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A Lullaby For Gods

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October 24, 2013

“How on earth are you going to travel while that sick?”

John has a point, and Loki can see that the pool master is deliberating whether to accept this point or not. The kid had a stubborn streak, he’d discovered, during one afternoon when they were redecorating the betting pool board because they had nothing else to do, and absolutely insisted that everything should be color coded even when one of the dogs had accidentally eaten their chalk.

(They’d fussed over the dog first, of course, and immediately had the animal brought to the vet. The excitable little thing – named Milko, Loki remembers – didn’t even look like it was getting sick, and was just as energetic as ever despite having eaten half a box of colored chalk.)

There’s a few minutes of silence for this deliberation, and then the pool master shrugs as their brain catches up to them, and they say, “Ruben’s coming with me.”

“Are you sure you don’t want help?” Loki asks, and the pool master narrows their eyes at him, clearly remembering the last time he offered his ‘help’, and they ended up with electric blue hair.

“That’s a nice offer, but no thank you,” they say, sneezing slightly. They sniff, annoyed, and fish their phone out of their pocket when it buzzes. They frown at it and furiously type into it, muttering under their breath as they do so.

Ruben comes down to help them with their bags a while later, and everyone bids them both goodbye. Loki’s on betting pool duty while Saph is gone, and he’s more than determined to sabotage things as best as he can even when he’s temporarily banned from participating in bets so that he’s impartial as the stand-in pool master.

It’s not like they can stop him from, say, giving people tips.

There’s a collective feeling of people dreading for the contents of their wallets, and Loki preens – well, there’s no other word he can think of, and he hasn’t done this for a while – at this; he hasn’t even done anything yet.

John still hasn’t stop sneezing though, which is a problem, and Graham has also been hit with fever and has practically started living in the Safehouse infirmary. This isn’t going to stop bets from proceeding as usual, but that means bake-offs would have to not include John until he stops accidentally causing gusts of wind when he sneezes.

At least he’s not smelling blood anymore, which is good. He didn’t have a nosebleed or hurt his nose, like they’d thought he had, so perhaps he really was just imagining it, or Moxie had a tiny cut that was just hidden underneath her fur and he’d smelled it when she sat on his lap.

Rose is still with James, and she’d updated them that he was doing very well with Fenrir, who had unfortunately taken to shredding furniture although James thought it was funny. Jade visited them yesterday to take James and the dog to play in open space, and she’d told them when she came back that he was looking way healthier than before. Less looking like he’d been frozen alive and more like he’d been enjoying the sunlight. He still didn’t talk a lot of course, but he was more responsive, and still collected photos of dogs, and managed to name every single dog in the Safehouse whose breed matched the photos he had.

Although he did ask Jade, “Why do you also sometimes have two of you?”

Jade had said she’d asked Rose, and Rose said nothing.

Loki’s still studying on human psychology, so he can’t really say anything for certain, and there was of course the possibility that James simply had latent abilities they somehow unlocked with trying to piece together his mind. Or maybe it was a side effect of them trying to piece together his mind. Who knew? Magic and mental states are such a fragile combination.

The sight that greets him when he goes to the stairs, intent on retiring to his bedroom, is Dave trying to balance a tray of cookies and coffee while avoiding getting jumped at by dogs.

The boy raises the tray slightly just as Rover stands up on his hind legs in an attempt to reach it.

“I assume that’s not for you?” Loki asks.

“No,” Dave says, then almost imbalances. Loki reaches out an arm and catches the tray easily, sliding it so that his hand is positioned directly under its center, and then lifts it over his head as the dogs turn their attention to him.

Dave straightens out his shirt, relieved, although his expression stays blank. “Palmer #1’s been holed up in his room for a while.”

Loki looks up the stairs for a moment, even if he’s clearly unable to look at the Palmers’ room is from where he’s standing. “He hasn’t been eating.”

“Nope,” Dave says, “He keeps forgetting. His brother’s worried.”

And obviously, so is everyone else. Loki nods and moves the tray so he’s holding it properly, and Dave mutters a small “Thank you” before returning back downstairs. The dogs stay, more interested on the tray than Dave, and Loki walks the rest of the way up to the Palmers’ bedroom.

Kevin is passed out on their couch, surrounded by several papers that look like multiple drafts of a broadcast, corrections standing out in red ink. There’s dark circles under Kevin’s eyes, and several food wrappers around him along with unwashed mugs. Loki briefly thinks of waking him up to tell him to move to his bedroom, but decides he has to bring Cecil food first.

Cecil’s door is unlocked, and it opens easily when Loki lightly knocks on it.

The teenager is sitting on his bed, facing a wall that now has multiple sticky notes and papers tacked onto it. There’s a lot of writing on those papers, and Loki can see where the ink ran out in the middle of sentences and a new pen had to be picked up, and how the handwriting changed from calm and readable to hurried and miniscule. He can’t make sense of most of it.

He spots his name on one of the papers and tilts his head, curious, and then sees everyone else’s names, and wonders if Cecil’s seen something massive in the future.

“Cecil,” he says.

He gets no response.

Loki sets the tray down on the boy’s desk – cluttered with papers and broken pens, and several pads of half-used sticky notes, along with untouched food and mugs of coffee that Kevin probably brought for him – before slowly walking over and carefully placing a hand on Cecil’s shoulder.

Cecil jumps and screams.

Loki blinks at the reaction, and watches Cecil scramble backwards, eyes wide with fear, before he recognizes Loki and breathes out a sigh of relief.

“Oh,” Cecil says, and his voice sounds wrecked, which makes Loki once again blink in confusion since it sounds so wrong and out of place.

“It’s been two days, Cecil,” he says, and gets a frown for it.

“No, it’s not, it’s like, nine in the evening and – ” the boy scrambles to find his phone underneath a mass of pillows, blankets and crumpled up papers, and looks like he’s about to cry when he finds it dead, uncharged for a while. Loki hands over his own phone instead.

It’s not nine in the evening. It’s two in the afternoon on the 24th of October.

Cecil draws in a sharp gasp, and Loki notices when his eyes start going glassy.

It’s curious how someone’s personality can completely turn over when something very very bad happens, and even the most cheerful and collected can turn into bawling messes at the slightest things. Loki’d been frustrated with himself the first time he’d done that – set fire to half his bedroom and ended up crying in the corner when he’d messed up one tiny detail in a spell, after days of fighting with his brother – and he thinks he’s been getting better about it over the years.

That’s just wishful thinking though.

He slowly pries Cecil’s hands from where the boy is almost crushing his phone. “You need to eat,” he says, “Move downstairs, at least.”

“No, I – I can’t, I might forget to write down about – ”

“Moving downstairs will help you not see all of this, Cecil.”

“No.”

It’s like a tiny explosion, Loki thinks, the way that psychic driving just bursts from Cecil and spreads across the entire room, nearly bowling him over and getting him to comply. Maybe this is how the kid had gotten Coulson to ship himself off to the Caribbean; he’d heard the story, but he hadn’t actually seen the ability demonstrated firsthand. He wonders if humans had their own silvertongues too, because Cecil certainly fits the role.

“Move downstairs,” Loki says, feeding magic into his voice as well. Cecil’s eyes widen, in shock at what he’d accidentally done and at the fact that Loki can do the same thing as he can. Perhaps silvertongues are rare among humans. Perhaps Cecil is the only one.

It doesn’t do anything of course, just like how Cecil’s persuasion is lost on Loki. Maybe their equal magic cancels it out. How curious.

Although the surprise is enough to make Cecil nod and slowly get up, and discover that two days without eating or sleeping has weakened him and he can’t stand too well. Loki moves to get the tray from the desk, and then puts a hand on Cecil’s shoulder.

In the next blink, they’re in the kitchen, and Cecil staggers from the displacement until Loki adjusts his hold on the boy so he doesn’t fall.

The skywalking was probably a bad idea, because Cecil looks ill. Loki traces a quick anti-motion sickness rune on his forehead, before following it up with one for strength and then cleans Cecil up with a snap of his fingers.

Cecil shivers, and then, “What was that?”

“I assume you also haven’t taken a bath in two days.”

He gets slumped shoulders for that. “I remember Kevin trying to get me out of my room and I didn’t listen to him.”

“He’s resting,” Loki says, and doesn’t elaborate. He places the tray in front of Cecil instead. “Eat.”

Cecil looks at it for a moment before sighing dejectedly. “I might throw it up.”

“You have to get something down.”

No response.

Loki sighs and touches the mug so the coffee reheats itself again. “Do it for your brother, at least.”

That appears to be the right thing to say, because Cecil immediately grabs at the food even if he precedes the action with another small gasp. Loki walks over to the fridge. They still have pizza here, he thinks, and Cecil could use something other than cookies to eat.

He sets the pizza in the oven and waits for it to heat while Cecil devours the cookies and chugs down the coffee, clearly more hungry than he seemed.

Neither of them say anything, and the silence is only broken when the oven makes a sharp ding as it finishes its job. Loki swaps the empty plate and mug for the pizza and places the dishes in the sink as Cecil continues eating.

He sits down across from Cecil and waits, saying nothing. There’s not really anything he can do here besides just making the human eat; he doesn’t know what visions he’d seen or if Cecil would even be willing to talk about it, and prying would probably trigger a meltdown, so he keeps his mouth shut instead.

Cecil is halfway through his second slice when he says, “Do you want me to talk about it?”

Loki gives him a curious look. He’s never heard that before. “If you want to.”

“I feel like I have to,” Cecil says, then shrugs. “But I’m not – I’m not sure. I’m not sure with what I saw or what it means so I can’t…really tell you for sure? Does that make sense? Like what if I interpreted it wrong and tell you the wrong thing instead, and it’d mess it up even more and – ”

“Breathe, Cecil, breathe.”

Loki wishes he can say he learned this from watching healers calm down patients, or mothers calm down their children, but while those are still contributing factors, he mostly unfortunately learned this from firsthand experience.

He makes his voice as soothing as possible, running Cecil through breathing exercises until he calms down.

“Alright?” he asks, when the human no longer looks like he’s about to cry.

Cecil nods. He picks at the pizza again and takes a bite out of it, even if it clearly tastes like cardboard to him. The effort is appreciated, at least.

“I…I have to tell you,” Cecil says, after a long long while, when he’s finished eating and has just been staring blankly at nothing for fifteen minutes straight, “I don’t know what else to do.”

“Just tell me what you saw then, if you want to,” Loki says, “You don’t need to interpret it.”

Cecil winces. “Not here,” he says, “Not here – not here, the walls have ears, he’s going to – ” then he shuts up suddenly, aware he’d send himself into a panic attack again. He breathes in deeply and then slowly lets it out. “Not here,” he says, softly this time. “Somewhere very far away from here, please.”

Loki thinks for a bit before nodding. He places a hand on Cecil’s shoulder again, and in the next second they are both sitting by a beach. The ocean is dark and inviting, waves softly crashing on the shore, and the night around them even darker without any light pollution to chase it away. Overhead, the moon is bright.

He doesn’t think he’s imagining it when Cecil’s eyes go bright from the Seer fugue, and by some impossible feat, the moon is reflected on them despite the fact that it shouldn’t be, not with how Cecil is sitting with his back to it.

And then, Cecil speaks.


Roxy has been packing and unpacking and then packing again for about four times in a row now. She’s nervous, she knows, but it’s not helping her clear her head at all. She just needs something to do with her hands, and she’s kept on unearthing her closet and pulling things out of thin air, even if they’re clearly unnecessary.

All that she’s achieved is surrounding herself with a lot of things, some of which she doesn’t even need, like the tiny little music box and a golden statue of a wizard. Her head is not any clearer than when she’d first started, and her hands are not steady.

She sighs.

Outside, she knows the others are just as nervous as she is, and are also worried about her. She doesn’t need to stress them out even more, not when Dave has been flying around all day in a similar fit of nervousness, and Eridan has been underwater all day too. He’d packed a few hours ago and then went back to the sea again and still hadn’t returned. There isn’t really any way of knowing if Hal is nervous when he just turns himself off all day. Probably retreated to the internet again.

She hates it when things like these happen. She would long for a thing to arrive, pray day and night for it, say she would do anything for it – and then it gets dropped on her lap and she suddenly has nothing to say. Suddenly just wants to take it back. Suddenly just wants it to stop.

Indecisions would be the death of her, she thinks. It’s pathetic. And cruel, not just to her but to her friends. But is she ready for if they really weren’t there? Maybe she just wants to not have false hope, and is it really wrong to wish that?

She sighs, packs her things one more time, and then leaves her bag in the corner of her room and walks out, leaving her mess right where it is. She’ll clean it up later, because she’s clearly not getting any sleep tonight.

It’s not like she’ll reach New York immediately anyway. At most they’d spend hours of travelling before they reach it, and then they’d have to make sure to stay low and have a base of operations, and then actually go look for their friends. Hal said he had a list of places they can try, but it’s still just a hit and miss, Roxy really really doesn’t want to hope for something that’s going to end up destroying her.

Dave is on the roof of the treehouse again, looking out at the sea. The moon is high and full in the sky tonight, and the light looks nice against the water, even though Roxy knows he’s not focusing on that at all. She flies up to sit beside him, and he acknowledges her presence with a nod.

Neither of them say anything for a long time, and they leave each other to their thoughts.

Roxy wonders if Eridan is sleeping or if he’s swimming back and forth the reef. Maybe he’s saying goodbye to little Anshu. Skaia knows he’d miss the tiny fish, even if he just grunts and rolls his eyes whenever Roxy says anything about it.

She’ll miss the island too. It’s isolated, and it’s surrounded by water – painfully reminiscent of her old home – but it’s nice and it’s teeming with life and she made friends with Dave and Eridan here and, well, who can blame her for sentimentality.

“We’re really leaving here, aren’t we?” Dave asks, finally.

Roxy nods. “Yeah,” she says, and her voice is a lot softer than she wanted it to be. She clears her throat and tries again. “Yeah, we are.”

Dave hums in response, and continues staring out at the ocean.

“Hey Dave?”

He turns to her, slowly, “Yeah?”

“If your friends are there, but mine…aren’t. I won’t feel bad, I promise.”

She can see the way his eyes slowly close behind his shades due to his glow making them visible even through the dark tint and he draws in a slow breath.

“What if they’re not? Hal said this Earth had a lot of…mutants.”

Ah, of course he’d be worried about that too.

“Then…we’ll deal with that when we come to it, I guess,” she says. We’ll come back to the island and we’ll continue waiting, or maybe come to terms with the fact that we’ll never see them again, is what she doesn’t.

“Good for Eri though,” Dave says, “Hal’s confirmed that at least Karkat is there.”

“You know Karkat too, don’t you?” Roxy says.

Dave pauses. “Well not – not me Dave. Not really. The other Dave.”

“Oh,” Roxy says.

“Yeah.”

Roxy stares out at the ocean again, this time looking for Eridan even if she knows she won’t find him from just looking at the waves up while she’s up on a treehouse. “Just Eri, then.”

“Good for him though. At least someone’s happy.”

Roxy barks out a laugh despite herself, and she hopes Dave doesn’t notice it sounds like hysteria.

“Yeah, good for him,” she says.

When Dave looks a bit worried, she stands up and stretches, and fakes a yawn. “We should both go to sleep. We’ve got a lot of travelling to do tomorrow.”

Dave just looks at her, staring, and she squirms under his scrutiny until he nods back and says, “Yeah we should.”

He’s in the process of getting up when they hear Eridan yell, “Who the fuck are you?”, and they turn, immediately flying to the other side of the island, the part where the sand is softer and there’s less rocks, instead of the rocky cove where Roxy was tossed onto after she’d broken all her bones by falling into the ocean.

There’s just Eridan there, high on alert and looking like he’s ready to attack at any second, yelling at whoever he’d seen to come out.

She doesn’t know what to make of Eridan telling them that he’d seen two people, sitting there on the sand, one of them sounding exactly like how he imagines it would be if he could hear the Void speak.


October 25, 2013

Loki has been on the phone the whole day. It’s slightly unnerving considering he never actually stays on his phone for more than fifteen minutes even if he’s well-versed on how to work them. Dave swears he’s got to be the first Asgardian to even be proficient with technology (not that he’s met anyone else, or has any plan of meeting Thor), and the dude squanders his talent on just sending short texts or using phone calls only for emergencies.

Which is why this is worrying, because there is no emergency, and yet, Loki’s in the sun room and has been on his phone all day.

He’s writing a few things down on sheets of paper that disappear in a flash of green light as soon as he’s done as he talks, which is impressive since he’s still effectively carrying the conversation, but Dave’s focusing more on the fact that this behavior is strange for him.

So either Loki’s got some really really bad news, or he hit it off with someone from a speed dating place. Dave doesn’t know which one he prefers.

Loki doesn’t even look like he’s noticed Dave purposely walking by every few hours or so. If he has and hasn’t said anything, then the phone call’s probably nothing important. If he hasn’t, then…what ever would distract Loki Silvertongue like that?

Right now, Dave’s just obviously leaning on the doorframe, waiting for Loki to tell him to go away. He doesn’t. Instead he pauses in the middle of whatever he was saying (he’s speaking too fast, and for the life of him, Dave can’t piece anything even from context clues, so he’ll give Loki points for sneakiness, at least), and says, “Are you sure you’re alright?”

Dave blinks. He knows Loki has capacity for kindness, he really does, but Loki doesn’t easily worry over strangers. Not very verbally anyway. He’ll subtly offer them shelter in the Safehouse, but never really very openly concerned.

The person on the other end replies, and Loki says, “Yes, of course I’m fine,” and then continues on with his original train of thought.

Another piece of paper disappears in a flash of green light. Dave sighs, and then starts to walk away when Loki lowers the phone, puts a hand over its microphone and says, “Dave, send Cecil here, would you? I need to talk to him.”

He’s unashamed of the several seconds it takes him to process that – seconds in which Loki has returned to his call – because what the fuck.

He goes and gets Cecil anyway, who’s looking much better than he did yesterday. Whatever powwow he and Loki had yesterday had worked, and Cecil was taking care of himself again, saving Kevin the trouble of losing a few years from worrying over his brother.

“Loki’s been on his phone for like, the whole day,” Dave says when he joins John and Jade (and the dogs, who have decided to follow the two of them up as well) on the rooftop garden. Jade’s picking out pumpkins they can carve for Halloween, which is fast approaching, and Dave hadn’t even noticed despite the fact that he’s hyperaware of how time progresses.

But that’s exactly it. Time just progresses. It doesn’t exactly have markers or dates or alarms that hey today’s a holiday, and so sometimes he just feels it move and slip through his fingers, and he just lets it. Just watches it.

This, as Mr. G would say, is exactly what depression is. Dave snickers to himself.

“Oh, no, he grabbed lunch earlier,” Jade says, inspecting a rather big pumpkin that looks like it’ll be tough to carve, although Jade can probably just teleport parts of it out to carve it, the cheater.

Knowing the Safehouse, there’s going to be a contest on pumpkin-carving, and Loki’s probably gonna sabotage it. Dave suddenly misses the pool master. At least they never sabotaged anything.

“I think he was still on the phone while grabbing lunch,” John says, carefully aiming the hose at the plants, and then looks down at the little corgi currently trying to eat the leaves off of one of the pots near her. “Moxie, no, don’t eat that.”

Moxie ignores him and continues ripping the leaves off and chewing them.

John sighs. “Jade.”

“She’ll be fine, that’s harmless.”

Moxie spits the leaves onto John’s shoes.

Dave says, “Atta girl.”

Jade snickers. Sugar, their resident Border Collie, starts dragging a pot out of line by its plant. Jade stands up to pry it from her mouth.

“God, how do you two keep these guys to behave?” Dave asks. He moves to sit beside Moxie and stop her from eating and spitting leaves onto John’s shoes, but then Posie jumps into his lap and licks his chin, and he jerks back a little from the sudden sensation of being licked by an excitable Chihuahua.

“We don’t,” John says. Then motions his head to the side. “Incoming.”

Dave turns just in time for the rest of the pack to barrel into him, completely knocking him and his glasses over.

“Shit,” he mutters, and is thankful when the glasses teleport back onto his face courtesy of Jade, although now it’s being licked by the dogs too.

He takes a few minutes to sit up, and counts that most of the pack is surrounding him, except for Moxie (still ruining John’s shoes, good girl), and Winston, who’s looking over the edge of the rooftop with a seriousness dogs shouldn’t really possess, but he’s still doing it anyway.

“Winston,” Dave says. The dog doesn’t turn to him. He nudges John’s leg. “What’s up with him?”

He has to point to where the dog is sitting before John realizes he is, in fact, talking about Winston. “Oh, he’s been like that all day. I don’t know what’s up with him.”

“Is he sick?”

“Maybe he just likes to people-watch? I don’t know.”

On cue, Winston turns away from where he’s observing the street and heads for the stairs, running down and bounding towards who knew where.

Weird dog. Then again, he gravitated towards Mr. G, so maybe the man rubbed off on him.

“I swear to god, there’s a lot of things off recently,” Dave says, reaching out to absentmindedly pat Milko’s head. His hand gets licked too, and he grimaces.

John looks down at him for a moment, then turns his attention up to the sky. “Yeah,” he says, “Something feels wrong.”

Dave tries to follow his line of sight and sees nothing, just a slightly cloudy sky that’s probably going to rain soon, a few birds looking like dark spots against the blue, and nothing else.

And then John sneezes and blows back several of Jade’s plants with a burst of sudden wind.


Karkat has not been getting enough sleep. He knows it shows, and he knows both Kanaya and Steve – Rogers, when the fuck had he started calling Rogers as Steve – (and maybe the little menace who he hopes chokes on that green pen) have been telling him to get some rest, but he’d be damned before he actually willingly dived into that blood-filled hell again.

That damn look-alike had tied a noose around his neck the last time, fashioning it out of veins and intestines, and he’d squirmed until Kankri had forcefully pulled him down, and told him to run, and then they’d both yelled at each other before their survival instincts forced them to shut up until the crows had arrived with their usual backup.

They both got sent to the same field Karkat always ended up in, the one with the bioluminescent grass, and he’d mockingly asked Kankri how he’d gotten roped into helping because that selfish asshole would rather run his mouth than pull Karkat’s ass out of hell. And then Kankri had, of course, risen to the argument, told him that the swearing was offensive, and that before he called someone a selfish asshole, he should probably ask their side of the story so as not to hurt their feelings and that if Karkat had known this and that, and honestly the circumlocution was getting so tiring that Karkat just flipped him off and then rolled himself down the hill.

So he’s not going to sleep for three reasons – one, the bloody nightmareland; two, Kankri Vantas; three, the thrice-damned abomination spat out by a constipated Horrorterror, who had the gall to drop him and Kanaya onto Earth. Whose name, of course, Karkat didn’t get. He was too busy yelling, and honestly, they’d had no time to introduce each other.

He’s just staring at the ceiling and trying not to fall asleep now. The television is on and whatever show is playing is background noise to him, Kanaya is asleep since she’d been staying up from sewing too many outfits for him and the human, Rogers is out on his job – it’s the perfect time for him to be at peace and not sleep.

Until the television suddenly says, in a very static-ky voice, “Honestly, what on earth do you think you’re doing?”

Karkat groans, picks up the couch pillow and buries his face in it.

“Mr. Vantas.”

“For one day, please just for one day, piss off.”

“That’s not very nice.”

“I’m not very nice.”

There’s a snort. “Alright then, I’d just like to let you know the Heir isn’t the one speaking right now.”

He frowns into the pillow, then slowly lowers it so he can see the television screen, which is just showing a purple eye insignia. His voice is still muffled by the pillow when he speaks. “What?”

“Hello!”

“What the – what the fucking fuck. If you’re – ”

“Oh no, no, I’m not the Heir of Blood, either. He’s…definitely not a friend. I’m a Seer, darling, and am unfortunately the one who takes over ‘message-relay’ jobs. It makes things easier if we designate roles as to who does what.”

“What the hell are you talking about.”

There’s a pause, and then. “I probably shouldn’t say all of this. You’ll get more confused.”

Karkat sits up, glaring at the television screen. “If you crawl out that box, I will shove my sickle down that strep-infected chitinous windhole of yours.”

“You’ve been watching way too many horror movies. I suppose October’s the season for them being run on television. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one.”

Karkat’s glare falters, turning into a frown – how had the corpseshit known he was watching The Ring the other day, unless of course Seer meant – “Lalonde, if that is you, just come get me and stop playing.”

The television actually sighs, and it sounds like a painful burst of static. “Mr. Vantas, as much as I would love to tell you that I am Ms. Lalonde to ease your concerns, I am sadly the farthest thing from Rose Lalonde.”

“You sound like her.”

“Perhaps my speech pattern is, yes, but she’s not the only one who has a way with words.”

Karkat frowns. Whoever is talking may or may not be affliated with the bane of Karkat’s existence (that was pushing it, there are definitely worse people than a midget with a green pen), but they’re definitely some sort of psionic to be able to hijack Rogers’ television like this. Sadly attacking the television would do nothing, so Karkat just settles for staring it down, and hopefully who was on the other side would be able to see him.

The static riding the voice was definitely on purpose though, so they were cautious. But then, for what purpose?

“But you know Rose Lalonde?”

“I’ve never personally met her, no. I know her in the same way I know you and your name.”

He frowns further. “You talk around in circles a lot.”

“Actually no, I’m being very truthful, Mr. Vantas. I suppose it just seems that way.”

“Yeah, well, if you’re gonna just keep on doing that, bye.” He stands up and shuts the television, then unplugs it. When he walks back towards the couch, there’s a purple radio sitting there, and on the panel where several dials are mounted, is a tiny screen with the same eye insignia that was on the television.

He immediately pulls out his sickle and turns around the room, looking out for whoever came in without him noticing.

“There. I sound nothing like Ms. Lalonde, do I?”

The static is gone now, and instead Karkat feels a wave of calm wash over him at the soothing, ethereal voice that filters through the radio. As soon as it stops speaking, his head clears, and he bares his teeth. “Stop that. Stop doing that, all of you. I’m getting really fucking tired of having myself being pulled around like some stupid hoofbeastmanure-bathed toy.”

“Apologies,” the radio says. There’s just really something very calming about the way it speaks, and Karkat grips onto his sickle tighter, trying very hard not to calm down.

“Fuck do you want.”

“I’m just here to tell you to sleep. You’re exhausting yourself.”

He’s going out on a limb here, but. “That tiny menace sent you here to hijack the television with your psionics to get me to sleep?”

“You’re no use to anyone dead, Karkat.”

Karkat stills, caught by surprise. The voice immediately continues, “That might have sounded crass. I’m sorry again. But the Heir really is worried about you. I can’t tell you names, not yet, or else you might try tracking people down, and I tried to hide my voice because it is rather easy to recognize voices. And any memory spell put on you, you would easily break through, so that plan’s fallen through as well. So I’ll simply try to negotiate with you and convince you to sleep.”

He snorts, annoyed, and picks up the radio. “Goodluck with that, assdick.”

“I’ll give you a heads-up for four very special visitors who’ll be arriving six days from now.”

He stops in the middle of hurling the radio at the floor, thinking about it. The radio seems to wait.

Then he actually smashes it.

Or tries to. It doesn’t reach the floor, and instead hovers over it one inch just before it touches down, and a red circle of light suddenly spins into view underneath it. It’s another insignia, Karkat realizes, a symbol he’s seen so many times before and –

And the radio suddenly flies back up, like time is reversing, and shoots right back into his hand. He yelps as it smacks into his palm, and his fingers curl around its handle against his will. He stares at the radio in horror, and then back at the floor.

The Game’s mark for Time is gone.

“They’re your friends. Or, well, one of them is. The other three are friends of your friend, and one of them is an iteration of a very close friend of yours.”

“Would you just tell me straight to my face before I smash you again,” Karkat hisses at the thing, bringing it close so he can glare at the eye insignia. The damn thing can probably see him. The damn thing can most likely see him. It’s probably psionic bullshit.

“Before you try, you mean. The effort is appreciated. I’ll tell you if you sleep.”

He hurls the radio down. The same thing happens and he grits his teeth to prevent from crying out when the radio flies back into his hand again, and somehow, it hits harder than the last time.

“Why do you do this to yourself?”

He throws it down again.

He doesn’t know what he expected. Probably for it to finally hit the floor and smash itself to pieces. It doesn’t, of course.

Fuck, fine!” His hand stings like someone dipped it in a vat of acid, and his fingers are shaking, barely holding on to the radio’s handle. “Tell me.”

“If you sleep.”

“No.”

“Then I don’t tell you. Maybe not even send them your way. And are you sure you don’t want to see your friends again?”

Blackmailing son of a cullbait, he was gonna run outside and throw this thing right into the path of a speeding truck, laying low be damned by the empress herself.

The tiny purple eye seems to mock him, or maybe patiently wait would be the right term here, although he’d rather imagine it to be actually asking for a fight. Otherwise he wouldn’t feel as strongly as he did about wanting to throw it into those loud things Rogers called a washing machine.

Actually, whether or not the radio was mocking him, he would still throw it into a washing machine.

Karkat presses his lips to a thin line and lets out a low, annoyed growl.


October 26, 2013

Karkat sleeps.


October 27, 2013

[In a space where Time has no meaning]

“Caribbean.”

“No.”

“No, I swear, it’ll be better.”

“We already have one person in the Carribean.”

“Eh, they’ll work together.”

“Language barriers exist, if I may remind you, dear?”

“Pfft. He totally speaks the language. There’s no problem with the language barrier.”

“And exactly why do you insist they be put in the same place?”

“Because they both need a friend right now?”

“Oh, fuck you, what the hell is that argument.”

“It’s a good argument. And did you just say ‘fuck you’ to me?”

“Like I’ve never said it before?”

“No, you’re usually so eloquent, like I’d expect you to say, go fornicate with thine self – ow! What the fuck.”

“I don’t talk like that.”

“You so fucking do, your highness. Like seriously, you think I didn’t hear it when you said, I think you’re the one offended, my good bitch?”

“I will strangle you with your own halo, Angel, I swear on my dead dog.”

“Go pester the AI, you fuck.”

“He has a name.”

“Well, I don’t know it, I’m not on info-planting and make-friends-on-the-internet duty, am I?”

“Go take care of nightmares, you vertically-challenged tiefling.”

“You didn’t play DnD right, did you?”

“Fuck. Off.”