time lurching around like a goddamn zombie and drooling all over my cape
DAVE: and if anything im trying to prove to YOU how cool you are
DAVE: and help you access that filing cabinet full of skeletons
DAVE: you can choose not to remember and we can just call it an eon
DAVE: but remembering is really the only way through

Chapter Text

You really don't want to do this. Everything about it is scary.

Agency is the essence of Light, and you want to keep at arm's length any memories in which you surrendered your agency so thoroughly. The iron glove of ectobiological determinism squeezes at your throat. From behind his shades, you can feel Dave's lifeless gaze boring a hole straight through to the back of your skull, which has suddenly started pounding like that Jupiter-sized hangover you've never had. (Yet.)

You're not getting out of this one that easily.

But isn't Light just as much about truth as about agency? And aren't you taking back your future by reconciling yourself to the past, even this one?

You square your shoulders, and take a deep breath. You'll need it.

==>

ROSE: Mmm.
ROSE: Okay.
ROSE: Let's get this over with.
DAVE: ok cool
DAVE: only problem now is
DAVE: i have no idea where you put your stash
ROSE: I think I know where I'd leave it.
ROSE: And that's as good as... having it right here.
DAVE: handy

Chapter Text

DAVE: so how do you open this seers brew
DAVE: is it like a screw top or a cork or what
ROSE: I think it just pops off like... this.
ROSE: There we go.
DAVE: oh man thats strong
DAVE: whats that smell
DAVE: is that
ROSE: *sniff*
ROSE: Whaddaya know!
ROSE: It's the smell of holiday cheer!
DAVE: goddamn pumpkin spice
DAVE: how did i just know it was gonna be that

==>

ROSE: **sssnnniiiiffffffff**
ROSE: Y'know, Dave.
ROSE: Iss really, quite shtrong indeed.
DAVE: oh my god you are NOT that much of a lightweight
ROSE: 'M not! Honest?
ROSE: Itsh jutst, allllll comin back to me.
ROSE: Wooooowwwwwwwww.
ROSE: I rly was *HIC* totlally usheless afferall.
ROSE: Whyyyyy dind'nt you jussht tell me I wash sho usheless?
ROSE: An' the flvavor. Shince pmumpkins are the sbymbols of Viodd.
ROSE: We'ere drnking concentitrated Void here, witch is prefect for supperessing Light poowers that shtresshed me the fuck out.
ROSE: On a looooonng journey wheere, I couln'dt take any reel action.
DAVE: so like
DAVE: a voidka martini huh
ROSE: You musht've known the whooolle time you were gviving me that inspiritational speech juss now.
DAVE: i actually wasnt sure about you at the time
DAVE: as for what happened to the rose i knew
DAVE: i just told you what i wish shed known to begin with
DAVE: since you might still have something to lose unlike me
DAVE: it seemed like a pretty good policy
ROSE: And yoouu! You shaid youd..,.,,.
ROSE: Thtat youd. Yknow.
ROSE: But you dindnt, didja? Lkie, Back Then.
DAVE: and that was what i wish my past self had done
DAVE: i didnt think you were really in that much trouble
DAVE: then i thought id let you figure it out on your own by screwing up
DAVE: after all we had plenty of time
DAVE: but clearly in retrospect that didnt work out so well
ROSE: Ahhh fer chrissake.
ROSE: Daaave, that was. A reol asshhole mvoe there.
DAVE: here gimme that
DAVE: im cutting you off lalonde this is last call
ROSE: Too late,,,
DAVE: all right i promised so im making good on it
DAVE: *SWIG*
DAVE: **COUGHCOUGHSPLUTTER**
ROSE: Heheheheheheh.
DAVE: ohhh fffffkuuuc
DAVE: fcukin
DAVE: mkae the rmoo stoooop mooing
DAVE: asdfjkhgkjllll
DAVE: hyyuuuuurrnngnghhgnnghh
ROSE: Ahahahahhaaaa!!!
ROSE: Ok, NOW whose the liteweghit, Dave?
DAVE: *CHUG*
DAVE: huh
DAVE: actually nah
DAVE: this shit is disgusting but it doesnt seem to have any effect on me
ROSE: ...
ROSE: :(

==>

DAVE: sorry rose
DAVE: im still here for you but
DAVE: if i never got drunk i guess i cant remember what it feels like
ROSE: Meh, s'ok.
ROSE: Fro me iss jusslike,
ROSE: Fallin offa bike.
ROSE: Or a, whatsit, a wagon or smotheing.
ROSE: And the fnunny thing is,
ROSE: 'M alot less dishappointed immyshelf than, I thoguht I'd be.
DAVE: is it the booze talking or the therapy
DAVE: who can say
ROSE: Thish feeilng islike, ummm.
ROSE: Whassit like?
ROSE: Ohhhhhhhh.
ROSE: Did I srsly, omg.
ROSE: With Kayanya??
ROSE: Omg.
ROSE: *blusshh*
DAVE: you totally did
ROSE: Gooooo meeeee!!!
ROSE: ;)
DAVE: it looked really awkward from the outside but who am i to judge
ROSE: I sduddnenly unnerstand jack evreything.
ROSE: Allllllll the altrenative realolities, are cmoming into focus.
DAVE: pretty sure youre just seeing double actually
DAVE: holy shit i cant believe you got this high just off the fumes of your cheapass goldschlager knockoff
ROSE: Appart from whad I acshualllly did, I can jsust tell.
ROSE: That theres, liek, NO WAY I wouldve.
ROSE: Aksed her out.
ROSE: An' I wooddave bin. *Would have, been. DBOUB;LE USHELESS.
ROSE: Id;ve psassed the etnire rest of the voyeurge in a state of udder depsair and slef-imposed isoltation.
ROSE: Unbabele to coifness, my deepest inner lognings.
ROSE: Iffn I hadnet godden, um.
ROSE: Compeltley smhashed first.
ROSE: *hic!*
ROSE: :S
DAVE: of course after you finally asked her out
DAVE: you then spent most of the rest of your relationship that way
ROSE: I KNOOOOW, RGIHT??/???/?
ROSE: I was secretely crrushed out on Naknakaya ever since we frist got on thish louzhy meotoer.
ROSE: For her elgenance and grace, snogfroid udner pressure, and stuff.
ROSE: How ishit fair, that the only optoins were to satay plsasterred,
ROSE: Or to clmam up and, and. Shtare fxidedly at my shhoes.
ROSE: Innstdead of, innto her eyes.
ROSE: Annat her. At her, uhmm. Nvevermmined.
ROSE: What a shtitty chouice.
ROSE: Butt if thass how it hadda be, I regeret nothing.
ROSE: Ass I am prbobaly almosht sure Trawl Will Shmith said,
ROSE: Bedder to have lvoved an;d um, fallen down the shtairs repteatedly,
ROSE: Than nvevr to have loved atall.
DAVE: ok aside from what it means to lvove someone
DAVE: and who actually said the quote that i seriously doubt is a quote
DAVE: are you sure it had to be that way
DAVE: like staring down alternative timelines and ways things could have been if youd chosen differently
DAVE: isnt that terezis gig
ROSE: Mbabye. Id like to knnow,, what Tetrissi woudlve shed.
DAVE: honestly
DAVE: if youd asked her
DAVE: i bet shed have given you several latrines worth of shit about it
DAVE: and then might have offered to be your wing woman
DAVE: since you so obviously needed one
ROSE: :D
DAVE: then again
DAVE: she had her own messed up addiction issues by that time
ROSE: ...ohh yaeahh.
ROSE: :(

==>

DAVE: but seriously
DAVE: this is the same thing i was just talking about earlier
DAVE: youre the fucking seer goddess of light
DAVE: what the hell cant you do in this game
DAVE: and how come you have to take your courage in liquid form
DAVE: ask yourself why kanaya put up with you so long in what wed both be generous to describe as a heavily adulterated state
DAVE: could it be
DAVE: i dunno im throwing spitballs here
DAVE: because she is in fact waiting for unadulterated you
DAVE: the one she first had that troll emotion called friendship for
ROSE: Aww Dvave.
ROSE: Youre like. Braking my heart.
ROSE: :,,,(
DAVE: tbh you probably broke hers
DAVE: or pump muffin or whatever
DAVE: ive never done it myself but heres another way i made up just now
DAVE: whats the worst that could have happened if you had just marched up to her stone cold sober and fucking told her how you felt
DAVE: it didnt need to be shakespearean sonnets or some shit
DAVE: it just needed to give her the lay of the land
DAVE: and whether she took you to the land of the lay was up to her
ROSE: "Lannd ofthe, of thelay.'"' Eheheheh. Saw whatyou did thre.
ROSE: Kind of, werid tlaking abt this w\ you.
ROSE: You make it shound, ahem. Sssound, ssso, easy.
ROSE: An' it kidna makesssKankaya shound eazhy too. Wihch, she defnitiely is not.
DAVE: thats uh
DAVE: none of my business really
ROSE: Ezzzackly. Notthat, we need to addhere to obshotlete Earth shtadnards of reltatnoinship conduct.
ROSE: Butteven if we were, the point, ish. *The pnoit is.
ROSE: **The point, is.
ROSE: Thish is the point. Or, woudl be. Is that, iss not, really.
ROSE: None of this sthuff ish easy.
DAVE: yeah no
DAVE: ill give you that
DAVE: it really isnt easy
ROSE: 'Sright. Itsss sfuckin hard, ass.
ROSE: As. Um.
DAVE: OKAAAAY RIGHT so my point is
DAVE: its not complicated either
DAVE: the most important and hardest part is
DAVE: to remove any and all plausible deniability
ROSE: Whaa?
ROSE: Wha partof,it whould I want to deny?

==>

DAVE: that first time you got trashed while waiting for kanaya
DAVE: you were stage whispering to me about how not a date it was
DAVE: you kept on denying it was a date until she was standing in front of you all slurping on surprise noodles
DAVE: about why you were lounging around in formalwear drinking alone
DAVE: instead of hanging out in the common area with her
DAVE: presumably because if she reacted badly you might not even have remembered in the morning
ROSE: Oww.
ROSE: Thass like *hic!* TLOTTALLY not fair.
ROSE: Wahhaat the HELLLLLL Daavve.
DAVE: ok then lets pretend im not being fair for a second
DAVE: so suppose the hard part was asking her out in the first place
ROSE: 'Cuz it was! F'r reeaals.
ROSE: Jeeeezzz.
DAVE: then after that first time
DAVE: if the hard part of asking her out was over and done with
DAVE: why did you never show up to another date sober
ROSE: .,...
ROSE: ...,,mm.
ROSE: ...rrngghh.
DAVE: i mean it shouldve been cruisy
DAVE: youd ended the big shipping embargo so just
DAVE: open up all eight lanes and start shoveling the freight right
ROSE: Isss just that, evrey time I woke up.
ROSE: Id rembebmebr aaallllll the shtupid things I said the ngiht before.
ROSE: Adn I wondred, what shed think of me.
DAVE: and the solution was clearly to prime yourself to say lots more stupid things next time you saw her
ROSE: ...fffffff.
ROSE: Gob dambit Daeve.
DAVE: have you considered that maybe
DAVE: our mom might have felt the same way
ROSE: Lveave her outtoff thish!!
DAVE: but hey if the way to get the most out of alien dating is to knock yourself out almost literally every time
DAVE: far be it from me to dissuade you
DAVE: i mean kanaya had never even dated a human before so how was she to know
DAVE: but this is just cause and effect
DAVE: and it doesnt sound like the effect was what you had in mind
ROSE: Nooooo!!!1!!!*HIC*!!11!!!
ROSE: It wansnt!!
ROSE: Is was crap, Dbave.
ROSE: Imeean, ok. Is was, we had shome nice times.
ROSE: Buddit. Was:nt wat I orgiegnally igmagined.
ROSE: Sho mush potnential that went unrezealized.
ROSE: Becuaese of meeee. Okaay? Id was meeee.
ROSE: Are youou happay? Iv"ve got, no moore scuses levft.
ROSE: But. I alllways ment to shtop and. Aploplogize.
ROSE: Aaawwww.
ROSE: *sniff!*
ROSE: Pooor Kakanya. Whyd I.
ROSE: Whyyyyyhyhyhyhyyyy.

> Dave: At least TRY to comfort your maudlin drunk sister.

DAVE: jesus fuck
DAVE: im so not cut out for this but here i goddamn go
DAVE: cmere sis lets hug it out
ROSE: Whad shoubt I *snort* awhaahaaaa.
DAVE: everythings gonna be fine
DAVE: right on my shoulder there
DAVE: just dont get dream snot on my cape or anything
ROSE: Aw Daaive.
ROSE: Do you rly thingk, like.
DAVE: like what
ROSE: That everythiings', gogna be fine.
ROSE: How d'ya knoooooow.
DAVE: its a mystical secret of the knights of the turntable
DAVE: going back to the founding of our sacred order in 413 million bc
DAVE: in fact i might have to kill you now
ROSE: What if, I'mb alrdeady dead.
DAVE: welp less work for me i guess
DAVE: most likely ill be unemployed living in a cardboard box with the mayor
DAVE: which doesnt sound so bad really
ROSE: Heheheheh.
ROSE: Gotta rembember that, nexet time I wakeup.
ROSE: Im'm gonna lkook her shtraight in the eye and shay, *hic!*
ROSE: Imma shay.
KANAYA: !!!

==>

ROSE: *gaspHIC!*
DAVE: god damn it rose

Chapter Text

In your dream, you wander through the warrens in the meteor's depths: first chewed out in the distant past, by some eyeless space worm hunting blindly for nutrients; then pressed into your kind's service, reinforced with Alternian chronomium composite steel, more than five hundred sweeps ago. The halls seem solid enough, but shift unnervingly beneath the weight of your expectations. You keep thinking you'll find the passages shorter, or longer, or better lit. Or with less blood on the walls, of fewer colors.

You have a sense of something vitally important that has been lost forever, but you can't remember what it was. It's been carved out of your think pan and replaced with woolweed fluff. You keep hoping that you'll find it behind one of these doors, and with it, renewed faith in the future. If you have a future. Could you have died protecting it? Or avenging it?

Your sense of urgency mounts as familiar voices speaking in an unfamiliar language cross the threshold of your hearing, reverberating through the branching tunnels. How far away are they, or how near? You break into a run, bounding at full tilt across gantries, wrenching open rusty hatches, scrabbling at the openings of ventilation ducts as you search for the source of the sound. At one point you slash with your chainsaw straight through a cheese critter's nest of cables in your desperation to get through. With luck they won't have been connected to any critical systems. The voices grow stronger, sharper. Laughter. At you?

You wish you could remember.

Until you turn that last corner, into a musty space dimly lit by a few candelabras and the anemic glow of ancient terminals, and come face to face with its occupants.

And then, as the memories come flooding back, you know you'll never have the chance to forget again.

==>

ROSE: Kaynayna!
ROSE: *Kanyana.
ROSE: **Kanaya.
DAVE: (cmoooon)
ROSE: Iiii.
ROSE: *breathe!*
ROSE: I.
ROSE: Love you.

==>

KANAYA: ?!
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: !!!!!
ROSE: ???
DAVE: ...
KANAYA: *Sob*

Chapter Text

ROSE: Oh my god.
ROSE: I'm so sorry, Kanaya.
ROSE: For everything.
ROSE: Including, but not limited to,
ROSE: Being the actual worst matesprit who ever lived.
ROSE: The actual worst.
ROSE: And possibly getting us all killed.
DAVE: (man that sure sobered you up quick)
KANAYA: This Is Such A Contradiction
KANAYA: I Am Still So Incredibly Angry With You
KANAYA: And At The Same Time
KANAYA: So Sorry As Well
KANAYA: That I Couldnt
KANAYA: There Was Nothing I
KANAYA: That Is I Just
KANAYA: You
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: *SobGaspSob!!*

> Rose: At least TRY to comfort your distraught alien girlfriend.

ROSE: Oof! Watch it there, lamplighter, you're pretty strong.
ROSE: Don't break any of my fragile human ribs!
ROSE: There, there. It's going to be okay.
ROSE: We're safe here.
ROSE: For certain values of "safe".
KANAYA: BuhuuhuuhuuhaaaAAAAaAAAAaaaaaaa
ROSE: That's it. Right on my shoulder here.
KANAYA: *Sniffle*
ROSE: Ssshhhhhh.
KANAYA: Www Www Wwwait Rose
KANAYA: Are You Actually
KANAYA: In Control Of Your Faculties
ROSE: More than ever before.
ROSE: And I don't say that without nearly unbearable regret.
ROSE: Ow! Gently, please!
KANAYA: WWWAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLlllllllllllll

==>

ROSE: (Psst. Dave.)
ROSE: (I've never seen her like this before. What else do I do?)
DAVE: (oh so suddenly im the expert on consoling alien girlfriends)
KANAYA: AuuUUGUUURRHGHGHHhghhhghhuhuhuhuhuhhhhh
ROSE: (Any ideas?)
ROSE: (I'm trying so hard, and I'm barely keeping it together myself.)
DAVE: (i think just hanging on to her for a while is a good start)
DAVE: (but other than that youre on your own)
DAVE: (also i disclaim all responsibility for if she dumps you)
KANAYA: HAAAHAAAahahahahhhhhhhh
KANAYA: *Gasp*
KANAYA: AAAAAhuhuHAAAAAaaAAAaaaaa*Hic*AAAAAAAaaaaaaAAAaaaaaaahhhhhh
ROSE: (Thanks.)

> Some indeterminate subjective time units in the future, but not many...

KANAYA: Hhhhhuuuhhhhh
KANAYA: Fffffhhehwwhhwww*Hic*
ROSE: Just hold your breath for a bit and those should go away.
KANAYA: Shut Up Rose
ROSE: Or don't. I guess that doesn't work for rainbow drinkers?
ROSE: Maybe think back to before you had them, I guess.
KANAYA: I Am Seriously Going To Kill You
ROSE: Nothing more romantic than an empty threat.
KANAYA: Dont Think I Wont Try
ROSE: An empty threat, I said, not an idle one.
KANAYA: Double Kill You Then
KANAYA: Or Something
KANAYA: *Hic*
KANAYA: Oh For Fucks Sake
KANAYA: Just Help Me Deal With Some Small Fraction Of These Feelings
KANAYA: They Keep Spilling Out Of My Face In Really Inconvenient Ways
KANAYA: My Rageservoir And Anguish Bladder Are Both Over Capacity
ROSE: Perhaps you can start by telling me what happened.
ROSE: In your timeline.
ROSE: We'll see if it matches up with what I expect.
DAVE: ok have fun ladies
DAVE: later
ROSE: And, of course, with what Dave expects.
DAVE: aaaaand JUST when i thought it was safe to get back to my raps

Chapter Text

KANAYA: Thank You For The Coffee Based Beverage Dave
KANAYA: It Seems To Have A Calming Effect On Me
DAVE: np kanaya
DAVE: weird troll biology ftw
KANAYA: What Did You Call It Again
DAVE: double strider crappuccino
DAVE: i made it up just now
DAVE: ingredients lots of coffee some dubious honey like substance and giving the machine a couple of sweet flying ninja kicks
KANAYA: Right
KANAYA: Anyway Um
KANAYA: I Am Somewhat
KANAYA: Embarrassed By My Earlier Outburst
KANAYA: Not A Very Acrobatic Pirouette Off The Handle
KANAYA: It Was All Just So Overwhelming In The Moment
KANAYA: Even Now I Am Still Very Shaken About The Outcome Of Our Session
KANAYA: And Feel Hesitant To Recount It To You
DAVE: hey who made the rule that you had to be chill all the time
DAVE: like i mean youre chill and all but youre not some kind of ice queen refrigerating a morgue of goddamn penguins or anything
DAVE: some of terezis favorite stories about you were when there was some critical mass of bullshit stopping up the adventure pipes
DAVE: and you would just fucking lose it and chainsaw your way through
DAVE: sounds like kind of a useful trait actually
ROSE: I'll back Dave up here.
ROSE: You're reliable, and usually think things through well beforehand.
ROSE: But you're also one of the most caring people on this meteor.
ROSE: And you have instincts to protect those you care about -- even, when necessary, from themselves.
ROSE: When those kick in, it lends a ferocity to your decisive action that turns the tide while the rest of us equivocate.
ROSE: To be honest, it's something I've always admired about you.
ROSE: I wish I could be that way sometimes.
KANAYA: Are You Not
ROSE: I'm, well.
ROSE: You know me.
KANAYA: To Be Quite Honest Rose
KANAYA: I Sometimes Wonder How Well I Know You At All
KANAYA: By My Count I Have Interacted With At Least Four Distinct Versions Of You Since I First Started Trolling You
KANAYA: And Now It Seems A Fifth May Be Unveiling Herself
ROSE: That's kind of what I mean.
ROSE: I'm not always sure I know myself all that well.
ROSE: For someone with the word "therapist" in their chumhandle.
ROSE: It's almost as if I shield myself from the same parts I shield others from instinctually in conversation.
ROSE: Particularly when it comes to unadorned outward expressions of affection, contrition, or other things that feel, um.
KANAYA: Vulnerable
ROSE: Yes. That's the word.
ROSE: The precise human word.
ROSE: How did you know?
KANAYA: Shockingly Enough It Is A Feeling We Trolls Have As Well
KANAYA: Although For Reasons You Are By Now Intimately Familiar With
KANAYA: Our Culture Tended To Reward Those Who Suppressed It
ROSE: Fair enough.

==>

DAVE: ok this is heartwarming and all
DAVE: but unless youre gonna let me go and get my tight schedule on
DAVE: and lets be clear it is stretched to the max with ill beats and sick rhymes just wheeled into the emergency room
DAVE: can we make with the juicy storytelling yo
KANAYA: Um Okay
KANAYA: Where Do You
KANAYA: Want Me To Start
DAVE: well what i want to know is
DAVE: why the fuck were you so freaked out when you came in
DAVE: i mean those were not noises made by someone who just arrived in a dream bubble from a good place
KANAYA: No They Werent
KANAYA: The Whole Horrible Spectacle Still Bleeds Like An Open Wound
DAVE: see if the stuff that went down is anything like im thinking
DAVE: id be almost more worried if you WERE really chill about it
ROSE: If you will, Kanaya.
ROSE: Start at the beginning.
ROSE: Spare no detail, however dreadful.
ROSE: But take as long as you need to collect yourself, and feel free to pause if you need to re-collect.
ROSE: We'll be here the whole time.
KANAYA: Thank You Rose
DAVE: dammit this is gonna move at the speed of fucking geology isnt it
ROSE: If it needs to.
ROSE: But look on the bright side.
ROSE: At least she seems to remember.
ROSE: The way I didn't, at first.
DAVE: point

==>

KANAYA: Before I Begin Let Me Assess Our Shared Background Knowledge
KANAYA: In Order To Avoid Inordinately Long Recaps Of The Whole Adventure
KANAYA: I Surmise From Your Vestments And The Uncommon Stability And Detail In This Region Of The Bubble
KANAYA: That These Are Your Own Memories Of The Meteor Break Room
KANAYA: Not Just Mine
DAVE: mmhmm
ROSE: That's right.
KANAYA: And Rose
KANAYA: Based On Your Initial Careless Mispronunciations Of My Name
KANAYA: I Take It You Remember Our First Human Style Date
DAVE: oh man
DAVE: i really wouldnt call it human style
DAVE: more like gonzo bathtub gin rose style
KANAYA: Obviously You Remember This Occasion Dave
KANAYA: But I Was Asking Her

==>

ROSE: I remember it all too clearly.
ROSE: I was so unbelievably nervous.
ROSE: I had, as casually as I could, asked you to spend the evening with me.
ROSE: Without, if I recall, giving you any advance plans regarding venue or attire, or telling you I intended it to be a date.
KANAYA: Thats Right
ROSE: Almost immediately I started to second-guess myself.
ROSE: By that time I, um. How shall I put it?
DAVE: she totally had had the hots for you for like at least a year
DAVE: and way overthought it until she imploded
ROSE: Dave. Ahem.
DAVE: yeah whatever just get on with it
ROSE: And I could foresee quite a reasonable chance that you would reciprocate the, um, hots. For me. As it were.
ROSE: Yet I let my mind play too long in the dark spaces where lay rejection, and the inevitable renormalization of my affections.
ROSE: I'm not a Seer of Mind. I can assess probabilities only for events I can name precisely.
ROSE: In contrast to Terezi, who is better at intuiting the structure of branching paths of intention, but doesn't always know the proper weights to assign them.
ROSE: Come to think of it, she'd have made an excellent wing woman.
DAVE: told you so
ROSE: All right, all right.
ROSE: And so I tried to play out, in my head, all the scenarios that might lead to the outcome I so dearly hoped for.
ROSE: Perhaps I conveniently forgot to say it was a date, in order to gather more information and postpone the decision point.
DAVE: this never ends well
DAVE: its like the uber plot for all the shitty romcoms karkat watches
ROSE: Dave.
DAVE: enh
KANAYA: Please Continue Rose
KANAYA: This Is Bringing A Very Different You Into View
KANAYA: And I Find It Highly Relevant To My Own Story
ROSE: Anyway, in the end I found my hands shaking and my stomach upset and my rapier wit blunted and in all ways totally unequal to the task of spending a pleasant evening in your company.
ROSE: I might have cursed my Light aspect a little too literally.
ROSE: And so I hastily concocted what I hoped would be a light tonic of Void essence, that might help dull the edge of what Dave calls my "overthinking."
ROSE: I might not have calibrated that tonic very well.
ROSE: Because in the end I felt very relaxed, but unable to process probability or risk in any meaningful way.
DAVE: she got so fucked up i could not belieeeeeve it
KANAYA: Yes Dave I Think We Have Thoroughly Established That
ROSE: Thank you, firefly.
KANAYA: And Dont Call Me Firefly Just Yet
KANAYA: Or Any Other Luminance Based Terms Of Endearment
KANAYA: Right Now We Are Excavating Some Serious Exoskeletons Out Of The Hallway Storage Recess
DAVE: oh so this isnt geology its fucking closet archaeology
ROSE: *sigh*

==>

KANAYA: This Was A Fascinating Confession That I Did Not Exactly Expect
KANAYA: And I Can Begin To See Why Your Experimental Soporifics Affected You In The Way That They Did
KANAYA: And How You Might Have Come To Depend On Them
KANAYA: I Can Only Assume That Once The Effects Wore Off
KANAYA: You Went Right Back To Overthinking Things
ROSE: That is, unfortunately, exactly what happened.
ROSE: In fact, I might have started over-overthinking.
KANAYA: And Then It Kept Happening
ROSE: It didn't stop from being a thing that kept happening.
ROSE: The anxiety pile just continued getting taller.
ROSE: Each time I woke up with just enough memories of things I had said the night before to worry about your opinion of me.
ROSE: And these past-looking anxieties joined forces with the forward-looking anxieties I had about the upcoming battle royale.
ROSE: It was easier to drown myself in the Void than face all that.
ROSE: At the time.
KANAYA: Even My Extensive Troll Vocabulary Is Inadequate To Express
KANAYA: How Near The Brim With Sorrow And Disappointment This Fills Me
KANAYA: I Went So Long Assuming You Were Merely Irresponsible If Charming
KANAYA: If Only You Had Trusted Me Enough To Tell Me All Of This Before
KANAYA: And More Importantly
KANAYA: Before We Reached The End Of Our Journey On The Meteor
ROSE: I just. Ah.
ROSE: I didn't think you'd understand.
ROSE: I thought it was just a Light problem.
ROSE: Or, more likely, a Rose problem.
ROSE: I just thought the Right Thing To Say ought to have been obvious.
ROSE: And I couldn't understand why it wasn't.
KANAYA: Rose Problems Are Exactly The Kind I Would Want To Help You With
KANAYA: But I Can Imagine How Heroes Of Light Might Be Unusually Prone To This Kind Of Calculation
KANAYA: Vriska Never Seemed So Troubled But Then Again
KANAYA: She Simply Stole The Luck To Make Things Break Her Way
KANAYA: Without Much Heed Paid To The Consequences For Anyone Else
KANAYA: And Consequently Never Had Reason To Believe She Could Fail
KANAYA: You Know Failure Is Possible But View It As Unacceptable
KANAYA: Even When Consequences Are Relatively Modest
KANAYA: And That Is A Difficult Place To Proceed From
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Yeah.
ROSE: I suppose so.
KANAYA: And Another Thing
KANAYA: For Someone So Concerned With Agency
KANAYA: Not Giving Me The Opportunity To React To You As You Speak Now
KANAYA: Is The Same Thing As Denying Me The Choice To Be With You
ROSE: Oof.
ROSE: It's hard to hear it from someone else, but it rings true.
ROSE: I'm sorry, Kanaya.
DAVE: how is all that not what ive been saying to you THIS WHOLE TIME
DAVE: except with like 20 TIMES AS MANY WORDS
KANAYA: Dave If You Continue To Interrupt The Juicy Storytelling Yo
KANAYA: This Entire Process Will Only Take Longer
DAVE: omfg

==>

ROSE: So, Kanaya.
ROSE: Do you think you would have understood?
ROSE: Do you ever feel like this?
ROSE: You're a wordy, kind of snarky person too.
ROSE: In fact, our entire initial rapport was based on that.
KANAYA: To An Extent This Is True
KANAYA: I Take Care To Be Precise In My Delineations Of All Things
KANAYA: But I Am Not Naturally Snarky Or Ironic
KANAYA: I Treasure My Memories Of Our First Lessons In The Subject
KANAYA: In Which I Learned To Put Snark On Like A Finely Tailored Dress
KANAYA: One I Could Always Shed Later When More Comfort Was Desired
KANAYA: And I Feel This Attitude Has Served Me Well
KANAYA: There Is A Sense In Which I Have Done The Same With Our Dysfunctional Alternian Culture Regarding Vulnerability
KANAYA: Without Which Trust Is Shallow
KANAYA: It Is An Enduring Paradox For Any Social Creature
KANAYA: That You Can Have Faith That Someone Will Not Hurt You
KANAYA: Only In Proportion To The Opportunities You Give Them To Do So
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: And On That Note Played By Desolation
KANAYA: Perhaps It Is Time To Dig Further Into More Recent Events

Chapter Text

KANAYA: Given The Events We Have Covered So Far
KANAYA: You Can Imagine How Organized We Were Likely To Be Upon Arrival
KANAYA: I Begged Rose Not To Be Intoxicated At The Time
KANAYA: A Promise She Made To Me And Subsequently Broke
KANAYA: Terezi Never Made Any Such Promise And Was Impossible To Find
KANAYA: And I Thought It Just As Well That Gamzee Did Not Show Himself
DAVE: yeah the only real thing to say about him is
DAVE: fuck that guy
ROSE: With a chainsaw.

==>

KANAYA: After This Many Details Become Somewhat Muddled
KANAYA: Owing To
KANAYA: Some Strange Floating
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: I Suppose You Might Call Them Obfuscations In Our Session
DAVE: oh yeah
DAVE: that garbage was so messed up what even was that
KANAYA: So You Are Familiar With This Phenomenon
DAVE: it was super weird
DAVE: even by sburb standards where the word weird has basically become meaningless
DAVE: it just sort of made my eyeballs slide off of things
DAVE: though if you stared directly at it and squinted hard you could see like these jpeg artifacts covering everything
DAVE: same with sound everything sounded like it was being filtered through pesterlive at a really low bit rate and then distorted
DAVE: the whole place smelled like rancid grist and stale reaction gifs
DAVE: tbh id be way less creeped out if skaia was a huge sbahj fan and our entire endgame was plagiarized from the holiday special
DAVE: like with the final boss mounted on unreal air with a SORD and wearing conksuck armor made of gingerbread or whatever
DAVE: it would almost feel like something had gone right for a change
KANAYA: Rose Did You Encounter This Issue At All
ROSE: Indeed, it was one of the more enduring problems of our endgame.
ROSE: So we all seem to hail from parallel timelines, at least, if not the exact same one.
ROSE: I guess that's reassuring? We're unlikely to break anything at this point by sharing information.
ROSE: So, I want to hear more about your experiences, especially if either of you found a way to fix this problem.
DAVE: nah we were hosed
DAVE: and i mean like
DAVE: sprayed down with a firemans rig filled with battery acid and then left out to flail around and dissolve while the big bads had a maniacal chortle
DAVE: we never figured out what the fuck it actually was
DAVE: most we ever knew was that john could sort of blow it around
DAVE: but he was always on the run from evil dog jade so he could never clear out an area for more than a few minutes
DAVE: god that was annoying
ROSE: This is also consistent with my understanding. Namely, that whatever these disturbances are, they couple closely enough to the game-physical plane for John to influence them directly.
ROSE: And that the obscuration may have been merely epistemic, not metaphysical; that the obscured things still exist.
DAVE: yeah that all sounds plausible
DAVE: seriously we shouldve just alchemized a giant fan or something
ROSE: And Evil Dog Jade, huh.
KANAYA: I Am Just Getting To That Part

==>

KANAYA: I Regret To Report That We Found No Solution Either
KANAYA: And So We Were Isolated From Each Other On Different Planets Throughout The New Session We Had Barely Become Acquainted With
KANAYA: Unable To Coordinate With Each Other
KANAYA: And Continually Uncertain Of Shifting Conditions On The Ground
KANAYA: So We Stumbled Around On Your Ecto Sister The Space Players Planet Until She Eventually Located And Accosted Us
ROSE: I don't think we're directly ecto-related, but go on.
KANAYA: She Explained Their Intentions Directly
KANAYA: Namely
KANAYA: To Hijack Our Session And Its Ultimate Fruits For Themselves
KANAYA: And To Repopulate The Resulting Universe With Trolls
KANAYA: It Appears She Had Fallen Under The Influence Of The Condesce
KANAYA: Who Intends To Revive The Alternian Empire
DAVE: oh my god she would NOT shut up about swordfighting me
DAVE: so i could train to beat lord english for her or some shit
DAVE: so she was all like "come at me future dave"
DAVE: and then he totally failed to show
DAVE: i have never been prouder of my future self
DAVE: also that stupid welsh sword has an egg in it
ROSE: An egg.
DAVE: omfg nevermind that must be so irrelevant
KANAYA: Anyway
KANAYA: I Explained To Her That I Was Unimpressed With Their Aspirations And Their Methods As Well As Their Overall Competence
KANAYA: After Threatening Me And Karkat With Overly Dramatic And Frankly Banal Instruments Of Coercion
KANAYA: She Suddenly Absconded In Response To An Urgent Summons
DAVE: i bet i know what comes next

==>

KANAYA: Having No Better Plan We Bided Our Time In The Forest
KANAYA: But Soon Had To Move On After A Fire Broke Out Near Our Position
KANAYA: Upon Emerging From The Forest We Found That The Lakeside Area Near The Forge Had Become A Chaotic Battlefield
KANAYA: In The Throes Of What I Can Only Describe As Internecine Warfare
ROSE: They are stubborn throes.
DAVE: alright finally maybe well get some answers
DAVE: what the fresh hell was going on
DAVE: and how much more boned was your timeline than mine
KANAYA: The Tableau Was Complex And Our Vantage Point Limited
KANAYA: Containing Most Of The Players From All Of Our Sessions
KANAYA: And Visible To All Was Her Imperial Condescensions Flagship
DAVE: yeah ok thats pretty boned
KANAYA: Since I Lack The Power Of Flight And Many Other Powers
KANAYA: There Was No Way For Me To Directly Challenge The Condesce
KANAYA: So At First I Focused Only On The Conflicts I Could Access
KANAYA: Most Notably
KANAYA: Gamzee Molesting Terezi On An Unstable Looking Piece Of Broken Building Floating In A Pool Of Fresh Lava
DAVE: yeah that was what was left of jades house
KANAYA: It Must Have Been
DAVE: and it fell on her
KANAYA: That I Did Not Realize
KANAYA: Is That What Happened
KANAYA: Did You Find Her And Was She Okay
DAVE: she was dead as a dead girl who cant get a fucking break in a homicidal video game and just got killed for the
DAVE: uh
DAVE: you know i lost count how many times had she died by then
DAVE: still not as many times as me but that is seriously not a contest i feel like winning
KANAYA: Did She Not Go Through God Tier Revival Then
DAVE: what do you think
DAVE: after we just called her evil dog jade
KANAYA: That Sounds Every Bit As Bad As I Had Feared
KANAYA: A Brief Tactical Success But A Dire Strategic Failure
DAVE: i showed up after it happened so im not in a position to judge exactly how just her desserts were
DAVE: like a sweet vengeance parfait or a karmic sundae or what
DAVE: in fact i still had no idea what was going on mostly
KANAYA: Me Neither
KANAYA: Except For My Small Part Of It

==>

DAVE: so enough of that shit lets get back to terezi
DAVE: last i saw her she was kicking that hellclowns sorry ass about 99 ways to sunday and chainsaws werent one yet
KANAYA: She Might Have Been At One Point
KANAYA: But The Tide Had Turned By The Time Karkat And I Arrived
KANAYA: And The Hellclown Definitely Had The Upper Hand
KANAYA: Karkat Was Overcome With Anger And Foolishly Charged Him Over Open Ground With Weapon Drawn
KANAYA: He Was The First To Fall In That Engagement
DAVE: oh god karkat
DAVE: what did you do that for
DAVE: you dweeb you know you cant just fucking rush in with no plan
ROSE: It sounds like exactly what you did, actually.
DAVE: what
ROSE: What you admitted to doing, even.
DAVE: no that was so obviously different
ROSE: Mmhmm.
KANAYA: So
KANAYA: There Was No Time Or Space For Appropriate Mourning Rituals
KANAYA: With The Fresh Blood Of A Dear Companion On His Hands Once More
KANAYA: Removing Gamzee Permanently From The Action Became More Urgent
KANAYA: Terezi Was Cowering In Fear And Self Loathing As I Imagine Fit Their Dysfunctional Kismetic Script
KANAYA: But I Understand The Danger Gamzee Poses And I Resolved To Meet That Danger As Best I Knew How
KANAYA: With A Surgical Strike Leveraging My Rainbow Drinker Speed And Agility To Overwhelm Him
DAVE: wait
DAVE: do you mean you charged him too
KANAYA: Well
KANAYA: Not Um
KANAYA: Not Exactly
DAVE: i can just tell
DAVE: you totally charged him didnt you
DAVE: holy shit we got a roomful of tactical geniuses here
ROSE: The prosecution rests.
DAVE: rose i know you can burn me sicker than that
DAVE: also thats totally terezis line
DAVE: come on youre not even trying here
ROSE: You think we can let her finish her story first?
KANAYA: We Are Rapidly Approaching The Point In My Timeline Where Everything Assumed The Morphology Of A Bulbous Treefruit
KANAYA: I Am Not Eager To Relive Those Moments
KANAYA: But If I Must I Would Rather Do So Sooner Than Later
DAVE: ok but rose owes me a sick burn later
DAVE: that one didnt look even slightly unwell

==>

KANAYA: As I Picked Up Speed I Began To Feel Oddly Drowsy
KANAYA: I Stumbled And Almost Fell Into The Lava But Shook It Off
KANAYA: I Was Then Astonished Upon Reaching The Threshold Of The Arena To Find Myself Completely Immobilized
KANAYA: My Entire Body Went Rigid As If Held In An Oversized Clamp
KANAYA: With The Awful Hoorliquan Barely An Arms Length Out Of My Reach
KANAYA: Naturally He Began To Gloat Immediately By Prancing About Just Outside My Weapons Range
KANAYA: Terezi Was Unfortunately Still Too Distraught To Take This Opening
DAVE: man that must have been infuriating
KANAYA: A Woeful Understatement
DAVE: so how did that play out then
DAVE: i didnt see any of this i had my own issues by then
KANAYA: At First I Was Merely Further Enraged And Struggled Against My Unseen Bonds
KANAYA: My Rage Dissolved Into Shock At Seeing Rose Suddenly Intervene With A Thunderbolt Calling For The Abuse To End
KANAYA: As Any Auspistice Worth Their Saline Crystals Ought To Have Done
ROSE: Ugh, I was the actual worst auspistice as well as the worst matesprit on that meteor.
KANAYA: You Should Have Intervened Much Earlier
ROSE: I had a feeling you'd say that.
KANAYA: I Was Relieved When You Finally Did
KANAYA: At Least Until Gamzee Stopped Abusing Terezi
KANAYA: And Started Abusing Me Instead

==>

ROSE: ...
DAVE: jesus christ kanaya
DAVE: no wonder you sounded so fucked up
KANAYA: It Wasnt As Frightening To Me As It Must Have Been To Terezi
KANAYA: I Never Gave In To Gamzees Pathetic Tactics Before And I Wasnt About To Start Then
KANAYA: Despite Being Immobilized I Knew I Was Strong Enough To Withstand The Physical Dimension Of His Punishment For A While
KANAYA: And Did Not Expect Him to Terminate Me Immediately
KANAYA: I Was Actually Much More Afraid For Rose
KANAYA: Because I Could See That Gamzee Was Trying To Bait Her Into Doing Something As Rash As What Karkat And I Had Done
KANAYA: She Knew It Was Unsafe To Attempt To Intervene By Melee
KANAYA: But She Couldnt Get A Clean Shot At My Tormentor From Her Position Without Potentially Doing Equal Damage To Me
KANAYA: I Believe You Would Call Me A Trollian Shield
DAVE: fuuuuuuck
KANAYA: Thus Every Blow That Landed On Me Must Have Been Magnified A Hundredfold In Roses Eyes
KANAYA: He Might Have Paused A Few Times To Lick The Blood From My Wounds
KANAYA: As Another Way Of Taunting Both Of Us And Terezi
DAVE: SERIOUSLY
KANAYA: And Then
DAVE: yeah
KANAYA: Then
DAVE: YEAH
KANAYA: Then She
DAVE: COME ON WHAT

==>

KANAYA: I Saw The Most Shocking Transformation Come Over Her
KANAYA: All At Once She Was Enveloped In A Corona Of Black Flame
KANAYA: As Her Skin Quickly Charred To The Color Of Ashes
KANAYA: Her Eyes Rolled Back In Her Head
KANAYA: And She Shrieked With An Unholy Fury I Have Only Ever Heard Alluded To In Cautionary Tales To Wrigglers
KANAYA: About The Horrorterrors
DAVE: are you fucking kidding me
ROSE: I know what must have happened. But please keep going.
DAVE: jesus i thought "grimdark" was just a figure of speech
ROSE: Why don't we just park that train of thought for now.
DAVE: how much does it cost to park there
DAVE: because unless its right on the goddamn train line to explanation city i guarantee you its way overpriced
ROSE: Just keep going, Kanaya.
DAVE: nnnrrrhhghh
KANAYA: With A Snarl And An Incantation In What Sounded Like The Sacred Tongue Of The Dark Cosmic Ocean Which Is Forbidden For Lowbloods To Even Hear
KANAYA: She Pointed Her Wand At Gamzees Feet
KANAYA: Rather Than The Expected Lightning Bolt
KANAYA: The Surface He Was
KANAYA: Standing On
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: Sprouted Jet Black Thorny Tentacles
KANAYA: That Looked More Like Rents In The Air Than Anything Material
KANAYA: These Wrapped Themselves Around Gamzees Body
KANAYA: And Within A Split Second Dragged Him Down
KANAYA: As Though He Had Stepped Into Lightning Sands
KANAYA: I Saw No More Of Him
DAVE: asshole better have got what he had coming

==>

KANAYA: I Was Unaware That God Tier Heroes Of Light Were So Fearsome
ROSE: Obviously that wasn't a Light attack, Kanaya.
ROSE: I'll explain later. Can you keep going, please?
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: Rose
KANAYA: I Have Been Angry With You Before
KANAYA: And Confused By You
KANAYA: And Hurt By You
KANAYA: And Afraid For You Or On Your Behalf
KANAYA: But In That Moment
KANAYA: I Was The Most Afraid I Have Ever Been Of You
KANAYA: At Least Since I Found You Methodically Dismantling Your Planet
KANAYA: Where You Gave Only A Hint Of The Unhinged Destruction At Your Hands That I Later Witnessed
KANAYA: As Someone Who Doesnt Scare Easily
KANAYA: That Was Utterly Terrifying
KANAYA: I Wasnt Sure It Was Still You
ROSE: Do you need to take a moment?
KANAYA: I
KANAYA: Um
KANAYA: I Might Need More Coffee
ROSE: Come to think of it, I might need some too.
DAVE: three crappuccinos it is then
DAVE: ill be right back

==>

ROSE: While Dave is so kindly getting us our coffee:
ROSE: What did I do after that?
KANAYA: You Turned And Started Flying Up Towards The Ruins Of Jades House
KANAYA: I Couldnt See What Was Up There Until I Felt Myself Being Lifted
KANAYA: Still Struggling
KANAYA: And Positioned To Hover Directly Above The Mouth Of The Forge
KANAYA: From This High Vantage Point I Had A Perfect View Of The Rest Of The Battle
KANAYA: Though It Was Clear I Could Be Dropped Into The Flames At Any Time
ROSE: And what did you see?
KANAYA: I Saw You Exchange A Few Meaningful Gestures With Someone
KANAYA: Who Pointed At Me
KANAYA: Whereupon You Looked Back In My Direction
KANAYA: And Then
KANAYA: Grew Several More Black Tentacles Out Of Your Back
KANAYA: And Charged The Condesce
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Really.
ROSE: Why would I have done that?
KANAYA: It Seemed Suicidal
KANAYA: But I Had The Impression I Was Still A Hostage
KANAYA: To Ensure Your Good Behavior Or Cooperation
KANAYA: I Understood Then That It Was Still You After All
KANAYA: And So I Vacillated Once More Between Fearing You
KANAYA: And Fearing For You
KANAYA: While Fending Off Both Apoplexy And Despair
ROSE: Was I really that scary?
ROSE: Haven't you had contact with the Noble Circle before?
KANAYA: Remember That In Our Session Only Feferi Had Direct Contact With Them
KANAYA: And Even She Was A Supplicant To The Least Among Them
KANAYA: For The Rest Of Us The Horrorterrors Were A Genocidal Time Bomb
KANAYA: As Exemplified By Gl'bgolyb Whose Glub Could End All Life
KANAYA: And My Matesprit Had Just
KANAYA: Become One
ROSE: Not exactly, but close enough, maybe.
ROSE: Aren't rainbow drinkers supposed to be feared by trolls as well?
KANAYA: Thats Completely Different
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Is this where I should offer you another human hug?
KANAYA: I Believe That I
KANAYA: That I Would Like That Yes
KANAYA: When I Have Finished

==>

ROSE: So did I win?
KANAYA: You
KANAYA: Fought Bravely
ROSE: Ah.
KANAYA: The Offensive You Mounted Was Worthy Of Our Sessions Black King
KANAYA: The Multitude Of Dark Tendrils Writhing From Your Back
KANAYA: From Your Face
KANAYA: From Holes Ripped In Space Itself At Right Angles To Turnways
KANAYA: It Made Me Nauseous To Watch
KANAYA: Pinned As I Was In Midair Above The Lake Of Fire
KANAYA: You Blinked In and Out Of Existence
KANAYA: Attacked From Seventeen Different Nowheres Simultaneously
KANAYA: Rained Down Hails Of Blows Upon The Condesce
KANAYA: I Honestly Thought
KANAYA: For A Little While
KANAYA: That You Might Win
KANAYA: But I Had No Idea What Would Become Of Us All If You Did
ROSE: How did I lose, then?
KANAYA: Your Treacherous Opponent Feinted
KANAYA: And You Strayed Too Close To A Field Of Raw Energy Being Emitted By The New Sessions Hero Of Hope
KANAYA: The Subsequent Explosive Reaction Between His Hope Field And Your Coruscating Blackness
KANAYA: I Suppose It Must Have Been A Void Field
KANAYA: Knocked You Both Out Long Enough For The Condesce to End You

==>

ROSE: A pity.
ROSE: What happened then?
KANAYA: Having Almost Perfect Recall Until Your Demise
KANAYA: I Passed The Remainder Of The Battle In A Haze Of Grief And Confusion
KANAYA: The Other Occupants Of The Battlefield Having Also Been Slain
KANAYA: Including The New Sessions Maid Of Life
KANAYA: Who Could Have Provided A Pathway To Revival
KANAYA: The Figure You Spoke With Was The Last One Standing Before Her Imperial Condescension
KANAYA: She Too Put Up Prodigious Resistance
KANAYA: Flinging Entire Planets Around As Though They Were Trifles
KANAYA: I Think She Had Forgotten About Me Entirely
KANAYA: But In The End She Fell And Was Cast Into The Lava
KANAYA: And I With Her
ROSE: ...
KANAYA: As I Plummeted Into The Volcano I Was Still Too Overwhelmed
KANAYA: To Accept That There Would Be No New Universe
KANAYA: No Recovery Of The Matriorb And Of My Species
KANAYA: No Future Domestic Life With A Devoted And Courageous Matesprit
KANAYA: Only Death
KANAYA: It Has Taken Me Until Now To Fully Absorb That Truth
ROSE: ...
KANAYA: I Feel So Weak And Small
ROSE: Oh, darling Kanaya.
ROSE: You're stronger than I was.
ROSE: By a lot.

Chapter Text

DAVE: three ventis and ive punched your loyalty cards so your next orders will be on the house
DAVE: also we hope youll rate our service five shrugs on welp
ROSE: Thanks, Dave.
KANAYA: Thank You
DAVE: ...
DAVE: ...
DAVE: ...
DAVE: uh
DAVE: you want me to go get some sugar
ROSE: No thanks, Dave.
DAVE: or like non dairy creamer or some shit
DAVE: or i dunno powdered grub flavoring or whatever trolls use
KANAYA: No Thanks Dave
DAVE: i mean im pretty sure we had some in the back
ROSE: It's okay. Just sit down here with us.
KANAYA: Yes Please
DAVE: ok
DAVE: ...
ROSE: ...
KANAYA: ...

> Dave: Break uncomfortable silence.

DAVE: so uh
DAVE: what did i miss
DAVE: if anything
ROSE: Well, let's see.
ROSE: I think last you heard, I had gone grimdark and disposed of Gamzee.
ROSE: According to Kanaya, I then apparently attacked the Condesce.
DAVE: did you win
ROSE: I'll give you a hint:
ROSE: No.
DAVE: fffffuuuuuuu
ROSE: But it sounds like I came pretty close.
DAVE: let me guess she was still stuck the whole goddamn time
DAVE: and couldnt do anything but watch you get killed
KANAYA: Yes
KANAYA: In Fact You Might Say
KANAYA: I Had A Front Row Seat Reserved For Me
DAVE: aw kanaya
DAVE: ...
DAVE: i know were really different
DAVE: since youre like
DAVE: a nigh indestructible lesbian space vampire or something
DAVE: and i just try not to trip over my own sword too many times but
DAVE: in this case
DAVE: i think i know exactly how you feel
KANAYA: Thanks Dave

> Kanaya: Demand Some Answers.


DAVE: so like
DAVE: are you two cool now
DAVE: any more anxiety zombies need excavating
ROSE: Well, there's still a lot I don't understand about Kanaya's account.
KANAYA: What I Want Is For You To Explain Grimdarkness First
KANAYA: Is This An Isolated Incident Or A Recurring Condition
KANAYA: Or Does That Even Matter In Our Current State
DAVE: oh look heres a parking meter im not gonna feed anymore either
DAVE: i mean i didnt really want to know my best sis was a weresquid but it sounds like you should alchemize a medical bracelet
KANAYA: Weresquid
KANAYA: You Have A Name For This
KANAYA: Is Grimdarkness A Rare Disorder Of Humans Then
DAVE: no its like
DAVE: looks like rose but she turns into a squid on like a full moon at midnight in a crow infested graveyard after eating a raw virgin or something metal like that
DAVE: usually its wolves but dunno why it couldnt be squids too
ROSE: *facepalm*
DAVE: ah fuck it im not making any sense
DAVE: i mean like jade ok think about how jade was last time you saw her but also how she was before
KANAYA: Oh I See
KANAYA: You Must Mean Satellite Switchers
KANAYA: Yes That Is Kind Of What Im Talking About
KANAYA: But Less Romantic Than Our Troll Literary Tradition Would Portray Them
KANAYA: And More Ineffable And Deadly
DAVE: they even have special high school editions so like rose could be the michael j fox of awkward supernatural teen squids worrying about who she would ask to prom and getting ink everywhere
DAVE: holy shit that analogy is way banger on than i realized at first im suddenly starting to see why john likes these movies
ROSE: I'm just fine, thank you. Haven't eaten any virgins lately.
ROSE: But I'm not entirely surprised to hear that happened again.
KANAYA: Again
ROSE: Do you remember when my timeline blanked out of Trollian?
ROSE: That was the state I was in.
KANAYA: Oh
KANAYA: What Brought It On
ROSE: A death in the family.
KANAYA: You Turn Into A Weresquid Every Time Someone You Care About Dies
ROSE: No, of course not; there were enabling factors.
ROSE: My frustration with our null session.
ROSE: My lack of suitable outlets for that frustration, and for my grief over the loss of a loved one. At Jack's hands.
ROSE: Possibly the conjunction of Derse with several uncharted dead stars.
ROSE: A timely push from a malevolent agent whose identity remains shrouded in mystery.
KANAYA: And The Fact That It Happened Again Suggests That Under Certain Conditions You Become Vulnerable To These Dark Influences
ROSE: It would seem so.
ROSE: In my research on the meteor I discovered certain scholarly works on SBURB game mechanics, posted on the same servers where I submitted my walk-through.
ROSE: They comment on an abstruse set of duality relationships called "inversion theory", tying our Classes and Aspects together in opposed pairs.
ROSE: As a Light player, I seem to be susceptible to channeling the Void aspect on occasion simply for this reason.
KANAYA: And If You Had Been Imbibing Distilled Void Essence For Some Time
DAVE: and if a purple juggalo in a two boondollar cod tier cosplay was beating the shit out of your hot alien prom date in front of you
KANAYA: Um Yes That Too I Guess
ROSE: Quite.
ROSE: This all served as psychological tinder, as it were.
ROSE: But the threat to your safety, Kanaya, was the match that lit the black flame, and it was the Bard of Rage who struck it.
ROSE: My subsequent actions and abilities as you described them sounded like a reasonable match for a god-tier Witch of Void.
ROSE: I'm not certain Gamzee knew that's what he was getting into, but very little would surprise me about that clown anymore.
KANAYA: But
KANAYA: What Does This Mean For Us Now
KANAYA: Is Grimdark Rose Still You
KANAYA: Who Is The Real Rose
DAVE: oof

==>

ROSE: Grimdark Rose couldn't be anyone other than me.
ROSE: But she isn't all of me.
ROSE: All the other Roses you met were me too.
ROSE: It's bleakly humorous, the way internal struggles can make us appear so alienated from ourselves and others that our instinct is to dissociate from them.
KANAYA: But You Have To Admit That --
ROSE: No, this multiple-Rose thing has gotten out of hand.
ROSE: You've had access to my entire timeline since before I met you.
ROSE: You could see all the way back to my most formative moments.
ROSE: I've always been that girl with the squid on her shirt, black gloss on her lips and a grimoire at the root node of her sylladex.
ROSE: I've always been that girl that pushes too hard at the edges of what paradox space deems acceptable knowledge.
ROSE: That's me. You've always known those things about me.
ROSE: And they've never stopped you from caring before.
KANAYA: Then What Should I --
ROSE: Stay with me is what.
ROSE: The worst has already happened, so it isn't as though I can be a tactical liability to you anymore.
KANAYA: How Am I Supposed To Look After You
ROSE: Just understand that this may happen to me from time to time.
ROSE: Don't think it is somehow your fault, or that my feelings for you have changed. And know that somehow I'll return to you.
ROSE: Just stay with me, with a steady hand and heart, till I come back.
ROSE: That's the most I can ask of you, and it's all you need to do.
ROSE: Can you do that for me, Kanaya?
KANAYA: ...
DAVE: shit kanaya you see any cards up her sleeve
DAVE: cause it sure looks to me like theyre all on the table
DAVE: and damn if it isnt a lot of cards but theyre all face up
DAVE: also you know i dont usually give unsolicited dating advice
DAVE: but i figure a weresquid is probably a pretty good catch for a space vampire

==>

KANAYA: Of Course I Will
KANAYA: But Rose Please Promise Me
KANAYA: In View Of The Influences You Have Control Over
KANAYA: That Youll Give Up The Void Essence Once And For All
ROSE: That would seem like a fair trade, even if our relationship was purely transactional.
ROSE: I promise.
DAVE: and ill hold her to it
KANAYA: Thank You

Chapter Text

ROSE: So.
ROSE: My duel with the Condesce certainly sounds like the kind of thing that might happen in a doomed timeline.
ROSE: But not necessarily irretrievable.
ROSE: Can either of you tell me anything else about the battle?
DAVE: fucked if i know
DAVE: i was so jacked i couldnt see anything else but the next stabby thing coming at me
DAVE: but yeah if you me and kanaya were all taken out
DAVE: this timeline is sounding more and more like doomsville
KANAYA: My Impressions Of The Rest Of The Battle Are Somewhat Spotty
KANAYA: But I Will Tell You What I Can

==>

KANAYA: When I Arrived And Saw Gamzee Battering Terezi
KANAYA: Another Figure In Form Fitting Nethergear Was Attempting To Intervene
KANAYA: His God Tier Uniform Bore The Symbol Of Hope
ROSE: That would have been Jade's grandpa.
KANAYA: The Hateclown Carried On As Though Nobody Else Was Present
KANAYA: The Hero Of Hope While Well Meaning Was Not Particularly Assertive
KANAYA: And Had Just Turned Away When Something Fell Into The Lava
ROSE: Any idea who or what that was?
KANAYA: It Looked Vaguely Person Shaped
KANAYA: Maybe?
ROSE: Can we use process of elimination?
ROSE: Gamzee, Terezi, the Page of Hope, you, Karkat, and myself are all accounted for in your story thus far.
ROSE: Dave has his own story about himself and Jade.
ROSE: John and the new Heroes of Life, Heart, and Void are as yet unaccounted for by anyone.
KANAYA: I Forgot To Mention
KANAYA: We Met The Maid Of Life In The Forest With Jade
KANAYA: She Seemed Also To Have Been Subverted By The Condesce
ROSE: Dave, I assume this is who you meant by "John's evil mom"?
DAVE: i have a really bad feeling about this

==>

ROSE: Kanaya, did you notice how the Page of Hope reacted to the fallen figure?
KANAYA: He Froze In Shock For Some Ten Seconds Or So
KANAYA: Then With A War Cry That Shook The Field
KANAYA: Ascended Into The Air And Began Generating The Energy Field That I Told You About Earlier
ROSE: Sounds like whoever fell into the lava must have been one of the other three new Heroes, and not John.
ROSE: I really hope it wasn't my ecto-mom.
ROSE: But I'd give better than fifty-fifty odds it was the Maid of Life.
DAVE: auuuggghhh
KANAYA: I Would Be Surprised If That Were True
KANAYA: Because I Caught A Glimpse Of Her On The Battlefield Much Later From My Position Above The Forge
KANAYA: But She Vanished In The Explosion That Dispatched You And The Page Of Hope
KANAYA: I Supposed Her Dead As Well
ROSE: Fascinating.
ROSE: Based on that input, I would now give less than one chance in a hundred that it was not the Maid of Life who fell in.
DAVE: how would you not expect literally the opposite thing from that
ROSE: One Hope power I read up on was the ability to manifest one's desires as non-player agents.
ROSE: The baseline form appears as a glowing winged entity, which the Hope symbol calls to mind.
KANAYA: So These Were Eridans Angels
KANAYA: He Was Slaughtering His Own Hopes The Entire Time
ROSE: But in principle clones of fallen players could also be formed.
ROSE: I believe the Page may have recreated the fallen Maid.
ROSE: But she would still have been only a game construct, and with his death she would have dissipated.
DAVE: oh COME ON
DAVE: so my whole desperate last stand meant jack shit
DAVE: even if i had won there wouldve been no way to bring jade back
ROSE: You couldn't have known that at the time, Dave.
DAVE: no hold on this just feels messed up
DAVE: im positive none of this was supposed to happen
DAVE: the only one who was supposed to die here was me

==>

KANAYA: Actually
KANAYA: You Were One Of The Few Whose Death I Did Not Witness
DAVE: kanaya what the fuck are you talking about
DAVE: i bled out on the slab and it was dumb but definitely me
DAVE: there was no way i wouldve absconded from that shit and left all my friends in the lurch
KANAYA: It Wasnt Like That
KANAYA: You Were The Other Player I Tried to Watch Besides Rose
KANAYA: Perhaps To Distract Myself From My Pain And Helplessness
KANAYA: And Maintain Some Hope That You Might Salvage The Whole Wreck
KANAYA: There Were The Two Winged Barkbeasts One Light And One Dark
KANAYA: Whom I Saw You Fighting
KANAYA: And The Outcome Of That Fight Was Not What I Expected
DAVE: spill it

> Kanaya: Spill it.

KANAYA: You Were Performing Admirably Well Against Two Invincible Foes
KANAYA: Maintaining An Impenetrable Guard Against Lightning Fast Strikes
KANAYA: But It Was A Stalemate
KANAYA: You Were In A Mere Defensive Holding Pattern
KANAYA: And To Accomplish Your Objective You Needed To Go On The Offensive
DAVE: not really
DAVE: i was just trying to keep them from absconding with jade
DAVE: at least until some kind of support arrived
KANAYA: From What I Saw You Formed Your Own Support
KANAYA: At One Point You Had Replicated Yourself At Least Four Times Through Stable Loops
DAVE: what
DAVE: no i didnt
DAVE: did i not explain this to you i swore off time travel for good
KANAYA: No Dave Why Would You Do That
KANAYA: This Seemed Like A Situation In Which A Judicious Intervention From A Time Player Could Have Improved The Outcome
KANAYA: Even If You Seemed A Bit Preoccupied
KANAYA: I Assumed You Knew What You Were Doing
DAVE: no see THIS KIND OF SHIT is why i stopped time traveling
DAVE: i dont wanna be the dude who murders all his friends because he tried to bluff his way through the choreography
DAVE: we werent supposed to be doomed because of something I DID
KANAYA: But It Seemed To Be Working
KANAYA: The Opposition Was Hard Pressed To Keep Up
KANAYA: And You Were Turning The Tide Of Battle
KANAYA: Though Your Attacks Were Distracted And Somewhat Perfunctory
KANAYA: Until One Of Your Foes
KANAYA: The White One
KANAYA: Neutralized A Dave Simply By Jumping Onto Him
KANAYA: And Making Him Disappear
DAVE: oh my fucking fuck
KANAYA: The Other Three Looked At Each Other And Redoubled Their Strikes
KANAYA: But One By One Winked Out
KANAYA: At Which Point The Mysterious Adversaries Left The Arena
KANAYA: I Imagine To Settle Their Differences Elsewhere
DAVE: ...
DAVE: ...
DAVE: ...
DAVE: ssshhhhhhhit

==>

ROSE: So Kanaya, if I understand correctly:
ROSE: We know one of those dogs was Bec Noir.
ROSE: The other one must have been a Prospitian with an orbifold ring, once belonging to our session's Prospitian royalty.
ROSE: Meaning they would also have all of Becquerel's Space powers, and could simply teleport Dave elsewhere at any time.
ROSE: And, unlike Bec Noir, might be more inclined to neutralize Dave than kill him, but wouldn't ordinarily have the opportunity.
ROSE: So if Dave had tried to start any stable loops, he would have been obligated to finish them, unless he wanted to doom everyone else left in your timeline.
ROSE: Which, functionally, meant absconding from the battle.
DAVE: fffff
ROSE: But not before completing the remaining stable loops, playing out the charade of a battle preordained to be lost.
DAVE: god DAMN it
ROSE: Actually, that's only if the most recent Dave was teleported, so that the loops could still be completed.
ROSE: What if they picked a Dave in one of the middle loops? Wouldn't that disrupt everything and doom the timeline?
DAVE: why the FUCKING HELL would i do that
DAVE: i must have fucking KNOWN that was gonna happen
DAVE: even though i KNOW i decided NOT TO DO that EXACT THING
ROSE: Branching paths of intention are a Mind thing, not a Time thing.
ROSE: Perhaps this is an alternate self from a doomed offshoot of your timeline where you decided to use time travel after all?
DAVE: there is NO timeline in which this makes ANY FUCKING SENSE
ROSE: Or could you be an alternate self branched from that timeline?
DAVE: MY ALT SELF IS A COMPLETE BULGEBITING NOOKSUCKER WITH A FECAL TRANSPLANT IN HIS OTHERWISE EMPTY CRANIUM LEAVING A TRAIL OF PARADOX SLIME ALONG HIS ENTIRE ASSMUNCHING WORLD LINE
ROSE: !!!
KANAYA: That Sounded Alarmingly Like Karkat
KANAYA: Are You Sure He Hasnt Been Rubbing Off On You Somewhat
DAVE: look regular human swears are not adequate here ok
DAVE: im just done for now all right ive had enough

> Kanaya: At least TRY to comfort your matesprit's guilt-wracked brother.

KANAYA: Dave Do You
KANAYA: Um
KANAYA: Need A Human Style Hug Too
ROSE: I think he probably does.
ROSE: Why don't we reconvene after a short recess.
KANAYA: Come Over To This Side Of The Couch
KANAYA: And Let Me Wrap Some Soothing Appendages Around You
KANAYA: And Tell You That Its Going To Be Okay
DAVE: sdhfkajhl
KANAYA: There There
KANAYA: Right On My Shoulder
KANAYA: Shoooooooooooooooosssssshhhhhh
DAVE: jfhghrkjghsleghsrlekgjshregkejllllll
KANAYA: If If Makes You Feel Any Better
KANAYA: The Dave That Did That Was
KANAYA: Technically Not Really You
DAVE: then why *bonk* is he *bonk* alive *bonk* instead *bonk* of us
DAVE: **bonkbonkbonkbonkbonkbonkbonkbonk**
DAVE: nnnghgghhhgooowwwwwhyyy
KANAYA: I Guess Ill Just Keep My Appendages Wrapped Around You For A While
KANAYA: Since I Am Beginning To Find
KANAYA: It Helps Me Feel Better Myself

Chapter Text

ROSE: Well, this is all very intriguing.
ROSE: There seem to be definite parallels between your timelines, up to a point, but at least one obvious divergence.
ROSE: It's possible there are multiple divergences; I can't say, without a more complete account from Dave.
DAVE: thats cool rose just keep rubbing the salt in
DAVE: im sure itll start hurting less any minute now
KANAYA: Shoosh
DAVE: pretty sure we had some lemon juice in the back too
KANAYA: Shoooooossshh
DAVE: (dont shoosh me ok)
KANAYA: (You Know Her Concern For Our Welfare Has Not Diminished)
KANAYA: (What Benefit Is Derived From This Petty Antagonism)
DAVE: (but whats the point of all this csi forensics bullshit now)
DAVE: (rose is just chopping up the corpses of our own dead neuroses)
DAVE: (we fucking lost and nothing we did mattered and this sucks)
DAVE: (and thats really all there is to say on the matter)
ROSE: I can still hear you, you know.
KANAYA: Shooooooooooosssssshhhh
DAVE: balls

==>

ROSE: Sorry, I recognize this must have been a bit intense.
DAVE: intense nothing
DAVE: its like every timeline has a hand crafted limited edition middle finger for each of us
DAVE: which youre taking and poking right into our sore spots and going all HMM FASCINATING LETS WRITE THAT ONE UP
ROSE: You didn't seem to have this objection when Kanaya was telling her story.
KANAYA: The Odd Thing For Me Dave
KANAYA: Is That Although Rose And I Are Sensitive About Events That Actually Happened While We Were Alive In Our Own Timelines
KANAYA: You Seem Strangely Worked Up About Something You Didnt Even Do
DAVE: im used to thinking of other daves as me ok
DAVE: especially the ones who do incredibly stupid shit and end up ass deep in a giant vat of fail
DAVE: which is literally all of them
KANAYA: Your Attitude Strikes Me As Less Than Entirely Functional
ROSE: Not only that, but it doesn't even sound as though Dave's use of time travel was what doomed the timeline.
ROSE: The deaths of the other players didn't seem to depend directly upon Dave's use of time travel in that particular instance.
ROSE: It sounds like he just feels betrayed by some alternate version of himself who made different decisions, which, well.
ROSE: Dave, isn't this exactly what you were just telling me not to do?
DAVE: oh dont throw that shit back in my face now
ROSE: All right, all right!
ROSE: If we're going to spend the rest of literal eternity with each other, we'll have plenty of time to find every sensitive point in each others' psychological makeups.
ROSE: We can either make this hell by holding each other to our own standards of rationality or emotional maturity, or give each other some metaphorical space.
ROSE: I apologize, Dave. I was just caught up in the intellectual thrill of trying to piece together the puzzle.
DAVE: but look thats just the thing
DAVE: what puzzle
DAVE: what good is it to know exactly how much of everyones blood was spilled here why not just die and let die
KANAYA: That Seems Like A Fair Question
KANAYA: Rose Do You Have An Equally Fair Answer

==>

ROSE: Remember how we rode this meteor through the Furthest Ring?
ROSE: Boundaries of causal regions are extremely porous out here. Information can, and does, leak between timelines and universes.
ROSE: We saw plenty of examples of that in the form of past and future alternate ecto-relations, some of whom we even got to talk with.
DAVE: thats not something i thought much about
DAVE: but yeah these dream bubbles dont have any particular
DAVE: i dunno
DAVE: alignment to any particular timeline
DAVE: which is how all these alt selves can accumulate up in here
DAVE: speaking of whom i swear imma deck that alt dave if he shows up
ROSE: But why not put ourselves on the other side of the equation?
ROSE: Instead of envisioning ourselves as irrelevant has-beens, why not become support players for the versions of ourselves that might eventually go on to win the game?
DAVE: aw man thatd be rough
DAVE: wed never even get to see what winning looks like
ROSE: Unfortunately, that's true.
ROSE: We'd have to content ourselves with a purely moral victory.
KANAYA: I Find This Prospect Far More Appealing Than Doing Nothing
KANAYA: We Have No Immediate Threats Or Dangers Weighing On Us
KANAYA: And By Comparing Notes With Each Other
KANAYA: We Are In A Unique Position To Digest Our Own Failures For Others
KANAYA: Such As Which Actions Doomed Our Timeline
KANAYA: And Potentially How They Could Be Averted
ROSE: That's the spirit!
DAVE: but how would that even work
DAVE: weve got no idea whats happening on the ground anymore
DAVE: who else is dead whos alive in what timelines or whether anyone else is going to fix things
ROSE: Perhaps.
ROSE: But if we are indeed able to successfully determine which action or set of actions led to our downfall, we ought to be prepared in case anyone shows up.
DAVE: wait so back up let me get this straight
DAVE: for this hail rosemary pass down the court to work
DAVE: we need someone in some timeline who survived to blow their dream load questfucking around here in tentacle central
DAVE: and to get lucky enough to dream into this meteor instance instead of any of the other shitty bargain basement bubbles
DAVE: which for all we know could be chock full of alt selves who are so much dumber than us they have like negative insight
DAVE: and then assuming we could tell them anything useful
DAVE: theyd still need to be able to time travel back to the decision point in their own timeline and not screw it up
DAVE: and were gonna spend the rest of assternity waiting for godot
DAVE: does that sound about right
ROSE: That does sound like a reasonable summary of the plan, yes.
ROSE: But we all showed up within a fairly short subjective timespan.
ROSE: Perhaps Godot will arrive in the next fifteen minutes or so?
DAVE: you know what fuck it this is too complicated
DAVE: can we just get on with being irrelevant already

==>

ROSE: Maybe I don't want to be irrelevant?
ROSE: And for that matter, why should it fall solely to Light players to want to, you know, affect the plot and all that?
DAVE: seriously lets just cut out the middle man and give up
DAVE: this whole time ive been hoping for a low key afterlife doing raps and shit and not continually reliving all my worst moments
ROSE: You've got a better way to pass the tedious hours?
DAVE: ive got a great way
DAVE: its called not grinding glass into my emotional paper cuts
KANAYA: Dave
KANAYA: Stop Acting As Though Youre The Only One Who Has Suffered Here
KANAYA: Or Suggesting Said Suffering Might Not Have Had A Higher Purpose
DAVE: the record will show that at no time did i suggest that bs
DAVE: we all tried to do a thing
DAVE: some of us better than others
DAVE: and then we all got killed
DAVE: end of story
ROSE: I feel uncomfortable not at least trying.
ROSE: It does seem like a setup worthy of Beckett to wait here for better versions of ourselves who may never arrive.
ROSE: But if there's anything we can do, no matter how far-fetched, I'm willing to give it a go.
ROSE: There'll be plenty of time for self-pity while we're waiting.
KANAYA: So What Do You Propose
KANAYA: While We Wait
KANAYA: It Doesnt Seem As Though There Is Much More To Be Learned Right Now From What We Went Through
ROSE: Well, in the spirit of shared burdens, I'll tell the story of my own timeline, which I have now remembered in full.
ROSE: And which, I might add, diverges from both of yours, in ways that are potentially much more interesting.
ROSE: But only if Dave promises not to throw what he might poetically refer to as a "shit fit".
DAVE: im not making any promises
KANAYA: Im Going To Let Go Of You If You Dont Promise
DAVE: ok fine i promise jeez

Chapter Text

ROSE: So before I start, I'm just going to head this off at the pass:
ROSE: My timeline's Dave also time traveled.
ROSE: Note how I say "my timeline's Dave", instead of "you", Dave.
ROSE: I wouldn't want you to feel like you had to take all the credit for when everything inevitably went wrong again.
DAVE: nah im good
DAVE: i mean im still pissed but ive kind of run out of swears
DAVE: i think ill just lie here and sulk for a while if thats cool
ROSE: That's the spirit.
ROSE: Still, to avoid confusion, I'll call him "TT!Dave", in order to disambiguate from you ("TG!Dave") and Kanaya's Dave ("GA!Dave") whom we've already heard so much about.
KANAYA: How Did You Do That Just Now
ROSE: Do what?
KANAYA: The Thing Where You Made The Tangent Flanges And Enclosure Talons Audible In Your Speech
ROSE: It takes many years of very serious study in tangentialization.
ROSE: As your coach I'd ask you to drop and give me twenty tangents, but at this juncture I fear that would have the opposite of the desired effect; namely, to move the narrative along for a change.
ROSE: We can schedule a training montage for later, if you'd like?
KANAYA: I Would Find That Immensely Gratifying
ROSE: Awesome. It's a date.
DAVE: uggghhh

==>

ROSE: Most details you are already familiar with: we traveled on the meteor for a journey which was absurdly too lengthy, Terezi and I both developed substance abuse and mental health issues, etc.
ROSE: In the last hours of our meteor journey I found myself shaken awake by a Dave. A truly abysmal hangover had begun to set in, and he poured out the rest of my Voidka while I made fruitless attempts to hold the split halves of my throbbing skull together.
DAVE: wait you just said
DAVE: A dave
ROSE: I'm actually not sure which Dave this was, so I am unable to attach to him an unambiguous index.
ROSE: Also, I don't believe he lasted very long thereafter.
DAVE: thats great im so thrilled to hear it
ROSE: Are you?
DAVE: no not really
ROSE: May I continue?
DAVE: yeah sure

==>

ROSE: This Dave was fairly cautious, saying only that he had awakened from turbulent dreams that suggested uneasy prognostications about our immediate future.
ROSE: I was inclined to remind him sharply who the Seer was, but he seemed rattled enough for me to listen for a while.
ROSE: The account he gave was vivid, and consistent with both of yours: floating glitches in reality, interference from a mysterious third faction, a dead grimbark Jade, an ill-fated duel with Jack.
ROSE: Being hung over, I chalked it up to nerves and didn't suspect I had seen a time traveler until questioning TT!Dave after arrival.
ROSE: He said I must be suffering from delirium tremens.
KANAYA: But Is That Really Such An Unlikely Explanation
ROSE: I think he must have meant alcoholic hallucinosis.
ROSE: And at the risk of undermining my own reliability as a narrator, I must say it wasn't such an unreasonable suggestion at the time.
ROSE: But Terezi later mentioned she had received similar treatment.
ROSE: In any case, only one Dave came off the meteor with us, because that was all Grimbark Jade, who extracted us, had been expecting.
ROSE: I now think the mysterious visitor may have been GA!Dave, and that he rode the meteor to his Heroic death seconds after our exit.
ROSE: With about, oh, 70-80% credibility given what I've heard from you.
ROSE: Not an ironclad predicate, but possessed of a thick hide at least.
KANAYA: On What Basis Do You Assign Such Specifically Numerical Confidence In The Correctness Of This Hypothesis
KANAYA: And Why Would He Have Doomed Himself In This Way
ROSE: Why not? His timeline would've been functionally doomed anyway.
ROSE: And he clearly didn't want to talk about coming from the future, despite having critical intelligence to impart.
ROSE: He seemed to be making the minimal possible intervention.
ROSE: I don't want to speak for Dave, or take his sacrifice for granted -- but after so long in SBURB, this strikes me as just the sort of thing Heroes of Time are supposed to do.
DAVE: that is exactly what heroes of time are supposed to do
DAVE: and now you finally get why being a time player sucks so much ass
DAVE: also thanks for making another dead dave sound so fucking clinical
ROSE: Dave, I understand how all this could be distressing.
ROSE: But when everything interesting about my timeline is conditioned on this knowledge, I kind of have to start somewhere.
DAVE: enh whatever
DAVE: at least i got exclusive rights to the destructo moon this time
DAVE: so ill take that as a final fuck you to pre god tier rose
DAVE: and were even
ROSE: If that contributes positively to your emotional well-being, Dave.
ROSE: Are you okay? Should we take a break?
DAVE: i dunno being such a fragile flower liable to faint anytime
DAVE: the only inducement i will accept is continuing kanaya cuddles
DAVE: my tenuous mental health demands appendage clamping on the regular
DAVE: you cool with that rose
ROSE: Seriously?
ROSE: Seriously.
ROSE: Well, I'm cool with it if Kanaya's cool with it.
KANAYA: I Feel Remarkably Frosty About Such A Suggestion
KANAYA: I Find Dave Pleasantly Compressible
ROSE: Then I am utterly cool with that.
ROSE: You could keep liquid nitrogen in me with respect to that.
ROSE: Consider your pile of two people blessed, to the extent that you really need my blessing.
ROSE: As long as I get to finish my story unhindered.
DAVE: pfff goddamn light players amirite
KANAYA: Hush

==>

ROSE: So I went into the new session pre-armed with additional knowledge of specific high-risk threats we faced on the other side.
ROSE: As foretold, Jade cordoned us off from each other and set us specific tasks to complete for Her Condescension.
ROSE: The glitches were awful at first, but gradually decreased in severity as time went on. I thought John must be sweeping the Medium clean while trying to keep out of Jade's way.
KANAYA: How Unusual
KANAYA: They Seemed Quite Persistent In My Timeline
DAVE: yeah i mean john could sort of blow them around temporarily but
DAVE: they sure as hell didnt clear up on their own
ROSE: I eventually did find out why things were different for me.
ROSE: But in the moment, I was just grateful to be able to talk to my friends once more, though we were still physically isolated.
ROSE: I conferred with Terezi, whose head must have hurt as badly as mine did, and we decided on a course of action based on the information available to us.
ROSE: We thought the glitchdust might be spread unevenly throughout the session, so we decided to stall for a while and feign compliance; Jade couldn't be everywhere at once.
ROSE: We determined that Jade's most probable course of action would be to imprison the new players on Derse to force their compliance in turn, so we agreed that a small, hopefully inconspicuous rescue team would be sent there.
ROSE: We wondered whether the mysterious third side could be allied or reasoned with, and calculated that the right emissary might be able to turn the tides in our favor. I volunteered.
ROSE: Finally, absent better ideas about where the confrontation would take place, we decided that after a reasonable interval the rest of us would convene on LOFAF, expecting a confrontation.
KANAYA: That Sounds Like Quite A Reasonable Plan
DAVE: yeah pretty tight
DAVE: i dunno what i wouldve done differently
ROSE: As so often happens with plans, they did not go as planned.

==>

ROSE: As our chosen Emissary to the as-yet-unknown Third Side, I made the conservative choice to stake out the Forge early on.
ROSE: We knew the Forge was likely to be the site of the fateful boss battle, but we weren't sure when exactly that would start, or what would trigger it.
ROSE: I ended up waiting for some time with a good aerial view of the Forge, assuming it would be obvious when the fireworks started.
ROSE: And it was.
ROSE: I felt a lurch and a wave of nausea, and at once an enormous ball of pure energy obscured the Forge.
ROSE: Here, let me bring a visual up -- these are my memories, after all:
KANAYA: Oooh
DAVE: that trick is dope as shit
ROSE: You might call it a... Trick of the Light.
KANAYA: Booo
DAVE: unngghhhh
ROSE: Anyway, you can see the Hero of Hope's energy field there.
ROSE: I've highlighted all players in this 3-D rendering so you can see at this distance what's going on.
ROSE: In a few seconds, you'll see a second energy field start emanating from Grimbark Jade's position.
DAVE: and there she goes
KANAYA: Hmmm
ROSE: Jade was drawing on the Green Sun's power, imagining it would be enough to overpower her opponent's Hope field.
ROSE: Which might not have been a bad idea with any ordinary opponent.
ROSE: But it was the wrong choice with her ecto-grandpa. You can see his Hope field expanding reciprocally in tune with the amount of power she expends, forcing her downwards towards the ground.
DAVE: holy shit shes getting pwned
ROSE: This in turn opens up an enormous caldera of lava beneath her, creating the hazards you both saw in your timelines upon arrival.
KANAYA: It Is Indeed Very Similar To What I Saw
ROSE: She was eventually overpowered and knocked out on the ground. I realized she would probably be killed shortly thereafter, and tensed myself to strike.
ROSE: After a short delay, I saw her house ripped out of its foundations by some invisible force, toppling down towards her.
DAVE: oh fuck not AGAIN
ROSE: At once I rushed in, and with a bolt of Lightening disintegrated the section that would have fallen on her.
ROSE: She remained, for the time, unconscious and out of harm's immediate way.
ROSE: And with that show of force, I opened my negotiations.

Chapter Text


ROSE: I swooped over to the three figures I saw, all of us aloft.
ROSE: One was the Maid of Life, with a costume full of red wires, a head full of tiara, and eyes full of absolute murder daggers.
ROSE: The second was a lightly veiled Rogue of Void, whom I recognized as the new session's Lalonde.
ROSE: My heart leapt instantly into my throat, but I did my best to restrain my alarm so as not to alert others to her presence.
ROSE: The third was a troll I only dimly remembered -- and definitely didn't expect to see here.
DAVE: you know someones gotta say this now
ROSE: Be my guest.
DAVE: computer
DAVE: enhance
ROSE: Now magnified 200 times.
KANAYA: Wait
KANAYA: Its Her
KANAYA: What Is She Doing Here
ROSE: That's an excellent question.
ROSE: I asked her as much.
ROSE: This may be paraphrased, to avoid summoning her here accidentally.
ROSE: I'm pretty sure that's the last thing any of us wants right now.

ROSE: Aranea, isn't it?
ROSE: Serket. Vriska's ancestor. From the dream bubble.
ARANEA: Excellent memory, Rose! I commend you.
ROSE: Lucky guess, from one Light player to another.
ROSE: I'll be uncharacteristically direct here. Why the hell are you trying to kill us?
ARANEA: I do apologize for that.
ARANEA: 8ut I'm really in too much of a rush to explain at length.
ROSE: You're never in too much of a rush to deliver exposition.
ROSE: Light player, remember?
ARANEA: Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!
ARANEA: Oh goodness, you're right. I really can't resist!
ARANEA: Still, I'll give you the a8ridged version.
JANE: This renegade troll stands in direct opposition to Her Imperial Condescension's claim on the present session's universe.
JANE: Seer of Light, I call upon you to cease all parley immediately and assist me forthwith in obliterating her.
ARANEA: 8ut not with this trou8lemaker listening in.

JANE: And just who do you think you're --
ARANEA: *snop*
JANE: *zzzzz*

ARANEA: Now then. The long story made as short as possi8le is that I am trying to save paradox space.
ROSE: That's a rather grandiose aim.
ROSE: But it isn't unlike ours. Why are we fighting each other?
ARANEA: Unfortunately, our goals are not at all the same.
ARANEA: You're attempting to cre8 a universe that will give rise to the very villain that is desta8ilizing the Furthest Ring and destroying the found8tional templ8 of reality as we speak.
ROSE: Lord English?
ROSE: We know about him. He's on our list to defeat.
ARANEA: Much easier said than done!
ARANEA: The truth, however, is that he is already impossible to defeat 8y such dismally prosaic means as we would reserve for 8oring mid-game 8osses like the 8lack King.
ARANEA: Trust me when I say this. I had confeder8s in some of the dream 8u88les he has demolished.
ARANEA: Thus it falls to those of us with more finesse to engineer cleverer means to dispatch him.
ARANEA: Such as ensuring that he never came to exist in the first place!
ROSE: It actually strikes me as a rather blunt instrument.
ROSE: And something he would surely have thought to address using his mastery over time.
ROSE: Have you really thought this plan through?
ARANEA: Oh, in intric8 detail, I assure you. Listen...

ROSE: She took her time. I let her.
DAVE: your patience is unreal
ROSE: I have to admit she tested even mine.

ROSE: And that's your plan?
ARANEA: Yes.
ROSE: Let me just summarize, to make sure I understand, though perhaps at some risk of oversimplification.
ROSE: Your plan is to hijack our session, crash our new universe, and in the process inevitably doom our timeline and kill us all?
ARANEA: Well, of course it doesn't sound so appealing when you put it THAT way.
ROSE: Is there some more appropriate way for me to put it?
ARANEA: I prefer to frame the issue as that of an exalted act of altruism on 8ehalf of the uncounted trillions of inha8itants of multiple realities who will 8enefit from English's a8sence.
ROSE: Would you still call us altruistic if we don't get any say about whether to sacrifice our own lives and universe?
ARANEA: Oh, I 8elieve I can facilit8 this without killing any of you!
ARANEA: 8ut only if I can convince you to step aside and allow me to work unimpeded.
ARANEA: Otherwise, I'm afraid I must treat you as o8stacles, to 8e cleared if necessary rather than circumvented.
ROSE: Furthermore, couldn't you reasonably claim that we too have a fiduciary duty towards our future universe's inhabitants?
ARANEA: I agree it does sound sad, and I offer you my condolences.
ARANEA: 8ut what's one universe, against millions?
ARANEA: And do you have a fiduciary duty towards hypervillains as well?
ROSE: Our futures, then? To spend the rest of forever in a sterile SBURB session with stunted creative potential?
ARANEA: Surely that can't be all that 8ad a fate in comparison?
ROSE: My point is that you don't get to make that choice for us.
ARANEA: Well, someone has to.
ARANEA: Why not me, if you won't?
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Of course. What was I thinking.
ROSE: Your cogent explanation has caused me to realize how my previous emphasis on the ethical agency of individuals was fatally flawed.
ROSE: I suddenly understand jack everything, and apologize profusely for abjuring banal utilitarian calculations in preference to such a tired old horse as the categorical imperative.
ARANEA: That's splendid news, Rose. I'm glad you've come around.
ARANEA: And yet -- do I detect a hint of sarcasm in your voice?
ROSE: I wouldn't call it so much a hint, as perhaps the strongest nonverbal indicators of disdain I can convey without explicitly stating exactly how much contempt I have for you and your plan.
ARANEA: You don't think it will work?
ROSE: It's not just that I don't think it'll work, although it won't, because he's already here and the alpha timeline is by definition his timeline, forcing us to confront him directly.
ROSE: It's that your plan proceeds from a value system that is totally incommensurable with mine, and most likely with Skaia's.
ROSE: I therefore don't think I'm overextending my authority and duty in telling you now, on behalf of myself and my entire team of co-players, to fuck off immediately and leave us all alone.
ROXY: woohoooooo u tell her mom
ROXY: lalondes in the hizzooouuuse
ROSE: Thanks, Mom. I'm glad I could make you proud.
ROSE: But for Ng'rublith's sake, I thought you were trying to stay out of trouble instead of revealing your position to the enemy.
ROXY: o yeah
ROXY: :(

ARANEA: How disappointing. I was sure, as a fellow Light player, that you'd recognize my plan's 8rilliance immedi8ly.
ARANEA: Are you certain there's no way I can convince you to reconsider?
ROSE: I highly doubt it at this point.
ROSE: Also, you'll have heard from the erstwhile peanut gallery that my initial assessment isn't just my own idiosyncratic view.
ROXY: suck it spiderwench
ROSE: Mom. Not helping.
ARANEA: I suspect you and your team underestimate the danger to existence you're causing by continuing down this path.
ARANEA: It's a dark path, and a dangerous one.
ROSE: It is. But there's light in the darkness too, sometimes.
ARANEA: Oh, Rose, Rose, Rose. Speaking of darkness.
ARANEA: You know English is also destroying the dream bubbles, right?
ARANEA: How can you stand to perpetu8 this 8rutal warfare?
ARANEA: When you lose, not even the afterlife will remain.
DIRK: Sorry, I'm with Rose and Roxy on this one too.
DIRK: And while I'd love for this process to be fully democratic, so that everyone else personally gets to tell you to fuck off, I'll have to rely on my flawless powers of extrapolation.
ROXY: di stri!
ROXY: ur not a single frickin cpu cycle too soon

KANAYA: Whoa
DAVE: where did he come from
ROSE: Keep watching.

ARANEA: Whoa. Where did you come from?
DIRK: From inside my boyfriend's head.
DIRK: I sprang from his brow fully formed and armed, just now, like they do in half a dozen ancient myths my overclocked splinterselves have read at least a billion times each.
DIRK: It was totally sweet. Too bad you missed it.
ARANEA: What an intriguing phenomenon!
ARANEA: I can see Jake and I are barely scratching the surface of the full potential of Hope.
DIRK: Yeah. About that.
DIRK: You know I can't allow you to keep fucking with him.
ARANEA: And how are you planning to prevent me from doing so?
DIRK: Like th--
DAVE: oh god rose what the fresh hell is going on
DAVE: who is this douchehag
DAVE: and who
DAVE: uhhh
DAVE: ...
DIRK: Hi.

DAVE: kanaya can i borrow your palm
DAVE: i need a x3 combo at least

ROSE: Striders? This is really not the most auspicious moment for heartwarming family reunion awkwardness.
ROXY: awww yeeeaaahhh strilondes in the hizzooouuu--
ROSE: MOM. FOCUS.
DIRK: She's right, you guys.
DAVE: focus on what rose
DAVE: you never answered my question
ROSE: This troll is trying to crash our session.
DAVE: you mean crash as in show up to the party uninvited
DAVE: or crash as in blue screen of death
ROSE: Both, actually.
ARANEA: That is an a8solutely unfair oversimplific8tion of my plan.
ROSE: Having listened to the director's cut, I don't think it is.
DIRK: Me neither.
ROXY: extremely same
DAVE: wait why
ROSE: Because it turns out it's also Lord English's original universe.
DAVE: what the actual fuck
ARANEA: Come on, everyone.
ARANEA: Why does this have to 8e, as you might crudely put it, a federal fucking issue?
KARKAT: BECAUSE OUR GODDAMN UNIVERSE IS BY DEFINITION NOT YOURS TO CRASH, OKAY?!?!
KANAYA: Yeah
KANAYA: What He Said

KANAYA: Oh Dear

ROSE: I thought you two were supposed to check out Derse.
KARKAT: THIS *WAS* DERSE, LIKE, HALF AN HOUR AGO.
KANAYA: And Then It Suddenly Wasnt
ROSE: No, you know what, this is not the time to get into all that.
KARKAT: I THINK WE'VE ALL HEARD ENOUGH BY NOW TO CONCLUDE THAT WE AREN'T GOING TO LET ARANEA FUCK UP OUR SESSION FOR US ANY MORE THAN WE WANT TO LET CORRUPTED JADE FUCK IT UP.
KARKAT: IF OUR SESSION IS GOING TO BE FUCKED UP AFTER ALL, I WANT US TO HAVE THE DUBIOUS HONOR OF DOING IT OURSELVES FOR A CHANGE.
KARKAT: THAT SAID, LET US MAKE A LINEAR QUEUE SO WE CAN EACH DELIVER HER OUR PERSONAL HEARTFELT FUCK YOUS IN AN ORDERLY MANNER.
DAVE: what the hell kind of plan is that
KARKAT: IT'S MY GODDAMN PLAN UNTIL WE COME UP WITH A BETTER ONE.
DAVE: its not even a plan you ass
ROXY: hey u guys
ROXY: that ring shes got
ROXY: i heard her smarmin about it earlier
ROXY: its the only thing keepin her dumb transparent ghost trap alive
KARKAT: THAT'S THE MOST USEFUL PIECE OF INTELLIGENCE I'VE HEARD ALL DAY.
KARKAT: IN LIGHT OF THIS, I JUST CAME UP WITH A BRILLIANT NEW PLAN.
KARKAT: LET'S GET HER!!!
ROSE: What?
DIRK: Oh god.
DAVE: karkat no
KANAYA: Wait Hold On

ROSE: This next part gets a little messy, so I'll replay it in slow-mo, and narrate it as we go along, stopping at key moments.
DAVE: i cant watch
KANAYA: Hang On Tight Dave

KARKAT: PCHOOOOOOOOO
KANAYA: PCHOOOOOOOOO
DAVE: AAAAAAHHHHHH
ARANEA: Oh, no you don't.

ROSE: Karkat, Kanaya, and Dave, who all have meleekind strife specibi, all rush Aranea within about two seconds of each other.
ROSE: Karkat and Kanaya are wearing alchemized jetpacks, which they needed to navigate their way to Derse on their recon mission.
ROSE: While conferring limited powers of flight, these jetpacks are simply not as maneuverable as native dreamself or god-tier flight, and hence aren't well suited for close-range aerial combat.
ROSE: Aranea simply gets out of their way at the last possible instant, allowing Karkat and Kanaya to charge past her.
ROSE: Dave has to swerve to avoid them, giving Aranea the opening she needs to put him to sleep.
ROSE: Using, I guess, some form of troll psychic powers like the ones Vriska used to manipulate Jade and John earlier, in our session.
KANAYA: That Sounds Right Rose
KANAYA: Those Powers Are Held In Common By Her Entire Blood Caste
ROSE: That would, I assume, also account for why Karkat comes around again, and then starts veering off course, exiting the theater.
DAVE: away into the sky like a fucking piece of garbage
DAVE: god damn it karkat why are you so terrible at fights
ROSE: But they don't seem to work on you, Kanaya, as a rainbow drinker.
ROSE: Or on me, apparently, as a Light player; I feel drowsy only for a moment, just as you reported feeling in your timeline.
ROSE: I take a few wild shots at Aranea anyway, which go wide of the mark.
ROSE: And then, like you, I find myself immobilized.
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: Shit
ROSE: You can see where this is going, of course.
KANAYA: Im So Sorry Rose
ROSE: It's okay, it's okay.
ROSE: This might be hard for you both to watch.
ROSE: But let's just proceed.

ARANEA: Kanaya, don't even try it. I've got your matesprit on lockdown.
ARANEA: And your ecto-parent, Roxy.
ROXY: you total bitch
ROXY: u think this is how heroes of the multiverse are sposed to fight
KANAYA: If You Harm So Much As One Thread In Her Cloak I Will End You
ARANEA: Hardly! O8serve how, in my patience and generosity, I have managed to foil your poorly-considered assault while not dealing lethal damage to any of your increasingly trou8lesome 8and.
ARANEA: Why don't you all just can it?
ARANEA: Don't make me 8ring out the 8ig guns.
ROSE: What kind of guns, if you don't mind me asking?
ARANEA: Well, that force I've got pinning you in place right now?
ARANEA: Suppose I were to direct it inwards.
ARANEA: Just a little 8it.
ROSE: Urk!
ROSE: *gasp!*
ARANEA: 8ut not enough to crush you outright, understand.
ROSE: Nggrrrhghgh!!!
ROXY: NO!!!!!
ARANEA: Merely a minor demonstr8tion for the audience.
ARANEA: Of what could happen to your sardonic Seer.
ARANEA: And, for Dirk's benefit, to your napping Knight.
DIRK: Aw HELL no.
KANAYA: Stop This Ridiculous Theater Of Villainy At Once
ARANEA: I'll graciously overlook that offensive characteriz8tion, since as I said, I want this conflict to end as much as you do.
ARANEA: And it can end at any time!
ARANEA: 8y your unconditional and irrevoca8le surrender of rights to the new universe.
ROSE: Don't!
KANAYA: ...
ROXY: ...
DIRK: ...
DIRK: No, fuck all this bullshit.
DIRK: How about I just destroy your mental focus instead.
DIRK: By pulling a little Cartesian dualism here.

ARANEA: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

DAVE: ok what the fuck is he doing
DAVE: its too blurry i cant see anything
ROSE: Remember that the Title and Aspect of a "Prince of Heart" can be loosely translated as "Destroyer of Souls".
ROSE: He's giving Aranea a Heart Attack, as it were.
KANAYA: Ouch
ROSE: This awful spiderwauling carries on for at least two full minutes, during which I still can't move, but don't collapse either.
ROSE: Kanaya and Roxy float in place, horrified but with little of anything novel to add to this torment.
ROSE: I felt the compression on my body come and go in waves.
ROSE: The minute I could so much as wiggle a finger -- such as here --
ROSE: I would see Dirk go mysteriously transparent, and Aranea would begin to reassert control.
ROSE: The sleeping Maid of Life also tossed and turned restlessly but did not awaken completely.
ROSE: These observations led me to believe Aranea had more than passing control of Jake, the Page of Hope, as well.
ROSE: Who, incidentally, was still powering up the whole time, with ridiculous cornball exclamations throughout.
ROSE: I've muted him up till now but here's a representative sample.

JAKE: HORSEFEATHERS
JAKE: BY JOVE
JAKE: PIP PIP CHEERIOOOOOOO

DAVE: alright alright we get the idea
ROSE: Since we seemed to be largely at an impasse, I cast my eye quickly around to gather whatever other situational awareness I could from my vantage point.
ROSE: Up above us, for example, you'll see the Condesce's flagship start to float into view.
KANAYA: Oh No
ROSE: And down below, you'll see that Jade has awakened.
DAVE: damn shes too far away
DAVE: can we computer enhance on her
ROSE: Unfortunately, no; this is as detailed as it gets.
ROSE: But if you watch, you'll see her fumble with one of her rifles for a moment, and aim it at Jake.
ROSE: Who, some ten seconds later, explodes into glitchdust.

Chapter Text

DAVE: what do you mean explode
DAVE: explode how
ROSE: It was very hard for me to tell at the time.
ROSE: Mayhem and confusion don't even begin to describe what happened.
ROSE: I mean, don't take my word for it -- look at the visual.
DAVE: whaaaaaat
KANAYA: This Could Become Even Worse Than My Own Timeline
KANAYA: As Amazed As I Am To Hear Myself Say So
DAVE: and what is it you keep calling that stuff that just exploded
DAVE: glitchdust
DAVE: is that what its called or are we just making shit up here
ROSE: I'm calling it that because we know it has physical properties, and it acts like dust as it blows around and settles on things.
ROSE: Although it's unclear whether it's a game construct, or actual faults in the SBURB code, or a strange new Void Aspect power.
ROSE: Or what.
DAVE: that sure sounds super scientific and not at all contrived
KANAYA: Dave Can We Perhaps Exercise A Modicum Of Patience Here
KANAYA: It Isnt As Though We Ever Had The Opportunity To Collect Any Of This Material And Test It In A Laboratory Setting
DAVE: nah we had at least a couple days of dicking around
DAVE: its just
DAVE: nobody actually thought this shit would be worth collecting
DAVE: much less collectable how does that even work
KANAYA: Be That As It May
KANAYA: Roses Memories Are Our Only Reliable Source Of Intelligence
KANAYA: And On That Basis Rose Please Carry On
KANAYA: I Find Myself Terribly Anxious About The Outcome
KANAYA: But Also Insatiably Curious Regarding Truly New Knowledge
KANAYA: Like A Wiggler In A Garish Confections Emporium
DAVE: you sure thats really the metaphor you want
DAVE: kanaya have you been mixing metaphors in your basement again
DAVE: that shit is dangerous yo and probably also illegal
KANAYA: Well If You Dont Like Them Then Go Mix Your Own
ROSE: Okay, look. Give me a moment here to get back into exposition?
ROSE: The audio feed is basically just static and screaming anyway, so let's mute everything.

==>

ROSE: I'm still not positive what precisely happens to Jake here.
ROSE: But you can see that from this moment, a glowing cloud of glitchdust engulfs his position and expands ballistically.
ROSE: I realized then that the levels of glitching we were originally encountering throughout the rest of the session, while troublesome, were very low in comparison.
ROSE: We had no idea what its properties were at high concentration.
ROSE: Was it toxic? Flammable?
ROSE: Did it have mind-altering or reality-altering properties?
ROSE: Those were the last coherent thoughts I had for I don't even know.

==>

ROSE: The explosion's shock front submerged me in an ocean of possibility. I was no longer certain where or who I was.
ROSE: I experienced vivid auditory hallucinations: liturgical chants from the cult of the Noble Circle, the ringing of festival bells on Derse, the screams of Jack's victims, a grinding of gears.
ROSE: I felt as though I was being squeezed through a microscopic tunnel in which I had become lodged. The walls of the tunnel were coated with blood.
ROSE: Some blend of mine, Dave's, Kanaya's, and my mother's.
ROSE: At one point I might have grown a tail, and whiskers.
ROSE: It was extremely unpleasant, and seemingly without duration.
ROSE: I'm not even sure any of this is right. I may be confabulating it all, in a fruitless attempt to convey my sensation of being alternately stretched, compressed, bifurcated and then rejoined to myself again in paradoxical combinations.
DAVE: so long story short
DAVE: it was fucking weird
ROSE: Maybe. It wasn't even weird.
ROSE: It was some kind of primordial state anterior to all weirdness.
ROSE: The feeling of weirdness, of the uncanny, comes from having some expectations of normality that are not being met, but in ways that are difficult to verbalize.
ROSE: This state was so unstable that it was all I could do to simply ride along on its surface. It was more like panic. If that.
ROSE: Only the most basic emotions like fear and longing made any sense.
ROSE: So I chose longing.
ROSE: I'll spare you further attempts to visualize my experiences in this meta-space as some kind of cliched metaphor for a spiritual journey back to consciousness and my former self.
ROSE: I'll just say that I oriented myself towards Roxy emotionally, and so came back to myself, or a self anyway, in Roxy's arms.

==>

ROSE: She was, understandably, a wreck. Eyes bloodshot, face blotchy, trembling uncontrollably. Still in the Rogue of Void's uniform.
ROSE: So relieved to hear me say her name, though.
ROSE: She hugged me and sobbed for a while. My own habit felt wet and sticky. I then realized I was wounded, perhaps seriously, and that it hurt to breathe.
ROSE: I asked her what happened. She said she didn't know for sure, but damned if she was going to let me die.
ROSE: That didn't sound encouraging but I was too exhausted to care.
ROSE: I asked her to support me so I could have a look around, and she flew me upwards to a vantage point above a wasteland of glitch.
ROSE: Here's what I saw.
ROSE: A bit Hieronymous Bosch meets Lisa Frank, really.
DAVE: what the
DAVE: i mean
DAVE: what
KANAYA: The Planets Surface Seems Sort Of
KANAYA: Irradiated With Unreality
KANAYA: The Forge Is Somehow Both Active And Quiescent At The Same Time
DAVE: the fuck does that caption say
KANAYA: The Lava Lake Is Now Full Of Lava
KANAYA: But Also Ice Floes
KANAYA: And Brightly Colored Flowering Plants
DAVE: land of
DAVE: sz@#jzbl and grzn*xf%kq
KANAYA: Many Of Which Appear To Be Carnivorous
KANAYA: I Hope The Genesis Tadpole Is Still Safe
DAVE: did i pronounce that right
DAVE: shizzathashjezebel and griznasterixfuck
DAVE: shit no its different now
KANAYA: Assuming Echidnas Lair Was Not Annihilated By This Event
KANAYA: Actually I Wouldnt Be Entirely Confident About That Either
KANAYA: Is The Game Winnable At This Point Even If We Dont Die
ROSE: I certainly couldn't say.
ROSE: As context was coming back to me, I scanned the scene.
ROSE: I still had to squint through a fog of glitchdust, but I could make out some recognizable figures and events.
ROSE: Instead of the red god-tier habit she was previously wearing, the Maid of Life's attire was now a psychedelic tie-dye shift; she was zooming through the glitchfields giggling maniacally, and seemed to be calling out for Jake.
ROSE: Roxy volunteered that "poor Janey" had "gone trickster again", which I suppose is a state of irrationality and disinhibition not unlike grimdarkness, only beholden to more frivolous powers.
ROSE: Down below in the field of iced lava flowers, Terezi and Gamzee both seemed mostly unaffected. By which I mean, they were both covered in each other's blood and Gamzee was flogging her again.
KANAYA: That Scene Appears To Be A Constant Across Timelines
ROSE: I saw a few Daves spontaneously appear in formal attire, flail around in confusion and then explode messily.
DAVE: not sure i could get more on brand than that
DAVE: what happened to alt bro
ROSE: He was nowhere to be seen, unfortunately.
KANAYA: What About Karkat And Myself
ROSE: I couldn't find you two either. You were just gone.
ROSE: The aerial tableau was dominated by two figures: Aranea, shining with a cold, determined pride; and the Condesce, in a menacing battle stance at the prow of her flagship.
ROSE: Between them, a concentrated, fuzzy, possibly self-gravitating glitchstar occupied Jake's former position.
ROSE: I rubbed some glitchdust from my eyes and then found that my paws were gray and covered with stripes of white fur.
ROSE: I examined my claws with some amazement, lacerated my lips on my fangs, and then decided to just fuck it and go with the flow for the time being.
ROSE: At least my habit still said Seer of Light, so, small mercies.
DAVE: hang on hang on
DAVE: can we just take five and like
DAVE: process some of this bullshit
DAVE: i mean the pile of rhetorical cow patties keeps getting taller
DAVE: this is stupid
KANAYA: I Agree
KANAYA: Rose What Do You Think Happened
KANAYA: Is There Any Method To Be Discerned In These Mad Events
KANAYA: Or Are They Merely The Dying Spasms Of Another Doomed Timeline

==>

ROSE: I think what happened is that Grimbark Jade somehow got hold of a large quantity of compressed glitchdust.
ROSE: In the few days leading up to this attack, she might have noticed John sweeping glitchdust up with wind, and realized that the treacherous substance could be physically manipulated.
ROSE: She can't do the Windy Thing, but she can do Spacey Things: for example, pinpoint manipulations of local gravity.
ROSE: This might have been enough for her to gather a substantial amount of glitchdust into a ball that could be fired.
ROSE: Having witnessed glitchdust's properties at low concentration, she probably thought she was making an amped-up smoke bomb, mostly harmless but disrupting Jake's power-up and enabling her to regain the initiative.
ROSE: But it was so much worse.
ROSE: We were seeing not just obfuscation, but amnesia, temporal displacement within our timeline, and even identity displacement effects from across the whole tree of intentionality.
ROSE: I'm not sure if the mistake was inherent in the concentration of glitchdust Jade unleashed, or in some unforseen synergy with Jake's Hope field, or some other factor or combination of factors.
ROSE: The effect in any case was the same:
ROSE: She essentially overwrote LOFAF with complete nonsense.

==>

DAVE: ok
KANAYA: Yeah
DAVE: so
DAVE: shit was totally fucked then
DAVE: couldnt win the game even if nobody died horribly
KANAYA: Well
KANAYA: Good Question
DAVE: glitchfuck man
DAVE: that shit should be outlawed by international law
DAVE: or interuniversal law i guess
DAVE: do they have a geneva convention in sburb or anything
DAVE: like i dunno
DAVE: the skaia convention
DAVE: whatever convention they have to have to keep people from doing stuff that can blow up a universe before its even created
DAVE: weaponizing glitches should just be illegal as fuck
KANAYA: Seriously
ROSE: It isn't obvious to me that this is a widespread problem throughout paradox space.
ROSE: If it was a typical endgame challenge, it would be a wonder that any universes were created at all.
ROSE: Why we got stuck with it is hard to explain from first principles.
ROSE: Except from a sense of temporal inevitability.
ROSE: We created an invincible endgame superboss.
ROSE: And an even more invincible trans-reality hyperboss.
ROSE: And our session apparently spontaneously generated weapons of mass destruction.
ROSE: The only common factor to all these situations is us.
ROSE: We must just be the absolute worst players who ever lived.
ROSE: The absolute worst.
ROSE: And yet the fact that the multiverse-spanning stable loop that is Lord English exists implies that we must win the game in some timeline.
ROSE: Where is that timeline?
ROSE: ...
DAVE: ...
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: Even More Invincible
KANAYA: Hahahahaha Thats Stupid Rose
DAVE: haha yeah
ROSE: It really kind of is.

Chapter Text

KANAYA: So Is That
KANAYA: All There Is
KANAYA: To Say On The Matter
KANAYA: Did You And The Others Attempt To Salvage The Situation
DAVE: what was jade doing
DAVE: did she snap out of that grimbark shit or like
DAVE: what was her deal
ROSE: Good questions, with short answers.
ROSE: No, she didn't.
ROSE: And our session lurched on for a while longer, brain-dead, before we finally pulled the plug.
KANAYA: Explain
KANAYA: I Have Braced Myself For It

==>

ROSE: Since Jade was our Space player, and it was her Land that was corrupted, I felt we should at least find out what she was doing.
ROSE: Roxy wasn't willing to fly us too close.
ROSE: After what we'd seen. In case Jade smelled or heard us.
ROSE: We ended up hovering above a wide demarcation zone, where the glitches gave way to an open meadow more characteristic of LOFAF.
ROSE: In the middle of the meadow was Jade, head in her hands, her rifle tossed carelessly aside.
ROSE: And floating just above her, gesticulating wildly at the blasted heaths of glitchfuckery, was John.
DAVE: john
DAVE: god DAMN it
KANAYA: What
DAVE: man if hed been there
DAVE: we might actually have had a shot again
KANAYA: Im Not Really Sure What Johns Presence Would Have Changed In Roses Description Of The Aerial Battle
DAVE: earth to kanaya
DAVE: aerial battle
DAVE: hes the fucking heir of air yall
DAVE: hes like
DAVE: more aerial than
DAVE: oh wait wait i got this
KANAYA: ???
DAVE: hes like the fucking heir of air yall more aerial than ariel
DAVE: with the whirlwind in his hair he all be lookin pretty faerial
DAVE: his patron troll is scorpio but his mangrit is aquarial
DAVE: the practical of jokers hes all comic sans not arial
DAVE: with the zillyhoo warhammer gonna make ya auto parry all
DAVE: im tellin ya to beware yall hell ferry yall to burial
DAVE: bff ah khh bff ha bff khhhh bff ah khh bff ha bff khhhh
DAVE: bam
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: ...
DAVE: come ON you guys HOW FRESH was that
KANAYA: That Was
KANAYA: Um
KANAYA: Im Not Sure My Opinion On Slam Poetry Is That Well Informed
ROSE: I have to admit it's better than a lot of your material.
DAVE: philistines
DAVE: keep your slow claps
ROSE: In fact, it would work just as well to Gilbert and Sullivan.
DAVE: AND your poncey operETta
DAVE: but seriously john is like
DAVE: a shenanigan magnet
DAVE: dudes got a goddamn phd in shenanigans
DAVE: of course he died stupidly a bunch of times too so you know
DAVE: but hes the ONLY one i can think of who would have even a smattering of the vaguest hint of a clue about how the fuck to pull this one out
DAVE: or be able to blunder into one half assedly
ROSE: Aren't you awfully invested in the outcome for someone who finds rehashing of alternative doomed timelines futile?
DAVE: just
DAVE: argh
DAVE: stfu
DAVE: just get on with it ok
ROSE: Anytime, Dave.

==>

ROSE: I'm guessing that John saved Jade from further corruption by manipulating the wind to shield them both from the glitchblast.
ROSE: We couldn't make out what they were saying, so had to rely mostly on body language. Jade seemed dejected, and John frantic.
ROSE: At least they were engaged in discussion, rather than combat, which I considered a sign of hope.
ROSE: I argued weakly to Roxy that we should take the risk and drop in altitude enough to at least overhear them, and potentially to join the discussion at an opportune time.
ROSE: Or at least signal to John that we were okay.
ROSE: She insisted that what I needed most was medical attention; we had to hold out long enough for Janey to... sober up, I guess.
ROSE: But those plans were obviated when Janey abruptly returned.
ROSE: This time in a shift tie-dyed only in belligerent shades of red.
ROSE: I didn't have a good feeling about this.

==>

ROSE: The tenor of the discussion became considerably more fractious with Jane's arrival.
ROSE: Jane was jumping up and down like a six-year-old on a trampoline, while Jade faced off, raising her voice and squaring shoulders in classic aggression display.
ROSE: They argued for a bit, ignoring John, who went through cycles of frustration until finally yelling "UGGH, SHUT UP YOU GUYS" at the top of his lungs.
ROSE: That got their attention while John explained his point.
ROSE: Or tried to.
ROSE: Because while Jade's back was turned, Jane --
ROSE: I couldn't see --
ROSE: Bonked Jade on the head with something?
ROSE: That she had captchalogued?
ROSE: Whereupon Jade lit up like a Christmas tree in all the most garish shades of green from lime to spearmint, and began to cackle maniacally.
ROSE: With a high-five, both Jane and Jade then went haring off at full tilt towards the Forge, leaving John hanging at the scene, dumbstruck.
DAVE: oh shit
KANAYA: There Is No Way That Can Have Been An Improvement
ROSE: At that point I convinced Roxy it was safe to approach John, and we landed on the ground near him.
ROSE: She produced a pink scarf from her sylladex and began winding it around my wound while we had the following conversation:

JOHN: roxy! oh man! i'm so glad to see you!
JOHN: and who's... wait.
JOHN: rose?!
JOHN: you are like... part cat now?!
JOHN: what the hell happened to you???
ROSE: Without the license number of that truck... it's hard to say.
JOHN: this glitchy stuff is THE WORST!!!
ROXY: shes hurt rly bad john
ROXY: bein so goddamn heroic back there
ROXY: im hella proud but if we dont patch her up stat shes totes a goner
ROSE: Not that bad. Surely.
JOHN: maaaaan, rose, you look like something the c--
JOHN: um, nevermind.
JOHN: but god dammit, there's no time!
JOHN: can you hang on just a little longer?
ROSE: I -- unngh.
ROXY: i dont think she can
ROXY: johnny windsock u know i trust ur sharp leadery judgments but
ROXY: what could be more urgent than savin ur friends life
JOHN: they're gonna release the -- augh!!!

ROSE: The whole planet rumbled under our feet, as the glitched surface heaved and buckled in peristaltic waves.

ROSE: The what. John.
JOHN: the tadpole.
JOHN: from the forge!
ROSE: That makes... no sense.
JOHN: i know!!!
ROSE: Unless they're going... to fight Echidna for it?
ROXY: noooooooooo
JOHN: augh, this is such bullshit!!!
JOHN: they're doing everything in the wrong order and...
JOHN: look, i'm really sorry, but i gotta go!
ROXY: wait john please no
ROSE: Mom. I'll be okay.
ROSE: This is a big deal.
ROSE: He'll be back.
ROXY: dont leave us here
ROSE: Go, John.
JOHN: ...
JOHN: roxy, keep rose safe!
JOHN: i promise i'll come back with help!
JOHN: bye!!!

ROSE: And away he flew.
DAVE: i would not have wanted to face that choice if i were him
KANAYA: Rose This Is Awful
KANAYA: While Im Not As Well Versed In The Edge Cases Of Possible Endgame Scenarios As You Must Be
KANAYA: Echidna Is One Of The Most Powerful Denizens Of All
KANAYA: I Have Little Doubt That Any Showdown With Her Or Attempt To Circumvent Her Blessing Would Not End Favorably For Us
KANAYA: Certainly It Would Not Result In Any Form Of Victory From Which We Could Claim Our Prize
DAVE: man i seen a lot in this session but
DAVE: this is some SERIOUSLY fucked up shit
ROSE: Mmm.

==>

ROSE: Not to be deterred, I decided my best course of action was to keep gathering data while John tried to deal with the immediate threat.
ROSE: Roxy had burst into tears again.
ROSE: I tried to coax her into taking me aloft one more time; she refused until I laboriously explained that since the surface of LOFAF was largely corrupted, we'd be safer in the air.
ROSE: She then grudgingly acceded, but warned me that if I looked even a shade too wan she was taking me back down.
KANAYA: Good For Her
KANAYA: You Know I Probably Would Have Set You The Same Terms
KANAYA: If I Even Took You Up In The First Place
ROSE: We were then in a good position to watch the astonishing showdown taking place over the Forge. Aranea and the Condesce must, by that point, have figured out that the glitchdust could be manipulated by telekinesis.
DAVE: and john was running TOWARDS that
DAVE: he must have totally lost it
ROSE: The one stroke of good fortune we had, I think, was that TT!Dave was more sensible than to rush back in, this time.
DAVE: wait what
DAVE: i thought i was busy being repeatedly blown up in an unstable glitch loop
ROSE: It seems those dead Daves were more part of the local scenery.
DAVE: oh yeah thanks a lot
ROSE: He flew up just behind us, grimaced at the pageant of destruction and asked what was going on. I was quite weak at that point, so I just shrugged while Roxy haltingly summarized.
DAVE: seriously how did i get there
ROSE: He couldn't remember when I asked.
ROSE: But you're sort of him, right? What would you have done?
DAVE: with something like that wacko bruce willis explosion
DAVE: i bet i wouldve tried to dodge
DAVE: like not in space but in time i mean
DAVE: i would have fast forwarded to a point after the debris settled
ROSE: There you go.
DAVE: yeah ok
DAVE: fair enough
ROSE: No sooner had he understood that I needed help than a second, more haggard Dave approached.
ROSE: In response to the first Dave's mute query, the second Dave just shook his head.
ROSE: They saluted each other and the first Dave winked out amid a clatter of cogs, to complete the stable loop.
DAVE: im so sorry rose
DAVE: i tried
ROSE: Ever the black humorist, he suggested with a weak grin that my best chance for revival was to kick him in the shins a few times, to "even out the karma meter or something."
DAVE: heheh
DAVE: god what an asshole
ROSE: How fiercely I loved you in that moment, you complete bastard.

==>

ROSE: The display we saw was almost like a screen saver for the sky.
ROSE: We saw glitch being formed and reformed into fantastical shapes: walls, spears, branching anemones combing the air.
ROSE: Fractal dragons that twisted and snapped at each other before dissolving and merging into yet more terrifying forms.
ROSE: Through it all ran a howling gale that ever so gradually eroded glitchdust from the prismatic phantasms, and blew it away into the sky to form an ominous aurora glitchalis.
DAVE: i guess that last one is john trying to sweep it all clean
ROSE: Probably, yes. It's hard to be sure.
ROSE: In any case, that became irrelevant when the Forge erupted.

==>

KANAYA: Oh God
ROSE: A towering column of fire shot into the air towards Skaia.
ROSE: Whatever Jade and Jane had been planning, it succeeded in accomplishing at least that much.
KANAYA: But
ROSE: The weaving glitchdragons went still.
ROSE: Then about half of them dove straight into the flame.
ROSE: And glitched it as well.
KANAYA: You Mean
ROSE: Let me spell it out:
ROSE: First, the glitch-mediated corruption was capable of spreading.
ROSE: Second, we now had a fountain of glitch aimed straight towards the center of our battlefield.
DAVE: holy shit
ROSE: Far above our heads, the glitchstream shifted and swerved, wending this way and that but heading roughly in Skaia's direction.
ROSE: My guess was that the two enemy powers had ceased contending with each other directly, and were now wrestling to accomplish or prevent the poisoning of Skaia itself.
ROSE: Which would surely spell defeat for the Condesce if the rest of the glitchery hadn't already.
ROSE: But in truth, the full consequences of such a fundamental blunder are unclear even to me.
ROSE: Was Aranea merely engaging in foolhardy brinksmanship, or had the remainder of her screws finally come loose?
ROSE: What terror could be wrought by the trans-reality defilement of the very font of creative potential?
ROSE: Would it be confined to our session, or spread through paradox space to afflict other universes?
DAVE: christ
ROSE: We never learned the answer to that question, though.
ROSE: I saw a faint spot foregrounded against the distant face of Skaia, which waxed ominously into a penumbra of impending doom.
ROSE: Could it have been one of the planets, knocked from its orbit?
ROSE: Or a meteor from the Veil, redirected by Skaia through one of its portals?
ROSE: Its size was uncertain, but its trajectory wasn't.
ROSE: It was heading straight for the Forge: perhaps to cauterize the source of the glitch, with appropriately cataclysmic finality.
KANAYA: So Rose
KANAYA: What Did You Do Then
DAVE: jesus kanaya what COULD she do
ROSE: The only things I thought I had left to do.

==>

ROSE: I turned to Dave, who had remained by our side throughout with impassive countenance but ever so slightly hunched posture.
ROSE: And with my right paw I made the sign we had agreed upon as part of our original plan, that meant: Rip it all out and start over.
ROSE: He swallowed hard, then gave a shuddering sigh and nodded.
ROSE: He touched my shoulder lightly, inclined his head towards Roxy, the catchment of the gears of time released with a click, and he was gone.
DAVE: ...
ROSE: Then I turned to Roxy, who was staring at me with freshly quivering lip, shaking her head in denial.
ROSE: I reached up to touch her shoulder with the same gesture Dave had given me, and purred deep in my throat.
ROSE: She clutched me closer then.
ROSE: I wish I could have done the same for Kanaya.
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: Just at that moment, I saw John snap into existence with a sizzle and the metallic whiff of ozone.
ROSE: His god hood was sooty and rumpled, his glasses smudged, features set in grim determination, warhammer poised to strike.
ROSE: He startled, with a sudden intake of breath, then turned around towards us as the fight drained from him and left him empty.
ROSE: I gave him a little smile. He'd need it.
ROSE: And I closed my eyes.
DAVE: ...
KANAYA: ...

==>

ROSE: And that's the last thing I remember.

Chapter Text

It's mutually understood that none of you should move or speak after this.

You share a moment of silence, mourning once again for your common future, and for your fallen selves and comrades from the now-withered timeline who fought the implacable tide of fate for its sake.

Rose stares glassily into the space in front of her, the ghost of her last smile haunting her thin lips. Kanaya brushes something from her cheek, takes a deep breath for a rainbow drinker, lets it out slowly. Dave slumps back against Kanaya, his face still unreadable but each part of the rest of him seeking the lowest point.

Eventually Rose gets up and sits next to you both, clasps Kanaya's hand and catches her gaze. After a while, Dave adds his own hand, and possibly his own gaze from behind his well-worn aviators. The soft white glow of Kanaya's face is the candle for your vigil, and her left arm encircles Dave from behind like a garden wall. The faint drone of the dream meteor's afterlife support is the only sound. Over against the atom-stopping cold of the Furthest Ring outside the mnembrane, the tenuous warmth of these pinpoints of contact between you three binds you together and sustains you.

And so you all sit, sustained in this way, together.

Chapter Text

DAVE: oh god ok who farted
KANAYA: What
DAVE: that smells terrible someone just cut a gigantic hunk of cheese and im wondering which one of you is to blame
KANAYA: What Are You Talking About
DAVE: im talking about somebody in this pile breaking the biggest stinky wind this side of john egbert and im not going to stop talking about it until the windbreaker pleads guilty
KANAYA: I Suddenly Dont Understand Anything
ROSE: I forget the troll vernacular for that particular biological process, Kanaya.
KANAYA: I Heard And Comprehended What He Said The First Time Around But His Pronouncement Was So Incongruous With The Prevailing Decorum That I Was At A Loss To Respond
DAVE: good lord all the words coming out of you two and none of them involve fessing up to a massive case of the space vapors
ROSE: Heheh. Wasn't me.
KANAYA: Dave We Are Bubble Ghosts
KANAYA: We Are Now Beings Of Pure Thought Who Exist Only In The Dubious Subconscious Fancies Of Planet Sized Eldritch Beasts
KANAYA: If You Are Experiencing The Smell Of The Gaseous By Products Of Digestion It Is Because Someone Is Remembering It
DAVE: ok kanaya its time to come clean
KANAYA: Someone Who Is NOT ME
ROSE: Pffffffhahahaha!

==>

KANAYA: Rose I Am Surprised At You
KANAYA: I Thought Your Sense Of Humor Was More Refined Than This
ROSE: My Earth human humor?
DAVE: ahahahaha good one rose
KANAYA: Stop Pretending This Is A Hilarious Cultural Misunderstanding
KANAYA: We Lived Together In This Place For Three Of Your Earth Years And You Are Both Well Aware That There Are Plenty Of Trolls Who Make Pupa Level Load Gaper Jokes In Precisely This Style
KANAYA: Although None Of Them Happen To Be Around Right Now
ROSE: Could it be... the ghost of Karkat's farts?
DAVE: AHAHAHAHA YES we are being haunted by kanayas memory of karkats ghost farts come on kanaya admit it
KANAYA: I Will Admit No Such Thing!
KANAYA: Because It Is Not Merely Insincere But Factually Untrue!
ROSE: Defendant has entered her plea as Not Guilty of space ghost flatulence.
DAVE: th3 pros3cut1on would l1k3 to show 3xh1b1t 4:
DAVE: *sn11111ffff* uuuuuggghhh
ROSE: Ahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!
DAVE: sorry memory of terezi for ganking your scent lawyer shtick
DAVE: its all in the name of truth justice and meteors that dont smell like seven sweep old stale troll ass
KANAYA: You Are Both Acting Like Ridiculous Wigglers!
KANAYA: What
KANAYA: Have You Regressed
KANAYA: Are You Four Now
DAVE: YES WE ARE LITERALLY FOUR YEARS OLD AND JUST OUT OF OUR CHEAP ECTODIAPERS NO THANKS TO FUCKING SBURB
ROSE: AHAHAHAHAHA WAIT DAVE ARE YOU SURE, WHAT IF WE ARE THE SMELLY ONES IT'S US.
DAVE: OH GOD AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
KANAYA: What Happened To Inscrutable Irony And Devastating Sarcasm?!
DAVE: irony is dead kanaya it died with us
ROSE: I'm pretty sure it suffocated in the grip of the buttskritch throes of the poopjester buhuhungs. Alahahas, eheheh, one is not eeheeheeaaaSILY AHAHAHAhahahahaha oh god Dave I just can't
DAVE: stubborn throes those but what of this poopjester is he not the fool at the court of the pooplord of the manor
ROSE: Prithee, good Sir Knight, whither the pooplord, what's-his-name?
DAVE: i think his name was
DAVE: JOHN
ROSE& AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
DAVE: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

==>

KANAYA: Riiiiight
ROSE: Ahahahahahahahaha get it Kanaya, the pooplord is named John!
ROSE: See what he did there? I want you to see what he did there.
KANAYA: Okay Against The Odds I Think I Am Beginning To Understand
DAVE: kanaya there aint that much to understand the joke is basically
DAVE: BUTTS LOL
ROSE: Phthbbhbbhhttbbhhhbhttttt!!!
DAVE: times infinity
KANAYA: No What I Mean Is
KANAYA: The Fundamental Absurdity And Meaninglessness Of Entropy As An Organizing Feature Of Life And The Origin Of The Arrow Of Time
KANAYA: Mortality Is Hard Enough For Most Sentient Beings To Come To Terms With When They Believe They Will Leave An Impact On The World They Love That Will Continue After Their Death
KANAYA: But The Only Way To Bear The Tragic Absurdity Of Being A Body Trapped Inside A Timeline That Dies With Excessive Violence Calculated To Drive Us Mad
KANAYA: In Our Case Over And Over Again
KANAYA: Is To Supersede It With The Comic Absurdity Of Being A Soul Trapped Inside A Body That Makes Undignified Noises And Emits Noxious Odors
KANAYA: In Our Case Over And Over Again
DAVE: hmmm
DAVE: yeeeaaahhh you could write that dissertation and you would probably get a pretty good grade on it
ROSE: A+ for Miss Maryam in the front row! A prizewinning essay.
ROSE: Come clean the erasers after class, please.
ROSE: (Because they smell like, well, you know. Pfftsnrkheheheh.)
DAVE: or you can go for the jugular as you are no doubt inclined to do
DAVE: and consider that basically all other jokes are made out of asses
DAVE: take the subtlest ironic smirk and peel away its cheshire cat layers and what do you find but derrieres all the way down
KANAYA: Dave Do You Really Expect Me To Believe That You Believe That
DAVE: WHO KNOWS
KANAYA: This Is About That Tenacious Commitment To The Fantasy Part Of Insincerity Based Humor Again Isnt It
ROSE: But wait, Kanaya. It's so much worse than that.
ROSE: Farts aren't the only ... noises and emissions our bodies make.
ROSE: As I'm sure you're all too aware by now.
KANAYA: Ummm Yes Well
KANAYA: I Guess So?
ROSE: And sometimes, as Dave suggests, those noises and emissions not only drive humor, but come with their own ... rewards.
DAVE: um yyyyyeah sure
DAVE: i mean obviously i suggested that somewhere in what i said
DAVE: like with at least thirteen levels of reflexive obliqueness
DAVE: maybe some monkeys typing on typewriters and holy shit all of a sudden that sentiment came out you know
ROSE: AHAHAHAHAHAHAAA oh you are BOTH so adorable come here right now.
KANAYA: Was That The Insincere Part
ROSE: Oh no, I'm being completely serious about all of that.

==>

KANAYA: Rose!
KANAYA: What Has Gotten Into You?!
KANAYA: I Am Feeling A Bit Disoriented Here As Though My Humor Compass Has Been Sabotaged By Some Stealthily Placed Whimsy Magnetite
ROSE: Let me put it this way, Kanaya.
ROSE: I can't speak for Dave, but I've got some steam to blow off.
ROSE: Right now I'm pretty sick of remembering dying. I'd kind of like to remember what... living was like.
ROSE: Or perhaps what it's more the pity that it never was like.
ROSE: Do you catch my drift?
ROSE: ;)
KANAYA: Well
KANAYA: Um
DAVE: dont think too hard about it kanaya your brain will explode in some kind of weird flirting paradox
KANAYA: Flirting
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: Ohhhhhh
KANAYA: Yes I Think I Understand Now
KANAYA: Are You Asking Me Out On Another Date
KANAYA: One Without The Influence Of Mind Altering Soporifics
ROSE: That's certainly important context for what I'm asking, yes.
DAVE: (oh my fucking god)
KANAYA: When
ROSE: Starting right about... now!
KANAYA: I Am Delighted To Accept
KANAYA: I Think This May Be Just What I Need As Well
ROSE: Splendid. I have just the venue in mind.
KANAYA: But Um Just To Clarify
KANAYA: You Mean A Matesprits Only Event Right
DAVE: its cool kanaya ill be fine
KANAYA: Are You Sure Dave
KANAYA: Your Tenuous Mental Health Isnt That Tenuous Is It
ROSE: Your concern for Dave is sweet, Kanaya.
ROSE: But if you force me to make my agenda as explicit as I'd like to make it, he won't be able to repeat it on the radio or in any of his albums.
DAVE: yeah look go take a break and have a good time you two
DAVE: ill get back to those raps for a little bit
DAVE: maybe jam on that one about egbert that was getting somewhere
DAVE: just let me know when you wanna hang some more
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: Okay Have Fun
DAVE: you too
ROSE: We will. ;)
KANAYA: Bye Dave
DAVE: later

==>

DAVE: ...
DAVE: ...
DAVE: ...
DAVE: *sigh*

Chapter Text

KARKAT: WE ARE SO SCREWED.
KARKAT: OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK.
KARKAT: GUYS, I AM TERRIFIED, I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
KARKAT: I'M IN A ROOM FULL OF BODIES, AND I THINK I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO TURN MY BACK ON THEM?
KARKAT: OH MY GOD, I JUST HEARD A HONK.
KARKAT: OH GOD OH GOD OH MAN OH GOD
KARKAT: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
KARKAT: IT CAME FROM THE HORN PILE
KARKAT: I DON'T KNOW IF IT WAS JUST THE BODY SETTLING ON AN ERRANT HORN OR...
KARKAT: OR IF...
KARKAT: I HAVE TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE.
DAVE: man what the hell even happened on this meteor anyway
DAVE: actually dont even tell me
KARKAT: OK
KARKAT: OK YEAH
KARKAT: I GUESS YOU'RE RIGHT.
KARKAT: NO, YOU'RE RIGHT, I SHOULD RELAX.
KARKAT: AND BREATHE.
KARKAT: I MEAN, WHAT ARE MOIRAILS FOR, RIGHT?
KARKAT: THIS IS HOW IT WORKS, I STOP YOU FROM KILLING EVERYBODY, THEN YOU RETURN THE FAVOR AND CALM ME DOWN AND I JUST
KARKAT: BREATHE
KARKAT: LIKE
KARKAT: THIS...
DAVE: wait has the juggalo troll been giving you guys fits like this or something
DAVE: like this is a thing
DAVE: like a pattern
KARKAT: NICE GUESS SHIT HEAD!
KARKAT: HE SORT OF COLLECTS BODIES AND DECAPITATES THEM AND STUFF
KARKAT: STICKS THEM IN BIG SCIENCE JARS, FOR SOME REASON??
KANAYA: Im Pretty Sure He Kisses Them Too Sometimes
KARKAT: NO NO NO I'M NOT LISTENING TO SHIT LIKE THAT, I DIDN'T EVEN HEAR THAT.
KARKAT: KANAYA WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
KANAYA: Clown Hunting
KARKAT: OH NO...
KARKAT: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THAT?
KARKAT: I MEAN WHO EVEN REALLY CARES IF HE STOLE MORE BODIES.
KARKAT: HE CAN HAVE THEM FRANKLY, AS LONG AS IT KEEPS HIM OUT OF TROUBLE.
KANAYA: I Am Not Scared Of You!
KANAYA: None Of Us Are!
KARKAT: (i kind of am)
KANAYA: Karkat Shut Up!
DAVE: dude did you just bark
KARKAT: WHAT? NO I DIDN'T BARK.
KARKAT: I THOUGHT THAT WAS YOU.
DAVE: why would i bark
KARKAT: WELL WHY THE FUCK WOULD I BARK???
DAVE: because youre having a mental breakdown
KARKAT: WHY DON'T YOU HAVE A MENTAL GO FUCK YOURSELF?
DAVE: karkat is broken guys
KARKAT: WHAT
KARKAT: HOW DO YOU KNOW MY NAME.
ROSE: Maybe you should lie down on the couch.
KARKAT: NO
DAVE: maybe the mayor barked
DAVE: mayor was that you
DAVE: haha i bet it was
DAVE: god i love the mayor hes so full of surprises
KARKAT: I DON'T BELIEVE THIS.
KARKAT: HOW COULD WE NOT HAVE THOUGHT THIS THROUGH BETTER!
ROSE: Illumination of the road to victory for all is an asset considerably different from command over the outcomes of decisions made by individuals.
DAVE: man pull it together
DAVE: this thing has to have some escape pods or something
KARKAT: WHERE! I NEVER SAW ANY!
ROSE: Don'ot worry guy,s
ROSE: I've vave a fealing evvvvery thinks gogna work out. ;)
DAVE: rose shut the fuck up
KARKAT: WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW
KARKAT: SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON.
KARKAT: WHO'S THE LEADER NOW?
KARKAT: I NEED TO KNOW WHO THE LEADER IS
KARKAT: I NEED TO KNOW IN WHOSE DIRECTION I MUST BEHAVE AS THE MOST PATHETICALLY USELESS SUBORDINATE I CAN BE.
KARKAT: STRIDER, IS IT YOU???
DAVE: aw yeah
DAVE: i got sicknasty logistics up my sleeve
DAVE: i just call them stics fyi which is how you know im way savvy about them
DAVE: most of the stics im fine tuning atm involve rap though i should warn you
DAVE: but dave what if that dope as hell plan falls through i can hear you ask
DAVE: plan b
DAVE: involves drawing some shitty cartoons
DAVE: and not giving a fuck about stuff
KARKAT: GOD DAMN IT DAVE.
KARKAT: I HAVE A PROBLEM.
KARKAT: NO.
KARKAT: *WE* HAVE A PROBLEM.
DAVE: man i dunno
DAVE: sounds like you wanna make this needlessly melodramatic
DAVE: why do you really want me in on this conversation is it just that you dont know what to say by yourself
KARKAT: MAYBE IT IS DAVE!
KARKAT: MAYBE THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT IT FUCKING IS.
KARKAT: I'M SORRY. I'M NOT A "GOD TIER".
KARKAT: I AM NOT SO FORTUNATE AS TO BE BLESSED WITH THE "GIFT OF GAB" LIKE YOU.
DAVE: what
KARKAT: THAT BADGE YOU EARNED. YOU KNOW, THE ONE THAT MAKES IT EASIER TO TALK TO PEOPLE?
KARKAT: LIKE, REALLY OPEN UP ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS AND SAY WHATEVER NEEDS TO BE SAID?
KARKAT: I MEAN, AS FRIENDS.
DAVE: what do you mean as friends
KARKAT: I MEAN WILL WE STILL GET TO BE BROS.
DAVE: uh
DAVE: cant talk chasing dogs
KARKAT: DAVE?
KARKAT: WHAT THE FUCK
DAVE: dunno but i was just leaving
KARKAT: NOT SO FAST STRIDER, THIS HEAVILY CONCERNS YOU.
KARKAT: IT CONCERNS YOU EXCLUSIVELY IN FACT.
KARKAT: WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING?
DAVE: just stepping out to do a thing
DAVE: which is not your business
KARKAT: OH I SEE, TAKING THE COWARD'S WAY OUT.
KARKAT: WELL FINE, SAYONARA YOU WORTHLESS CROTCHSTAINED BARFPUPPET.
KARKAT: I JUST KNEW IT
KARKAT: THIS IS MY WORST NIGHTMARE REALIZED
KARKAT: ...
KARKAT: ...
KARKAT: ...
KARKAT: WOW
KARKAT: ACTUALLY THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT IT IS.
KARKAT: THIS NIGHTMARE IS LITERALLY THE WORST.
KARKAT: IT'S AN INCOHERENT GRAB BAG OF ANXIETY AND APOPLEXY.
KARKAT: THERE'S NO WAY ANY OF THIS CAN BE REAL, I MUST BE DREAMING.

==>

Slow claps sound from beyond the badly drawn proscenium curtains, resounding in the silence. Startling, you trip over a few shoddy mannequins dressed like your dead friends.

> Karkat: Investigate.

You throw the curtains aside. Rows of empty seats line the theatre, except for one illuminated by torchlight. A black-robed figure is seated there.

He throws aside the cowl to reveal his face, that is to say, your face. Let's call him Dark Karkat, or Darkat for short, or maybe just "asshole", to keep it straight. He addresses you in your own voice, which you recognize instantly as the voice of a complete bulgelord.

This is going to be one of those conversations isn't it.

> Karkat: Engage.

DARKAT: CONGRATULATIONS, FUCKO.
DARKAT: YOU HAVE WON TONIGHT'S GRAND PRIZE OF WAKING UP FROM THIS DREAM OF CARNAGE TO AN INFINITELY MORE HORRIFYING REALITY.
KARKAT: ACTUALLY, I TAKE THAT ALL BACK.
KARKAT: HOW COULD MY WORST NIGHTMARE POSSIBLY BE COMPLETE WITHOUT BEING SHUNTED ON DREAM RAILS TOWARDS YET ANOTHER INANE FUCKING ARGUMENT WITH SOME FUTURE SELF, OR SHADOW DREAMSELF, OR FAKE-ASS HOLOGRAM OR WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU THINK YOU ARE.
KARKAT: AS IT IS, LET'S CUT THE CRYPTIC BULLSHIT AND JUST LAY EVERYTHING OUT ON THE TABLE.
KARKAT: YOU'RE CLEARLY A PROJECTION OF MY SUBCONSCIOUS, AND ARE NO MORE REAL THAN ANY OF THE REST OF THIS ASININE METAPHORICAL SPIRIT JOURNEY MUMBO JUMBO.
DARKAT: THAT'S NOT ALL I AM, ASSHOLE.
DARKAT: MORE SPECIFICALLY, I'M A MANIFESTATION OF THE LAST DEFENSE MECHANISM STANDING BETWEEN YOUR FEEBLE THINK PAN AND COMPLETE DISSOCIATIVE PSYCHOSIS.
KARKAT: YOU'RE SITTING, YOU AUTO-FELLATING KNOBSQUATTER.
DARKAT: WHAT.
KARKAT: YOU'RE SITTING DOWN. NOT STANDING.
KARKAT: BETWEEN ME AND ANYTHING.
DARKAT: OKAY, *NOW* I'M STANDING BECAUSE YOU ARE JUST THAT COMBATIVELY PEDANTIC AND IT'S EASIER TO SIMPLY HUMOR YOU THAN TO WASTE YOUR OWN PRECIOUS MENTAL ENERGY YELLING AT YOU.
DARKAT: MY POINT IS, YOU THINK IT'S BAD TALKING TO ME?
DARKAT: TRY TWELVE OF YOU, ALL OF WHOM ARE ANGRIER THAN YOU COULD EVEN BEGIN TO ASPIRE TO THINK ABOUT DREAMING.
KARKAT: GOD, MY DREAMS SUCK. NO WONDER I NEVER LIKED SLEEPING.
KARKAT: HOW MANY LIMBS DO I HAVE TO SAW OFF AND FEED TO THE DARK GODS TO GET SOME HALF DECENT DREAMS UP IN HERE.
DARKAT: I DON'T KNOW, MAN. TAKE IT UP WITH WHOEVER WROTE THE PROCEDURAL GENERATION FOR THIS BULGEMUNCHING BEHEMOTH LEAVING OF A GAME.
DARKAT: I JUST WORK HERE, YOU KNOW?
DARKAT: THIS KIND OF BULLSHIT IS WAY ABOVE MY PAY GRADE.
KARKAT: THAT WAS A RHETORICAL QUESTION, ASSTARD.
DARKAT: DUDE, THAT ISN'T ON ME EITHER.
DARKAT: YOU NEED TO PHRASE YOUR GODDAMN QUESTIONS BETTER.
DARKAT: PART OF THOSE COMMUNICATION SKILLS YOU'VE BEEN BLUFFING YOUR WAY THROUGH THIS WHOLE FUCKING TIME.
KARKAT: FUCK YOU, I'M FIGURING OUT ALL THIS SHIT MYSELF, LIKE A BOSS.
KARKAT: WHEN I'M DONE, I WILL CELEBRATE MY SUCCESS BY TAKING A HUGE STEAMING DUMP ON YOU AND EVERYTHING YOU STAND FOR.
DARKAT: UGH, IF YOU REALLY MUST, I GUESS.

==>

KARKAT: OKAY, SO IF I'M LUCID DREAMING NOW, THERE'S A GOOD CHANCE I HAVE ACCESS TO A DREAM BUBBLE.
KARKAT: MAYBE I CAN REMEMBER MY WAY OUT OF THIS RETCHCHUGGING NIGHTMARE THEATRE AND FIGURE OUT WHAT THE PRECISE FUCK IS ACTUALLY GOING ON.
KARKAT: MAYBE BY TALKING TO SOMEONE MORE ENLIGHTENING AND ENLIGHTENED THAN YOU.
DARKAT: FOR ONCE YOU DON'T ACTUALLY SOUND AS STUPID AS YOU ALMOST ALWAYS ARE.
DARKAT: THE QUESTION IS WHETHER YOU REALLY WANT TO GO THERE.
KARKAT: OF COURSE I WANT TO GO THERE!
KARKAT: JEGUS, IT'S GOT TO BE BETTER THAN HERE.
DARKAT: ARE YOU SURE, MAN?
DARKAT: YOU SEEM TO BE TOTALLY UNDERESTIMATING YOUR OWN HYSTERICAL FRAGILITY HERE.
DARKAT: MAYBE CALM YOUR FIGURATIVE RUMBLESPHERES A LITTLE. YOU KNOW, THE ONES YOU DON'T HAVE, FOR MANY REASONS TOO OBVIOUS TO BOTHER LISTING.
KARKAT: LOOK, IF I TAKE WHAT YOU'RE SAYING AT FACE VALUE, WHICH IS ALREADY A SERIOUSLY DUBIOUS ENTERPRISE, THEN APPARENTLY SOMETHING CATASTROPHICALLY AWFUL OCCURRED AND PUSHED ME INTO A FUGUE STATE.
KARKAT: HELL, I MIGHT EVEN BE DEAD. AM I DEAD?
DARKAT: NOT AUTHORIZED TO TELL YOU THAT, GAPERLICKER.
DARKAT: YOU GOTTA FIGURE THAT ONE OUT ON YOUR OWN. LIKE A BOSS.
DARKAT: BUT ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE ME ABOUT YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH, OR NOT?
KARKAT: WELL, I DON'T REALLY HAVE ANY FUCKING CHOICE HERE, DO I.
KARKAT: I SURE DON'T WANT TO BELIEVE YOU, BECAUSE YOUR STORY SOUNDS DUMB, AND BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO DIE, OR FOR MY FRIENDS TO DIE.
KARKAT: BUT THAT JUST SEEMS TO BE THE DIRECTION THIS DREAM IS GOING.
KARKAT: AND AT LEAST FOR THE MOMENT, IT'S STILL A DREAM, WITH AS YET UNCERTAIN AND UNSPECIFIED CONNECTIONS TO ANY REAL-WORLD EVENTS.
KARKAT: IF I WANT TO KNOW MORE, I HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT.
KARKAT: AND THAT MEANS DEALING WITH YOUR SMUG SLURRYSLURPING FACE, WHICH, MUCH TO MY CHAGRIN, IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING HERE.
KARKAT: NOT THAT THAT'S REALLY SAYING MUCH IN THIS BARREN, CLICHED DREAMSCAPE.
KARKAT: SO STOP STANDING IN MY WAY, AND LET'S GET THIS THE FUCK OVER WITH.
DARKAT: I'LL TAKE THAT AS MY CUE TO SIT DOWN AND RESUME THE PATRONIZING SIDE-EYE I WAS GIVING YOU EARLIER.
DARKAT: YOU WANT TO LEAVE? FINE.
DARKAT: THE DOOR IS OVER THERE.
KARKAT: OH, VERY CLEVER. IT'S EVEN GOT THE BLOOD ASPECT SYMBOL ON IT, AS THOUGH I'VE BEEN DESTINED TO PASS THROUGH IT TO REALIZE MY OWN UNIQUE POTENTIAL OR SOME SUCH DEPRESSINGLY TIRED TROPE.
DARKAT: THAT'S NOT AN ASPECT SYMBOL.
DARKAT: TAKE A CLOSER LOOK.

> Karkat: Take a closer look.

KARKAT: WHAT
KARKAT: OH FUCK
KARKAT: THIS IS *ACTUAL* BLOOD ISN'T IT.
KARKAT: LOOKS LIKE MY OWN. WELL THAT SETTLES IT, I MUST BE DEAD.
DARKAT: JESUS SHITFLINGING CHRIST, YOU'RE SO DENSE IT'S A WONDER YOU DON'T COLLAPSE THIS WHOLE DREAM INTO A NEUTRON STAR.
DARKAT: THAT'S NOT YOUR BLOOD.
DARKAT: IT'S *HIS*.
DARKAT: HONK.

==>

KARKAT: WHAT
DARKAT: YOU HEARD ME.
KARKAT: OH GOD NO
KARKAT: LET ME IN THERE RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!

> Karkat: Open door.

You frantically rattle the handle to the steel door, which comes off in your hand. Undaunted, you bang on the door, then punch it until your knuckles start to bleed, leaving cherry-red spots darkening against its unyielding surface. Between ragged breaths, you call out his name. Every second you don't hear a response pools like more blood under the door, steadily draining the life from your hopes of seeing him healthy and whole again.

You muster your remaining strength, and put all your weight behind a kick that removes the door from its hinges. The sight this action reveals washes you away in a cascade of horror and disbelief, the current far stronger than even your active imagination could provide.

Having gone deaf to your own screams, you snap away from the grisly scene and run like hell. An unseen foot trips you and you are falling,

falling,,,

still falling into the open grave whose mouth yawns beneath you.

==>

After an indefinite period of gut-wrenching weightlessness, your fall is broken by a cacophonous impact onto the horn pile. Not stopping to see if anything is broken, you scramble at the horns to right yourself, then limp as fast as you can towards the only available exit. Though your ankle twinges in protest, you start running again through the brushed metal corridors, praying to all the gods you ever believed in and many you still don't to find something, anything, beyond the blackness.

An open doorway with a warm, faint light beckons, and you make for it. You pass through into the light to find him slouching there, on one of the overstuffed chairs, as though none of what you just saw had happened. You can't see his eyes behind his customary shades, but you know what you'll find if he ever decides to take them off.

He looks up in surprise; clearly he wasn't expecting you. Before he can protest, you fling your arms around him and bury your face in his shoulder, still hyperventilating, tremors of rage and grief still wracking you.

==>

DAVE: oh hey karkat hows it g--
KARKAT: OH GOD, DAVE! WHY!!!
DAVE: you okay bro you dont look so good
DAVE: hey can you not get dream snot on my cape while youre at it
KARKAT: WHY DID YOU DO IT, DAVE.
KARKAT: YOU STUPID, STUPID MOTHERFUCKER.
KARKAT: WHYYYYYHYHYHYHYHYHYYYYY.

Chapter Text

ROSE: Here we are.
ROSE: I've never gotten the chance to take you here before, but we might as well exploit the dream bubble mechanics to the fullest.
KANAYA: Rose This Is Incredible
KANAYA: I Had No Idea Your World Was So Beautiful
ROSE: Well, my house was in an especially nice part of it.
KANAYA: It Was Pretty Through The Trollian Viewport But Thats Incomparable To Being Here
KANAYA: The River Running Under Your House Sparkling In The Setting Sun
KANAYA: The Whisper Of Water Rushing Over The Stones
KANAYA: The Crisp Chill In The Air Keeping One Alert And Present
KANAYA: Such Delicious Melancholy
ROSE: We call this "autumn". It's a nice starter season.
KANAYA: What Are Those Exotic Flora With The Brilliant Red And Orange Foliations
ROSE: They're called maple trees. When the winter gets cold enough, you can extract their sap to make a sweet syrup for cooking.
KANAYA: We Didnt Have Anything Like Them Where I Lived
KANAYA: Maybe Even On The Whole Of Alternia
ROSE: They don't always look like that. At different times of year:
KANAYA: Oh!
ROSE: So in the early summer for example, the seeds are attached to these little wings and when they fall, they go like this:
KANAYA: Oooh!
ROSE: My favorite time of year is winter, though. When the ground is covered in snow and you can't see anything but your own tracks.
KANAYA: We Have Snow Sometimes On Alternia
KANAYA: But It Never Really Accumulates On Any Surface In Layers Thick Enough To Obscure Anything
KANAYA: This Gives Such An Air Of Mystery And Solitude To The Landscape
ROSE: And the branches are black and bare against the low gray clouds, like this.
KANAYA: I See How That Would Appeal To You
KANAYA: The Figure And Ground Of The Scene Can Be Reversed
KANAYA: So That The Tree Branches Look Like Cracks
KANAYA: As if The Sky Was The Shell Of An Egg And You Had Only To Tap It In The Right Place To Free Another Universe Inside
ROSE: How did you know?
KANAYA: My Sense Of The Potential In Quiet Spaces Is One Of The Things Youve Grown To Like Most About Me
ROSE: It's true!
KANAYA: Mmm
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: ...

> KISS HER

ROSE: You seem distracted, all of a sudden. A penny for your thoughts?
KANAYA: Hmm?
ROSE: An Earth expression, for when we want to know what a friend is thinking. A penny is a small denomination of Earth currency.
ROSE: Your thoughts of course are worth much more to me, and I will pay accordingly in whatever medium of exchange you prefer.
KANAYA: Oh Yes
KANAYA: Sorry
KANAYA: I Am Just Thinking About Dave Again
KANAYA: All Alone By Himself Back There
ROSE: What's the deal? He said he'd be all right.
KANAYA: He Did
KANAYA: And I Am Enjoying My Matesprits Only Date With You Immensely
KANAYA: But I Can Easily Imagine Him Saying He Would Be Okay For Our Sake
KANAYA: When In Fact His True Feelings Are The Reverse
ROSE: Trust me, he'll be glad to get rid of us flushbirds for a while.
ROSE: He's probably deep into his raps by now.
KANAYA: You Think So
ROSE: On the basis of extensive past experience, anyway.
KANAYA: I Find Him To Be A Bundle Of Contradictions Not Unlike Yourself
KANAYA: But Different Contradictions
KANAYA: He Always Appeared Deeply Invested In Projecting An Exterior Facade Of Insouciance And Emotional Detachment
ROSE: Yes, that certainly does sound like the Dave I know.
KANAYA: But Now When That Exterior Fractures It Reveals An Interior Of Turmoil And Self Loathing
KANAYA: And Underlying Strong Emotional Attachments
KANAYA: He Cares Deeply For You
KANAYA: And I Am Forming The Impression That He Cares About Me More Than I Ever Imagined In My Own Timeline
KANAYA: I Suppose I Have Grown Protective Of Him
ROSE: Heheh, you're right.
ROSE: You've become quite the mother hen for him lately.
ROSE: Or cluckbeast, you would probably say.
KANAYA: Well
KANAYA: Um
KANAYA: Im Asking Myself Whether It Might Be More Than That

> I SAID KISS HER

ROSE: More than what?
ROSE: Wait.
ROSE: Why do you keep saying "matesprits-only date"?
ROSE: Do trolls actually have group dates across the quadrants?
KANAYA: Well
KANAYA: The Most Common Type Of Dates On Alternia Were Held In Pairs
KANAYA: Typically Two Matesprits Or Kismeses As You Might Expect
KANAYA: I Guess For Moirails They Would Be Called Jams Or Piles Instead
KANAYA: It Was Of Course Not Uncommon For An Auspistice To Accompany A Caliginous Couple On A Date To Curtail And Legitimize Bloodshed
KANAYA: Beyond That Other Groups Of Trolls Occupying Mutual Quadrants Might Occasionally Spend Collective Romantic Time Together
ROSE: Also, why are we talking about Dave this way on our date?!
ROSE: Do you mean you're... romantically interested in Dave?
ROSE: But not as... not as a matesprit... right?
ROSE: You're not going to break --
KANAYA: No Not As A Matesprit Rose
KANAYA: Ive Never Been Happier With You As My Matesprit To Be Honest
ROSE: I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear that.
KANAYA: Also Why Would I Break Up With You On Such A Wonderful Date That Would Just Be So Mean
ROSE: Agreed. Can we get back to relaxing together now?
KANAYA: Im Sorry To Have Made You Anxious Rose
KANAYA: The Feelings I Am Now Exploring For Dave Are Strictly Pale
KANAYA: And Im Not Even Sure Yet That They Are Fully Reciprocated
KANAYA: Ordinarily I Might Go Over Them With My Moirail First
KANAYA: But I Havent Had One Since Vriska
KANAYA: And I Want To Sort Out The Implications Before I Talk To Dave
KANAYA: Obviously Any Action I Took Would Impact You As Well
ROSE: Well, I would hope you'd feel comfortable in bringing any such ticking romance bombs to me to defuse together in a timely manner.
KANAYA: Its Nothing So Potentially Explosive As A Bomb
KANAYA: And Although It Inconveniences Us A Bit To Do It During Our Date
KANAYA: This Is The First Available Opportunity I Had To Talk To You Alone
KANAYA: So Would You Be Willing To Don Your Moirail Panlid For A Moment

> WHY ARE YOU NOT KISSING THAT GIRL YET

ROSE: *sigh*
ROSE: Of course, Kanaya. I'm happy to help.
ROSE: Let's talk about all your raw, unprocessed feelings.
KANAYA: The Deconstruction Of Our Doomed Timelines Has Been Intense
KANAYA: It Feels To Me As Though The Three Of Us Have Shared More With Each Other Since Our Recent Deaths Than In The Entire Preceding Period Of Meteor Based Cohabitation
KANAYA: And We Are Developing A New Satisfying Texture In Our Interactions
KANAYA: I May Have Begun Thinking Of Us As A Sort Of Triad
ROSE: Uh... a triad?
ROSE: Like, as in a threesome?
ROSE: Are you attracted to Dave, not instead of, but in addition to me?
KANAYA: Hahaha No He Really Isnt My Type In The Sense You Mean
ROSE: Right, you said "pale" feelings, for moirallegiance.
ROSE: Which isn't a sexual relationship.
ROSE: I mean, is it? Am I missing something here?
KANAYA: It Almost Never Is
KANAYA: Occasionally On Alternia Some Would Indulge In So Called
KANAYA: Rails With Pails Arrangements
KANAYA: Bordering On Quadrant Vacillation With Matespritship
KANAYA: But Those Can Become Messy And They Arent What Im Talking About
ROSE: Okay, great. Another potential bullet of awkwardness dodged.
ROSE: So you're thinking about a regular old moirallegiance with Dave.
ROSE: But isn't that between you and him?
ROSE: You don't need my approval as your matesprit, do you?
KANAYA: No Not Normally
KANAYA: As You Imply The Commitments Are Fairly Distinct
KANAYA: If We Agreed To Them I Would Channel My Inner Cluckbeast Upon Dave
KANAYA: While Saving My Concupiscient Drives And Instincts For You
KANAYA: Keep In Mind That These Are Simplified Descriptions And Not Prescriptions Of How The Roles Would Actually Work In Practice
ROSE: I'm... not seeing a huge problem with that, actually.
ROSE: I'm not really looking for a mother hen, most of the time.
ROSE: Except for, you know, Roxy. Who isn't here.
ROSE: I don't think Dave is a huge fan of quadrant romance, but if you just look at the roles functionally, they seem like good fits.
ROSE: So why can't we just implement them?
ROSE: What makes our "triad" a special case?
KANAYA: Well
KANAYA: How Do You Feel About Dave
KANAYA: And How Do You Think He Feels About You
KANAYA: Weve Never Really Talked Much About That

> LESS TALKING AND MORE KISSING

ROSE: I... huh? I mean, um.
ROSE: I suppose I've always taken the entertainment value of our mutual snarkiness more or less for granted?
ROSE: But now that you mention it, it seems too easy lately to just lean in to his projections a bit and watch him trip over himself.
ROSE: He used to at least double down, but now he just faceplants.
ROSE: Is he simply losing his edge?
ROSE: Or has he actually begun to attempt more sincere interactions, which he needs a strong... moirail, I guess... to help him with?
ROSE: I'm afraid I'm not an exemplary role model for those behaviors.
KANAYA: So It Doesnt Sound From This As Though Your Own Feelings For Him Are Especially Pale
ROSE: Well, no.
ROSE: I mean, what?
ROSE: He's like my brother. I mean, he is literally my ecto-brother.
ROSE: Siblings care for each other, but in a more competitive way.
ROSE: Although that wasn't revealed to us until we were already playing SBURB, so our early friendship wasn't shaped by that expectation.
ROSE: Does it make sense for me to be romantically attracted to...
ROSE: But not sexually attracted. As such.
ROSE: Damn, I should have listened to you more about the quadrants, while also drinking less.
KANAYA: This May Cloud The Issue Further But
KANAYA: Since The Low Level Recombination Of Genetic Material Among Alternians Was Handled Largely By The Collection Drones
KANAYA: Our Society Did Not Have The Same Taboos On Romantic Entanglements Among Close Relatives As You Evidently Had On Earth
KANAYA: Karkat Once Ranted At Me At Length About How He Had To Draw John And Dave A Diagram To Explain This To Them
ROSE: Okay, what the hell, Kanaya?
ROSE: You're interested in Dave romantically but you wonder if I am too, even though it feels like incest to me, but incest isn't a thing on Alternia, or in moirallegiance, except for "rails with pails"?
ROSE: Also, when did you become the romance sleuth among us three?
ROSE: I suddenly don't understand anything.
KANAYA: Sorry
KANAYA: That Last Point Was More Of An Unflanged Tangent Anyway
KANAYA: What I Want To Know Is Whether Or How Pursuing A Pale Quadrant Relationship With Dave Would Impact Our Existing Relationships

> AW FER CRYIN OUT LOUD

ROSE: Uhhhhh. No?
ROSE: Wait, are you concerned about his emotional availability as a moirail for me? Like, some kind of pale infidelity?
KANAYA: Thats Part Of What Im Asking Yes
ROSE: Is that actually a thing?!
KANAYA: It Can Become One
KANAYA: The Emotional Resources Of A Troll With Multiple Moirails Can Easily Become Overtaxed
KANAYA: My Mental Framework For Our Interactions Has A Sort Of Informal Shadow Moirallegiance Between You And Dave
KANAYA: But I Dont Know What It Looks Like When Im Not Around
KANAYA: Or Whether Thats Really The Most Useful Model
ROSE: I just don't see what the big deal is.
ROSE: This seems like a lot of bother about something really trivial.
ROSE: I mean, what was the last pale thing Dave ever did for me?
KANAYA: Um
KANAYA: This Might Sound Ridiculous But
KANAYA: That Whole Load Gaper Humor Episode You Engaged In Seemed To Be Exactly The Thing To Put You In A More Positive Frame Of Mind
KANAYA: Which Was Not The Result I Would Have Predicted
KANAYA: And Was Certainly Not The Sort Of Intervention I Would Have Staged
ROSE: Seriously?
ROSE: I feel a little guilty now about being so self-indulgent.
ROSE: We were mostly just rolling on the floor laughing at your expense.
ROSE: It's really easy to do that when we're joking about something for which you lack social context, even though it isn't fair.
KANAYA: I Understood That Much To Be The Case At The Time
KANAYA: Ive Resigned Myself To Being A Fulcrum Of Levity On Occasion As An Important Contribution To Our Group Dynamics
KANAYA: Especially If That Helps Us Maintain Emotional Stability
ROSE: Anyway, isn't that what regular human friendship is about?
ROSE: It's true, Dave did cheer me up, but --
KANAYA: It Was More Than Just Cheering You Up Though
KANAYA: He Seems To Have Unlocked An Entire New Coping Mechanism For You
KANAYA: You Were Glowing Almost As Brightly As Me By The End Of It
KANAYA: Due To This Mysterious Feelings Alchemy You Share
KANAYA: Ive Never Seen You Respond To Anything Like It
ROSE: Welllll --
KANAYA: And Yet At The Same Time I Felt That I Mediated That Interaction By Serving My Role As The Butt Of Your Jokes
ROSE: Hahaha, the butt! You were the --
ROSE: Wow, why is that still funny? Is it really that funny?
KANAYA: Further To All Of This
KANAYA: Do You Think Dave Would Have Been So Receptive To My Pale Flirting If You Had Not Explicitly Granted Him Permission
KANAYA: Not Only As My Matesprit But As An External Arbiter Of His Hangups
ROSE: Pale flirting?
ROSE: You mean -- you snuggling him? Is that what that was about?
ROSE: But he even asked to be held!... right?
ROSE: But I'd never try that with him myself! He's just...
ROSE: Not the snuggly type? And yet -- wait!
ROSE: He totally did that for me too, while I was drunk just before you walked in.
ROSE: But almost like he didn't know what else to do with me. Augh, so weird!
ROSE: I thought I understood him, but I'm in uncharted waters again.
KANAYA: Do You Begin To Grasp My Meaning Now
ROSE: I... think so.
ROSE: There are some interactions that feel really comfortable and healthy, but take place most readily only among all three of us.
ROSE: Is that -- romantic? Huh.
KANAYA: Surely This Isnt The Only Example Throughout Your Long History
KANAYA: You Must Have Done Such Things For Him As Well
KANAYA: I Believe You Both Deserve That Happiness And Stability
KANAYA: Via Channels I Doubt My Capacity To Access On My Own
KANAYA: For Better Or Worse I Seem To Have Become Entangled With You Both
KANAYA: And So I Am Trying To Feel My Way Through This Situation
KANAYA: Using The Best Tools I Have Available To Me

> YOU KISS THAT GIRL THIS INSTANT!!!

ROSE: This is an interesting theory, Kanaya.
ROSE: But even if you're right about it all, I still don't think you have anything to worry about.
ROSE: Our human interactions are richly varied, but they aren't as compartmentalized as quadrant romance; it doesn't necessarily make sense to parse them exclusively in those terms.
ROSE: I do like the way quadrant romance explicitly recognizes different roles people play in each other's lives, enabling them to easily name what they need, and to seek it where they can find it.
ROSE: So if contextualizing your interactions in terms of quadrant romance helps you to help Dave, I think that's fine.
ROSE: But Alternia's romance system is just as obsolete as Earth's now.
ROSE: Both provide, at most, helpful mnemonics for patterns of behavior, while exerting little real authority over our interactions.
ROSE: What's important is that we like you, you like both of us, and we've now got an essentially arbitrarily long span of subjective time to invent whole new romance systems optimized just for ourselves.
ROSE: Hell, we've got eons to break up with each other and get back together a million times if we feel like that adds spice.
ROSE: You won't spoil my rapport with Dave. We'll be okay.
ROSE: For my part, I want to carve out a space in our shared afterlife where I can be myself in direct relation to you.
ROSE: And I want you to just be yourself with each of us, and take each awkward, stumbling, mortifying romantic blunder as it comes.
KANAYA: But
ROSE: No more buts!
ROSE: Heheheh. Buts, lol.
ROSE: Or I will be forced to whitewash you.
KANAYA: What Exactly Is Whitewashing
ROSE: This.

> FINE DUMP A TON OF SNOW ON HER FIRST

She can't see this, but Kanaya happens to be standing at the corner of Rose's memory house's driveway, right where she used to shovel snow. Rather than a shovel, Rose decides to remember her high-powered snowblower into her hands. The resulting snow battle is a massacre. Oh, the inanity.

KANAYA: Eeeeeeeek Oh My God Its Cold!!!
ROSE: You brought it on yourself, my dear. Don't say I didn't warn you.
KANAYA: But You Didnt Really!
KANAYA: Fuck Its Just Freezing
ROSE: Was that a "but" I heard escape your lips?
ROSE: Oh, did I mention you can make snowballs too?
ROSE: And throw them at pointlessly neurotic girlfriends?
KANAYA: Aaaaaaaaahahahahaha Oh God Rose Please Stop
ROSE: And then you take as much snow as you can grab, and you squash it into your victim's hair!
KANAYA: Hahahahahahaha Rose Im Laughing Too Hard To Defend Myself This Is Just So Unfair
ROSE: Life was unfair, Kanaya, and the afterlife is doubly so.
ROSE: Which means it's time for a SNOW POUNCE!
KANAYA: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHahahahahahahaha
ROSE: And now it's time for...
ROSE: For.
ROSE: Um.
KANAYA: What Is It Time For Now

> OKAY *NOW* KISS HER ALREADY JEEZ LOUISE

Which player are these brusque, ambiguous commands directed towards, anyway?

Oh well, I guess it doesn't really matter at this point.

ROSE: Mmmm!
KANAYA: Mmmmm
ROSE: <3!!!
KANAYA: <3

Chapter Text

DAVE: christ youre a mess whats going on
DAVE: are you from another one of these doomed timelines or something
KARKAT: I DON'T KNOW, MAYBE!!!
DAVE: and what was the it i supposedly did
DAVE: for all i know the proverbial it could be anything from writing a rap that didnt scan to getting sliced up by my own sword
KARKAT: THE LATTER THING, OBVIOUSLY!!!
DAVE: oh really
DAVE: wow butterfingers huh
DAVE: ok thats probably just another doomed dave its no big deal
KARKAT: DAVE, IT'S IMPOSSIBLE THAT EVEN THE CLUMSIEST ITERATION OF YOU COULD HAVE DESTROYED HIMSELF THIS WAY!
KARKAT: OH GOD, IT WAS
KARKAT: I JUST CAN'T
DAVE: its cool man breathe in breathe out just another doomed dave
KARKAT: WHERE WOULD A DOOMED YOU HAVE EVEN COME FROM ANYWAY?!?!
KARKAT: I MEAN, ASSUMING WE AREN'T ALL GOING TO BE DOOMED WITH YOU!
KARKAT: YOU HAD NO NEED FOR CASUAL TIME TRAVEL ON THE METEOR JOURNEY!
KARKAT: WAS THAT INTENTIONAL?! DID YOU ACTUALLY *WANT* TO DIE?!?!
KARKAT: WHY COULDN'T YOU TELL ME ABOUT HOW YOU WERE FEELING?!
KARKAT: WE'D ALMOST GOTTEN TO OUR DESTINATION, AFTER ALL THIS TIME!
KARKAT: WHY RUSH IN AND GET YOURSELF KILLED IN SUCH A FUCKING IDIOTIC WAY, JUST WHEN WE NEEDED YOU MORE THAN EVER BEFORE!!!
KARKAT: WHEN *I* NEEDED YOU. THERE, I SAID IT.
DAVE: ok dude i am definitely not your dave in that case
DAVE: i can tell you right now i died in a duel at sword point with jack noir and his not quite as evil twin well past arrival
DAVE: so i at least made it off the meteor where it doesnt sound to me like your dave did
KARKAT: NOT QUITE AS EVIL
KARKAT: TWIN.
KARKAT: WOW, HE HAS A TWIN NOW?
KARKAT: THAT'S JUST GREAT, DAVE. I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO MEET THEM BOTH.
DAVE: yeah no kidding
DAVE: didnt look like they were friends though so theres that
DAVE: its a long story and the ultracondensed version is i died again
KARKAT: OH.
DAVE: just not in the fucked up way it sounds like your dave died
KARKAT: NO, I GUESS NOT.
KARKAT: RIGHT.

==>

DAVE: what was that other part about you needing me
KARKAT: OH, UH.
KARKAT: NOTHING. SLIP OF THE TONGUE.
KARKAT: I MEAN, WE ALL NEEDED YOU. YOU KNOW.
DAVE: oh
DAVE: ok
KARKAT: OUR VERSION OF YOU. UH, IN OUR TIMELINE.
KARKAT: I MEAN, NOT THAT YOUR TIMELINE DIDN'T NEED YOU IN A SIMILAR WAY!
DAVE: yeah no worries i gotcha
KARKAT: ...
DAVE: ...
KARKAT: FUCK, IT'S JUST
KARKAT: LOOK DAVE, IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU.
KARKAT: THE OLD YOU. AND TALK TO YOU AGAIN, LIKE WE USED TO.
KARKAT: EVEN IF THIS IS ONLY A DREAM BUBBLE AND YOU'RE DEAD ON ACCOUNT OF BEING A RECKLESS TOOL WHO CAN'T KEEP HIS SWORD TO HIMSELF.
KARKAT: IN MULTIPLE TIMELINES, APPARENTLY.
DAVE: thanks karkat
DAVE: i missed you too

==>

KARKAT: SO WAIT, HOLD ON
KARKAT: WHAT DID YOU MEAN, "ANOTHER ONE OF THESE DOOMED TIMELINES".
DAVE: oh yeah that
DAVE: ive been shooting the shit with rose and kanaya for the last few however longs its been
DAVE: normally i could tell you down to the last fraction of a cycle but you know time is beyond weird out here
KARKAT: AND ARE THEY DEAD, TOO?
DAVE: as fucking doornails
DAVE: they were both nailed so hard to their respective doors its like someone cleaned out home depot just to spite them
KARKAT: OH GOD
KARKAT: YEAH, IT UH
KARKAT: IT LOOKS LIKE MY TIMELINE MIGHT BE DOOMED TOO.
KARKAT: I MEAN, IT SURE FELT LIKE IT HAD A DOOMY KIND OF ATMOSPHERE.
KARKAT: IF ALL THREE OF YOU ARE DEAD, AND IF I'M DEAD TOO, THEN IT'S PROBABLY JUST A MATTER OF TIME.
DAVE: nah man all three of us are from different doomed timelines
DAVE: and we all got at least as far as you did so i think your rose and kanaya are probably fine for now
DAVE: too bad your dave was such a goddamn klutz though
DAVE: i never really know what to think when some alt me who really should know better just ices himself like that
DAVE: ok fine myself included i gotta start owning up to that shit
KARKAT: OKAY, SO YOU GUYS ARE ALL FROM *DISTINCT* DOOMED TIMELINES.
KARKAT: AND THEY *ALL* INVOLVE METEOR JOURNEYS THAT REACHED, OR NEARLY REACHED, THE NEW SESSION BEFORE FLIPPING US THE BIRD AND PLUNGING THE RUSTY KNIFE OF FATE REPEATEDLY INTO OUR TENDER BACKS.
DAVE: yeah thats right
DAVE: although we were all kind of messed up on the way over too
DAVE: come to think of it its kind of weird how weve accumulated here
KARKAT: WHERE DO I EVEN START WITH HOW OMINOUS THAT SOUNDS.
KARKAT: IT MEANS THE THING THAT DOOMED YOU GUYS ALMOST CERTAINLY HAPPENED WELL BEFORE YOU GOT TO THE NEW SESSION.
KARKAT: WHICH MEANS IT ALMOST CERTAINLY HAPPENED IN OUR TIMELINE AS WELL.
KARKAT: FUCK! WHAT COULD IT HAVE BEEN!
DAVE: it sounds like at least a few of the alt mes have been trying to cope with that but no such luck
DAVE: kanaya said her dave tried to use stable loops to fight the jacks that offed me until one of them pressed the eject button on him
DAVE: and rose thinks her timeline came from an alt dave dicking around in the time stream trying to find a save point
DAVE: hard to tell whether im just useless or an actual liability
DAVE: you should hear their stories dude they are just fuuuuucked
KARKAT: YEAH, I'M NOT SURE I REALLY WANT TO HEAR THEM RIGHT NOW.
KARKAT: MAYBE LATER.
KARKAT: FOR NOW I JUST WANT TO HANG OUT WITH YOU AND NOT THINK ABOUT IT.
DAVE: actually they might not want to tell them again so soon either
DAVE: theyre both dealing with some pretty heavy shit right now
KARKAT: YEAH, NO KIDDING.
KARKAT: WHERE ARE THEY, ANYWAY.
DAVE: i dunno
DAVE: they must have gotten a room somewhere
DAVE: i bet theyre nailing each other to the door as we speak

Chapter Text

Reader, you are utterly without shame. I can't believe the parser even accepted this as a command. I mean, Rose and Kanaya aren't here to get it on for your weird "Rosemary" fan club or whatever, comprende? They're having a private moment and they've got their own agenda.

Be that as it may, they seem to be on the same page as you. Pretty much literally the same page in fact. So, I guess... as long as you're here... might as well stick around? Discreetly, understand. Don't make me regret not chasing you out of the dream bubble with a broom or something.

ROSE: *snog*
KANAYA: *smooch*
ROSE: *nibble*
KANAYA: *paw*
ROSE: *squeeze*
KANAYA: *breathy sigh!*
ROSE: ...??
KANAYA: !!!
ROSE: Kanaya, darling?
KANAYA: YES
ROSE: Your bioluminescence has doubled in brightness and switched to that lovely green-yellow shade.
ROSE: Just like our Earth fireflies, in fact.
ROSE: So now I guess my nickname for you is all the more appropriate?
KANAYA: Um
ROSE: Also, what's --
KANAYA: EEEEP
ROSE: Oh, sorry, you must be awfully sensitive in that spot just now.
KANAYA: NNGGHHH
ROSE: Would you say you are... turned on?
KANAYA: ROSE
ROSE: Or should I say... horny?
KANAYA: OH MY GOD
KANAYA: I I I Mean Rose
KANAYA: Can We
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: Ummmm
ROSE: Yes?
KANAYA: Do You
KANAYA: Do You Want To
KANAYA: You Know
KANAYA: To
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: Pail?
KANAYA: Um
KANAYA: Well
KANAYA: I Was Searching Desperately For Another Word To Convey My Meaning
KANAYA: Any Other Word In Fact
KANAYA: What Little Eloquence I Had Has Deserted Me
ROSE: It's because your tongue has been distracted.
KANAYA: Ummm Haha Well
ROSE: I understand.
ROSE: It might sound a bit crass to me if someone on Earth just asked me if I wanted to "fuck". Even if I might otherwise want to do something that could be described by that word.
ROSE: And I wouldn't want to sound crass to my dearest companion whom I was trying very hard to dazzle on a romantic outing.
KANAYA: Um Yes
KANAYA: Thats It Exactly
ROSE: But you see, firefly, we have a bit of a problem here.
ROSE: I can find no term for the activity that isn't somehow tainted.
ROSE: "Bang", "bone", "pork", "nail", and other four-letter euphemisms are considered vulgar, and carry connotations of dreary machismo.
KANAYA: Uhhh
ROSE: Though I happen to like "bang", which reminds me of fireworks.
ROSE: Then there's "mate", which is the root of your term "matesprit", but implies for us a tryst narrated by David Attenborough.
KANAYA: Wait Who
KANAYA: And Also What
ROSE: "Make love" is flowery and elevated, but achieves said elevation at the cost of being maddeningly non-specific.
ROSE: "Have sex" is neutral -- in fact, oddly detached -- as if sex is something that happens to you, like an allergy attack, instead of something recreational and social that you actively take part in.
KANAYA: Yes Okay Fine
ROSE: Still, my philosophy is not to eschew any words in my lexicon, but to select the right word for the mood and occasion, as a skilled sommelier does with wine.
ROSE: And sometimes, in the mouth of a lover rather than a stranger, any of a number of serviceable monosyllables can be wonderfully direct descriptors for mmmfmmsmchchslrpch!!!
KANAYA: Rose Lalonde
KANAYA: Do You Share My Inclination
ROSE: Yes.
ROSE: Fuck yes.
ROSE: Hell fucking yes, in fact.
KANAYA: Then Can We Please Go Inside And Warm Up
KANAYA: Preferably By Doing One Or More Of Those Exact Things
ROSE: Why, I thought you'd never ask.
KANAYA: <3!!!
ROSE: <3

Chapter Text

KARKAT: NAILING... EACH OTHER TO...
KARKAT: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT.
DAVE: ok so rose and i are all kicking back riffing on some choice fifth grade ass jokes you know how it is
DAVE: like every other word out of our mouths is BUTTS and kanaya is giving us so much side eye im thinking shes gonna need to alchemize some periscope glasses or something
KARKAT: *ROSE* WAS... MAKING *ASS* JOKES?!
DAVE: and next thing i know rose gets this look on her face like she wants to ride kanayas ovarian express all the way to boneland
DAVE: and kanaya was so oblivious at first it was just painful
DAVE: but eventually they went off on what they chose to call a "date"
KARKAT: RIGHT, UH
KARKAT: IF THEY'RE CALLING IT A DATE, THEN MAYBE IT'S JUST A DATE?
DAVE: i took one look at them and i was like
DAVE: yeah theyre totally gonna bang
KARKAT: I MEAN IT'D BE GREAT IF THEY FINALLY WENT ON A REAL DATE.
KARKAT: GOD, ROSE HAS BEEN SO STRESSED OUT. AND KANAYA'S BEEN SO LONELY.
DAVE: bro i swear to god if by now they arent thoroughly ensconced in the most ornate friggin bucket innuendo can buy then i will personally spin off another eleven time clones so the twelve of us can all just commit seppuku together in shock
KARKAT: HOLY GRUB MOTHER OF SCREAMING FUCK, DAVE!
KARKAT: WOULD IT DOUBLE KILL YOU TO GROW A LITTLE BASIC DISCRETION AND MAYBE OMIT SOME OF THE INFORMATION LESS PERTINENT TO MY QUERY?!
KARKAT: DON'T MAKE THIS WEIRD. I DON'T REALLY WANT OR NEED TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ROSE AND KANAYA'S GODDAMN PAILING SCHEDULE.
KARKAT: IT'S NOT MY FUCKING BUSINESS, IT ISN'T LIKE THOSE TWO NEED ANY KIND OF RED AUSPISTICE TO KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF EACH OTHER.
KARKAT: THEY'RE ON A DATE, THEY'LL BE FINE, AND THAT'S ALL THERE REALLY IS TO SAY ON THE MATTER.
KARKAT: I'M SURE THEY'LL BE BACK SOON ENOUGH.
DAVE: look ive just been hells of bored sitting here till you came in who knows how many more horizontal tangos theyre gonna dance
KARKAT: DAVE, WHEN HAS BOREDOM EVER ACTUALLY BEEN A PROBLEM FOR YOU?
KARKAT: IT WASN'T THAT LONG AGO WHEN YOU WOULD QUITE HAPPILY SHUT YOURSELF UP IN THE BREAK ROOM FOR A WEEK TOILING AWAY AT SOME TERRIBLE SLAM POETRY THAT I WOULD THEN NEVER HAVE TO LISTEN TO.
DAVE: hey dont diss my raps i gotta polish those rhymes till i can see my face in them its hard fucking work
KARKAT: OR CAN TOWN. YOU USED TO SPEND *ENTIRE NIGHTS* STACKING NUTRITION CYLINDERS WITH AN APHASIC CARAPACE.
DAVE: what are you implying about my man the mayors mental capacity cause its sounding dangerously close to grounds for a beatdown
KARKAT: ALL I'M SAYING IS, YOU'VE ALWAYS BEEN GOOD AT BEING BORED.
KARKAT: UNLIKE THE REST OF US, I'VE NEVER REALLY KNOWN YOU TO HAVE ADVERSE REACTIONS TO THE COMPLETE LACK OF STRUCTURE OR EXTERNAL MOTIVATION IN OUR ACTIVITIES ON THE METEOR.
KARKAT: YOU ALWAYS FOUND SOME WAY, HOWEVER INANE, TO OCCUPY YOURSELF.
KARKAT: SO I DON'T THINK THAT'S WHAT YOUR ISSUE IS HERE.
DAVE: oh really do tell this ought to be good
DAVE: what in your professional opinion is my goddamn issue
KARKAT: I ACTUALLY THINK YOU MIGHT BE JEALOUS.
KARKAT: OF ALL THE ATTENTION ROSE JUST STARTED GIVING KANAYA.
DAVE: uh
KARKAT: OBVIOUSLY.
DAVE: no uh
DAVE: dude thats not it at all
KARKAT: HAHA, BINGO. YOU HESITATED JUST A LITTLE TOO LONG THERE, STRIDER.
KARKAT: AFTER ALL THIS TIME, I STILL DON'T GET WHY BEING ROMANTICALLY INTERESTED IN YOUR HATCHMATE IS SUCH A WEIRD THING FOR YOU HUMANS.
DAVE: oh my fucking god weve been over this before
KARKAT: IT'S LIKE YOU'RE BARELY EVEN ABLE TO PROCESS THOSE FEELINGS.
KARKAT: AND TO THINK I WAS WORRIED ABOUT YOU FALLING OUT WITH TEREZI.
KARKAT: HOLY SHIT, I SUDDENLY UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING.

==>

DAVE: shut up you have zero idea what im feeling right now
KARKAT: ONLY BECAUSE I'M THE ONLY ONE IN MY BROOD WHO MADE IT THROUGH THE TRIALS SO I NEVER HAD A HATCHMATE TO BE ATTRACTED TO.
DAVE: like less than zero
DAVE: if it was physically possible to have negative quantities of an idea of what im feeling you would have the square root of that
DAVE: your ideas of my feelings are completely imaginary
KARKAT: WHY ELSE WOULD YOU BE SO TRANSPARENTLY PETULANT ABOUT EXACTLY HOW LONG ROSE HAS BEEN OUT WITH KANAYA.
KARKAT: AND THEN GET DEFENSIVE ABOUT BEING PETULANT.
DAVE: ok fine i get what youre saying i should cut them some slack
DAVE: i mean its only their first date in like ever where rose hasnt been so pickled she could barely stand
KARKAT: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, "PICKLED".
DAVE: come on dude you know
DAVE: rose and her goddamn drinking problem
DAVE: every single date shes had with kanaya shes been so wasted
KARKAT: EVERY... SINGLE... DATE?
KARKAT: WAIT, HOW MANY HAVE THEY HAD?
DAVE: i dunno at least half a dozen i stopped counting as long as i wasnt on sick rose duty afterwards
DAVE: after a while i felt bad and started giving kanaya a hand
KARKAT: WAIT, ROSE IS SICK? BECAUSE SHE CAN'T DRINK OR SOMETHING?
DAVE: karkat you have GOT to be fucking with me by this point
KARKAT: BUT HOLD ON SO
KARKAT: KANAYA AND ROSE ARE
DAVE: you know
DAVE: girlfriends?
DAVE: i guess youd say datespritzes
DAVE: or heartsprites or something
DAVE: whatever the opposite of kismespades is
KARKAT: IT'S "MATESPRITS", YOU ILLITERATE CLOD!
DAVE: "squid prophet + space vampire" written in purple glitter pen in one of your dumb grid squares
DAVE: did you hear what i was saying about buckets earlier
KARKAT: GIVE ME A LITTLE FUCKING CREDIT HERE!
KARKAT: I'VE BEEN ABSORBING YOUR HUMAN SLANG FOR MORE THAN THREE YEARS, I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY "GIRLFRIENDS."
DAVE: well clearly you didnt know what i meant by "pickled" though
DAVE: blitzed hammered blotto
DAVE: intoxicated?
DAVE: DRUNK ALRIGHT WHAT DO YOU EVEN CALL IT
KARKAT: DUDE, CONTINUING TO SPEW THESAURUS VOMIT ALL OVER ME IS NOT ACTUALLY HELPING YOU COMMUNICATE YOUR MEANING ANY BETTER!
KARKAT: ALSO, JUST BECAUSE THEY'RE IN A QUADRANT DOESN'T AUTOMATICALLY MEAN THEY'RE PAILING, FOR FUCK'S SAKE.
DAVE: man your foursquare shit just never made any sense to me
KARKAT: WELL, YOU NEVER TRIED VERY HARD TO UNDERSTAND IT, DID YOU?!
KARKAT: I MEAN, WHAT IS IT WITH YOU AND PAILS TONIGHT, ANYWAY?!
DAVE: fucked if i know man
KARKAT: EXACTLY, MAYBE YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN IF YOU DID KNOW, HUH?
DAVE: isnt it like some fetish thing where you wear it on your head
KARKAT: NO DAVE, IT ISN'T!
DAVE: or like snort pinesol out of it or something cause its a cleaning product to us but some batshit pheromone for you guys
KARKAT: NO, YOU CRETIN, WILL YOU JUST
KARKAT: AUGH, IT'S NOT WORTH IT TO GET INTO RIGHT NOW.
KARKAT: I HAVE OFFICIALLY RUN OUT OF FUCKS ALLOCATED TO THE PURPOSE OF EXPLAINING ALTERNIAN REPRODUCTIVE PROCESSES AND SEXUAL PRACTICES.
KARKAT: HOW COULD YOU HAVE SPENT THREE FUCKING YEARS CRAMMED ONTO THAT MISERABLE ROCK WITH US AND NOT LEARNED SUCH BASIC THINGS.
KARKAT: LIKE, NOT SHOWN EVEN THE MOST PASSING INTEREST IN OUR CULTURE.
DAVE: do not even try to pin that one on me
DAVE: you yakked about fucking quadrants till your squawk chute was hoarse but somehow actual troll sex was never on the menu
DAVE: we just sort of had a mutual unspoken bro style understanding that that shit would be strictly on a need to know basis
DAVE: and honestly i think the mental image of me needing to know wouldve totally puckered your shout sphincter or something
KARKAT: WHAT, SO *NOW* YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT PAILING, DO YOU.
DAVE: well
KARKAT: EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW FUCK ALL, AND CARE LESS, ABOUT QUADRANTS.
DAVE: uhhh
KARKAT: UGH, DON'T ANSWER THAT. I JUST CAN'T WITH YOU RIGHT NOW.
KARKAT: WHAT I WANT INSTEAD IS FOR YOU TO DO ME A FAVOR AND BRIEF ME ON WHAT THE BULGECHAFING FUCK HAPPENED IN YOUR TIMELINE.
KARKAT: BECAUSE I SUDDENLY UNDERSTAND JACK SHIT.

==>

DAVE: i thought you said you werent up for it yet but
DAVE: fine where should i start
KARKAT: BACK UP AND TELL ME HOW ROSE AND KANAYA GOT TOGETHER FIRST.
KARKAT: I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT TIMELINE DIVERGENCES, AND THIS SURE SOUNDS LIKE A FUCKING DIVERGENCE TO ME.
KARKAT: YOU SAID YOUR TIMELINES ARE ALL PRETTY MUCH THE SAME UP TO THE POINT I'VE REACHED, SO IF I GET YOUR STORY I'VE PROBABLY GOT THE IMPORTANT PARTS OF THEIRS TOO.
DAVE: i dunno about that but ok
DAVE: so they had this whole drawn out soap opera in sidelong glances and vague allusions with fluttered eyelids and unconsummated sighs buried in like three additional levels of passive aggression
KARKAT: YEAH, OKAY, THAT SOUNDS LIKE THEM. WELL, ROSE ANYWAY.
DAVE: then about two years in rose distilled a huge vat of liquid void and got so shitfaced we had to frame her portrait with a toilet seat
KARKAT: A TOILET SEAT?!
DAVE: load gaper whatever
KARKAT: UGH, WHAT A METAPHOR.
DAVE: dude like 98 percent of your metaphors are ruder than that
KARKAT: BUT NOT IN CONNECTION WITH *ROSE*.
KARKAT: SHE'S THE ONLY ONE OF US AS PRIM AND PROPER AS KANAYA.
KARKAT: AND OF COURSE "LOAD GAPER" WOULD BE THE ONLY PIECE OF *OUR* TERMINOLOGY THAT ACTUALLY LODGED IN THE CULINARY STRAINING DEVICE THAT IS YOUR THINK PAN.
DAVE: its not just a metaphor either i literally held roses head up over the john while the previous contents of her stomach went the way of all such things
KARKAT: DON'T REALLY WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THAT PART, THANKS.
KARKAT: JEGUS, THAT'S JUST... *SO* UNLIKE ROSE.
DAVE: well up to that point in the trip it was
DAVE: but then we crossed some kind of fucked up alcoholism rubicon and suddenly every night was keg party night at casa lalonde
DAVE: and by an astonishing coincidence that also happened to be when she started going out with kanaya
KARKAT: OKAY, SO *THAT'S* WHEN THEY BECAME A THING?
KARKAT: WHEN ROSE GOT "DRUNK" ON, UH, DID YOU JUST SAY ALCOHOL?
DAVE: when rose made a habit of regularly getting drunk that is
KARKAT: SO DOES ALCOHOL ACT AS SOME KIND OF SOPORIFIC FOR HUMANS? LIKE, IT RELAXES YOU AND LOWERS YOUR INHIBITIONS?
KARKAT: BUT IF YOU HAVE TOO MUCH THEN IT MAKES YOU ILL OR SOMETHING.
DAVE: karkat what the fuck does it do to YOU guys i mean seriously
KARKAT: MOSTLY IT MAKES US HYPERACTIVE AND IRRITABLE.
KARKAT: IT'S SOPOR SLIME THAT RELAXES US, IF WE EAT IT.
KARKAT: BUT TRUST ME, YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHERE THAT SHIT LEADS.
DAVE: yeah ill pass on that thanks
KARKAT: SEE, IT'S THAT PART OF IT THAT MAKES MY MANDIBLE DANGLE LIKE IT'S BEEN NUMBED WITH INCREDULITY VENOM.
KARKAT: ROSE NEVER USED ANY INTOXICATING SUBSTANCES IN MY TIMELINE.
KARKAT: NOR DID SHE AND KANAYA EVER GO ON A DATE, OR BECOME MATESPRITS.
KARKAT: THOUGH I WISH THEY HAD.
KARKAT: EVEN AS BITTER AS I AM ABOUT MY OWN QUADRANTS, AND HOW I WOULD UNDOUBTEDLY HAVE THROWN UP IN MY MOUTH A LITTLE EACH TIME I SAW THEM, WE'D ALL HAVE FELT BETTER IF THEY HAD BEEN HAPPY AT LEAST.
KARKAT: IT SOUNDS LIKE BEING DRUNK WAS ACTUALLY A GOOD THING FOR ROSE.
DAVE: ...
DAVE: well shit

==>

KARKAT: I'LL LET THEM TELL ME ANYTHING ELSE THEY THINK I NEED TO KNOW.
KARKAT: WHAT ELSE HAPPENED DIFFERENTLY IN YOUR TIMELINE?
DAVE: ok so terezi and i had a good first year of screwing around and giving zero fucks
DAVE: among other shit we helped the mayor develop can town from a sleepy village with a few lazy chalk lines to a bustling metropolis with vibrant tomato and chickpea districts
KARKAT: YEAH, THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR.
DAVE: then at some point after that she just checked out
DAVE: and we didnt talk much after she
DAVE: wait youre basically at the end of the meteor journey right
KARKAT: YEP, MAYBE LIKE ANOTHER DAY OR TWO.
DAVE: so you know she was spadesing with bozo the clown right
DAVE: and you know i wasnt ok with that right
DAVE: these arent spoilers are they
KARKAT: IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT *GAMZEE*
KARKAT: THEN
KARKAT: YES, I'M AWARE.
DAVE: like it was her call but i just couldnt date her or anything while she was getting her hatenasty on all up in his --
KARKAT: DAVE, PLEASE, JUST.
KARKAT: DON'T. NOT THIS TIME, NOT ABOUT HER.
KARKAT: OH GOD, I WISH I HAD KNOWN HOW TO REACH HER.
KARKAT: BUT THERE'S HARDLY ANYONE LEFT IN HER THINK PAN TO REACH NOW.
DAVE: i dunno man we did stage a sort of half assed intervention at the last minute
DAVE: she was all knocked out in a pool of flat soda and clearly not in mint condition and kept saying she was useless but
DAVE: at least she could still carry her side of a conversation
KARKAT: ...
KARKAT: WELL, DAVE.
KARKAT: I GUESS THAT'S DIVERGENCE NUMBER TWO THEN.
DAVE: fuck really
DAVE: how bad off is she in your timeline
KARKAT: I'LL...
KARKAT: I'LL GET TO THAT.
KARKAT: IT MIGHT MAKE SLIGHTLY MORE SENSE WITHIN CONTEXT.
KARKAT: BUT LIKE: REALLY, *REALLY* BAD.
DAVE: and how bad is that
KARKAT: LIKE, UNABLE TO SMELL ANYTHING BUT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE BAD.
DAVE: oh
DAVE: ...
DAVE: jesus

==>

KARKAT: AND, UM.
DAVE: what about us i guess youre gonna ask next
KARKAT: WELL, YEAH. I MEAN.
KARKAT: WERE WE COOL IN YOUR TIMELINE?
KARKAT: YOU SEEM TO BE ACTING LIKE WE WERE COOL, SO.
KARKAT: CAN YOU JUST TALK ABOUT THAT, FOR A LITTLE BIT?
DAVE: yeah we were cool
DAVE: you were pretty shouty at me for the first year or so
DAVE: and you had this huge beef about me and terezi like you were just jealous as fuck and wouldnt let it go
DAVE: and there was that time you tried to work out some kind of creepo shipping grid for us to share her or some shit
KARKAT: FOR THE LAST TIME, THAT WAS A *SCHEDULE*, NOT A SHIPPING GRID.
KARKAT: AND I STILL THINK THAT WAS THE MOST ELEGANT POSSIBLE PLAN.
KARKAT: IT'S NOT MY FAULT YOUR UNDERSIZED HUMAN THINK PAN COULDN'T ACCOMMODATE THE IMPERIAL GRANDEUR OF THAT IDEA.
DAVE: whatever man its water under the bridge
KARKAT: HRMPH.
DAVE: anyway after terezi was out of the picture we sort of settled down and could finally talk straight to each other
DAVE: mostly ripping on juggalos or hanging with the mayor
DAVE: but like other things too
DAVE: after rose and kanaya joined up at the fucking hip and terezi emigrated to gamzeestan i really needed someone to just chill with and keep it real you know
KARKAT: YEAH, I KNOW.
KARKAT: ME TOO, DAVE.
KARKAT: ME TOO.
KARKAT: ...
DAVE: was that
DAVE: not how things went with us for you
KARKAT: WELL...
KARKAT: THE STUFF ABOUT TEREZI LINES UP.
KARKAT: THEN YOU AND I HAD A FEW WEEKS WHERE MAYBE THE DUST WAS SETTLING, THINGS BECOMING LESS ANTAGONISTIC BETWEEN US.
KARKAT: YOU WEREN'T BENT SOLELY ON IRRITATING ME ANYMORE, AND EVERY NOW AND THEN YOU ACTUALLY HAD SOME USEFUL INSIGHT ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH TEREZI, OR ROSE.
KARKAT: BUT AFTER THAT, YOU SORT OF...
KARKAT: IT GOT WEIRD.
KARKAT: I COULD TELL YOU WERE HIDING SOMETHING, BUT YOU WOULDN'T TELL ME WHAT.
KARKAT: IN FACT, THE MORE I THINK ABOUT IT, THE MORE I THINK MY DAVE'S BEHAVIOR MADE THE LEAST SENSE TO ME OF ANYONE'S.
KARKAT: EXCEPT IN THE CONTEXT OF UNREQUITED PINING AFTER ROSE.
DAVE: god damn it karkat how many times do i have to fucking tell you
KARKAT: LOOK, IF YOU KNEW WHAT I SAW YOU MIGHT FINALLY BE CONVINCED.
KARKAT: I SHOULD PROBABLY START FROM THE BEGINNING, THOUGH.
KARKAT: OTHERWISE IT'S GOING TO LOOK LIKE THESE ARE ALL ISOLATED ISSUES, AND YOU'D BE SAFER NOT BELIEVING A GODDAMN WORD I SAID.

Chapter Text

ROSE: Uh.
KANAYA: Urngh
ROSE: Yeah.
KANAYA: Um
ROSE: ...
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: Well, um --
KANAYA: Rose Can We Please Talk About What The Hell Just Happened
ROSE: I was actually kind of hoping never to speak of it again.
ROSE: But I can see how a postmortem of sorts could be beneficial.
KANAYA: Postmortem?
ROSE: Of my hubris, mostly.
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: ...
KANAYA: Okay So --
& ROSE: I just --
KANAYA: Oh Sorry
ROSE: No no, you can go first.
ROSE: I mean. If you want.
KANAYA: Okay I Will Start
ROSE: Please do.

==>

KANAYA: Rose The First Thing I Want To Say Is
KANAYA: That I Am Not Going To Dump You
KANAYA: And That I Dont Want Any Of This To Cast Aspersions On The Viability Of Our Matespritship
ROSE: That is both very comforting and at the same time rather ominous.
KANAYA: I Didnt Mean For It To Be Ominous
KANAYA: But If You Are As Nervous As You Appear To Be Then I Feel It Is A Necessary Preamble
ROSE: Grrrrrmbgrhmblhrrngh.
KANAYA: I Should Ask However
KANAYA: Was That Typical
KANAYA: Of Um
KANAYA: Of Concupiscient Relations With Humans
ROSE: Which part are you referring to?
KANAYA: All Of It
KANAYA: But Particularly
KANAYA: The Abrupt And Seemingly Unplanned Cessation of Amorous Touching
KANAYA: And Hasty Mutual Retreat To Wrap Ourselves In Somnolence Fabrics
KANAYA: At Opposite Corners Of Your Recuperacushion
ROSE: I imagine if it was, my species wouldn't have needed an apocalyptic deluge of meteor strikes to hasten its extinction.
ROSE: And some aspects of what happened just now definitely stretched the bounds of biological plausibility as far as I'm aware.
ROSE: But despite knowing this is how it shouldn't go, I have at best a vague, unreliable notion of how it should go, and had hoped to improvise until a more explicit such notion materialized.
ROSE: A notion we could explore, together.
ROSE: I've never done this before, you see.
KANAYA: Not With A Troll You Mean
ROSE: No, I mean, at all.
ROSE: With anyone.

==>

KANAYA: Oh
KANAYA: Really
KANAYA: Given Your Curious Temperament I Thought That
ROSE: You had access to my whole damn timeline, Kanaya.
KANAYA: Well Yes But I Wasnt Going To Go Looking For That Sort Of Thing
ROSE: I entered the Medium when I was thirteen years old.
ROSE: I don't know how it is for trolls, but for humans that's broadly considered too young to pail, and we're only just beginning to discover an interest in courtship rituals.
ROSE: It would actually have been illegal for any human my age, living where and when I lived, to engage in such activity; nor was I terribly interested in it either, at the time.
ROSE: But as you can imagine, the subsequent three years have not been the raciest ones for me, despite my growing interest.
ROSE: Owing to a combination of difficult circumstances, terrible life decisions, and your forbearance in not taking advantage of me despite numerous opportunities.
ROSE: So, no. Never have I ever.
KANAYA: That Was A Good Thing Right
KANAYA: Not Taking Advantage Of You I Mean
ROSE: Debatable, but you could argue strongly for the upside.
KANAYA: My Flushed Attraction To You Notwithstanding
KANAYA: It Just Would Have Felt Really Inappropriate To Me
ROSE: Thank you, and noted.
KANAYA: Also This Isnt
KANAYA: Still Illegal Is It
ROSE: No, now I am slightly but comfortably past the age of legal consent in the polity in which I grew up.
ROSE: The authorities have finally judged me mature enough not only to attain godhood and be saddled with decisions that seal the fates of universes, but also to exercise autonomy over the disposition of my affections in my own bed with a willing partner.
ROSE: Though I'll warrant, given what we just experienced, that perhaps their skepticism of my abilities in that specific sphere of human endeavor might not have been without foundation.
ROSE: Still, if there was any government remaining on Earth capable of enforcing laws against me being untimely ravished by an extraterrestrial, I could assure you we wouldn't have run afoul of it.
KANAYA: Oh
KANAYA: Well Thats A Relief
ROSE: Sometimes, I'm not entirely sure what to make of your unique talent for providing deadpan commentary like that.
KANAYA: Perhaps I Am Getting Better At It Then
KANAYA: But I Mean A Relief That You Havent Um
KANAYA: Done This Before Either
KANAYA: Or Yet Technically I Suspect
ROSE: And what exactly do you find relieving about that?
ROSE: Not that now wouldn't be the ideal time for me to disclose the existence of my troll-human love child from a failure of contraception during a furtive one-night pail years ago.
KANAYA: But Wait You Just Said That
KANAYA: And Anyway Surely It Cant
KANAYA: Is That Even A
ROSE: NO KANAYA IT IS NOT A THING, WE ARE GENETICALLY DISPARATE SPECIES AND SO WE CANNOT HAVE OFFSPRING, AND ALSO WE ARE DEAD. AUGH.

==>

KANAYA: Rose That Was
KANAYA: Kind Of Mean
KANAYA: And Unworthy Of You
ROSE: *sigh*
KANAYA: Obviously On Its Face The Notion Of A Troll Human Love Child Is Absurd
KANAYA: But Then So Is SGRUB
KANAYA: And Ectobiology
KANAYA: And Literally Everything In Fact
ROSE: I'm really sorry, Kanaya. You didn't deserve that from me.
ROSE: I'm just so frustrated.
ROSE: All I wanted was to finally share this uncharted cross-species coming-of-age experience with you, and for it to be at worst endearingly awkward instead of uncanny and possibly threatening.
ROSE: Like, in a "how do these Alternian bra clasps work" kind of way.
ROSE: Or a "what am I supposed to do with the bucket again" kind of way.
ROSE: Not a "whoa Nelly how many limbs even is that" kind of way.
ROSE: I couldn't tell you why everything went haywire on us.
ROSE: Some kind of stupid dream bubble bullshit, but why, right when...?!
ROSE: This is as awful as when I showed up drunk to our first date.
KANAYA: Oh Rose
KANAYA: Its Not That Bad
ROSE: Oh god I'm so embarrassed I could just double die.
KANAYA: Rose Look At Me
ROSE: *muffled screaming into velvet pillow*

==>

KANAYA: Youre Really Intent Upon Self Flagellation Right Now Arent You
KANAYA: Come Here Inkling
KANAYA: Will You Just Take A Few Deep Breaths And Try To Relax
KANAYA: Or Will I Need To Shooshpap You
ROSE: ...!
KANAYA: I Mean Just This Once Lets Not Make A Habit Of It
ROSE: Is "inkling" an approved pet name?
KANAYA: Well I Dont Know
KANAYA: Why Dont You Tell Me
KANAYA: In Your Solemn Capacity As The Chief Registrar Of Pet Names
ROSE: "Inkling". A diminutive form of address for someone who likes ideas, writing, and perhaps calamari.
ROSE: I like it. It hits all the right resonances.
ROSE: Okay, fine. If you finally agree to answer to "firefly", I will now answer to "inkling".
KANAYA: Its A Deal
ROSE: I guess that's... progress?

==>

KANAYA: I Am Beginning To Formulate A Hypothesis About The Incident
KANAYA: Which Is That We Are Both New At This And A Bit Confused
KANAYA: So Please Bear With Me And Dont Beat Yourself Up About It
ROSE: Amusingly enough, I never thought to ask about your experiences.
ROSE: At least not in this particular department.
ROSE: And you'd think it should have been among my first questions.
KANAYA: It Does Seem Like A Dramatic Oversight In Retrospect
KANAYA: Yet Your Passion Blazed Like A Beacon From Beyond The Veil
KANAYA: And Blinded By It I Was Caught Up In The Urgency Of The Moment
KANAYA: At The Time I Thought My Own Lack Of Experience Inconsequential When You Seemed So Sure Of Yourself And Your Powers Of Seduction
ROSE: You learn the damndest pickup lines from forbidden grimoires.
ROSE: However, they're surprisingly short on practical wisdom of the sort I can just tell you are now about to dispense liberally.
KANAYA: I Think The Most Important Skills In The Art Of Matespritship Are Not Quite So Technical As You May Be Imagining
KANAYA: My Ancestor Knows A Great Deal More About The Mechanics Than I Do
KANAYA: And She Impressed Upon Me
KANAYA: Shortly Before My First Date With You
KANAYA: That Clear And Forthright Communication Was The Decisive Factor
KANAYA: With A Sense Of Generosity Towards Ones Partner A Close Second
KANAYA: Through Honesty And Kindness Many Transgressions Can Be Forgiven
KANAYA: This Might Be More Of A Beforan Than An Alternian Take On Concupiscience But
KANAYA: I Find It Comforting And Optimistic
ROSE: She could tell we were about to get together, huh?
KANAYA: Well
KANAYA: I Told Her As Much
KANAYA: That There Was Someone I Was Flushed For
KANAYA: She Approved Of You And Gave Me That Advice
KANAYA: Which While I Was Too Shy To Ask For It At The Time
KANAYA: I Think I Am Now Grateful To Have Received
ROSE: Right. Communication and generosity.
ROSE: I mean, obviously?
ROSE: We already do that most of the time.
KANAYA: Obviously
KANAYA: As General Relationship Skills
KANAYA: But Also Very Deliberately In Matters Of Shared Physical Pleasure
KANAYA: To Create A Space For All Participants That Is Safe And Trusted
KANAYA: And Can Enclose And Protect The Requisite Vulnerability
ROSE: I'm glad you had such an approachable ancestor.
ROSE: I mean, I'll never know what kind of Talk my own mother would have given me, and this would be so unbelievably cringe-inducing to bring up with any of our fellow players.
ROSE: Especially Roxy.
KANAYA: From Your Portrayal Of Her I Imagine She Would Be The Most Eager And Least Judgmental Interlocutor On The Subject
KANAYA: But I Know That Isnt Really Whats Driving Your Squeamishness
KANAYA: Anyway Do You See Where Im Going With All This
ROSE: Ummm.
ROSE: Not yet?

==>

KANAYA: You Made A Link To The Influence Of Our Environment Upon Perception And Communication But Did Not Follow Through On It
ROSE: Oh. The dream bubble?
KANAYA: Right
ROSE: Because the dream bubble is... made of our memories.
ROSE: I remember Dave couldn't get drunk with me, because he never drank alcohol while we were alive and he couldn't remember the feeling.
ROSE: So you and I can't remember what sex is like if we never had it?
KANAYA: Or More Precisely
KANAYA: We Lack The Primary Experience To Draw Upon
KANAYA: And Must Painstakingly Construct It Afresh From Other Memories
ROSE: How odd.
ROSE: I knew that externals within each bubble, such as scenery or clothing, were susceptible to effects like these.
ROSE: But I didn't realize our perceptions of other bubble inhabitants, or of ourselves, could be quite this fluid.
KANAYA: Nor Did I At First
KANAYA: I Have Witnessed A Few Such Scattered Effects Before In Dreams
KANAYA: But This is A Much More Intimate And Charged Setting
ROSE: What is the bubble doing, then? Some kind of -- interpolation?
ROSE: Or mind reading?
ROSE: My own memory of my body, your own memory of your body, those should be be really quite solid, right?
ROSE: Who knows our own bodies better than we do?
KANAYA: You Would Think So Yes
KANAYA: But Memory Can Also Be Prone To Stylization Or Projection
KANAYA: And Scenes Within A Shared Bubble Seem To Be Formed From A Consensus Of Memory Among Its Inhabitants
KANAYA: Which Means Shared Memories That Disagree Are Somehow Combined
KANAYA: Perhaps If A Projection Is Strong Enough It Can Overwhelm More Stable Memories Among The Bubble Contents
KANAYA: I Can Tell In Retrospect That There Were Some Poorly Constructed Elements In Our Interlude Pasted Over The Gaps In Our Memory
ROSE: What kinds of... elements?
KANAYA: Let Me Show You

Chapter Text

DAVE: ok well anyway
DAVE: im guessing r and k wont be back for a while yet
DAVE: so if you want
DAVE: like if it would help you to get it off your chest
DAVE: you could bring me up to speed on your own weird time shit
DAVE: if youre lucky maybe its not too late to do something about it
KARKAT: ...
KARKAT: YEAH. I THINK IT WOULD HELP.
KARKAT: I'VE JUST BEEN TRYING TO LIVE WITH THIS TENSION FOR WEEKS NOW, THIS SENSE OF UNEASE, WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP.
KARKAT: WHICH I GUESS IT JUST DID, WITH YOU GETTING KILLED.
KARKAT: IF WE'RE REALLY DOOMED IT'S ALL JUST FUCKING POINTLESS ANYWAY.
KARKAT: BUT IF IT ISN'T, THEN I NEED TO TALK IT THROUGH WITH YOU, SINCE EXACTLY ZERO OTHER PEOPLE IN MY TIMELINE WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.
KARKAT: I MEAN, IF IT ISN'T TOO WEIRD TALKING ABOUT ANOTHER DEAD VERSION OF YOURSELF, AGAIN.
DAVE: im gonna reserve judgment till i hear what that asshole did
DAVE: but for now just
DAVE: lay it on me bro

==>

KARKAT: SO FOR ABOUT THE FIRST HALF OF THE JOURNEY, EVERYTHING WAS MORE OR LESS AS YOU DESCRIBED.
KARKAT: CAN TOWN HAPPENED, SOME BULLSHIT DREAM BUBBLES HAPPENED, THAT ARGUMENT WE HAD OVER TEREZI HAPPENED.
DAVE: dicks from beyond the graaaaaaaaavvee
KARKAT: YEAH, THAT. AND ALSO, SHUT THE FUCK UP.
KARKAT: ANYWAY.
KARKAT: THE FIRST TIME I REMEMBER THINKING SOMETHING MIGHT BE OFF WAS WHEN I WOKE UP AROUND MIDDAY, AND WHILE ON MY WAY TO THE LOAD GAPER, OVERHEARD YOU MUMBLING TO YOURSELF INSIDE YOUR BLOCK.
DAVE: well damn i never mumble to myself clearly everything is fucked
DAVE: time to call the mumble police and throw me in the slammer
KARKAT: SURE, YOU MUMBLE TO YOURSELF A LOT, THAT WASN'T THE WEIRD PART.
KARKAT: BUT YOU SOUNDED LIKE YOU WERE HAVING AN *ARGUMENT* WITH YOURSELF, WHICH IS MORE CHARACTERISTIC OF ME THAN IT IS OF YOU.
KARKAT: IN, LIKE, THESE LOUD VICIOUS WHISPERS TELLING YOURSELF TO SHUT UP AND YOU WEREN'T JUST GOING TO SIT AROUND DOING NOTHING AGAIN.
KARKAT: I COULDN'T HEAR MUCH OF ANYTHING ELSE.
DAVE: congrats that was a superbly executed invasion of privacy dude
KARKAT: WELL, I DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING AT THE TIME, AND JUST WENT ABOUT MY BUSINESS BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY I KNOW WHAT MY FUCKING BUSINESS IS.
KARKAT: I WAS QUITE PREPARED TO CHALK IT UP TO YOU REHEARSING SOME KIND OF NEW SLAM POEM, AND TO FORGET ALL ABOUT IT IN THE EVENING AS A THOROUGHLY UNREMARKABLE OCCURRENCE.
KARKAT: BUT AT OUR NEXT REGULAR MEALTIME, WHICH I GUESS YOU WOULD SOMEWHAT ARBITRARILY LABEL "BREAKFAST"
KARKAT: THE ONE WITH ALL THE COMPRESSED GRAIN FLAKES AND SHIT?
DAVE: thats the one
DAVE: although i remember us having honest pop tarts in the commissary god bless rose
KARKAT: YOU HAPPENED TO BE IN THE MEALBLOCK AND YOU LOOKED LIKE YOU HADN'T SLEPT IN WEEKS.
KARKAT: I ASKED IF YOU WERE COOL AND YOU SAID, YEAH, EVERYTHING WAS FINE, ALTHOUGH THAT WAS SUCH A TRANSPARENT FALSEHOOD THAT I DON'T THINK YOU EXPECTED ME, OR ANYONE, TO BELIEVE YOU.
KARKAT: YOU SEEMED ONLY DIMLY AWARE OF ME, AND KEPT STEALING GLANCES AT TEREZI AS THOUGH SHE WOULD CATCH YOU AND MAKE YOU GIVE THEM BACK.
KARKAT: SHE MOSTLY IGNORED YOU. IT WAS TENSE.
DAVE: huh

==>

KARKAT: IN THE FOLLOWING FEW WEEKS. TEREZI PEELED OFF AWAY FROM YOU AND, I LATER LEARNED, TOWARDS GAMZEE.
KARKAT: THOUGH IT'S POSSIBLE THEY WERE ALREADY A THING.
KARKAT: AND THIS IS THE POINT WHERE WE STARTED TO HANG OUT MORE, AND BECOME BROS, KIND OF LIKE WE DID IN YOUR TIMELINE.
KARKAT: SITTING AROUND WITH THE MAYOR AND JUST BITCHING ABOUT EVERYTHING.
DAVE: tried and true
KARKAT: FOR A WHILE IT WENT ON LIKE THAT, THE WAY YOU DESCRIBED.
KARKAT: BUT THERE WAS SOME... I DUNNO.
KARKAT: SOME PART OF YOU THAT SORT OF FOLDED UP, SLOWLY.
KARKAT: WHETHER YOU WERE JUST PREOCCUPIED OR ACTUALLY TROUBLED WAS HARD TO SAY, BUT YOU WEREN'T EXERCISING EVEN THE MOST BASIC CONCERN FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR OWN PHYSICAL WELL-BEING.
KARKAT: YOU DIDN'T JOKE AS MUCH, DIDN'T RAMBLE IN THAT UNIQUELY MADDENING WAY THAT YOU USED TO.
KARKAT: THAT STRIDER SASS AND SWAGGER WAS... LEACHING OUT OF YOU.
KARKAT: SOMETIMES YOU LOOKED SO FUCKING PALE I THOUGHT YOU HAD CANCER.
DAVE: thats
DAVE: wait did he have actual cancer like
DAVE: is that a thing i could get from sburb
DAVE: if i stared straight into the camera and put my lower lip on max quiver setting would i have finally gotten my wish to rap with barack obama
DAVE: hahaha nah fuck it just another dead dave
DAVE: its probably just as stupid as being doomed
KARKAT: I GOTTA SAY, THERE WERE MOMENTS WHEN I COULDN'T TAKE YOUR PASSIVENESS ANYMORE AND I JUST TORE INTO YOU.
KARKAT: LIKE, REALLY TORE INTO YOU.
KARKAT: IN A WAY THAT FELT EMBARRASSINGLY FORWARD AND CLINGY.
DAVE: were you cheating on john with him you horny bastard
KARKAT: SHUT UP DAVE, SEE, THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF SHIT YOU WOULD NEVER HAVE SAID TO ME AT THE TIME.
KARKAT: I WANTED SOME KIND OF REACTION, SOME ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT I KNEW YOU, EVEN IF THAT ONLY MEANT I KNEW HOW TO GET UNDER YOUR SKIN.
KARKAT: BUT YOU WOULDN'T HATE ME BACK. ANYMORE.
KARKAT: NOT IN ANY WAY THAT FELT SATISFYING.
DAVE: man this is some kind of twisted troll
DAVE: the payoff sounds a bit delayed for my tastes but i gotta admire the mans dedication
KARKAT: THE MOST I GOT OUT OF YOU WAS SOME LONG-SUFFERING SIGH AND A SHRUG OR TWO.
KARKAT: I MIGHT HAVE STARTED TO -- UGH.
DAVE: what
KARKAT: TO
KARKAT: PITY YOU.
KARKAT: YOU KNOW?
DAVE: uhhh not really
DAVE: like has any iteration of me ever been the pitying type
DAVE: it sounds like he had enough pity for himself at the time
KARKAT: YEAH, UM.
KARKAT: YOU KNOW WHAT.
KARKAT: LET'S JUST FORGET ABOUT THAT FOR NOW.
KARKAT: MAYBE COME BACK TO IT LATER.
KARKAT: MAYBE.
DAVE: alright ill trust you on that one
DAVE: you do you
KARKAT: ANYWAY IT'S IRRELEVANT, I HARDLY GOT A MOMENT WITH YOU TO MYSELF.
KARKAT: ASIDE FROM HALFHEARTED MEALTIMES AND THE OCCASIONAL FORCED COLLAPSE INTO A HORIZONTAL STUPOR
KARKAT: YOU SPENT THE VAST MAJORITY OF YOUR CONSCIOUS MOMENTS WITH ROSE.
KARKAT: YOU JUST WOULDN'T LEAVE HER SIDE.

==>

DAVE: ok what
DAVE: like he just
DAVE: uh
DAVE: like wouldnt at all like was he camping out there or something
KARKAT: ACTUALLY, YEAH, THAT'S PRETTY MUCH EXACTLY WHAT YOU WERE DOING.
KARKAT: I RARELY SAW YOU OUTSIDE THAT ONE LIBRARY ANYMORE.
KARKAT: I THINK YOU BOTH SORT OF SLEPT WITH YOUR NUGBONES ON THE TABLE, SO IT'S NO WONDER YOU LOOKED SO GODDAMN EXHAUSTED ALL THE TIME.
KARKAT: SOMETIMES ME OR KANAYA WOULD BRING YOU GUYS FOOD SO YOU DIDN'T FUCKING STARVE.
DAVE: hey i wonder if starvation would suck as much as sburb cancer
KARKAT: OR I WOULD COME AND PRETEND TO GET COFFEE, SORT OF LOITERING NEAR THE MACHINE, TO TRY TO GET THE FAINTEST WHIFF OF WHAT THE CLANDESTINE FUCK YOU TWO HAD GOING ON.
DAVE: smooth operator as always i see
KARKAT: LOOK, I WORKED WITH WHAT I HAD, OKAY?!
KARKAT: ROSE WOULD BE HUNCHED OVER SOME TOME OR OTHER, MADLY SCRIBBLING INSCRUTABLE DIAGRAMS AND MYSTIC FORMULAE ON SOME FOLIATED LITERARY SUBSTRATE YOU HAD SCAVENGED.
KARKAT: EITHER THAT, OR STARING INTO THE MIDDLE DISTANCE AT WHAT HORRIFIC CLUSTERFUCK I COULDN'T BEGIN TO HAZARD A GUESS, FROZEN BETWEEN FIGHT AND FLIGHT.
KARKAT: MORE OFTEN THAN NOT YOU WERE RIGHT NEXT TO HER.
KARKAT: SOMETIMES SLOUCHED, DESPONDENT, DEFLATED.
KARKAT: OTHER TIMES LOOKING ON WITH AN ATTENTIVENESS TO HER CRYPTIC LIGHT BULLSHIT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY OUT OF CHARACTER FOR THE DAVE I THOUGHT I KNEW.
DAVE: i got nothing bro
DAVE: someone mustve replaced your dave with folgers crystals or some shit to see if you would notice
KARKAT: YOU MIGHT EXCHANGE LONG MEANINGFUL GLANCES.
KARKAT: OR WHISPER AMONGST YOURSELVES.
KARKAT: BUT WHAT YOU NEVER DID WAS LET ME IN ON WHAT THE DEAL WAS.
KARKAT: LIKE I WAS SOME SORT OF DEFECTIVE WIGGLER WHO WAS GONNA GET CULLED AND YOU WANTED NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.
KARKAT: AND BELIEVE ME, I ASKED.
KARKAT: YOU SAID IT WAS RESEARCH. YOU SAID IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR SESSION.
KARKAT: AND THAT WAS *ALL*.
DAVE: what the fuck man
KARKAT: SO I TRIED TO PLAY IT COOL, YOU KNOW.
KARKAT: PRETENDED TO READ ONE OF THOSE ROMANCE NOVELS YOU TURNED YOUR SNUB HUMAN SNIFFER UP AT LIKE SOMETHING THE LUSUS DRAGGED IN.
KARKAT: THERE WERE A COUPLE OF TIMES I SAW ROSE PUT HER PEN DOWN AND JUST RUB HER EYES, AND YOU WOULD... PUT THIS ARM AROUND HER.
KARKAT: SHE CLEARLY NEEDED IT, BECAUSE SHE WOULD GIVE THIS SHUDDERING SIGH AND LEAN INTO YOU.
KARKAT: IT WAS THE MOST PATHETIC THING I'VE EVER SEEN. IT REACHED INTO MY FUCKING THORAX RIGHT BETWEEN THE STRUTS AND YANKED AT MY PUSHER BY WHATEVER GROSS THOUGHT FIBERS KEEP IT PUMPING.
DAVE: uhhhhh
KARKAT: I COULDN'T TELL IF IT WAS PALE OR FLUSHED, LIKE I KNOW YOU HUMANS DON'T REALLY DO PALE LIKE WE DO, BUT IT WAS *NOT* PLATONIC.
DAVE: dude you realize this level of surveillance would be considered totally fucking creepy by human standards
KARKAT: WELL, BEING THAT SECRETIVE AROUND ONE'S SO-CALLED FRIENDS WOULD BE CONSIDERED COMPLETELY ANTISOCIAL BY LITERALLY ANYONE'S STANDARDS.
DAVE: at least if you were stalking one or the other of us
DAVE: stalking both of us actually sounds kind of funny given all the kinds of not remotely romantic times im sure we must have been up to
DAVE: if youre moonlighting as a romance detective do not quit your day job man
DAVE: like did you live with them in there or something
KARKAT: NO, I COULDN'T.
KARKAT: I HAD TO TAKE CARE OF KANAYA.

==>

DAVE: what no this is stupid
DAVE: kanaya is cool she can take care of herself right
KARKAT: SURE SHE COULD. I THINK SHE JUST... WOULDN'T. LIKE YOU.
KARKAT: SHE USED TO COME IN THE LIBRARY WITH ME, CHECK IN ON YOU AND ROSE.
KARKAT: YOU'D EXCHANGE SOME LIGHT AND LARGELY CONTENT-FREE PLEASANTRIES.
KARKAT: HOW'S THE STUDYING GOING? GREAT. MADE ANY PROGRESS? YEAH SURE. WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND OUT? WE'LL LET YOU KNOW WHEN WE'RE DONE.
KARKAT: SHE WOULD GIVE ROSE THESE LOOKS OF LONGING.
KARKAT: THAT OVER TIME JUST GOT... WEAKER, HARDER.
KARKAT: JADED.
KARKAT: EVENTUALLY SHE STOPPED COMING.
KARKAT: I THINK IT JUST HURT HER TOO MUCH.
DAVE: fuck this is just messed up
DAVE: its like everyone in your timeline was getting the mojo squeezed out of them
KARKAT: THEN AFTER SHE WAS DONE MOPING AROUND IN UNREQUITED FLUSHTRATION, SHE GOT RESTLESS AND SPENT A COUPLE OF WEEKS HUNTING THROUGH THE VENTILATION SHAFTS TRYING TO GET AT GAMZEE.
KARKAT: BUT SHE NEVER CAUGHT UP WITH HIM. OBVIOUSLY.
KARKAT: I THINK SHE SUSPECTED EARLY ON THAT TEREZI HAD A BLACK THING FOR GAMZEE, AND WOULD AVOID THAT SUBJECT WITH HER.
KARKAT: BUT THEY MUST HAVE ARGUED ABOUT IT AT SOME POINT, BECAUSE SOON THEY STARTED AVOIDING EACH OTHER ALTOGETHER.
KARKAT: OBVIOUSLY SHE COULDN'T AUSPISTICIZE BETWEEN AN INCREASINGLY MORE TENUOUS FRIEND AND SOMEONE SHE HATED PLATONICALLY.
KARKAT: ONCE IN A GREEN SUN YOU WOULD HANG OUT WITH US, BUT MOSTLY NOT.
KARKAT: SO THE ONLY ONES SHE REALLY HAD LEFT WERE ME AND THE MAYOR.
KARKAT: AND, YOU KNOW, NOTHING AGAINST THE MAYOR, HE'S COOL AND ALL.
KARKAT: BUT THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH YOU COULD DO WITH HIM.
DAVE: so was she like working on can town with him or something
DAVE: god thats fucking weird to think about
KARKAT: IF YOU CAN BELIEVE THIS, SHE WAS ACTUALLY SEWING LITTLE OUTFITS FOR HIM.
KARKAT: LIKE, AN EMBROIDERED SASH, A FANCY UNIFORM AND EVERYTHING.
KARKAT: WITH LIKE, THE SHOULDER THINGS, WHATEVER THOSE ARE CALLED.
KARKAT: HE DIDN'T REALLY KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF THEM.
KARKAT: I THINK HE MIGHT HAVE CHEWED ON THE SASH WHEN HE THOUGHT SHE WASN'T LOOKING.
DAVE: hahaha fuck he would so do that
DAVE: but
DAVE: holy shit kanaya
KARKAT: SO IT WAS JUST ME AND HER A LOT OF THE TIME, AND THE MAYOR.
KARKAT: SHE'D BE SEWING SOMETHING PRETTY MUCH ALL THE TIME, I THINK TO KEEP HER HANDS BUSY.
KARKAT: QUILTING, WITH ANY SCRAP OF CLOTH SHE COULD FIND.
KARKAT: ON THOSE RARE OCCASIONS WHEN SHE SPOKE, IT WAS TO WORRY ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE.
KARKAT: ESPECIALLY ROSE.
DAVE: did she ask her out
DAVE: or ask her anything in fact
DAVE: like was there literally any communication happening between those two when they clearly should have been all over each other
KARKAT: YEAH, NORMALLY KANAYA IS PRETTY HONEST ABOUT THESE THINGS.
KARKAT: AT FIRST I THINK SHE WAS JUST SHY, BUT OVER TIME SHE BECAME CONVINCED ROSE WAS JUST AVOIDING HER, AND SHE HAD NO IDEA WHY.
KARKAT: SO SHE ASKED ME TO ASK YOU IF THERE WAS SOMETHING UP.
DAVE: and was there
KARKAT: YOU DIDN'T TELL ME EITHER.
KARKAT: JUST THOUGHT FOR A BIT AND SAID IT WOULDN'T WORK OUT BETWEEN THEM.
KARKAT: I ASKED WHY, YOU SAID IT JUST WOULDN'T.
DAVE: this is the part of the movie where i just want to shout at all the characters even though i know they cant hear me
DAVE: fuck it i just flip the end table and popcorn scatters all over the floor to be ground into the nasty brown carpet
DAVE: none of our friends are acting anything like they should be
DAVE: something has got to be seriously off

==>

KARKAT: WOW, DAVE. I AM BLOWN AWAY BY YOUR ASTONISHING INSIGHT.
KARKAT: WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT SOMETHING WAS WRONG? I MEAN, REALLY.
DAVE: and we still got one left
DAVE: let me guess she drowned in a pool of flat faygo which preserved her sorry corpse long enough for the clown gods to reanimate her
KARKAT: DAVE.
DAVE: and shes all stumbling around going BRAAAAIIINS or wait i dunno what you trolls call brains but she cant catch anyone cause all she can smell is cheap soda and her mary janes stick to the floor
KARKAT: GOD
KARKAT: *DAMN* IT
KARKAT: DAVE.
DAVE: ...
KARKAT: ...
DAVE: ...
KARKAT: I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED TO TEREZI.
KARKAT: BUT I HAVE A FEELING IT'S CENTRAL TO UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REST OF US.
KARKAT: YOU WANT TO KNOW? THEN SHUT IT AND LISTEN UP.

Chapter Text

KANAYA: Let Me Unwrap Myself And Stand Here
KANAYA: Tell Me What You See
KANAYA: Dont Worry About Offending Me
KANAYA: You Might Say This Is For Science
ROSE: How could I offend you?
ROSE: I have nothing but praise for your appearance.
KANAYA: Thats Not What I Mean
ROSE: Well, okay.
ROSE: You’re wearing your usual casual skirt, but also an elegant black bustier, partially unlaced, that shapes your figure.
ROSE: You’re giving off a nice even glow from your face and shoulders, which is now a pure soft white instead of greenish-yellow.
KANAYA: Is That All
ROSE: That’s it for the pure sensory description.
ROSE: But you look uncomfortable... stooped, shrinking in on yourself oh my god it isn't just the lingerie, that isn't how you're shaped at all is it.
KANAYA: As A Matter Of Fact It Is Not
KANAYA: You Know Ive Never Had A Classic Sandclock Figure
KANAYA: Or Particularly Prominent Rumblespheres
ROSE: No. You're actually quite linear compared to this.
ROSE: Even more recent versions of you.
KANAYA: So Imagine My Surprise When You Pulled My Top Over My Head
KANAYA: And I Found Myself Somewhat Exaggerated In Those Directions
ROSE: While I was frantically trying to undo your incredibly tight laces and kept getting them hopelessly tangled.
KANAYA: I Thought You Were Just Pawing At Me Indiscriminately
ROSE: I don't think those two pursuits are mutually exclusive.
ROSE: But you don't actually own any such corsetry, do you.
KANAYA: This Bodice Is Simply Not Designed For My True Body Type
KANAYA: Nor Is It Executed In A Style That I Find Appealing
KANAYA: But It Is Familiar To Me In A Cliched Sort Of Way
ROSE: Well... um.
ROSE: If this isn't really you, then why do you --
KANAYA: This Isnt A Memory Of Who I Was
KANAYA: But A Memory Of How I Sometimes Imagined I Might One Day Become
KANAYA: Before We Met When I Was Younger
ROSE: A... daydream, then? A fantasy?
KANAYA: I Suppose
KANAYA: You Could Call It That
ROSE: So fantasies are memories too?
KANAYA: It Appears These Bubbles Are Made Not Only Of Things We Would Conventionally Call Memories
KANAYA: But Of Any Sufficiently Ingrained Mental Phenomena Experienced During Our Lifetimes
ROSE: Huh, that's... at once surprisingly self-consistent, and also terrifying for anyone with more than a few neuroses.
ROSE: In other words, all of us.
KANAYA: Indeed
KANAYA: I Have Long Since Outgrown This Fantasy
KANAYA: It Pinches In The Chest And Feels Worn
KANAYA: I Dont Understand How It Resurfaced In Our Moment Of Intimacy
ROSE: Where did it come from?

==>

KANAYA: My Own Youthful Imaginings Were Driven Mostly By Alternian Gothic Romance Serials
KANAYA: Featuring Iconic Popular Depictions Of Rainbow Drinkers
KANAYA: This Was Of Course Before I Met Porrim
KANAYA: Who Seemed To Fulfill The Promise Of The Archetype In Ways That Surpassed The Hope Of Mere Literature
KANAYA: It Makes Me Feel Inadequate Despite Myself
KANAYA: Since This Archetype Is One Of Several Narrow Channels Through Which Conventional Alternian Femininity Is Permitted To Flow
KANAYA: Even Though I Now Know That Being An Actual Rainbow Drinker Is Nothing Like These Stories At All
ROSE: Oh, Kanaya, of course it isn't. But...
ROSE: Why didn't you say anything?
KANAYA: At First I Was Too Confused About What Was Going On
KANAYA: I Wasnt Exactly Sure What I Should Have Said
ROSE: "Rose, dearest, something feels off. Can we stop for a moment?"
KANAYA: Yes That Would Have Made More Sense
KANAYA: But You Were Lavishing Such Attention Upon Me
ROSE: Kanaya, I --
KANAYA: That In A Moment Of Doubt
KANAYA: I Started To Wonder What Would Become Of That Attention
KANAYA: If I Suddenly Tried To Reassert My Own Body Image
ROSE: I -- what?! I --
KANAYA: Would You Be Satisfied With The Real Me
KANAYA: Or Would You Have Preferred To Make Out With My Ancestor Instead
ROSE: Kanaya!

==>

ROSE: I...
ROSE: It's awful, but I didn't notice anything was off.
ROSE: Almost in the way one fails to notice unusual things when one is dreaming, if we didn't already know we were dead.
ROSE: And I've never met Porrim in person, so I can't have been projecting her onto you. You know that.
ROSE: I just... how to put this.
ROSE: Please believe me when I say I wanted you, and not some other person, real or imagined.
ROSE: Please believe that. Everything depends upon that for me.
ROSE: Yet despite my knowing, in a factual sense, that your natural frame is slighter and more rectangular than this, what you're showing me here is...
ROSE: Not obviously inconsistent with what I imagined?
ROSE: Given what I knew about your fashion sense, and what you might have been able to do with clothing.
KANAYA: I Suppose Many Of My Dress Patterns Focus On A Classic Aesthetic
KANAYA: That Call Attention To Some Things And Distract From Others To Create A Harmonious And Balanced Impression
ROSE: Yes, broadly speaking.
ROSE: I had a sense you might shape your public presence to be more demure and conciliatory than the way you might approach a lover behind closed doors.
KANAYA: Oh
KANAYA: I See Now
ROSE: What? What do you see?
KANAYA: Im Not The Only One
KANAYA: This Is Actually Your Daydream Too Isnt It
ROSE: I, uh. Maybe?
ROSE: Haha, actually. Sort of.
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: Yes.
KANAYA: Were Both Drawing On Elements Of The Same Rainbow Drinker Fantasy
KANAYA: Thats Why The Illusion Remains So Persistent Despite Being So Much At Odds With My Usual Image Of Myself
ROSE: I suppose it isn't as unpredictable as all that, given that we've now both spent a lot of time with those books.
KANAYA: Yes I Lent You Several Of Those Novels Didnt I
KANAYA: I Feel Like Such An Idiot For Not Realizing It Before
KANAYA: It Might As Well Be A Reenactment Of The Cover Art For One Of Them
KANAYA: Apart From The Ill Fitting Construction Of This Bodice
ROSE: That might have been... an embellishment of mine.
ROSE: We humans have versions of these stories too.
ROSE: Which I used to read myself, before moving on to tales of the zoologically dubious.
KANAYA: I Even Remember Which Cover It Was Now

==>

KANAYA: And In Regards To That
KANAYA: I Am Positive My Fangs Were Never At Any Point That Long
KANAYA: Or Quite That Sharp Either
ROSE: Weren't they?
KANAYA: They Should Be More Like This
KANAYA: Which Is A Critical Detail
KANAYA: Because That First Gentle Nip I Gave You
KANAYA: In The Tender Part Of Your Neck
KANAYA: Was At That Stage Meant Only To Tease You
KANAYA: I Had Not Intended To Draw Blood
ROSE: Honestly?
ROSE: But you really sank them in, didn't you?
KANAYA: I Misjudged The Depth
KANAYA: Almost At Once You Started Bleeding Profusely
KANAYA: Did You Not See How Your Blood Got Everywhere
KANAYA: I Was Surprised And Started To Worry About You
ROSE: What would we have to worry about?
ROSE: Aren't we already dead, after all?
KANAYA: I Am Not Eager To Flirt With The Double Death Of My Matesprit
ROSE: Well, it wouldn't exactly be a Heroic double death, would it?
KANAYA: No It Wouldnt
KANAYA: But Im Beginning To Wonder Whether It Might Not Have Been Just
ROSE: Oh, come on! You don't mean that.
KANAYA: So I Stopped
KANAYA: As Difficult As Stopping Became For Me Once I Smelled Blood
KANAYA: And It Became Even More Difficult When You Leaned Into It
KANAYA: As Though You Wanted Me To Keep Going
ROSE: Well, maybe it's because I did want you to keep going?
KANAYA: But That Isnt Really My Point
KANAYA: You Werent Merely Asking To Be Bitten
ROSE: No, of course it wouldn't be that exciting if just anyone was biting me, in just any way.
ROSE: But we're reading the same books! There's a shared context there.
ROSE: Can you blame me for being curious about it?
KANAYA: The Shared Context Was That Of A Set Piece
KANAYA: And A Rather Flimsy One At That
KANAYA: Rather Than A Spontaneous And Transparent Interplay Of Desire
KANAYA: As I Was Expecting For Our First Time Together
ROSE: Oh, I agree we don't want to script everything, but what's wrong with a little --

==>

KANAYA: Rose Mischief Lalonde
KANAYA: I Am A Bit Cross With You Right Now
ROSE: Hey! Middle names are not the same as pet names!
ROSE: I don't just call you Kanaya Anticlimax Maryam for no good reason!
KANAYA: Why Didnt You Just Tell Me What You Wanted!
KANAYA: So I Wouldnt Be Taken Unawares And We Could Agree Upon Protocol!
ROSE: I'm sorry! I didn't think my idle fantasy would spontaneously manifest in such a concrete way!
KANAYA: This Fantasy Seems To Have Been Far More Than Merely Idle!
KANAYA: Also Excessive Bleeding In Itself Is Not That Alluring To Me!
ROSE: That part was completely unintentional!
ROSE: I mean, I was kind of surprised too when you went and bit my neck so deeply, but I thought that meant you were into it!
KANAYA: Ordinarily I Might Have Been Totally Into It!
KANAYA: All I Needed Was For You To Ask!
KANAYA: Instead Of Projecting Your Expectations Of Fictional Rainbow Drinkers Onto Me!
ROSE: But you initiated it!
KANAYA: But I Didnt Mean To!
ROSE: Is that where I got all the surplus appendages from, then?

==>

KANAYA: Ummmmm
ROSE: Surely you don't think we humans are all packing a bunch of extra limbs tucked underneath our god tier regalia?
KANAYA: Well No
KANAYA: But Really
KANAYA: How Could I Have Known For Certain Before Now
ROSE: Kanaya, let me clue you in here.
ROSE: We don't have those normally.
ROSE: Nor do we suddenly grow them when we're turned on.
KANAYA: Okay Well Today I Learned A Thing Then
ROSE: And why, after how distressed you were about events in your timeline and how concerned I was for you, did you pick that as your own idle fantasy?!
KANAYA: I Didnt Pick It As Such
KANAYA: Its More Like It Picked Me
KANAYA: After A Glance At The Background Imagery On Your Husktop Screen
ROSE: AUGH.
ROSE: Why did I not change that, knowing I was bringing you here?!
ROSE: I nearly jumped out of my skin when I felt them --
ROSE: Sprouting out of my --
ROSE: I mean, for fuck's sake, Kanaya!
KANAYA: Actually It Sort Of Was Wasnt It
ROSE: Ha ha ha.
KANAYA: Or Else Our Hosts The Dark Gods Playing A Cruel Prank On Us
ROSE: No, I've got to come clean here.
ROSE: Of course I've imagined similar things about myself before.
ROSE: A hideous body, but not an uninteresting one by any means, and one less tied to any expectations others might have of me.
ROSE: Like you said, it was less the form itself that concerned me so much as a unanticipated, uncontrolled transition into that form while I was with you.
ROSE: And that's when I rolled myself up into the bedsheets and started wishing I had enough pillows to make a fort with.
KANAYA: Youll Notice That I Had Exactly The Same Reaction
ROSE: So you were as disturbed as I was?

==>

KANAYA: Of Course!
KANAYA: I Was Terrified
KANAYA: And Yet Also
KANAYA: Looking Back On It
KANAYA: Maybe
KANAYA: Kind Of Aroused?
KANAYA: Wondering What It Would Feel Like
KANAYA: In A Non Life Threatening Situation Where We Could Experiment Together With Sensations
ROSE: And who's fetishizing whom now?
KANAYA: I Admit Theres Still Something Morbidly Transfixing And Poignant
KANAYA: About The Majesty Of Your Alter Ego Methodically Dismantling A Session With Deadly Force In Order To
KANAYA: Protect Me
KANAYA: But Again This Was A Mere Undercurrent Of Thought That I Was As Shocked To See Suddenly Realized As You Were
ROSE: Oh, this is just too perfect.
ROSE: It's like "The Gift of the Magi", only for kinks.
ROSE: This is the part where the ironic violins start playing and we discover that the humiliation was within us all along.
KANAYA: Look Sometimes That Frisson Of Horror Isnt So Far From Arousal
ROSE: You have zero need to lecture me, especially about that.
KANAYA: I Wasnt Lecturing!
KANAYA: Merely Pointing Out In A Purely Didactic Manner
ROSE: Okay, let's just... forget about this argument. It isn't going to lead anywhere interesting.
ROSE: Because in a hilarious twist of fate, it seems we're in complete agreement about pretty much everything.
ROSE: It's just that neither of us expected these particular...
ROSE: Idiosyncracies, I guess. Among other things.
ROSE: From each other. In advance.
ROSE: And we didn't take time to discuss them before the dream bubble just showed each of us what the other was thinking and feeling.
KANAYA: Although We Were Also Unlucky To Have Held In Common Imagined Memories That The Other May Not Have Been Ready To Share
KANAYA: Which The Bubble Could Draw Upon To Shape Our Environment

==>

ROSE: ...
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: Thank you for being such a patient and understanding partner.
ROSE: And making room for us to talk all of this stuff out.
ROSE: I apologize for having been so rushed and impetuous.
KANAYA: Apology Accepted
ROSE: It was fortuitous, how that last bit telegraphed to us that something was really off, and got us to stop and discuss.
ROSE: Who knows what could have happened otherwise?
KANAYA: Id Prefer Not To Consider That Counterfactual Right Now
KANAYA: If You Dont Mind
ROSE: And to ice the cake, the things we've fixated on aren't even what really drew us to each other in the first place.
ROSE: Despite being unexpectedly shared, in the recesses of our psyches.
KANAYA: Agreed On All Counts
KANAYA: Although Concupiscient Attraction Can Be A Mysterious Force
ROSE: Well, at least now we have a coherent theory for what happened.
ROSE: You know, this kind of flexibility in dream bubbles is really interesting.
ROSE: I bet there are tons of ways we could exploit interplay between memories to create more interesting habitats for ourselves.
ROSE: To say nothing of more adventurous boudoir experiences.
ROSE: Like, Memory Alchemy or something.
ROSE: Once we get the hang of it.
KANAYA: Yes That Seems Plausible
KANAYA: And By An Astonishing Coincidence
KANAYA: That Is The Next Bit Id Like To Talk About

==>

ROSE: How do you suggest we proceed, then?
KANAYA: Since The Main Factors In Play During The Incident Were Failures Of Communication And Lapses In Quality Of Attention
KANAYA: So That A Perfect Storm Of Assumptions And Stylization Could Brew Between Gaps In Our Memories And Knowledge Of Each Other
KANAYA: I Propose We Address Those Deficiencies Directly
ROSE: Intriguing. In what way?
KANAYA: If We Had Taken Our Encounter More Slowly And Deliberately
KANAYA: We Might Have Started By Sharing High Fidelity Memories Of Ourselves
KANAYA: Each Allowing The Other Time To Explore And Internalize
ROSE: I think I see what you mean.
ROSE: In life we had to deal with compressed or symbolic representations all the time just to get by, and that was probably fine for the overwhelming majority of routine daily interactions.
ROSE: But the physical world provides additional data in real time, whereas here we're just recycling the contents of our own minds.
ROSE: Economical, but limited in scope compared to non-dream Reality.
ROSE: So these memories will serve as a sort of common platform upon which to build the more complex, immersive experiences we both clearly want from each other?
KANAYA: Yes Thats Exactly Right
KANAYA: Those Composite Experiences Will Be More Stable
KANAYA: If We Both Have Access To The Same Building Blocks Of Memory
KANAYA: Which For Private Memories Needs To Be Explicitly Granted
ROSE: This sounds like an excellent suggestion.
ROSE: I endorse it wholeheartedly.
KANAYA: It May Not Be Easy
KANAYA: Im Still Not Totally Sure If Or How It Will Work
KANAYA: The Things We Will Have To Share May Be Exceedingly Personal
KANAYA: But As Long As They Are True They Should Remain Stable
KANAYA: And Though The Imperative For Communication May Seem Tedious
KANAYA: In Time It Will Become Habit
ROSE: Yes. Very yes. Let's do this.
ROSE: Light my way.

Chapter Text


KARKAT: TEREZI... OH GOD.
KARKAT: TEREZI.
KARKAT: WHERE DO I EVEN BEGIN.
DAVE: ...
KARKAT: THAT'S A SERIOUS QUESTION.
KARKAT: I ACTUALLY HAVE NO IDEA, BECAUSE I HAD SO LITTLE CONTEXT.
DAVE: youre asking me
DAVE: its your damn timeline dude
KARKAT: NO, I MEAN, I MUST BE DERANGED.
KARKAT: HERE I AM, TELLING YOU TO LISTEN TO THIS SUPER IMPORTANT STUFF I HAVE TO TELL YOU, AND THEN I REALIZE I UNDERSTAND JACK SHIT.
KARKAT: I JUST WENT THROUGH THREE YEARS OF NOBODY TELLING ME ANYTHING IMPORTANT, OR TRUSTING ME WITH ANYTHING, EVER.
DAVE: well ok i mean so you mentioned this breakfast incident right
DAVE: so like did she pour herself a bowl of lucky charms and then the prize in the cereal box turned out to be crippling insecurity
KARKAT: NO, IT WASN'T LIKE THAT. I MEAN...
KARKAT: I THOUGHT SHE WOULD BE ABLE TO PROTECT HERSELF.
KARKAT: BUT I WAS WRONG.
KARKAT: I THINK SHE MIGHT HAVE DRAGGED EVERYONE ELSE DOWN WITH HER.

==>

KARKAT: SO, OKAY. THE BREAKFAST INCIDENT.
KARKAT: WHICH IS REALLY ONLY REMARKABLE IN RETROSPECT.
DAVE: right
KARKAT: I ASKED YOU ABOUT IT EXPLICITLY WHEN SHE LEFT.
KARKAT: WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT LOOK YOU WERE GIVING HER, I ASKED.
KARKAT: AND YOU DID NOTHING BUT DEFLECT. SAID YOU DIDN'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT. YOU WENT FULL-ON CONVERSATIONAL AUTO-PARRY.
KARKAT: TEREZI DIDN'T TELL ME MUCH MORE, JUST GOT ALL HARD-BOILED AND GRIM AND SAID SHE DIDN'T WANT ANYONE FUCKING WITH HER QUADRANTS.
KARKAT: I COULDN'T FIGURE THAT OUT. AT FIRST I THOUGHT SHE MIGHT HAVE MEANT US THREE -- LIKE THAT YOU TOLD HER ABOUT THE SCHEDULE, SINCE IT HADN'T BEEN SO LONG SINCE THAT HAPPENED?
KARKAT: OR THAT YOU TOLD HER NOT TO SEE ME OR SOME SHIT, BECAUSE THE IDEA OF HER SEEING ME IN ANOTHER QUADRANT OR VACILLATING WITH ME IN THE SAME QUADRANT AS YOU WAS TOO MUCH TO HANDLE?
DAVE: yeah because we both know that kind of shit is just stupid
KARKAT: STUPID?!
KARKAT: YEAH, BECAUSE ANYTHING *YOU'RE* NOT USED TO IS STUPID, RIGHT.
KARKAT: IF THAT'S WHAT YOU ACTUALLY THINK, JUST SAY IT.
DAVE: ok you wanna know what was stupid about it ill tell you
DAVE: the part where i wake up and oh no its thursday so im under some contractual obligation to hate terezis guts just long enough for you to pencil her in for a tongue lashing or something
KARKAT: THAT ISN'T HOW QUADRANTS WORK, DAVE
DAVE: no i KNOW that much jesus give me SOME credit
DAVE: im not just talking about quadrants although obviously i am on record as being deeply uncomfortable with the idea of hatesnogs
DAVE: which you already know so i dont have to go on repeat one here
DAVE: im talking about the dumbass shipping grid shit
DAVE: why should i have to be hypervigilant about DATING for fucks sake
DAVE: like whether someone is a friend or girlfriend or frenemy or fucking kissmessedups or w/e
DAVE: like a weathervane in a goddamn hurricane
DAVE: why cant i just wake up and have some consistency
KARKAT: WHOA, WHOA, DAVE. CALM THE FUCK DOWN.
KARKAT: YOU'RE TOTALLY OVERREACTING HERE.
DAVE: see the thing is YOU dont get to tell me that asshole
KARKAT: LIKE, OKAY, I GET THAT YOU DON'T SEE HOW VACILLATION IS SUPPOSED TO WORK, AND I AGREE THAT ACTUALLY VACILLATING IN A CONTROLLED MANNER IS NEXT-LEVEL EMOTIONAL MANAGEMENT EVEN FOR ALTERNIANS.
KARKAT: SO MAYBE IT WASN'T FAIR OF ME TO ASK YOU TO DO THAT.
KARKAT: BUT, LIKE.
KARKAT: FUCK.
KARKAT: JUST FORGET IT, OKAY? WE AREN'T GOING TO MAKE ANY HEADWAY HERE.
DAVE: damn straight

==>

KARKAT: MY POINT IS, I THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT HER AND ME, AND I WAS JUST SO FULL OF NUG-SPLITTING RAGE I COULDN'T TALK TO YOU FOR A WHILE.
KARKAT: I WAS READY TO TEAR YOU PRONG FROM FUCKING NUB OVER BULGEBLOCKING ME LIKE THAT. SO EVENTUALLY I CAME AND CALLED YOU ON IT.
KARKAT: AND YOU JUST... SHOOK YOUR HEAD AND DEMURRED.
KARKAT: DENIED SAYING ANYTHING ABOUT THE VACILLATION PLAN TO TEREZI, AND SAID I WAS WELCOME TO PURSUE HER IF I WANTED.
KARKAT: ESPECIALLY SINCE YOU COULDN'T, AND WOULDN'T, DO BLACKROM.
DAVE: huh well
DAVE: that sounds like something i
DAVE: might have said i guess
KARKAT: BUT IT JUST MADE NO SENSE AT ALL IF SHE MEANT ME.
KARKAT: BUT NOW I'M WONDERING IF MAYBE SHE MEANT GAMZEE? AT THE TIME?
KARKAT: LIKE, THAT SHE WAS *ALREADY* DATING GAMZEE AND YOU SOMEHOW FOUND OUT AND TRIED TO GET HER TO BREAK IT OFF WITH HIM.
DAVE: nah man like
DAVE: i had to break up with HER when i found out god it was awkward
KARKAT: REALLY?
DAVE: yeah
KARKAT: WOW. THAT'S...
KARKAT: YOU PUT UP LESS RESISTANCE THAN I WOULD HAVE EXPECTED.
DAVE: come on terezis cool and all but i mean
DAVE: i was already pretty weirded out by what i knew was going on
DAVE: whether it was you or gamzee in the hate square didnt matter much to me on that score
KARKAT: HEY, FUCK YOU FOR THAT, OKAY?! FUCK. YOU.
DAVE: but look who was i to tell terezi she couldnt date the way trolls are supposed to date
DAVE: all i could do was draw my line and let her cross it
KARKAT: SO YOU INITIATED THAT BREAKUP IN YOUR TIMELINE, HUH?
DAVE: ...
DAVE: uh
DAVE: yeah?
KARKAT: FASCINATING.
KARKAT: BECAUSE IN MY TIMELINE, ACCORDING TO BOTH OF YOU...
KARKAT: SHE WAS THE ONE WHO DUMPED YOU. HARD.
KARKAT: LIKE, OFF CAMERA. POINTEDLY OFF CAMERA.
DAVE: you mean the ones rolling for yet another episode of karkat vantas secret romance agent
KARKAT: AND FUCK YOU FOR *THAT* AS WELL, STRIDER.
KARKAT: BUT, LIKE. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT IN YOUR TIMELINE?
DAVE: idk like
DAVE: got stood up here terrible faygo breath there
DAVE: put two and two together i mean she wasnt that subtle about it
KARKAT: OKAY, SO IS IT IMPOSSIBLE THAT YOU COULD HAVE FIGURED THOSE THINGS OUT AT THE POINT IN MY TIMELINE THAT I'M TALKING ABOUT?
DAVE: well i mean maybe
DAVE: but like its a different timeline
DAVE: that means someone made a different decision and how do you know it wasnt terezi deciding to run away and join the circus early
DAVE: and my point is i wouldnt have told her not to do that
DAVE: at the time
KARKAT: EVIDENTLY NOT, BUT...
KARKAT: WOULD YOU NOW, THOUGH? IF YOU HAD TO DO IT OVER?
DAVE: i dunno
DAVE: cant time travel now obviously so its a moot point
DAVE: but knowing what i know now about how shit went down in the end
DAVE: maybe i would

==>

KARKAT: I RAN INTO HER AGAIN IN ONE OF THE CORRIDORS AFTER, UH, I DUNNO.
KARKAT: A MONTH? TWO MONTHS? WHO THE FUCK KNOWS.
KARKAT: BY THIS TIME SHE WAS LOOKING PRETTY ROUGH. WOBBLY, DISHEVELED, SODA STAINS ON HER TROUSERS.
KARKAT: SO I KNEW SHE HAD BEEN HANGING OUT WITH GAMZEE, ALTHOUGH I WASN'T SURE WHAT THAT MEANT YET. AND HE HAD LONG SINCE BEEN AVOIDING ME ANYWAY SO I DIDN'T HEAR IT FROM HIM.
DAVE: yeah so did you say anything
KARKAT: WELL...
KARKAT: NO.
DAVE: what man you take a vow of fucking silence after all that
KARKAT: HAHA, ME? YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING.
KARKAT: BUT... I HAD JUST STARTED TO ASK ABOUT GAMZEE WHEN SHE GAVE ME THIS GLARE THAT WOULD HAVE CULLED A BEHEMOTH.
KARKAT: LIKE, ANGER AND SHAME AND HURT ALL ROLLED UP.
KARKAT: AND SO I GOT THAT THIS WAS NOT A DISCUSSION SHE WAS INTERESTED IN HAVING. AND I JUST SORT OF *KNEW* ALL OF A SUDDEN.
KARKAT: SO I CUT HER SOME SLACK. PLAYED IT COOL.
KARKAT: I JUST SAID THAT... THAT I WAS WORRIED ABOUT HER.
KARKAT: SHE SAID SHE COULDN'T STOP ME.
DAVE: yeah man
DAVE: i get it been in the cant stop me zone before
KARKAT: SO THEN I PROMPTED HER BY SAYING I WAS WORRIED ABOUT *YOU* TOO.
KARKAT: BECAUSE I WAS.
DAVE: thats touching man my shriveled heart grew three sizes just now
DAVE: how could she resist that hallmark shit
KARKAT: SHE SNORTED AND SAID SHE DIDN'T CARE ABOUT YOU ANYMORE.
KARKAT: WHICH ALSO SEEMED TOTALLY FALSE. LIKE, THE WAY SHE FLINCHED AT FIRST WHEN I SAID YOUR NAME.
KARKAT: SHE MUST HAVE BEEN PRETTY BADLY UNRAVELED IF I COULD READ HER THAT EASILY.
KARKAT: OR NOT EVEN TRYING TO HIDE HER DISTRESS? LIKE, WAS THIS SOME PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE CALL FOR HELP?
KARKAT: WE WENT BACK AND FORTH FOR A WHILE UNTIL SHE SNAPPED THAT IF I WAS SO FLUSHED FOR YOU MAYBE *I* SHOULD BE YOUR MATESPRIT.
DAVE: pfffhahahahaaa what
DAVE: the way we carry on shouting at each other drawing dicks
DAVE: oh god yeah so perf you two should totally have called her bluff
DAVE: you couldve met up with john in the new sesh for a three way spades orgy to repopulate the medium with bullshit grouch larvae
KARKAT: ...
DAVE: what
KARKAT: AND HERE I THOUGHT YOU DIDN'T *DO* BLACKROM.
DAVE: well no of course i dont come on
KARKAT: THAT FELT PRETTY PITCH TO ME, HONESTLY.
DAVE: i mean clearly she was just trying to get you to shut up and go away tell me im wrong
DAVE: you double down on that shit is what you do
KARKAT: DESPITE THAT BEING AWFUL ADVICE, I'M ASHAMED TO ADMIT THAT THAT'S PRETTY MUCH HOW I REACTED.
KARKAT: AND SHE JUST STARED AT ME UNTIL IT GOT REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE AND I DECIDED TO SORT OF BOW OUT AND LEAVE HER ALONE.
DAVE: wow uhhh okay
DAVE: hey wait shes staring at you like did she have her sight back at that point or not yet
DAVE: was that a thing that happened in your timeline
KARKAT: YEAH, THAT DID HAPPEN AT SOME POINT.
KARKAT: I DON'T KNOW IF IT WAS BEFORE THEN; SHE KEPT HER SHADES ON.
KARKAT: BUT SOMEHOW BEING STARED AT WITH BLIND EYES WOULD HAVE BEEN WORSE.

==>

KARKAT: ANYWAY THAT CLEARLY WASN'T THE WHOLE STORY, BECAUSE SOME TIME AFTER THAT I PASSED BY HER DOOR AGAIN TO JUST SEE HOW SHE WAS.
KARKAT: AND FROM OUTSIDE I HEARD THIS SCREAMING RAGE MATCH.
KARKAT: IT WAS BETWEEN YOU TWO, AND I COULDN'T CATCH EVERYTHING BUT IT CLEARLY HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH GAMZEE.
KARKAT: SO MAYBE BY THEN THEY WERE A THING?
DAVE: you ever consider that maybe people dont want to tell you stuff
KARKAT: YES, THAT WAS A THING I CONSIDERED *FREQUENTLY* IN MY TIMELINE.
KARKAT: BUT WOULD *YOU* HAVE JUST WALKED OFF IF YOU HEARD THAT KIND OF BULLSHIT GOING ON FROM THE HALLWAY?
DAVE: yeah i mean probably if it didnt concern me
KARKAT: THEY WERE DEFINITELY THROWING THINGS. I HEARD SOME SHATTERING NOISES.
KARKAT: IT WAS LIKE A KISMESIS GONE HORRIBLY WRONG.
DAVE: wait holy shit like full on wifebeating sitch there
KARKAT: I WONDERED IF THE GAMZEE THING WAS ON THE SIDE AND YOU ACTUALLY HAD JUST VACILLATED AFTER ALL.
KARKAT: LIKE, THAT THE BLACKROM DISCLAIMER REALLY WAS JUST SARCASM TOO.
DAVE: no but i
DAVE: i mean i guess
DAVE: ok that might actually have been a good time for an intervention
KARKAT: I REALLY DIDN'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON.
KARKAT: BUT I COULDN'T JUST RUN AWAY. IT WAS HORRIFIC.
DAVE: jesus and i thought they had already broken up by this point
KARKAT: ANYWAY THE DECISION WAS MADE FOR ME WHEN THE DOOR BURST OPEN AND TEREZI CAME RUNNING OUT, CANESWORD IN HAND, SOBBING.
DAVE: fucking hell man did she kill him
DAVE: is that what happened is that how alt me died
DAVE: killed by his own enraged bloodthirsty alien ex
KARKAT: I DIDN'T SEE ANY BLOOD ON THE SWORD, SO NO.
KARKAT: AT LEAST, NOT THAT TIME.
DAVE: i just cant see myself in this situation its completely boned
KARKAT: ALSO, THE TEREZI WE USED TO KNOW WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN CAPABLE OF...
KARKAT: WHAT I SAW.
KARKAT: SHE WOULD HAVE KILLED YOU QUICK AND CLEAN.
KARKAT: AND ALTHOUGH I DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAID OR DID TO HER, I BET YOU WOULD HAVE REVIVED IN A FEW MINUTES.
DAVE: the terezi WE USED to know
DAVE: so was it FUTURE terezi or gamzee who the fuck did it
KARKAT: SHE WAS OUT THE DOOR AND HALFWAY DOWN THE HALL, THEN DID A DOUBLE TAKE AND TURNED TOWARDS ME.
KARKAT: AND THE LOOK OF UTTER TERROR AND BETRAYAL ON HER FACE MADE ME WONDER IF SHE WAS EVER GOING TO SPEAK TO ME AGAIN.
DAVE: fffffffff
KARKAT: I ASKED HER TO WAIT, BUT SHE WENT TEARING DOWN THE CORRIDOR AND DIDN'T LOOK BACK.
KARKAT: BY THEN THE DAMAGE WAS DONE, SO I FELT I COULDN'T DO ANY WORSE BY GOING AND ASKING YOU WHAT IN THE ACCURSED NAME OF ALMIGHTY *FUCK* MADE YOU THINK YOU HAD THE RIGHT TO DO ANY OF THAT.
DAVE: and what did that fucker have to say for himself
KARKAT: THERE WAS NOBODY IN THE BLOCK.
KARKAT: JUST BROKEN SHIT ALL OVER THE PLACE.
DAVE: okay thats
DAVE: pretty weird
KARKAT: ...
KARKAT: YEAH.

==>

KARKAT: AND THEN THERE WAS ROSE.
DAVE: hold on i thought you said she was living in the library with me
KARKAT: SHE WAS. BUT I STILL CAME BY WHEN I COULD.
DAVE: and werent we talking about terezi
DAVE: what the fuck does this have to do with terezi
KARKAT: RESTRAIN YOUR MUSCLEBEASTS, OKAY?! I'M GETTING TO THAT.
KARKAT: THE NEXT TIME I SAW ROSE IN THE LIBRARY, SHE WAS SITTING AT THE TABLE AS USUAL AND LOOKED LIKE SHE'D BEEN UP FOR FUCKING WEEKS.
KARKAT: SO DID YOU, ACTUALLY.
KARKAT: SHE ASKED IF SHE COULD BORROW SOME OF MY ROMANCE NOVELS.
KARKAT: THAT I REMEMBER WAS AN UNUSUAL REQUEST.
DAVE: nah she loves that kind of shit are you kidding
DAVE: shes totally stoked for pretty much any alien thing she can get her impeccably painted nails into
KARKAT: SO I ASKED HOW MANY SHE WANTED.
KARKAT: DID SHE SAY "SOME"? SHE ACTUALLY WANTED *ALL* OF THEM.
DAVE: haha what oh man bingeing on alien porn
DAVE: wait this is my sister here what the fuck am i saying
KARKAT: THEY AREN'T *PORN*, DAVE, FOR FUCK'S SAKE.
DAVE: dont worry i wont ask which ones or where you stash them
KARKAT: SO I ASKED FOR WHAT. "ASKING FOR A FRIEND", SHE SAID.
DAVE: haha you know thats code for she wanted them herself
KARKAT: YEAH, THAT MUCH WAS OBVIOUS AT LEAST.
DAVE: ok this is pretty funny i take back all my reservations
DAVE: like cancel those motherfuckers and skip out on the bill
KARKAT: SHE SPECIFICALLY WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT AUSPISTICISM.
KARKAT: I TOLD HER KANAYA COULD TEACH HER MORE ABOUT THAT, AND SHE GOT REALLY QUIET.
DAVE: and this when she was clearly way too busy anyway
DAVE: like was she trying to save our session with some big ass romance equation and like that was the factor of two she left out
DAVE: so the entire meteor was gonna collapse into an incestuous cardsuited singularity is that what she was worried about
KARKAT: WELL, I COULDN'T TELL. SO LIKE I ALWAYS FUCKING DO, I STUCK MY FOOT RIGHT INTO MY TALK BLASTER TRYING TO GET MORE INFORMATION.
KARKAT: I ASKED IF THIS WAS ABOUT GAMZEE AND TEREZI.
DAVE: ohhhhh maaaaan
KARKAT: I SAW YOU WINCE BEFORE YOU CHECKED YOURSELF.
KARKAT: ROSE KEPT CAREFULLY IMPASSIVE AND WOULD NEITHER CONFIRM NOR DENY.
KARKAT: BUT I MEAN, WHO ELSE WAS IT GOING TO BE ABOUT.
DAVE: right i mean there are SIX of us ffs
DAVE: process of elimifuckination
DAVE: also "neither confirming nor denying" is basically confirmation
DAVE: she cant redact that shit shes not the goddamn cia
KARKAT: SO OKAY, I SAID I WOULD HAPPILY TRADE THEM FOR KANAYA'S RAINBOW DRINKER NOVELS THAT SHE HAD LENT TO ROSE.
KARKAT: SINCE I KNOW KANAYA WANTED THEM BACK AT SOME POINT.
KARKAT: I THINK THAT'S THE CLOSEST I EVER SAW ROSE COME TO BURSTING INTO TEARS ON THE SPOT.
KARKAT: BUT SHE JUST SORT OF STARED FOR A WHILE AND THEN NODDED.
DAVE: wow so
DAVE: maybe your rose DID have feelings for
DAVE: kanaya after
DAVE: fuck
KARKAT: I WENT BACK AND TOLD KANAYA ABOUT THAT REACTION, AND GAVE HER THE BOOKS BACK.
KARKAT: SHE SAID THANKS AND JUST KEPT SEWING.

==>

DAVE: but see thats the thing
DAVE: i just know im gonna regret bringing this up again but
DAVE: if rose still had a massive girl crush on kanaya how could you have thought she could be romantically anything with alt me
KARKAT: DAVE, THE WHOLE FACT THAT YOU HUMANS ONLY FORMALLY RECOGNIZE A SINGLE QUADRANT MEANS YOU DON'T APPRECIATE ALL THE DIFFERENT ROLES PEOPLE HAVE IN YOUR LIVES, THAT CAN AND SOMETIMES MAYBE SHOULD BE FILLED BY DIFFERENT PEOPLE.
DAVE: i mean we talk and stuff but were seriously just friends you know
DAVE: well ok and also bro and sis but that kind of necessarily precludes anything romantic
DAVE: unless we were in the kind of greek tragedy only rose could like but then we wouldve only found out after we did the deed
KARKAT: OH, AND IT ALSO MEANS YOU SEXUALIZE LITERALLY GODDAMN EVERYTHING, EVEN THINGS THAT DON'T NEED TO BE EXPLICITLY SEXUALIZED.
KARKAT: NOT ALL THE QUADRANTS ARE CONCUPISCIENT, OKAY?!
KARKAT: PALE ROMANCE WOULD MAKE SENSE FOR YOU AND ROSE EVEN IF YOU WERE PERSONALLY CONCERNED ABOUT...
DAVE: bucketing
DAVE: hahahaaaaa oh jesus this is so messed up
KARKAT: JUST TRYING TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER IN AN INCREASINGLY BLEAK AND JOYLESS ATMOSPHERE ON THAT FLYING ROCK.
DAVE: whatever my dude weve got our own way of relating to each other
DAVE: if you still dont believe me you probably never will
DAVE: just take my word for it that it wouldnt work out
KARKAT: ...
KARKAT: YOU SAID THAT SO OFTEN.
KARKAT: LIKE EVERY OTHER TIME I ASKED YOU ABOUT ANYTHING.
KARKAT: SHOVING SO MUCH UNDER THE RUG BEFORE I EVEN GOT TO QUESTION IT.
DAVE: can we stop talking about alt me and get back to alt terezi
KARKAT: NO, DAVE, THIS PART IS IMPORTANT.
KARKAT: SO I SAT YOU DOWN AND FUCKING ASKED YOU WHAT YOUR DEAL WAS.
KARKAT: BECAUSE I WAS TIRED OF BULLSHIT AND WANTED THE TRUTH.

==>

DAVE: why was it such a federal fucking issue who alt me was seeing
KARKAT: YOU WERE A TRAIN WRECK, ALL RIGHT? MISERABLE. AND SO WAS ROSE.
KARKAT: I NEVER FIGURED IT OUT BEFORE, BUT YOU WERE JUST OBVIOUSLY SUPPRESSING SOME KIND OF ATTRACTION YOU CONSIDERED FORBIDDEN.
KARKAT: WHAT WAS IT? UNREQUITED FLUSHED FEELINGS FOR ROSE ARE STILL THE OBVIOUS POSSIBILITY, GIVEN YOUR WEIRD HUMAN INCEST ISSUES.
DAVE: oh my god will you give it a rest
KARKAT: BUT MAYBE ROSE WAS ACTUALLY YOUR REBOUND CRUSH BECAUSE YOU COULDN'T GET OVER YOUR FLUSHED FEELINGS FOR TEREZI?
DAVE: i was not REBOUNDING with my SISTER will you GET A GRIP KARKAT
KARKAT: OR MAYBE... PITCH FOR TEREZI? LIKE, WERE YOU COMPETING WITH GAMZEE FOR HER BLACK AFFECTIONS, BUT YOU COULDN'T ACCEPT THAT HATE WAS A LEGITIMATE ROMANTIC MODALITY?
KARKAT: AND SO YOU KIND OF HATED YOURSELF FOR THAT?
DAVE: is that your final answer this time sherlock
KARKAT: I DON'T EVEN FUCKING KNOW ANYMORE.
KARKAT: I THOUGHT IT MADE SENSE EARLIER, BUT THINKING BACK ON *EVERYTHING* I REMEMBER, I JUST... HAVE NO IDEA.
DAVE: and you thought that sitting him down under the floodlights was going to get him to open up about that had you lost your MIND
KARKAT: IT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU, BUT...
KARKAT: I THINK IT ACTUALLY DID HELP A BIT?
DAVE: haha what that makes zero fucking sense
KARKAT: YOU CONFIRMED THAT YOU KNEW GAMZEE AND TEREZI WERE A THING.
KARKAT: LIKE, A HORRIBLY FUCKED-UP, ABUSIVE THING. A THING THAT SHOULD BEEN AUSPISTICIZED LONG BEFORE. BUT A THING NONETHELESS.
KARKAT: YOU HAD SOME LONG-WINDED BUT VAGUE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT HOW SORRY YOU FELT FOR KANAYA.
KARKAT: AND ABOUT HOW YOU WERE LOSING YOUR EDGE AND DIDN'T FEEL LIKE YOURSELF, WHICH WAS THE FIRST TIME I HEARD YOU EVER ADMIT THAT.
DAVE: and hopefully the last time because that is BULLSHIT yo
KARKAT: AND THEN IT LOOKED LIKE YOU DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO SAY ANYTHING ELSE.
KARKAT: AS YOU SAT THERE LIKE A LUMP, SO COMPLETELY ABJECT AND DEFEATED, I REALIZED THIS WAS GOING TO GET NOWHERE.
KARKAT: SO I JUST SAT THERE WITH YOU FOR A BIT.
KARKAT: THE WAY I SAW YOU SITTING WITH ROSE.

==>

DAVE: uh
KARKAT: THEN AFTER A FEW MINUTES, WHEN IT WAS CLEAR I WASN'T JUST GOING TO GO AWAY, YOU STARTED TO TALK AGAIN.
KARKAT: BUT IN THIS... REALLY CIRCUITOUS WAY? LIKE, SOMETHING ABOUT...
KARKAT: "HOT POCKETS."
DAVE: what
DAVE: seriously
KARKAT: WHICH, I HAD TO STOP YOU AND ASK, ARE APPARENTLY SOME KIND OF CONVENIENCE PASTRIES YOU HAD BACK ON EARTH?
KARKAT: IT WAS JUST SUCH A NON-SEQUITUR, BUT YOU MADE IT SOUND LIKE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU'D EVER SAID.
DAVE: hahaha
DAVE: shit i uh
DAVE: yeah i think he was probably just fucking with you
KARKAT: I TRIED TO FOLLOW IT, BECAUSE I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT BE MAKING SOME KIND OF ANALOGY FOR YOUR ROMANTIC SITUATION?
KARKAT: BUT IT JUST SEEMED LIKE NONSENSE.
DAVE: ok
DAVE: and
DAVE: then what
KARKAT: ARE YOU OKAY, DAVE?
KARKAT: YOU LOOK, I DUNNO, A LITTLE GREEN.
KARKAT: LIKE YOU AREN'T GETTING ENOUGH AIR OR SOMETHING?
DAVE: nope man pretty sure im chill
DAVE: like hella chill couldnt be chiller
KARKAT: ...OKAY?
DAVE: were talking like my chill disappeared all derping around in the arctic looking for the northwest passage and its frozen remains are now the subject of numerous documentaries
KARKAT: YOU DON'T, UH, *SEEM* THAT CHILL
DAVE: no wait its like my chill was discovered by mountain climbers all encased in a glacier or some shit so you can cut it open thirty thousand years later and see what it had for breakfast
DAVE: that level of chill
KARKAT: DAVE, THIS IS THE TRADEMARK TYPE OF STRIDER ELLIPTICITY I HAVE COME TO EXPECT ONLY AROUND CERTAIN TOPICS WHICH ARE EVIDENTLY WEIRDLY MORE PERSONAL FOR YOU THAN THEY ARE FOR ME.
KARKAT: YOU HAVE BURIED YOUR MEANING SO THOROUGHLY UNDER EXCESS VERBIAGE THAT I COULDN'T RETRIEVE IT WITH A NUCLEAR POWERED BACKHOE.
KARKAT: ARE YOU HAVING SOME KIND OF MENTAL BREAKDOWN?
DAVE: all im saying is i am just
DAVE: SO OKAY with this conversation
DAVE: absolutely nothing tripping my weirdoutometer
DAVE: at all
KARKAT: I'VE TOTALLY LOST TRACK OF...
KARKAT: OH YEAH, HOT POCKETS.
KARKAT: ARE YOU SAYING THOSE ARE WEIRD OR SOMETHING?
KARKAT: ARE THEY, LIKE, A SYMBOL FOR --
DAVE: nope they are just CRAZY normal yo
KARKAT: *ANYWAY*, I'M JUST AS CONFUSED NOW AS I WAS THEN.
KARKAT: SO I EXPLICITLY SURRENDERED. I JUST TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO TELL ME ANYTHING YOU WEREN'T READY TO.
KARKAT: BUT THAT WHETHER YOU TALKED OR NOT, IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO TAKE SOME KIND OF FUCKING ACTION ALREADY.
KARKAT: AND THAT'S WHEN YOU STOPPED RAMBLING.

==>

KARKAT: YOUR FACE FROZE AND THEN JUST... GRADUALLY SETTLED.
KARKAT: INTO... WHAT? NOT DETERMINATION, OR RELIEF EXACTLY, OR...
KARKAT: JUST SORT OF BLANK.
KARKAT: YOU SAID YOU HAD TO GO. I ASKED WHERE.
KARKAT: TO DO A THING, YOU SAID.
KARKAT: ALONE. YOU'D BE BACK SOON.
KARKAT: I WANTED TO GO WITH YOU.
KARKAT: I WISH I HAD GONE WITH YOU.
DAVE: ...
KARKAT: THAT WAS THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU ALIVE.
DAVE: fuck
DAVE: look man i think
DAVE: there must be a reasonable explanation for all this
KARKAT: WELL, I SURE HOPE SO, BECAUSE IF THERE IS...
KARKAT: IT'S PROBABLY THE LAST HOPE FOR OUR SESSION.
KARKAT: I MEAN, ASSUMING WE COULD DO ANYTHING TO AVERT DISASTER.
KARKAT: AND ALSO ASSUMING I'M NOT ALREADY DEAD MYSELF.
DAVE: i cant believe you havent remembered yet
KARKAT: WELL, I HAVE, UP TO A POINT.
KARKAT: BUT LIKE, WHAT IF I BECAME A VEGETABLE OR SOMEONE KILLED ME IN MY SLEEP, OBVIOUSLY I COULDN'T REMEMBER THOSE THINGS HAPPENING.
DAVE: hahaha fuck wouldnt that be just like sburb
DAVE: and i guess if we have a murderer on the rock then could happen
DAVE: but i mean whats the last thing you remember
KARKAT: LAST THING I REMEMBER WAS DOING AN EMBARRASSING PRATFALL ONTO THE FLOOR AFTER DISCOVERING...
KARKAT: WHAT WAS
KARKAT: LEFT OF YOU.
DAVE: so how dissected was this alt dave anyway
DAVE: you keep complaining about us being coy but you havent said anything about how this alt dave died
DAVE: or why it was so terror inducing
DAVE: were there like any useful clues at all
DAVE: dump your romance detective shtick and go actual murder detective
DAVE: so what if you upstage terezi it sounds like she had ollied out
DAVE: i mean was alt me just a big splatter or stuck on his sword like some fancy hors doeuvre or what
KARKAT: NO.
KARKAT: TEREZI HAD --
KARKAT: ...
KARKAT: !!!
DAVE: what
DAVE: WHAT
DAVE: fuck COME ON dude

==>

Karkat stops abruptly in mid-sentence, as though some lever has been pushed that makes his eyes bug out and his mouth hang open in shock. You follow his gaze downwards and see that lever protruding from his chest, blood welling up around it.

Delicious (ugh) candy-red blood, drizzling like syrup from the ruthless tip of a cane-sword.

The universe blinks and Karkat vanishes, leaving you face to face, if not quite eye to eye, with the blade's wielder.

TEREZI: W3 N33D TO T4LK

Chapter Text

KANAYA: Lets Start With An Unremarkable But Stable View
KANAYA: This Is How I Would See Myself In The Mirror Upon Awakening In My Respiteblock Before Getting Dressed
ROSE: :O
ROSE: !!!
ROSE: !!!!!
ROSE: !!!!!!!

> Kanaya: Prompt her.

For once, Rose seems to be completely at a loss for words. What’s her deal?

KANAYA: Are You All Right Rose
KANAYA: Have You Been Struck Dumb By My Alien Hideousness
ROSE: Oh god no.
ROSE: No no no no no.
ROSE: Quite the opposite.
ROSE: My own eloquence has taken its turn to desert me.
KANAYA: Then Has My Pulchritude Somehow Put You At A Disadvantage
KANAYA: But I Havent Put Anything Fancy On Yet This Is Just Me
ROSE: Oh, but this is fascinating, Kanaya.
ROSE: The solidity and richness of this memory of yourself is so much more compelling than any pallid, dreamlike fantasy we might have been pulled into.
ROSE: Somehow I feel like I'm seeing you for the first time.
KANAYA: In A Sense You Might Actually Be
KANAYA: This View Has The Merit Of Being Extremely Familiar For Me
KANAYA: But Probably Quite Special For You
ROSE: About that!... the black lacework... so intricate!
ROSE: Did you make --
KANAYA: Yes I Made Them For Myself
ROSE: That was your usual day-to-day underwear?
KANAYA: One Of Several Such Ensembles Yes
KANAYA: Even When Combat Or Manual Labor Precluded More Genteel Outerwear
KANAYA: It Was Nice To Have A Modicum Of Artistic Flair Reserved Only For Myself
ROSE: You're far too modest.
ROSE: How is it we’ve been together this long and yet...
ROSE: Never mind.
ROSE: We both know the answer, but it's embarrassing to keep saying aloud.
KANAYA: If Its Any Consolation Rose
KANAYA: I Will Eventually Stop Judging You For That
ROSE: It’s the only way I can explain... forgetting, or failing to be continually aware of...
ROSE: What a work of art you are. Or must have been.
ROSE: Slender, delicate, yes, but strong and malleable like wrought iron, not brittle like glass.
ROSE: Actually, more like the branches of the trees near my home, with some of the same ethereal quality of a winter's night.
ROSE: Especially with the light shining from under your skin just so, through faint green vessels that branch just as the trees do.
ROSE: But you also have a pearlescent sheen hinting at other colors, like a soap bubble, as if you had indeed drunk rainbows.
ROSE: I want to curl up in the hollow of your shoulder and listen to the whisper of blood through those veins.
ROSE: And your...
ROSE: But why would you have one, didn't you hatch from an egg?
KANAYA: Why Would I Have What
ROSE: That there?
ROSE: We'd call it a "navel".
KANAYA: That Is
KANAYA: An Old Battle Scar
KANAYA: Ive Alluded To It But
KANAYA: I Dont Think I Ever Showed You
ROSE: From... Eridan?
KANAYA: Yes
ROSE: I see.
ROSE: ...
ROSE: That... must have hurt.
ROSE: A lot. Didn’t it.
KANAYA: It Did Rose
KANAYA: It Really Hurt

==>

Well, this is unexpected. You thought Rose would be efficient and scientific, peppering you with questions about Alternian biology and personal history, reconciling each new datum within some hidden internal ledger of facts, concepts, and inferences. But one glance at your carelessly mussed hair and backlit gray hide still slick with sopor slime, and her usual glib composure has dissolved into wide-eyed wonder. Her speech alternates between elaborate, courtly eulogies and broken sentence fragments. Is that reverence or panic on her face, or both? Where was this Rose during your earlier romantic encounter? Or, for that matter, during the meteor journey?

Where, indeed, is she now?

KANAYA: Anyway
KANAYA: Dont Rely On Just One Sense Or You Wont Get A Complete Impression
KANAYA: Please Come And Familiarize Yourself With Me Further
KANAYA: At Least By Smell And Touch
KANAYA: Im Not Sure I Can Offer You Taste Yet Lets Work On That Later
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Is it... will it be okay?
KANAYA: Dont Worry About The Impression Destabilizing
KANAYA: I Have This Memory Locked Down And Am Inhabiting It Thoroughly
KANAYA: Also Dont Feel Pressured To Place Any Particular Concupiscient Lens On Your Exploration
KANAYA: This Is Simply About Being Present And Absorbed In The Specificity Of The Memory
ROSE: No, that’s not it. I’m not really worried about that.
ROSE: It's more... now that we've come to it, I find myself a bit...
ROSE: Overwhelmed.
ROSE: Not to say intimidated?
KANAYA: I Must Say Inkling Rose This Feels Like A Strange Reversal
KANAYA: Particularly Given Your Earlier Ardor
ROSE: I'm not! Exactly. It’s more like, ugh.
ROSE: Dark gods, I’m so bad at this.
ROSE: Whatever the limits of literary cliches, they're accessible, if only through representational compression.
ROSE: The pleasure of reading is to be able to safely digest such experiences at a remove, providing near-endless variations on what come to be familiar themes.
ROSE: This vision of yourself feels immediate in a way I couldn’t have guessed, in a way I wasn’t prepared for. Denser than a whole planet’s worth of literary tradition, in tangible form.
ROSE: Maybe it’s just this representation of you, as a memory of your entire cognitive state -- free from projection into fewer dimensions, as of light on retina, that I would have previously experienced?
KANAYA: So Are You Saying I Am Just Too Real
KANAYA: Either Too Immanent Or Too Transcendent Or Something
ROSE: Or... something?
ROSE: Yes. Definitely or something.
KANAYA: Or Is This Your Circuitous Way Of Saying Im Suddenly Too Pretty
KANAYA: Despite Having Just Crawled Out Of My Recuperacoon
ROSE: :S
KANAYA: Rose Dearest
KANAYA: I Might Once Have Had Weighty Responsibility For The Future Of My Entire Species But In This Moment And Context
KANAYA: Im Just Your Matesprit Standing Around In Her Underwear
ROSE: I’m... fairly certain Drunk Rose would have seen it that way too.
KANAYA: Oh My God
KANAYA: Let Me Put It In Terms Even Drunk Rose Could Understand
KANAYA: You Have No Need Whatsoever To Impress Me Further
KANAYA: Did You Not Wish Earlier Back At Your House
KANAYA: For Us To Simply Be Ourselves With Each Other
ROSE: But what does it even mean to “be myself” in this context?!...
ROSE: It... reminds me of why I was so nervous around you before, though I took care not to dwell much upon it, and so to mask it, just barely.
ROSE: These same layers upon layers of untapped potential within you.
ROSE: That you inhabit with hardly a care or thought to their power.
ROSE: That seem unrealistic for any single person, even a god, to imagine fulfilling --

> Kanaya: Bring her back.

You decide it’s time to go out and meet her wherever she is.

KANAYA: Rose
ROSE: Yes?

Two decisive paces close the dream-physical distance between you, and the pressure of your fingertips against her palm stretches to span the emotional distance. Stunned, her head ticks back and forth as her blank ghost’s gaze flits between her hand, clasped in yours, and your face -- trying to read your expression as if it was a novel. You don’t even know yourself what’s on the front page there: impatience, sadness, amusement, compassion? Less of a novel recounting events bound in sequence, and more a map to your emotions and desires.

KANAYA: Shoosh
ROSE: ???

While she’s trying to decide how to respond, you drop her hand and draw her in, one arm around her waist and the other resting across her shoulders. She tenses in surprise and twitches, almost flailing, for a moment before shuddering and relaxing into the space you’ve created for her. Her hands wander, at first haltingly and then with curiosity and deliberation, across the landscape of your body: your shoulder blades, the range of your spine dividing east from west, your muscles sharpened and defined by long hours spent carving through your session with a chainsaw. You riffle your own fingers through the soft hair at the base of her neck -- safe and familiar terrain for you both.

KANAYA: Shooooosshh
ROSE: !!!

You’d like to join your girlfriend in this space and savor the triumph of finally commanding her full, undiluted attention. But as she explores, part of you is already busy preparing even more room. If Rose got this tongue-tied simply by being presented with what you just offered her, she’s going to need a great deal of support in providing what you’re about to ask from her yourself.

KANAYA: <3
ROSE: <3

So after a while, as her excitement dies down and the wandering hands come to rest gently on your back, you ease her back into speech and discursive thought.

> Kanaya: Give her a turn.

KANAYA: Now
KANAYA: Would You Like To Take A Turn
ROSE: A turn?
KANAYA: To Share
KANAYA: So That I Can Stabilize My Experience Of You As Well
ROSE: Oh! Um, I. To share?
ROSE: Haha, yes, a turn, of course I get a turn.
ROSE: Reciprocity! That's how relationships work!
ROSE: Yes. Naturally.
ROSE: Um.
KANAYA: Rose?
ROSE: I'm... not sure you'll like what I have to share.
KANAYA: Rose What Kind Of Reaction Do You Fear From Me
KANAYA: Unless You Really Are A Horrorterror Then We Will Have To Discuss
ROSE: Well, that’s... uh...
ROSE: Let me rephrase. I'm not sure I like what I have to share.
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: I See
KANAYA: And Though It Hurts To Hear You Say That
KANAYA: Let Me Clarify That This Isnt About Liking
KANAYA: But About Accepting
KANAYA: Establishing An Anchor Of Truth In A Treacherous Dreamscape
ROSE: What a comforting explanation. I feel so much better now.
ROSE: What could possibly go wrong?
KANAYA: Nor Is It About Reciprocity Or Mere Equivalent Exchange
KANAYA: As Though You Owed Me Something In Return For What I Shared
KANAYA: But About A Gift Of Trust
KANAYA: Which You Are Free To Bestow Or Not As You Choose
ROSE: Ah.
ROSE: Yes. I...
ROSE: I understand.
KANAYA: Nothing You Could Show Me Would Cause Me To Think Less Of You
KANAYA: I Simply Want To See You As You See Yourself
ROSE: Is that really what you want?
KANAYA: Fervently
ROSE: Okay then.
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Here.
ROSE: This is me.

> Kanaya: Take her in.

KANAYA: ...?
ROSE: ...
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: Not impressed?
KANAYA: Im Just Trying To Understand What Im Seeing
KANAYA: And Feeling
ROSE: You asked me how I see myself.
ROSE: This is a view onto that self-image.
KANAYA: But What Youre Showing Me Is More Like An Avatar Than A Stable Memory Of Embodiment
KANAYA: It Keeps Slipping Every Time I Think It Will Settle Down
KANAYA: Between A Blurry And Indistinct Appearance
KANAYA: And Another That Is Sharper But
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: Younger
KANAYA: Less Substantial
KANAYA: And Edged In Ominous Black Flame
KANAYA: More The Way You Used To Look When We First Met
KANAYA: Rather Than On Our First Date
ROSE: If you remember so well what I was like, why don’t you remind me?
KANAYA: You Know Thats Not What I Want Out Of This
KANAYA: But This Image Isnt Concrete Enough For Me To Grasp Yet
KANAYA: You Seem Exhausted Trying To Deal With The Dissonance
KANAYA: Can You Ground Yourself In One Of These Forms
KANAYA: With Some Physical Sensation
ROSE: Such as?
KANAYA: You Would Know Best
KANAYA: I Like To Focus On Particular Qualities Of Breath
KANAYA: Or Sometimes The Prick Of A Sewing Needle
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: Hold On What Are You Doing
ROSE: Hmm?
KANAYA: Every Time The Thought Impression Slides Towards An Older You
KANAYA: I Can See You Tense Up And Flinch Away From It
ROSE: Oh, that?
ROSE: That is a strong and really unpleasant physical sensation.
KANAYA: Is That
KANAYA: What Has You Stuck In This Loop
KANAYA: As Yet Another Visual Metaphor For Some Spiritual Journey
ROSE: Yes, probably, my luck being what it is.
KANAYA: Is It
KANAYA: Something You Want To Process
ROSE: It most certainly is not.
ROSE: Nnngh.
ROSE: Oh, damn it all to hell.
KANAYA: What
ROSE: I think it just started processing me.

==>

KANAYA: Are You Okay Rose
ROSE: Yes and no.
KANAYA: Youre
KANAYA: Youre Bleeding
ROSE: Sharp eye.
KANAYA: Internally?
KANAYA: Rose Why Are You Bleeding
KANAYA: Whats Going On
KANAYA: Are You Remembering A Time You Were Hurt After All
ROSE: Did I mention?
ROSE: This is also totally normal for grown human women.
KANAYA: Some Kind Of Violent Maturation Trial Then
ROSE: Worse than that. Part of our actual fertility cycle!
ROSE: Goes with the moon. Or would. If we had one.
ROSE: A proper one. That wasn’t, like, ow. All purple and stuff.
KANAYA: What Was That You Said Earlier About Me Coming From An Egg
KANAYA: Implying That Somehow You Did Not
KANAYA: Is It Because Your Species Doesnt Have Mother Grubs
KANAYA: What Would That Have To Do With Internal Injuries Though
ROSE: I might have been a bit glib earlier.
ROSE: We do have eggs. But. Inside.
ROSE: Much smaller than yours.
ROSE: Fragile. Have to clean house for them. So to speak.
ROSE: Feels like... you don't want to know. Probably like Eridan.
ROSE: Major design flaw!
ROSE: Didn't you adolescent gods think of that when making us?!
KANAYA: Rose Its Just A Memory Think Of Something Else
ROSE: Sure. No problem.
ROSE: Don't think of an elephant.
ROSE: We can see exactly how that worked out.
KANAYA: Whats An Elephant And What Did It Do To You
ROSE: Figure of speech!
KANAYA: A Sarcastic One You Mean
ROSE: YES!
KANAYA: Why Didnt You Ever Talk To Me About This Before
ROSE: Does this look like something I would want to talk about?!
KANAYA: Is This Why You Were So Regularly Sick
KANAYA: When You Locked Yourself In Your Quarters Was It About This
ROSE: If I wasn't already hung over, yes.
ROSE: One time I miscounted and... got hung over... during this time.
ROSE: I'll spare you except to say it was... a mistake.
ROSE: Never been so ill. In my short. Miserable life.
KANAYA: If Id Known I Could Have Been There For You
ROSE: Worst part? It varied.
ROSE: From medium bad to OH GOD PLEASE KILL ME.
ROSE: Always had me guessing... how sick I’d be.
KANAYA: And Youre
KANAYA: Wait
ROSE: IT KEPT HAPPENING.
ROSE: Regularly for three... stupid... years!
ROSE: Why does SBURB have... a mechanic... for this bullshit?
ROSE: What possible in-game purpose could it serve?!
ROSE: Like, okay, fine. For later. When we win. If we win. Ugh.
ROSE: But if it's for later, why do it to me now?!
KANAYA: Why Are You --
ROSE: Ah crap.
KANAYA: Oh!
ROSE: Looks like I’ve stabilized after all.

==>

KANAYA: You Seem Such A Different Creature Now
KANAYA: More Or Less Familiar From Our Recent History
KANAYA: But Cast In New Light When Revealed In This Way
KANAYA: Where I Am All Angles You Have Pleasant Arcs And Slopes
KANAYA: So Luminous And Soft
ROSE: Ugh, I feel disgusting.
ROSE: This is just... I’m still not used to this.
KANAYA: Here Take My Hand
KANAYA: Can You Stand Up
ROSE: I think so... Thanks.
KANAYA: Oh
KANAYA: Do You Have Your Own Battle Scar
ROSE: What? No, all humans have one of these.
KANAYA: Is That The Violent Ordeal Part Then
ROSE: Sort of!
ROSE: They're a vestigial reminder of my egg discourse from earlier.
ROSE: There is a cord issuing from that point binding each of us to our biological mother, out of whose belly we are born live, kicking and screaming.
ROSE: That cord is cut and tied off upon our passage into the world, symbolizing our inevitable separation from those we love.
ROSE: Poetic, isn't it?
KANAYA: That Is
KANAYA: Not Anything Like How It Works For Trolls As You Know
ROSE: As a human, it's probably the one thing that isn't weird about me.
KANAYA: What About As A Paradox Clone Who Was Born In An Ectobiology Lab
ROSE: Well then.
ROSE: In that case, it's the weirdest thing about me as a human.
KANAYA: Whatever Its Origin Though
KANAYA: It Punctuates What Would Otherwise Be A Flat Expanse Of Skin
KANAYA: Inducing More Lovely Symmetric Curvature Around It
KANAYA: Instead Of An Uneven Gaping Pucker Like My Own Wound
KANAYA: Its So
KANAYA: Cute

==>

ROSE: How is it cute?! What am I, some kind of marshmallow girl?!
ROSE: I am a fearsome, amorphous occult beast! Hear me roar.
ROSE: Raaaaaaaarrrrr.
KANAYA: You Arent Deceiving Me With Your Makeshift Fierceness Facade
ROSE: Raaaaarrr! Raaarr!
KANAYA: The Conservative Cut Of That Orange Seer Robe Of Yours Obscured So Much Of Your Glorious Nonlinearity
ROSE: RAR.
KANAYA: Especially Your
KANAYA: Um
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: Posterior?
ROSE: Think carefully before confirming.

==>

KANAYA: Actually Yes
KANAYA: It Appears More Deliciously Ample Than I Recall
KANAYA: How Could Such An Asset Of Yours Have Escaped My --
ROSE: Pfffhahaha, you said -- ahahahahaha!!! Oh no, not again!
ROSE: God damn it, Dave, what have you done to me.
KANAYA: *blank eyeroll*
ROSE: Okay, any cliched umbrage I was about to take in your insinuation that my knickers make my asset look big is forgotten.
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: You know.
ROSE: Butts. Lol.
KANAYA: You Seem So Full Of Bitterness Inkling
KANAYA: I Feel That Uncomfortable Pinching In My Chest Again
ROSE: Not your fault, dearest.
KANAYA: But Think Of The Joy You Could Take In Being
KANAYA: So Tender And Sinuous And

==>

KANAYA: Such An Adventure
KANAYA: For My Fingertips
KANAYA: As They Slide Gently
KANAYA: From That Singular Point Of Origin
KANAYA: Up Your Central Axis
KANAYA: Lingering At
KANAYA: The Soft Point
KANAYA: Of Your Throat
KANAYA: To Come
KANAYA: To Rest
KANAYA: Under
KANAYA: Your
KANAYA: Chin
KANAYA: Like
KANAYA: This
ROSE: ...
ROSE: ...
ROSE: ...
ROSE: *shiver!*
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Curses.
ROSE: I surrender.
ROSE: Your spell has pierced my flimsy disguise.

==>

KANAYA: Ah
KANAYA: So It Has
ROSE: Wait, what?
KANAYA: I Wish You Could See Yourself
KANAYA: Your Shape Has Hardly Changed
KANAYA: But Your Posture Is Radically Different
KANAYA: With Every Bone And Sinew Snapped Into Alignment
KANAYA: And A Streak Of Warm Luminance Radiating Up From Your Core
KANAYA: I Am Picturing The Pupils Of Which Your Doom Has Robbed You
KANAYA: Piercing And Inquisitive And Brave
ROSE: I -- !
KANAYA: Thats The Rose I Remember

==>

ROSE: Kanaya, what have... you done to me?
KANAYA: I Have Given You A Taste Of Your Own Medicine
ROSE: I... wow.
KANAYA: Now
KANAYA: Rose Lalonde
KANAYA: Seer Goddess Of Light
KANAYA: Tell Me A Story That Explains
KANAYA: The Deprecation You Heap Upon Yourself
ROSE: You've seen it, mostly. Or a recapitulation of it.
ROSE: It looks like most of you had started the transition into your adult bodies before entering the game, but I might have run late.
ROSE: So that much of it took place on the meteor for me.
ROSE: And it sucked.
ROSE: It distracted me from my intellectual work to discover I was an inch taller, or wider, or a different shape, or doubled over in excruciating pain at inconvenient times.
ROSE: Or subject to a burgeoning flow of ideation regarding young troll women, cascading like a waterfall through my mind.
ROSE: In a cramped environment with zero other young women of my own species to commiserate with.
ROSE: I shudder to think what poor Jade must have been going through.
KANAYA: How Sweeping Is This Dissatisfaction
KANAYA: For Example
KANAYA: Are You Distressed About Your Gender Altogether
KANAYA: Do You Think You Would Be Happier If You Were Not A Girl
ROSE: Not if it meant I couldn't be your girlfriend anymore.
KANAYA: ...
KANAYA: I
KANAYA: Aw
KANAYA: <3!
ROSE: <3!

==>

ROSE: It's not a silly question, though.
ROSE: There were a couple of times when I asked myself that.
ROSE: And I imagine you would have been sympathetic had I come to the conclusion that I wasn't who I was meant to be.
ROSE: But I was never that unhappy with myself before SBURB.
ROSE: And I never felt as though being a girl was a mistake or somehow false or incongruous for me, even at my low moments.
ROSE: I really just wanted a vacation from corporeality altogether until that horrid development script had finished execution.
ROSE: It's not clear to me how much longer that would have lasted.
ROSE: Maybe I was mostly done?
ROSE: And I would have gotten used to my updated vessel.
ROSE: Eventually.
ROSE: But now I'll be sixteen forever. So I guess this is it.
ROSE: Didn't you ever get anything like the feelings I'm describing?

==>

KANAYA: I Cannot Say That I Ever Did Before Now
KANAYA: Apart From Following A Different Developmental Pathway From Yours
KANAYA: I Found My Own Version Of This Process An Absorbing Voyage Of Self Discovery
KANAYA: And The Distractions Neither All Consuming Nor Entirely Unwelcome
KANAYA: I Always Felt So Strongly Embodied That I Perceived No Separation Between Myself And My Own Physical Presence
ROSE: I envy you that level of psychosomatic integration.
KANAYA: This Is Also Why I Find Myself Flailing Now To Understand
KANAYA: What Embodiment Means For Bubble Ghosts
KANAYA: In A Contingent And Mercurial Afterlife
KANAYA: The Idea Of Being A Dream Projection Is Rather Threatening To Me
ROSE: It cuts both ways for me, too.
ROSE: Since I'm merely a dream of the dark gods now, I could just remember any version of myself I like... and yet.
ROSE: I'm still not satisfied with sixteen-year-old me, but I can't just go back to being thirteen after all we've shared.
KANAYA: How Did You Fail To Come To Terms With All This Before Devoting Your Considerable Charm And Resources To Seducing Me
ROSE: It’s a lot to come to terms with, and I got sick of waiting.
ROSE: I was determined for there to be something good about this tedious metamorphosis, if only to justify my effort spent in putting up with it.
ROSE: And, more recently, to redeem my exasperation at having died before I could reclaim its fruits for myself.
ROSE: Was that misguided or insecure? Maybe, a little.
ROSE: I don't know.
ROSE: It's easier for me to absorb myself in the beauty I see in you.

==>

KANAYA: Then If There Is Any Assistance Or Ritual I Can Perform
KANAYA: To Welcome You Into Your New Dream Form
KANAYA: And Help You Fully Inhabit The Beauty I See In You
KANAYA: Please Let Me Know
ROSE: ...
KANAYA: Maybe Sometime Later You Could Come To My Hive
KANAYA: I Could Show You The Sketches I Drew
KANAYA: For Those Dresses We Never Made
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Thanks, Kanaya.
ROSE: I'd like that.
KANAYA: <3!!!
ROSE: <3

> Fade to black.

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ROSE: ...
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: ...
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: Uh.
KANAYA: Rose Did You Do That Just Now
ROSE: You mean, did I just cause the power to go out?
ROSE: Here, let me light a candle. Romance restored.
KANAYA: Thank You Rose
ROSE: And... the moon to turn the color of blood?
ROSE: Human blood, that is.
KANAYA: For Example Yes

> HAA HAA HEE HEE HOO HOO

ROSE: And, wait, don’t tell me, maniacal laughter echoing from afar?
KANAYA: Yes That Too
ROSE: As a matter of fact, I am causing none of those things.
ROSE: Not intentionally, anyway.
KANAYA: Me Neither
ROSE: And I’m having a hard time thinking of unintentional causal pathways by which we could be responsible for any of that.
ROSE: Would you mind turning your own light up a bit, firefly?

KANAYA: Done
ROSE: ...
ROSE: Or, for that matter, multi-hued troll blood coating my bedroom walls.
KANAYA: Right
ROSE: Well, Kanaya dearest.
ROSE: All else being equal, I’d prefer to linger here and tell you again at great length just how beautiful you are, how much I love you, and how grateful I am for all I’ve learned from you on this date.
ROSE: But equality doesn’t seem to be in the cards here.
ROSE: I think we might have a situation on our hands.
ROSE: One that requires our swift and extremely prejudicial attention.
KANAYA: Agreed On All Points
ROSE: First order of business.
ROSE: Whose memories are these we’re experiencing?
KANAYA: While I Have Plenty Of Memories Of Blood Spattered Walls
KANAYA: I Actually Dont Think These Are Mine
ROSE: They sure as hell aren’t mine.
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: ...
KANAYA: ...
ROSE: ...
KANAYA: Oh Fuck
KANAYA: DAVE
ROSE: Let’s not take the long way.

Chapter Text

DAVE: thats the best idea i think ive ever heard
DAVE: here ill start why the FUCK did you just do that to karkat
TEREZI: H3 WOULDN'T STOP SQU4WK1NG!
TEREZI: AND H3 K3PT ST1CK1NG H1S WH1FF3R TOO F4R UP MY NOOK
TEREZI: C4N YOU R34LLY BL4M3 M3 FOR W4NT1NG YOUR 4TT3NT1ON
TEREZI: 4LL
TEREZI: TO
TEREZI: MYS3LF?
DAVE: uhhh haha sooooo
DAVE: setting aside how fucking creepy you just made that sound
DAVE: you didnt double kill him or anything but it was just hella rude
DAVE: like who does that just appears and like oh hi karkat STAB without even giving him a psycho teen lawyer slurp first
DAVE: i guess jack would do that but also that guy sucks
TEREZI: OH, W1LL YOU QU1T R1D1NG MY BULG3 4BOUT YOUR V4C1LL4TORY BOY CRUSH
TEREZI: *sluuuuurrrp*
DAVE: ...
DAVE: what
TEREZI: H3 W1LL F33L 1T 1N TH3 MORN1NG, TH4T'S FOR SUR3
TEREZI: BUT 1'LL L3T YOU 1N ON 4 S3CR3T, COOLK1D
TEREZI: H3 T4ST3S 4WFUL
TEREZI: TH3 CH3RRY H4S GON3 SOUR
DAVE: ok that was definitely uh
DAVE: too much information
DAVE: wait was that even information in the first place in anything approximating the normal sense of the word
TEREZI: 1ND3T3RM1N4T3!
TEREZI: H4V3N'T GOT 4 CLU3, H4V3N'T GOT 4 CLU3
DAVE: uh
DAVE: are you
DAVE: terezi are you dead
DAVE: do you remember
TEREZI: 1RR3L3V4NT!
DAVE: what is that supposed to mean
TEREZI: 1T M34NS 1T DO3SN'T M4TT3R, D4V3
DAVE: speaking as someone who thinks its a chore at the most urgent of times to give a positive number of fucks about anything
DAVE: i gotta say it matters to me
TEREZI: WH3N 1 S4Y 1T DO3SN'T M4TT3R, D4V3
TEREZI: 1 M34N 1T 1N TH3 V3RY PR3C1S3 S3NS3 1N WH1CH
TEREZI: *NOTH1NG* M4TT3RS, D4V3
DAVE: terezi i dont think you mean that
DAVE: i mean we got dealt a bad hand from the bottom of the deck but
TEREZI: S1T *DOWN*
DAVE: sure sure hey we cool we cool np
DAVE: ill just sit like over here and you can sit over there and maybe while youre at it your sword can sit over there too and like not point directly at me or anything
DAVE: i mean i think god tier shit still works in dream bubbles even for us loser deadbeat ghosts so worst case i dont think getting stabbed by an ex counts as heroic
TEREZI: TH3N DO3S 1T COUNT
TEREZI: 4S *JUST*?!
DAVE: ...
DAVE: uhhh well i mean
DAVE: is this some kind of sick trick question
TEREZI: H3H3H3, NO, OF COURS3 1T DO3SN'T
TEREZI: WH4T A S1LLY W1GGL3R 1 4M TO 1MPLY TH4T OUR L1V3S 4ND D34THS H4V3 M34N1NG
TEREZI: WH3N *JUST1C3 1TS3LF* 1S D34D
TEREZI: 4H4H4H4H4H4H4H4!!!
DAVE: terezi either you will not stop fucking with me or you have lost any remaining marbles you might have had
DAVE: like just jettisoned them and now theyre all rolling around waiting for some poor fuck to slip and fall ass over aviators straight down some badly drawn conversational stairs
TEREZI: WHY D4V3, WH4T 4N 4PT M3T4PHOR
TEREZI: 1 N3V3R KN3W YOU H4D SUCH PO3TRY 1N YOU
TEREZI: QU1CK, H3LP M3 F1ND MY M4RBL3S B3FOR3 1T'S TOO L4T3
TEREZI: ...
TEREZI: W41T, WH4T 3V3N 4R3 M4RBL3S
TEREZI: 1 C4N'T R3M3MB3R BUT
TEREZI: TH3Y SOUND L1K3 4DD1T1ON4L FUCKS YOU W4NT M3 TO PROV1D3
DAVE: look why me okay
TEREZI: HOW 4BOUT YOU DR1NK W1TH M3 1NST34D, D4V3
TEREZI: 1'V3 H4D 3NOUGH R3M3MB3R1NG FOR ON3 DR34M L1F3T1M3
DAVE: get that disgusting shit away from me i dont want any
DAVE: just tell me
DAVE: what did i do to you
DAVE: what the fuck did i ever do to you

==>

TEREZI: YOU D1DN'T C4R3, SO YOU FL1PP3D 4 CO1N!
TEREZI: H34DS, OV3RB34R1NG CONTROLL1NG 4SSHOL3
TEREZI: SCR4TCH, SP1N3L3SS S1MP3R1NG W1MP
DAVE: oh right a timeline split
DAVE: but you must see those all the time whats going on
TEREZI: YOU C4N S33 1T TOO 1F YOU SQU1NT R34L H4RD
DAVE: or
DAVE: wait what
TEREZI: 1 B3L13V3 YOU S41D, 4ND 1 QUOT3
TEREZI: “fuck th4t guy w1th 4 c4n3 sword s3t on f1r3”
TEREZI: SO 1 D1D!
TEREZI: 4H4H4H4H4H4, D4MN, 1T WAS HOT
TEREZI: BUT YOU D1DN'T W4NT 1N ON 1T
DAVE: oh god so this is about gamzee
DAVE: look we talked about that and i wanted you to be happy
DAVE: or sad or crazy or full of hate or whatever you had to be
DAVE: i didnt want to get in the way of you doing your thing
TEREZI: 4ND WHY NOT?
DAVE: because duh human here all up in troll business
DAVE: i dont know how to judge what a good hate date looks like?
TEREZI: D1D 1 *LOOK* L1K3 1 W4S H4V1NG 4 GOOD MOTH3RFUCK1NG H4T3 D4T3 TO YOU, D4V3
DAVE: fuck no
DAVE: you even admitted it yourself but
DAVE: ok so are you saying i should have tried to step in
DAVE: tell you to stop boning that juggalo before you started making no goddamn sense about magnets or whatever
TEREZI: YOU TOLD M3 TH4T W4Y TOO M4NY T1M3S TO COUNT
TEREZI: BUT YOU W3R3 4LW4YS SUCH 4 T34S3
TEREZI: YOU WOULD N3V3R GO *4LL TH3 W4Y* W1TH M3, D4V3
TEREZI: 1 W4NT3D YOU TO GO 4LLLLL TH3 W4Y W1TH M3

> Dave: Stay cool, bro. Stay cool.

DAVE: uh haha wow that sounds uncomfortably sexual
DAVE: i mean not like sex is uncomfortable but wasnt it always about showing a bit of shoulder here and some ankle there until you rip my pjs off and im just wearing five layers of nude spandex and some neon boxers with "gotcha" embroidered on em
DAVE: and so ok you claw those off me only to find my actual suit which has remained automagically pressed and my tie has a solid gold pin in it engraved with "ceci nest pas un cravat"
DAVE: and by now ive got you questioning at least a little bit in the back of your mind what "all the way" really means
DAVE: like is it gonna be a quick bang or an infinite regress of nesting russian doll fatsuits till you can finally get inside me
DAVE: wait did i say inside me must have got my prepositions crossed
DAVE: or propositions or something
DAVE: haha shit hold on this is a really awkward time to be asking how troll parts work and how troll propositions work and other things i didnt have the chance to learn on the internet
DAVE: can we just start over from the top and hrrkrhkgkgk

Oh shit, she's lost it. She's got you right by that -- front collar part of your hood, whatever the fuck that's called, and she's bunched it up tight into her talons and is punctuating her sentences by slamming you against the wall by it with both hands. That cold rage of hers has thawed and melted into a flood of adrenaline, and despite being close to a head shorter than you she's got you pinned with desperate animal strength. She's spitting a fine stream of actual dragon flames and you're in for a hell of a roasting.

> Dave: Forget it, make uncomfortable hrgking noises instead.

TEREZI: 1 W4NT3D TO P41NT C4N TOWN C4NDY R3D W1TH YOU, D4V3!
TEREZI: 1 W4NT3D US TO F1LL 34CH OTH3R TO BURST1NG!
TEREZI: BUT YOU COULDN'T B3 4 V3SS3L, 4ND 1T 4LL GOT SP1LL3D
DAVE: hrgk oh jesus will you let go of me this isnt cool
DAVE: also was that supposed to be about buckets oh god help
TEREZI: 1 WOND3R3D 1F YOU'D R4TH3R P41NT M3 1N T4R, D4V3
TEREZI: L3T TH3 P1TCH RUN DOWN MY F4C3 4ND FLOG M3 T1LL 1 GOT *B3TT3R*
TEREZI: BUT YOU COULDN'T T4ST3 TH3 BL4CKN3SS TH3 W4Y 1 COULD
DAVE: what are you my fucking denizen start making sense
DAVE: is this about a timeline split please say its a timeline split
TEREZI: NOT ONC3 D1D YOU 3V3N TOUCH TH4T CO1N!
TEREZI: YOU WOULDN'T P41NT M3 R3D, 4ND YOU WOULDN'T P41NT M3 BL4CK
TEREZI: 4ND N31TH3R WOULD TH4T SKULK1NG 3QU1VOC4T1ON FOR WHOM YOU W3R3 SO OBV1OUSLY M4D3
TEREZI: WH1CH 1S HOW 1 3ND3D UP W1TH *H1M*
DAVE: we all have names you know
DAVE: you could start using them to cut down on the sphinx factor even though i get that maybe thats your new brand
TEREZI: SO 1 4SK3D YOU TO COV3R M3 1N 4SH, D4V3
TEREZI: 4LL 1 H4D 1T L3FT 1N M3 TO W4NT FROM YOU
TEREZI: W4S FOR YOU TO B4L4NC3 TH3 SC4L3S B3TW33N M3 4ND TH4T *SH1TCLOWN*
DAVE: look if id tried THAT you wouldnt have listened anyway
TEREZI: NO D4V3, YOU 1D1OT, YOU’R3 TH3 ON3 WHO N3V3R L1ST3N3D
TEREZI: YOU 31TH3R STOOD BY TH3 SC4L3S OR S4T ON TH3M
TEREZI: 1 D1DN'T W4NT 4 GODD4MN *SH13LD*
TEREZI: 1 W4NT3D...
TEREZI: I W4NT3D 4NOTH3R *SWORD*
TEREZI: UNT1L YOU TOOK TH4T TOO FUCK1NG L1T3R4LLY 4ND R4N W1TH 1T
DAVE: what ME take things literally
DAVE: yeah come on when was the last time THAT happened
DAVE: haha what did i do terezi just tell me straight up what i did
TEREZI: YOU D1DN'T DO 4NYTH1NG!!!
TEREZI: YOU S4T TH3R3 4ND W4TCH3D M3 BL33D TO D34TH!!!
TEREZI: WOULD 1 H4V3 JUST W4TCH3D
TEREZI: YOU BL33D TO D34TH
DAVE: ...
DAVE: god so
DAVE: you ARE dead arent you

That question, the one that isn't really a question, seems to give her pause for a moment. The fight ebbs from her as she considers it anyway; the murderous tension in her jaw relaxes, and she stops shaking you. She keeps one taloned fist twisted into the collar of your hood, and with the other raises her cat-eye shades onto her forehead. Her eyes, shot through in teal and with pupils impossibly dilated, remain fixed on some distant dark star.

TEREZI: D34D 1NS1D3, 4NYW4Y
TEREZI: BUT TH3N 4G41N, 4R3N'T W3 4LL DY1NG 1NS1D3
TEREZI: 4ND 4T L34ST TH1S W4Y
TEREZI: 1 GOT TO T4ST3 YOUR 3Y3B4LLS >:]
DAVE: WHAT THE FUCK

> Terezi: What the fuck.

TEREZI: H3 H4D R3MOV3D TH3M, YOU S33
TEREZI: L34V1NG, H3H3H3H, TH3S3 TWO BL4CK HOL3S IN TH31R PLACE
TEREZI: 1 L1CK3D TH3M 4ND
TEREZI: MY OWN 3Y3S W3R3 OP3N3D
TEREZI: TH3 F1RST 4ND L4ST 1 S4W OF MY M4RBL3S
DAVE: WHO HAD
DAVE: WHAT THE
TEREZI: 4ND W1TH YOUR L3G H4CK3D OFF 4T TH3 KN33
TEREZI: 4ND 4BOUT 4 TH1RD OF YOUR V31NS OP3N3D
TEREZI: GOD, 1T SM3LL3D 4M4Z1NG 1N TH3R3
DAVE: WHAT
TEREZI: L1K3 TH3 3ND OF T1M3, D4V3
TEREZI: TH1NK OF 1T, TH3 L1T3R4L 3ND OF T1M3
TEREZI: 4ND 1 COULD 4CTU4LLY SM3LL 4ND T4ST3 1T
TEREZI: 1SN'T TH4T 1NCR3D1BL3?
DAVE: FUCK
DAVE: thats just
DAVE: oh christ was it gamzee
DAVE: fucking GAMZEE killed alt me is that what youre saying
TEREZI: NO, D4V3
TEREZI: *1* K1LL3D YOU
TEREZI: H3 M3R3LY F4C1L1T4T3D 1T BY 4CTU4LLY ST1CK1NG M3T4L TH1NGS 1NTO YOUR SQU1SHY HUM4N BODY
DAVE: terezi what the
DAVE: what the FUCK terezi
DAVE: so YOU AND FUCKING GAMZEE killed alt me is that what im hearing
DAVE: some kind of troll snuff film is that what you get off on now
DAVE: that dude has WAY overstepped i cant believe anyone let you guys get away with this
TEREZI: W3LL, D4V3
TEREZI: *YOU* C3RT41NLY L3T US G3T 4W4Y W1TH 1T
DAVE: what was he gonna do bleed on you
TEREZI: 4H4H4H4H4, YOU SHOULD H4V3, H4H4H4
TEREZI: S33N K4RK4T'S F4C3 TH3 D4Y H3 FOUND YOU
TEREZI: 4FT3R TH3 MOLD H4D R34LLY GOT GO1NG
TEREZI: 3H3H3H, 3V3N TH3 M4YOR COULD H4V3 SM3LL3D YOU BY TH3N
TEREZI: BUT H3 H4D TO
TEREZI: 4H4H4H4, SH1T
TEREZI: H3 H4D TO 4SK WH3R3 YOU W3R3!
TEREZI: 4H4H4, J3GUS, H3 COULDN'T SM3LL 4 B3H3MOTH L34V1NG 1F 1 STUFF3D 1T DOWN H1S P4NTS FOR P3R1G33'S!
TEREZI: 4H4H4H4H4H4H4H444!!!
TEREZI: 4H4H4H4H4, 1 C4N'T, H4H4H4, OH GOD H3LP
DAVE: i should have gone and hung that guys guts out for garlands while i had the chance
DAVE: fuck karkat and whatever their fucking thing was
DAVE: i should have gone full kanaya on that motherfucking shitbastard
DAVE: ill come out and say it after what hes done to you
DAVE: he deserves to die
TEREZI: ...
TEREZI: ...
TEREZI: ...
DAVE: terezi?
TEREZI: SO H3RO1C
DAVE: was it
TEREZI: NO
TEREZI: *sn1ff*

She's released you from the wall and is leaning into you now, her left fist clutching the crumpled wodge of magic cape fabric to her eyes, while her right one pounds on your chest. Her sobs start gently, but they won't end that way.

> Dave: At least TRY to comfort your disturbed oh god this is hopeless.

TEREZI: 1 W4RN3D YOU 4BOUT WH4T H3 D1D TO TH3 BL4CK K1NG, D4V3
DAVE: terezi can you not get dream sn--
DAVE: aw never mind fuck my cape it just
DAVE: it doesnt matter
TEREZI: *sn1ff*
TEREZI: 1 TOLD YOU, BRO
DAVE: god why just
DAVE: what was gamzee thinking killing a main session player right before getting to the session
TEREZI: 3V3N 4FT3R YOU D13D
TEREZI: 4ND YOU S41D
TEREZI: YOU S41D YOU'D K1LL H1M
TEREZI: 4ND YOU W3NT B4CK *4NYW4Y*
DAVE: its almost like he was
DAVE: ...
DAVE: doomed
DAVE: specifically
TEREZI: H3 TOLD M3 YOU W3R3 4N 3XTR4
TEREZI: NOT N33D3D
TEREZI: *D1SPOS4BL3*
DAVE: of course he was an extra
DAVE: because he was a useless idiot TRAVELER
DAVE: from a DOOMED FUCKING TIMELINE that SUCKED
DAVE: and went TRAMPLING his rotten muddy TIME BOOTS all over your otherwise PERFECTLY FINE timeline that would only have gone to hell in PREDICTABLE NORMAL ways instead of CIRCUSJERK MURDER ways
TEREZI: 1 DON’T 3V3N *C4R3* 4NYMOR3!!!
DAVE: come on terezi you OBVIOUSLY mean there were two daves
DAVE: not just two timelines but two daves in the same timeline
TEREZI: HOW M4NY *W1TL3SS*, *COW4RDLY* STR1D3RS TH3R3 W3R3
TEREZI: 1S TH3 L34ST 1MPORT4NT F4CT 1N TH1S 3NT1R3 C4S3
DAVE: stupid and cocky and possibly an abusive asshole right
DAVE: or anxious and indecisive and with huge hangups sure
DAVE: but cowardly
DAVE: really
TEREZI: NOT BR4V3 3NOUGH
TEREZI: TO DO
TEREZI: WH4T W4S *N33D3D*
DAVE: god whatever
DAVE: ok so the cocky one broke the goddamn prime directive and started trying to strongarm you to dump gamzee and you flipped out at him
DAVE: ill bet anything that was the one that came back to tell you seers about the glitchballs and prequel spidertroll and the imminent need for a twelve step program
DAVE: while the other one
TEREZI: 1T DO3SN’T M4TT3R, 1T DO3SN’T M4TT3R, 1T DO3SN’T M4TT3R!
TEREZI: TH3 ONLY TH1NG TH4T M4TT3RS 4NYMOR3 1S
TEREZI: *4LL* OF YOU L3T M3 DOWN
TEREZI: 4ND L3FT M3 TO ROT!!!
DAVE: TEREZI i am TRYING REAL HARD here not to let you down
DAVE: for all i know YOU could still DO something about all this
DAVE: you USED to have a MIND so help me THINK god DAMN IT
TEREZI: *SOB!*
DAVE: so the other one
DAVE: fuck what would i have done if asshole me came back from the future and told me we were completely screwed and it was terezis fault
DAVE: and
DAVE: and roses fault
DAVE: for being drunk as a skunk
DAVE: UGH KARKAT YOURE A COMPLETE FUCKING MORON
DAVE: NOT ONE MORE WORD FROM YOU ABOUT HOW HOT I AM FOR ROSE
TEREZI: ...
DAVE: what
TEREZI: >:]
DAVE: WHAT
TEREZI: H3H3H3H3
DAVE: NOT YOU TOO terezi dont DO this to me

> H44 H44 H33 H33 H00 H00

Her mood turns on a caegar. That brief window onto lucidity, in which she mourned -- you don’t even know if she really killed him or not, maybe she’s just being dramatic, but either way, fuck Gamzee, FUCK THAT GUY -- the you she lost? That moment is history.

She drops your collar and begins responding to an invisible audience lining the blood-stained walls, making sweeping gestures as she addresses them, whirling around every so often to stab an accusatory cane-sword in your direction. You can almost hear their jeers. Is she a lawyer for the prosecution? Or the ringmaster, maybe, for the circus that is the remainder of her timeline? And are you a criminal -- or a dancing bear? Or both?

Aw hell. Show trials are the only kind Terezi knows.

TEREZI: OH, ROS3
TEREZI: *SH3* DR4NK W1TH M3
TEREZI: 3V3N WH3N YOU WOULDN'T
DAVE: oh come ON karkat said she wasnt drinking in his timeline
DAVE: wait are you even FROM karkats timeline
DAVE: fuck
TEREZI: SH3 BROK3 CURF3W TO COM3 OUT TO C4RN3V4L3
TEREZI: SH3 COULD S33 1T H4PP3N1NG TOO, L1K3 4NYON3 W1TH H4LF 4 TH1NK P4N
DAVE: god you USELESS PRICK you couldnt even keep HER safe
TEREZI: 1 W4TCH3D TH3 PROM1S3 OF OUR S3SS1ON W1TH3R TOO LONG ON THE V1N3
TEREZI: TH3N K3PT W4TCH1NG 4S TH3 V1N3 1TS3LF W1TH3R3D
TEREZI: BR4NCH BY BR4NCH
TEREZI: 4LT3RN4T1V3S PRUN3D FROM TH3 TR33 OF 1NT3NT1ON4L1TY UNT1L ONLY TH3 B4R3 TRUNK R3M41N3D
TEREZI: SH3 H3RS3LF H4D B33N W4TCH1NG 1T D13 FOR SOM3 T1M3
TEREZI: SO W3 H3LD 4 CORPS3 P4RTY FOR 1T
TEREZI: 4ND K1LL3D 4 BOTTL3 TOG3TH3R
TEREZI: YOU STOOD US UP 4G41N, YOU J3RK
DAVE: SHUT UP i was trying to figure out how we could all not DIE HORRIBLY
DAVE: probably
DAVE: in what was EVIDENTLY the LEAST effective possible way
TEREZI: SH3 TR13D TO PULL M3 OUT OF TH3 P1T, YOU KNOW
TEREZI: TOO L4T3, 4ND W1THOUT SK1LL
TEREZI: SH3 PULL3D SO H4RD
TEREZI: BUT 1 W4S TOO H34VY
TEREZI: 4ND SH3 F3LL 1N TOO, H3H3H3H3
DAVE: do i even want to know
DAVE: about whatever
DAVE: freaky spades ass threesome yall had
DAVE: i cant believe that phrase ever just came out of my mouth
DAVE: she should have been with kanaya the entire goddamn time
TEREZI: 4H4H4H4H4H4!!!
TEREZI: K4N4Y4, OH GOD
TEREZI: K4N4Y4H4H4H4H4H4H44444
TEREZI: OH MY GOD

She throws one arm around your shoulders now and leans in conspiratorially. The large carnivorous plant, one of a few among the many garish, chompy-looking flora now carpeting the floor, does the same.

TEREZI: ROS3 S4CR1F1C3D K4N4Y4 TO THE T1M3 GOD
TEREZI: 4ND PR4Y3D FOR F41R W1NDS 1N R3TURN
TEREZI: BUT SH3 D1DN'T KNOW HOW TO US3 4 KN1F3, OH NO
TEREZI: SO SH3 H4D TO T13 H3R LOV3 TO TH3 4LT4R 4ND L3T H3R ST4RV3
DAVE: what are you
DAVE: are you trying to say he and rose WERE a thing
DAVE: which kidcestuous dave was she supposedly a thing with
TEREZI: YOU G4V3 H3R ROP3
TEREZI: BUT NO KN1F3, 4ND C3RT41NLY NO SWORD
TEREZI: THOUGH 1 B3T SH3 WOULD'V3 T4K3N 1T BY TH3N >;]
DAVE: FUCK YOU SO MUCH creepo terezi
DAVE: or wait
DAVE: "fair winds"
DAVE: are you saying she secretly had a thing with JOHN
TEREZI: STOP T4LK1NG L1K3 K4RK4T, D4V3
TEREZI: 1 K1CK3D H1M OUT OF H3R3 FOR A R34SON, YOU KNOW
TEREZI: YOUR S3NS3 OF HUMOR US3D TO B3 SO MUCH B3TT3R TH4N H1S
TEREZI: TOO B4D H3'S 4CTU4LLY TH3 B3TT3R P3RSON, D3SP1T3 H1MS3LF
DAVE: JESUS I HATE YOUR TIMELINE AND MYSELF AND EVERYTHING YOU STAND FOR
TEREZI: WOW, W1TH L1N3S L1K3 TH4T YOU COULD H4V3 B33N 4 R34L CONT3ND3R
DAVE: SHUT UP SHUT UP THATS NOT WHAT I MEANT
TEREZI: DON'T WORRY, COOLK1D
TEREZI: TH3 BR4NCH W4S FOR3V3R OUT OF R34CH
TEREZI: W3 W3R3 4LW4YS GO1NG TO B3 FUCK3D, NO M4TT3R WHO W3 FUCK3D
TEREZI: SO W3 M1GHT 4S W3LL GO DOWN ON 34CH OTH3R WH1L3 W3 W3'R3 GO1NG DOWN
DAVE: NO
DAVE: WHY
DAVE: why did it have to be this way
DAVE: why do i fuck up every timeline i ever touched
DAVE: if it has to be this way why does it just feel like it shouldnt
TEREZI: TH4T'S TH3 SP1R1T!
DAVE: shut up terezi
DAVE: cant you just
DAVE: go away and leave me alone with my failures
TEREZI: DO YOU W4NT TO KNOW WHY 1 ST4Y3D W1TH H1M, D4V3?
TEREZI: 3V3N 4S 1 COULD F33L MY M1ND COM3 UNBOUND
TEREZI: 4ND TH3 L4ST STUNT3D V1N3 OF 1NT3NT1ON CRUMBL3 4T MY TOUCH?

You don't.

DAVE: ...
DAVE: no
DAVE: but
DAVE: tell me anyway
TEREZI: H3 W4S TH3 ONLY ON3 1 COULD TRUST

> Dave: Raise yet another objection.

Out of all the demented ravings you've had to endure in this jam, which is increasingly seeming like a jam in a totally different sense, this is the most fucked-up thing you've heard from Terezi. Like the trans-intentional moron you are, you immediately take this in the direction most liable to demote it to the second most fucked-up thing you'll hear from Terezi.

The courtroom audience of knee-high pin-striped Venus's flytraps turn hungrily towards you. The tall one winds its purple tendrils absently around your limbs, waiting to devour whatever additional passion you can muster for the girl you used to hang with. Maybe now you'll hang for her instead.

DAVE: trust
DAVE: THAT GUY
DAVE: no FUCK THAT GUY
DAVE: how did you just rewrite the dictionary entry for trust
DAVE: so that you couldnt trust me
DAVE: or rose
DAVE: or LITERALLY ANYONE ELSE ON THAT MOTHERFUCKING METEOR
TEREZI: UNL1K3 *4NY* OF YOU
TEREZI: H3 N3V3R
TEREZI: 3V3N ONC3
TEREZI: PR3T3ND3D
TEREZI: TO B3 4NYTH1NG H3 W4SN'T
DAVE: ...
TEREZI: ONC3 H3 H4D COM3 TO KNOW H1MS3LF
TEREZI: LONG 4FT3R JUST1C3 H4D D13D TO H1M
TEREZI: 1T W4S TRUTH TH4T H3 K3PT 4L1V3
TEREZI: 4ND LOOK1NG B4CK ON 1T 1 S33
TEREZI: TH4T W4S TH3 R1GHT CHO1C3
DAVE: ...
TEREZI: 4ND SO
TEREZI: WH3N HE PR41S3D M3 FOR K1LL1NG VR1SK4
TEREZI: WHEN HE TOLD M3 HOW 1 H4D K1LL3D YOU
TEREZI: WH3N H3 SHOW3D M3 HOW TH3 OTH3RS W3R3 4LR34DY D34D B3C4US3 OF M3
TEREZI: 1 B3L13V3D H1M
DAVE: ...
DAVE: why has it gotten so fucking dark in here
TEREZI: 1'M SORRY, D4V3
TEREZI: TH1S MUST 4LL S33M BOR1NG 4ND 1RR3L3V4NT
TEREZI: 4ND YOU KNOW WH4T, 1 4GR33
TEREZI: WH4T 1 R34LLY W4NT TO KNOW 1S

TEREZI: D1D YOU 4ND K4RKL3S 3V3R F1N4LLY P41L
DAVE: SZXJDGFKBL
ROSE: ???
KANAYA: !!!

==>

TEREZI: ...
TEREZI: W3LL SH1T

Chapter Text

Oh god. These two!

As soon as they cross the threshold, you know they aren't yours. They arrived together, flushed, breathless, running -- hand in hand. They must have fallen from another sawed-off branch of the Tree, one where the Lalonde girl didn't see the point in trading even these fleeting pleasures for the promise of victory over the Clocksucker. Sensible girl. You never told yours you were just as jacked if they did date, drinker and drunk. She never inquired. And you love company.

Yet they don't smell like salty sweat and sex juice, like booze and blood and brooding -- as you'd naively expect, if you were naive. More like lilacs, and longing. Is that pair just too prissy, or have they failed to figure out how it works yet? Eh. No. They smell like promises made fresh, that haven't yet been broken.

They smell disgusting.

Dave is still tied up in the middle of the room. Tied up, haha; he's busy, very busy, trying to seize any shreds of sense from this experience, even as you keep yanking them from his grasp. Is he the Dave that warped in and out, over and over, just to Timesplain inevitability to you while giving no Mind to his bed made in the moment? Or the Dave that ran away and hid, honoring his lazy imaginings of your wishes over what you actually wanted? Or some other Dave, given his blather and bluster when you drubbed Nubs out of the bubble? They bleed into each other, as each blames the others for his own blemishes. It took only one to die stupidly, for his death to be the first domino to fall. You fault him for it; fucked is the fruit of an offering to the Clocksucker. The most you can say is that Karkat wasn't the one doing the fucking.

He still thinks that you've lost touch with reality, that you're incoherent and barely know who or where you are. Not true! Not true, haha, you know who you are, if not where, or exactly which who. You've just basically gone completely off the deep end in every way, is all. In fact this fool should feel futility more acutely than you by now, he's died dozens more deaths than you. But his deaths don't do double duty! The difference between you, and the reason it's no contest, is that each Strider sees only a single world line stretched in front of him at once. He can't see the big picture, the entire enchilada.

For example, he can't see the dead Tree behind him, with but one branch remaining, and one vine dangling from that branch and looping back upon itself in a sturdy hangman's knot.

But Rose and Kanaya can. They can see everything, even if they can't understand yet.

Kanaya's head spins trying to take in all the sights -- the slaughterhouse walls, the gangrenous garden of potted piranhas, and that manifestation of your shared doom, shadows cut sharp against the light she sheds. You're yawning inside, ticking off the tedious instants while her expression cycles through all the expected emotions: bewilderment at your memories on display; shock at the Tree and its trappings, though their full significance is lost on her; incredulity; anguish; and, at last, the peculiar flavor and temperature of anger found only from a duty of care. Towards... Dave.

Rose can see everything and misses nothing. She parses these images, especially the Tree, instantly, intuitively, as one would expect of a god-tier Seer of Light. She'd have made you a pretty pail of pitch, had she not been so stuck on shriving you and the Shitclown -- and had he left any room to rent in your darkest quadrant, which might as well be your soul now. She lacked the stamina for ashening; the hearth of her heart was empty before she started. It's full of flickering flame now, thanks to Kanaya, but she offers you none of that fullness. Her features are shut to you, in resignation and... pity.

Fuck this. You don't want Rosemary's pity. You'd rather have their hate. They made their choice when they came for that craven, instead of you.

You can't stay here. You can't let Rose stab and slice at you with her quibbling questions, each with an edge like bright steel, trying like a coroner to assign a cause of death, to extract a heart of meaning from the corpse of the absurd. You can't watch Kanaya love these two unrepentant pretenders so selflessly and with so little guile. And you can't keep tormenting Dave if they're here.

Your moment has passed. It's time to wake from the dream. Though, to say it straight, you're not even certain you still sleep; the distinction between dream and death is too thin, too tenuous to merit careful accounting. This has no impact on your resolve for the action you're about to take. The worst case -- a return to the court of the Shitclown -- no longer deters you.

Kanaya's flawless marble face crumples into a snarl, baring her wicked fangs, and her shoulder flexes as a chainsaw materializes in her hand. She gathers herself to spring towards the Tree and saw it all down, saw down the rotten Tree, saw down your future, such as it is. Cut to the chase, you suppose. But there's no way you would just give her the satisfaction; in fact, you can deny it outright.

You’ll have one more bit of fun, before you’ve got to run.

TEREZI: D4V3, WOULD YOU HOLD TH1S FOR 4 S3COND

You offer the cane sword to him, hilt first, to telegraph to all in the room that you aren't even going to try to liberate his nasty human guts from his belly. You couldn't double kill him anyway, or yourself, even if you wanted to. Only the Clocksucker could. Rose raises a skeptical eyebrow. Kanaya does a double take and nearly trips over herself, the momentum of her intention deflected.

Dave hesitates, looking fretfully back towards Rose and Kanaya, and then back to you. He knows something's up, but in his narrow-minded code of chivalry, to decline the offered weapon would imply he wants to fight. And you know, even after all you've put him through, that he doesn't want to fight you. Pathetic.

He shakes his head as if to clear it, then -- before Rose can shout a warning at what she's just Seen -- grabs the sword. It rises in his grasp, as if he had expected it to be as heavy as his own sword.

He then has the gall to look betrayed when you throw yourself upon it.