They don't tell people during training that a frontier warship's living quarters are a permanent orgiastic free for all.
(Or maybe they didn't tell him, on account of it would never be relevant.)
Karkat keeps his eyes trained in front of him as he puts his flightsuit back in his locker. Three lockers down, a spectacular pale makeout is in progress. Brown and yellow tears everywhere. (Brown guy's matesprit was -- not that he cares, really he doesn't -- the stupid brown girl that Karkat yelled at to stay in line and instead she broke away to strut her stuff and got her ass culled by one of the creeptastic metal aliens. He doesn't even remember her name. Any of their names. He doesn't.)
He keeps his eyes in front of him while walking down the corridor -- some oh glory be what a coincidence you're alive and I'm also alive let's perpetuate the species is going on in a doorway off to the side, let's hope no one needs emergency decontamination or soon they might have to step over a pail to get it. At least it's flush, reduces the amount of weird stains on the walls for poor PT-cursed bastards to deal with.
He walks by four more pairs -- flush, pale, pale, black -- on his way through the pilots' common room.
(He is not jealous. He's fine with his own hands, they're never panshatteringly retarded. He does not need papped.)
Not even a third of these people were quadranted before they were stationed together. Maybe not even a fourth. Now he doesn't think he knows more than three people (not that he pays attention) who are currently quadrantless, and all of them are quadrantless because they were recently dumped -- reshuffling happens all the time, and hideous drama with it; he doubts they'll stay quadrantless long. Apparently facing adversity makes bonding easier. Staple of the movie genre, he should have expected it.
It's been three perigees and no one has really approached him. Which is fine! He has a moirail already (even if his moirail is half a galaxy away) and his concupiscent quadrants are a dead end by imperial decree. As for his hatefriends, he still has... Tavros, he supposes. They've never been close and their conversations tend to the lukewarm but... And Nepeta, even though she stupidly still wants something he can't give her, can't, can't, it would get her culled does she get that. And... Equius? Sort of. By proxy.
Hah. Heh. He bets he could count Equius as at least a caliginous one-night-stand, if he pretends that it doesn't creep him out knowing that after some of their spats Equius likely went to fondle himself in the privacy of his personal block. Hah, never mind, better be quadrantless. (It might titillate Equius to fantasize about being pailed by the bloodfreak but he'd never go through with it anyway, not even clandestinely. Neverfuckingmind.)
(He is not fucking lonely.)
(He is never going to be that lonely.)
When he passes by the movie block there's an argument in progress, a teal girl and a rust guy. The rust is in his dormitory, and Karkat doesn't know his name and doesn't know he has a kismesis already, a kismesis that's on another ship at the foot end of the universe (the ass end is right here) and they're vanishingly unlikely to get a visiting grant for drone season but they still cling to the relationship so ferociously. Nope. Totally doesn't know that. He doesn't know the teal's on the rebound either and is only after the rust for the shape of his horns anyway.
They're both hateflirting with people who aren't even here, it's obvious in the forms their insults take, neither quite hitting the mark, or hitting it too deep, and they keep trying anyway like stubborn brainless morons led around by their bulges. It's a clusterfuck in excruciatingly slow motion.
He doesn't care, he doesn't care, he doesn't, why doesn't anyone notice and step in?
There's a couple pailing in one of the recuperacoons in his dormitory, of course, but once he's asleep he won't hear them. It's fine. It's just fucking fine, it's -- fuck.
"Duiven, don't you have someone to call before it's daytime on his fucking ship? Hadria, just because he looks like Thalim doesn't mean he's half as good in the sack. Now pipe the fuck down already."
... who was the retard who said that.
Oh. Shit. It's him. He's the one who turned around and went back to the movie block, he's the one everyone in the movie block is staring at. He's the retard.
He's not stepping back down now. He's just -- not. He'd lose too much face and his place in the group dynamics is wobbly enough as it is. He scowls, stare direct, unafraid, tilts his chin in challenge. Hadria -- the teal, the teal -- is at least a full head taller than he is, the rust -- Duiven -- is built like a brick shithive, probably should have been brown. He can't afford to look like the moron who realizes too late he bit off more than he could chew. He can handle them.
He. He thinks he wants to handle them. Even if he doesn't see it lasting, even if their hate is too shallow, they irritate him sufficiently right now with their stupid pointless squabbling that it could last a little while -- he'd have a place, people he'd personally matter to, it would be good. He settled Gamzee's shit anyway, who is a goddamn indigo with the madness that goes with it -- hah, he settled it so good they let him live for it -- and neither of them is more physically imposing than Equius. He can do this.
The longer they stay stunned quiet and the more he thinks it could work.
"... Are you... coming onto us?" Hadria asks. She sounds like he kicked her in the horns, brainshaken, dazed. She's not even scowling much, just enough to look puzzled. "Is that seriously -- you just--"
"Oh, listen to yourself, the two of you have about a braincell and a half if you add them up. How the fuck you assume this won't end in lukewarm tears and scratches too shallow to even scar is beyond me, but it's probably related to that egregious dearth of thinkspongepower."
Everyone is still watching them. Karkat can't even blame them, it's not as if watching blood dry is more interesting than what's on TV right now. It's still hard to ignore them all with his horns buzzing, his spine tingling from their stares.
Duiven catches himself, growls, muscles flexing, bunching, threat-displaying his horns. Karkat gives an unimpressed sniff, lifts up his chin a bit more in disdain, hey, need help aiming? (It's the only counter that works when his are those useless nubs, and it only works half the time.)
Duiven must not be used to smaller guys refusing to be cowed. He flounders, his sneer softening, hesitant. It's going to work it's going to work now if Karkat just orders them to follow him outside to hash things out they're stunned enough to let him --
"Oh sweet Horrorterrors, Hadria dear, we knew you liked slumming but that's just, ahaha--"
Laughter bursts all around the block. Hadria flushes an ugly green. Duiven flinches and takes a step back, lip curled in disgust, hands up as if Karkat was in touching range and he needed to be pushed away.
"Did you just seriously try to shove yourself clubways in with us?"
... There's an us, claimed now, word-fenced. There's an us and there's a you, you-outsider, you-lower-than-me-filth, and used by a rustblood it burns.
He stays a little while longer as they laugh, he can't afford to be seen running away -- they're going to talk about this for weeks anyway but they'd talk even longer. He stays a little, hands resting almost casually on either side of the doorjamb, letting the laughter and the jeers slide off him (not really but,) and he shakes his head in cold disdain. "Well. Have fun watching this peter out, assholes. I'll be over there having an I told you so party."
He gives a disdainful wave of his hand, and leaves.
He forgets their names. Not that he ever knew them. Not that he ever crushed ashen on anyone here. It's only the concupiscent quadrants that are forbidden to (mutant filth) him but who'd want to ash out with any of the brainless fuckmachines the Powers That Be have packed on this sucktastic ruin of a warship for ease of disposal?
You'd have to be a rot-panned moron of the lowest order to hurt over rejection from this cohort. Karkat isn't.
(They limp along for another two weeks, stubbornly clinging to the relationship to prove Karkat wrong. He pretends he doesn't see them sneer when he passes by and outsiders are here. It doesn't sting. He pretends he doesn't see the guilty, vaguely longing glance when they think no one else is looking. It doesn't sting either, it doesn't sting worse.
After that Hadria (who did not remind him of a gangly, slightly less classy, gratingly off-note Terezi) gets herself into a honor duel with Vriska and gets her ass culled, and Vriska totally wouldn't have decided to spare one of Karkat's quadrants so he'd owe her big later on, that is not at all the kind of emotional blackmail she loves to collect, and then Duiven gets himself another spades lover who knew he was the rebound from Hadria but didn't know she was the stand-in for that out-of-reach One True Kismesis and is so pissed off when he hears it that he "forgets" to provide backup while in combat.)
(Karkat gets other ashen crushes. It's not a thing that's stopped. He watches from outside and maps interpersonal conflicts and thinks how much smoother this and that could go with just a few words here and there, so long as they were goddamn heeded. He merely stops thinking that if he found just the right point of entry...)
(no he doesn't.)