You wake up, roll over, and there is some more bed to roll onto, nary a hard floor rising to smack your face after a tiny half-wriggle. A long, gorgeous stretch of (vaguely starchy) cool, empty sheets stretch under your hand, your heels.
You make a starfish. Just because you can.
You are a very smug starfish. You don't even care you're a lopsided one.
Also your brain is half-awake and stupid from going to bed at three AM but fuck that. You spend another ten minutes staring at the ceiling, a dopey and uncool smile spreading on your face without your permission and who cares, nobody will see.
Your stomach is starting to whimper about being empty, though, and your bladder is throwing a bitchfit about being too full. With a sigh, you get up, wobble to the cramped sink-shower-toilet Rubik's Cube closet that pretends to be a bathroom. Can't turn around without smacking your elbow on shit; feels just like home.
And here Dadbert tried to talk you into rooming in the "boy's dormitory" because there was a blinged-up bathtub there. Yeah, you totally want to pay for a tub with a room shared with John, Dave, Karkat and Gamzee for the next three weeks, especially one where you'd have to fight over who gets not to sleep on a cot. What a golden chance it is you allowed to slip between your fingers, wow, you'll never get over it.
Your room is a tiny thing stuck in the crew quarter; there's barely enough space to shuffle around the double bed, the roof is low and the walls sloppily painted, and you get linoleum instead of carpet. A couple of particleboard closets add their Ikea chic touch to the décor. You fucking love it.
You especially love the genuine porthole with bona fide seawater splashed all over it. Really brings it all together.
Huh, the ship's moving.
You're not feeling it much here -- so low to the water, in the middle of the ship -- but the regular spray splattering on your porthole doesn't lie; this ship can't be tamed. Damn, you kind of wanted to watch the land recede, nothing but water is bound to get boring after the first two weeks of limitless horizons.
You don't even know if that one is irony or not.
A quick shower, and then you throw baggy shorts and a shirt on, put on your iShades, slip your feet in the most garish flip-flops you own. They're pastel pink and acid green with touches of your orange, you feel like it today. Hell, even the shirt is orange, though the shade is off, closer to Bro's tangerine text than yours. Fuck the universe, your mood is great today and you're gonna rock the orangeness.
Okay, there's a shit-ton of narrow stairs to climb up on the way to food, and it's vaguely awkward to keep your balance, but you're only halfway up the second flight when the smell of ocean and toast wanders down, and after that somehow it goes faster.
One of the Crockbert parental units peeks out of the kitchen when you emerge from the service stairs, smiles. "Ah, Byrd. Finally awake?"
"Looks like." You so don't want to be rude to someone wearing an apron when there's such breakfasty smells in the air, so you shove down as much of the snark as you can. "What time is it?"
"Almost eleven. I take it you slept well? Lucky boy."
You don't even enjoy the avuncular hilarity of being called 'lucky boy' because he just took a chocolate croissant thing out of the oven and put it on a plate and handed it to you. You don't even know which twin he is but you promise yourself from now on he'll be your favorite.
"Give it a minute to cool down," he advises, and pulls a bottle of apple juice out of the fridge. "Or do you want orange juice?"
Eurgh, orange. "Apple's cool," you hurry to say. Dude then proceeds to pour you a glass, and then goes out through the other door to place it on the big dinner table. There are crumbs all over the place so likely everyone else already breakfasted on it.
"Please sit down," he says, and before you can object, he gives you a little eye-wrinkling smile. "You Strider men sadden me with your regrettable habit of eating standing at the counter."
Either this is Dadbert, or Crockpop witnessed something unfortunate this morning with your three bros.
Croissant, apple juice... yeah, the deducing can wait. You say thanks like a totally well-raised kid who doesn't want to see the source of manna dry up, and sit.
He was right, you burn your mouth on the first chomp. Totally worth it.
"Fried eggs? Bacon?"
"Holy shit, marry me."
Um. Your face heats up a little, and you expect to be corrected on language but the man just gives a single rough chuckle.
"Flattered as I am, your brother might object."
True; if you steal the dude your Bro is making eyes at he might turn your little room into a smuppet storage closet in the night. You shudder.
Oh wait, he probably meant it in the sense that he's old enough to be your dad and a responsible guardian would totally object. Wow are you lucky you were busy drinking and didn't actually answer that.
(You think if you scored with some old dude or lady the only thing Bro would care about would be whether they're a good lay. Okay, yeah, not true, the first thing he'd care about would be whether you were the one who came on to them first and no disgusting grooming or pressuring happened. But the second thing he'd ask would totally be if they were worth the ride. How To Turn You Off Cougars Forever In One Conversation, Bro Strider Edition.)
Okay, time for a subtle and elegant change of topic. "Where's everyone else?"
"Hm? Phil is teaching Jade the finer points of handling a ship this size, two of your brothers are down in the machine room, and I'm not entirely sure where the rest are. Possibly busy with their computers."
Oh hey this is the Egbert one after all. You have your mouth full and ain't no way you're not gonna keep it full for at long as this croissant thing lasts, so you go with making a mph? noise.
"Right, you weren't there for the announcement. Once we're out of territorial waters, the roaming charges for the wifi will be rather on the side of astronomical, so we'll be cutting access down to emergency contact and two hours in the evening."
You cough, swallow wrong, hit your chest with a closed fist. "Wha?"
"The evening access will be limited to four people maximum at one time. I'm sure you young people will get used to the lack of internet access so fast, in a week you won't even want to take your turn when it -- Byrd?"
"Sorry here's the plate I'll wash it later got shit to download bye!"
There is no way in hell you are going to get stuck on a boat for a month without a shit-ton of computer games and all the movies you can torrent before this evening.
Ten minutes later when you emerge with your laptop (like being on deck will give you better access to the ship's 3G setup or something) you realize the reason Egbert brought it up at that point in the conversation was that all the other human players are using it to download their own shit.
No wonder your download rate is atrocious. Thank fuck for bittorrent.
You step over John sprawled on the floor, half in the shade, plop your butt on a padded deck chair between Rose's feet, and start hunting around the illegalest of all torrenting sites.
-- timaeusTestified [TT] wants to send the file Movies.txt --
TT: List of movies already being downloaded. Don't double up on shit. Add your own and pass it on.
TG: huh k you know what thats not a bad idea
TT: 'Course not, it's mine.
TG: you bragging braggart
TG: dont think anyone will want to list their free amateur schoolgirl dominatrix clips for perusal tho i mean dude can you see walking up to half these peeps and asking to trade some ebon vixens for whip wielding dickgirls
TG: but anyone think of dedicating a machine to our own porn hub yet
TG: i bet you didnt think of that huh
TT: Roxy did, as a matter of fact.
TT: Alas, Jane vetoed her.
TT: The netbook with the pink cat on it suffered a tragic hardware failure and you might find it abandoned in a lot of strange places. The password yeypr0nz will naturally be totally useless.
TT: (Zero, not uppercase o.)
TG: how could it ever be otherwise man what else do you do with a fried machine like that apart from plugging in and trying to see if up/downloading nice big splurts of data helps at all
TG: btw roxy is now my favorite
TT: My heart is in splinters.
TG: hey hey bro psst look up
When he does you purse your lips at him in your best schoolteacherly Not Funny, Young Man face.
You don't even know if you'll make use of the porn hub (you talk a good game but wow yeah Roxy has you beat in Actually Shameless) because thinking about it, any clip on it having a chance of belonging to one of your siblings' prized knob-waxing collection... Maybe a bit too incesty.
-- truncatedGrip [TG] started pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] --
TG: hey rose i need you to swear none of the bdsm corset porn will be yours
TG: bald faced perjury preferred
TT: Of course, dear brother, as I would never collect anything like that in the first place.
TT: The needleplay and sounding videos will of course not be mine either, so that you can feel free to peruse them in incest-free safety.
TG: yay ill totes jump on the sounding stuff like a vegetarian on the single plate of falafel at a meatlover barbeque
TG: here comes the non rose contaminated safety oh lord thank you for this feast of dongs behaving against nature
TG: how wrong was i thinking dicks go in things things dont go in dicks
TG: how wrong my friend
TT: A tragic, yet understandable mistake. I am glad to have contributed, however indirectly and non-incestuously, to your enlightenment.
After that your next impulse is to ask what she will contribute to the porn hub then. Which uh. Yeah. No.
TG: whos in the know about the naughty kitty btw i mean apart from jane obvs
TT: So far, all of us Striders and Lalondes, connoisseurs of fine pornography as we are.
TT: I mean of course the younger generation. It goes without saying that Bro and my mother are Sir and Madam Not Invited to this virtual wife-swapping extravaganza.
TG: I am making this face irl :X
TT: No you aren't, you vile little liar.
TG: you didnt have to kick me
TT: Au contraire, my dear. Au contraire.
TG: ill sick my gossipchump on you
TT: Are you sure you wish to attempt this? Because I feel fairly confident in predicting she will side with the one who has *already* put out.
Gnnnh. Poker face, poker face.
TG: damn need to set up a major nailpolish and bitching session pronto then
TT: What a grand idea. I'll tell Kanaya she can dig out her secondary wardrobe.
TG: im sure ill look darling
TT: She would allow nothing less.
TT: But anyway. Regarding the pink netbook and the matter of its knowledge. I planned on telling Jade, of course...
TG: of course shed gut us otherwise
TG: looks so sweet and innocent but shes innocent like a wild beast and lemme tell you those are a randy lot
Goddamn it why did you say that, Jade's libido is not your problem anymore.
... It doesn't even sting much, though. Yeah, okay, you could have had firsthand knowledge of that, instead of whispered confessions and hints and speaking glances that went nowhere, if you were less of a whiny loser. You were a total whiny loser, that ship sailed and was then promptly torpedoed in the bay, the end.
Possibly it helps you've touched other butts since then. (Well, one other butt, but boy did you touch it.) Yeah. Must be it. You vaguely wonder where Karkat is.
TT: And out of all the trolls I cannot conceive of one of them betraying us to the authorities, such as they are, but I am not yet sure how very interested most of them will be.
TT: Alright, no, Kanaya is at least nominally interested in human anatomy. So is Terezi, now that I think of it.
TG: yeah sounds like that is a thing they are and thanks for rubbing it in
TG: wonder if they have any troll porn to share
TG: wow ok i think i just gazed into the abyss and the abyss winked back saucily
She chuckles quietly, not looking up from her screen.
TT: For that matter, the only troll who has expressed total disinterest in humans is Gamzee, and as it happens he is also the one most likely to betray this little secret out of sheer carelessness.
You're not sure Gamzee is ever entirely careless when he fucks people over. At least you can't help but feel it's a mildly malicious sort of carelessness. Like hell if he's going to lose you your porn hub.
TG: yeah ok makara vetoed its a majority motion passed
TT: I suppose it falls on you to induct Karkat in, then.
She can't know. She can't know.
It's Rose. You're sure she does. You're sure she read your mind right then when you were thinking butt-touching thoughts. Somehow. Auuugh. Did Jade spill? Terezi? Hell, maybe Kanaya. Argh! Too many broads in the know, and you haven't even gotten to bust a nut with the guy.
TG: why me exactly
TG: the guy is guaranteed to explode in splutters and flail and thats not gonna attract tons of parental attention nope
Is his machine even compatible?
... Okay, brain, what the fuck, you just slammed yourself with two self-comebacks, wow.
Well then he'll have to watch his porn on mine. W00t.
Well then we'll need to test that ... compatibility thing seriously, then. Wink wink nudge nudge.
Ffff. They're not even good comebacks.
TG: omygod i just found the lion king in chinese that shit is bananas
TG: shhh cant talk hunting working seeders
That was subtle. Wow.
You stubbornly keep your eyes on your laptop. You can feel her smiling anyway.
Lunch time happens at something like two thirty, to the great despair of the Fedora Twins. It was hard to corral everyone, and they wanted it to be a group occasion. You wedge your way between Jade and Jane at the table and scandalize poor Jane by grabbing the fork in your teeth so your gorgeous, gorgeous steak won't escape as you saw it into edible chunks. Good knife, best friend. It's been so goddamn long since you had real meat (hamburger doesn't count), you're not letting a little awkward staring stop you now.
(You think she wants to offer to cut your meat for you, but she doesn't know if that'd be offensive or what. Frankly, you're not even sure. Right now you wouldn't get offended, only if someone takes meat from your plate for any reason they better be prepared to lose their fingers in exchange.)
It's a noisy mess and everyone talks over everyone else; people laugh from every corner, often for no reason. It's vaguely overwhelming, this chaos, but you really like it too. This is your family. The only missing members are Aradia and Sollux and Jake, stuck waiting like chumps on Hellmurder Island, but you don't even know them all that well so you don't personally miss them much.
(Aradia sounds pretty hilarious, though.)
Dave and Bro are liberally streaked with engine grease and Bro at least looks happy as a pig in shit about it, from the way he teases Crocker when Crocker comments about the fingerprints he leaves on the tablecloth. Dirk, you're not sure, you wonder why he didn't go down to help Bro since engines and stuff are way more his thing than Dave's. It's not like he can't deal with a couple hours in close quarters with older him after all, right? Hm.
Roxy and Terezi are having a very involved conversation about something mysterious. Bonding is happening under your very eyes. This is mildly terrifying. Everyone else seems happy enough.
Ding ding ding. "Your attention please." Ahh, Dadbert is -- no, wait, that's the Crocker one, Dadbert is sitting by Gamzee. (They're smiling at each other? Gamzee looks almost nice? What is this fuckery.)
Anyway you're not sure if Jane's dad planned to sound so much like a professional announcer but he does the tone so smoothly John laughs anyway. The man flicks him a tiny smile.
"As you all may have figured out, the fact that we had to do away with a crew in order to hide some of our members means--"
"Aw, no!" John protests. "Boo to chores!"
Wow, chores. What are those. You usually wash your own sh -- well, when you were still both a single Dave you washed your own shit because you didn't want it tangled up with Bro's thongs and even more unmentionable unmentionables, you ate out of cartons, and dusting and stuff happened mostly when it got too annoying. You never had a set daily task. This is a novelty.
Possibly not one you'll enjoy, but you think you can deal.
So suburban though. Heh.
"Yes, chores." Crocker purses his mouth forbiddingly. "I am deeply sorry, young man, there will be chores."
"This ship is usually operated by a professional crew comprised of seven people. As none of us are professionals, I think we can afford to put more people onto a single task. For now, Jade and I will be sharing the wheel. It shouldn't take too long to finish training her to pilot bigger ships than she is used to. Should anyone else want to learn--"
Terezi's hand flies into the air.
"Dude," Dave says, "you're blind. I know most of the time it's like magical blind not real world blind, but ain't like you're gonna be able to lick the horizon."
She makes a face. "Well obviously I should only pilot on deeper waters at first! I still think it would be extremely interesting."
The adults exchange a look. Lalonde shrugs. "Don't see why not! She can read a screen, she can read instruments. Plus most of the piloting is really sitting in the cockpit and glancing at stuff regularly to make sure we stay on course."
"Alright, then. You can come up with Jade this afternoon."
Terezi sits back down, grinning like a hyena, and spears her steak with great prejudice.
"We also need engineers to make sure the motors -- yes, Strider, you may be chief engineer."
"Sweet," Bro says, entirely seriously.
"Fuck him," Mrs. Lalonde retorts. "That's discrimination. I'm just as qualified as you are, buddy."
"You can be chief when I'm not chief. Rox, Dirk?"
Roxy is quick to agree; Dirk, less so, but eventually he agrees that it's a logical repartition of the task. Jade demands to be taken on as auxiliary engineer. You're not sure when she's gonna sleep.
"Kitchen crew, headed by Paul, if you don't mind?"
"I will of course join you as time permits."
It's kinda creepy to see them exchanging urbane little robo-sentences, with their identical faces and clothes; even sitting down Paul Egbert manages to have the same posture as Phil Crocker, the same set to his shoulders. You wonder if you and Dave are that creepy. Surely that's not possible.
"Jane, John, you're requisitioned." (John groans and flops across the table, predictably. You peg him in the head with a bit of bread.) "Gamzee, do you feel up to participating?"
"Sure thing, man. I'll be all manners of happy to get my food-helping on."
"Lord make it so he's never without supervision," you hear Karkat mutter. (So do three fourths of the table; he doesn't mutter very quietly.)
"If anyone knows how to handle simple foods they are welcome to assist. And the rest of you will have to be the cleaning and dishwashing crew. We will count up work hours later in the week and possibly redistribute some tasks, but for the moment this is how it will go. Here is a chart, write your name next to your chores and later each of you can tick off your completed tasks..."
... Wow, organized. You're torn between admiration and a need to groan and hide somewhere. Dude has a chart. Dude has several charts.
You just... You sign yourself up for laundry, blindly; in between dishwashing, table setting and deck swabbing, you figure collecting bags of dirty clothes and shoving them in machines is pretty much the one thing you can do well and not too slowly one-handed. Someone else will have to handle the folding.
Karkat and Roxy have volunteered to clean the table; you redeem your whole day so far when he hip-checks your shoulder bending over to reach your glass and you accidentally-on-purpose trail your fingers against a bare gray knee under the table.
He doesn't drop anything. For a second his eyes narrow faintly, though, like he's trying to tell you he'd have shoved your face in the broken piece if you'd made him do that.
"Why's your shit all over the place, asshole."
Oh hey a slice of waist under that gaping shirt. When you lean forward you briefly manage to brush your fingertips against his stomach, hidden by the hang of his shirt and your own body. His muscles twitch. "Eh, I dunno, it was afraid of my swag maybe. Scattered in terror."
"Can't be afraid of something that doesn't exist."
He hip-checks you again on the way out. You figure you're forgiven.
"We are a bunch of nerds."
The observation is totally warranted. You warrant it, for one.
There's the Jacuzzi, right? And the towels, and the deck chairs, and the little tables with fizzy drinks on them with paper umbrellas, and the bunch of dickwads in bathing apparel.
There's also a shadowed corner littered with like seven laptops and three PDAs. So the assholes reading or sunbathing or flailing around in the tub can check on their downloads and rebalance the load if needed at the drop of a hat.
You are a bunch of total, entire, consummate nerds.
(Karkat, stretched out on a deck chair with long bare legs emerging from underneath his crabtop, is a rather nice-looking one. Why is he wearing a shirt, though, he's in the shade. Goddamn but you want some eyecandy for your money, okay.)
You go to make a space for your laptop amongst its technological brethren. (Dirk is sitting there, back against the wall, monitoring them. Pff.) While you're at it you unplug one of the other laptops with a full battery charge and plug yours in. You figure everyone can trade off. That or your own baby will be savagely unplugged when the owner finds out the crime you have committed, but by then it should have more battery.
John is sprawled in the sun already, looking half-asleep, and Kanaya and Rose are sitting together in the tub, but you don't want to risk Rose's wrath by relocating her book and kidnapping her deck chair. Hmm.
The air is almost dry up here, it smells like salt and polished wood. You've never sunbathed before, but you figure it can't hurt to try it once. Dunno if you want to do it before or after you take a dip in the tub, though. Hope the water isn't set to hot.
"Hep hep hep, where are you going."
Oh no, what does Bro want now. You turn around warily. For a second you hope he's talking to Dave, who was following him up the stairs and veered toward the tub, but then he turns to look at you, and you groan a bit inside.
"Sunlight equals UV cream, bud."
"But that's for douches!"
"Unburned douches," Mrs. Lalonde counters. "Both of you, heel. Rose?"
"I had Kanaya help me, Mom," the traitor replies languidly from the pool.
Bro unscrews the top of his bottle, looking blank-facedly evil. You and Dave exchange a quick, alarmed look, and then you throw him mercilessly to the crocodiles. "Hey Mom, mind doing me."
"Sure thing, Birdie."
Birdie? You purse your lips at her meaningfully, but it's still her or Bro. Stashing your pride, you obligingly turn and allow her to slather your back in cold cream.
She attacks your ribs, rubbing the cream in briskly. Gnnh, it tickles. You try not to react. You try very hard not to react.
"How grown up you're getting!" she exclaims, pinching your sides. You think maybe you should have let Bro have a go at it after all. "Bro, don't you think our children are becoming beautiful butterflies after all."
"I will never regret laying metaphorical eggs with you one day of my life," he replies. Dave yips; you wish you could see what Bro just did to him. "Okay, do your own face. Yes, even under the shades. The suntanned-in shades look ain't ironic, it's just stupid."
"Aw, Bro, asking me to take off the shades in public, how shameless. I -- I can't."
"There, there, sugarplum, gimme your towel and I'll make a tent to hide your sinful good looks. None shall be led into temptation by those nubile eyes."
"You know," Karkat muses over the screen of his crabtop, "I used to wonder why Dave's such a weirdo. And then I met you."
He's a little tense, you note, when he's saying that; his usual loudly caustic tone of voice is so restrained it comes out almost mild, and he's watching Bro from the corner of his eye.
Bro just nods. "The world was not ready for us."
Karkat's legs relax, his toes uncurl. "Spoiler: it's never going to be."
Wow, did Bro just smile. Okay, it was barely there at all, but it was totally a smile, not a smirk or a weird shadow or anything. "That's okay. Uniqueness is better. Gotta keep the market value up. You guys get skin cancer, by the way?"
Karkat blinks, thrown. "Uh?"
"Trolls. Skin cancer? From sun rays?"
"Uh. From the sun?" Karkat splutters, and then cringes a little. "Er... I don't know. Kanaya?"
"Sadly, I have no idea," Kanaya says, turning in her seat to look at everyone straight on. "Back home most trolls were more concerned with the possibility of live charbroiling. As a Jadeblood I've always been immune, but I don't know what would happen to any other color."
Romy arches an eyebrow. "Wait. Charbroiling?"
"Um -- yes? Alternia's sun was -- well, I believe it was more a matter of the planet's ozone layer, for most people it was a very bad idea to be out by day. The moons provided plenty of light though."
"Trolls are habitually nocturnal," Rose adds. "It doesn't seem to be an issue with human-required levels of sunlight, simply that theirs was too potent."
Romy makes a little displeased noise, eyebrows scrunching up. "Okay, that's officially a risk we are not taking. Line up for sunscreen!"
Karkat looks horrified. Argh. Why is everything drama with this guy... You guess you can help deflect though. Brownie points, here you come. (Hur hur hur.) "What about allergies?" you point out.
Mrs. Lalonde shrugs and goes to Karkat, makes him hold out his hand, wrist up, puts a dollop of product on it. "If in ten minutes there's no reaction then it should be safe. Ish. Kanaya, dear, your hand please."
You did what you could. You get Mrs. Lalonde to put a generous dollop on your fingers and finish greasing up your face and legs while they wait. Meanwhile Terezi and Jade appear, chattering about the control tower or what the fuck ever what, Roxy on their heels.
"Sunscreen!" Mrs. Lalonde proclaims, and lobs the bottle at Jade.
"Oh, no, I'm super tan, it's fine, thank you."
"Nuh huh, super tan people get skin cancer too. Maybe you need one a bit less powerful, but seriously, put it on anyway."
"Aw. Fine, fine." Jade goes to plug her laptop and computer-shoes with the rest. You try not to worry that the computers will sprawl out of the zone of shadows if it keeps up.
"Whatcha doin?" you ask Karkat, going to crouch by his side to peer at his screen. He glares a little and lifts a hand to cover the screen half-heartedly, but gives up hiding it in a second.
"Ever heard of privacy? And I'm messaging Sollux, what else am I supposed to do?"
"Dunno. Look for kitten videos?"
The look he levels on you is about 75% disbelief, 25% offense. "Yes, I am totally wasting my afternoon trying to decipher the zoophiliac attraction most of your species shows for pale porn starring meowbeast grubs. Don't tell me you never noticed our computers don't go on your human internet. The most we can do with them is use Trollian." He pats the keyboard, almost the way Jade pats Bec's side -- really rough-looking but somewhat affectionate too. "This is effectively a very heavy messenger featherbeast."
You blink. "... Seriously? Wow, shit. No, wait, you said something about needing to use John's computer for naughty stuff before, right."
He flinches, whispers in a hiss. "The point was that I didn't use John's computer! -- And not that I would have wanted to either way! And anyway we can still use whatever's still on our machines, we just don't -- there's no more troll internet to connect to. Is all."
Huh. "Fucking Game fuckery."
"Wow, that was eloquent, I am moved to tears by your word mastery."
You give a slow blink he can't see anyway and deadpan, "Fuck the fuck out of you. Fuckingly."
His lips twitch. It's totally because you were funny and not at all because he's thinking macking thoughts like perhaps how to make you stop spouting inanities with his mouth. Which honestly you would totally be in favor of.
You spend a little while looking at his conversation with Sollux, but it's nothing super interesting or private. Mostly they're trying to make each other jealous of the sweet crib they have at the moment. Unsurprisingly Sollux appears to be winning; eyecandy doesn't trump personal space and peace and quiet.
You totally waggle your eyebrows at Sollux's eyecandy crack. Karkat elbows you in the temple. (Somewhat gently, at least.)
"Ten minutes! Show me your hand, Karkat."
He holds it out cautiously. Lalonde pretends not to notice.
"No itches, tingles, redness, swelling, sudden pimples, dry and flaking skin?"
"Uh. No?" Karkat gives his hand a dubious look. "Shit, now I'm doubting it. No, it's fine."
"Awesome! Time to get you greased up."
You make a face. "Thanks for the mental picture, Mom."
Karkat hands you his crabtop as he works on extracting himself from his deck chair, and you end up having to sit on the deck cross-legged to allow the monstrosity to land flat on your lap and not slide at an unfortunate angle to the floor. Before you, Kanaya is looking very uncertain as Bro advances on her.
"Can I help," Rose says pointedly, staring him down as she pulls herself out of the Jacuzzi, dripping everywhere.
"Sure thing, honeybunch." He hands her another bottle of sunscreen. "You can do John's."
Wow, clash of the titans. Even Romy pauses to look at them.
"Why, are you indicating that you would prefer to anoint a nubile, unrelated guest?"
"Darling, I'm about as interested in her tits as a horse in a nice steak. Which can't be said of you."
Rose puts on a scandalized and reproving look, as if she thinks she has any chance at all to make Bro feel an ounce of shame, like, ever. "Father, are you insinuating I would attempt anything untoward? We're in public."
Kanaya has sunk into the pool until the water comes up to her mouth, shoulders hunched, and her face has a bit of the look of a mossy rock. You should probably be a good gossipchump and help... nah, this is way too hilarious.
Bro nods thoughtfully. "You're right, we're in public. Wouldn't want to make Pyrope double-blind."
"But what if my vision was miraculously cured instead? Would you truly forbid the attempt?"
Bro purses his lips at her. Terezi grins back, unrepentant. "... I'm an uncaring, ice-hearted monster, so yep. Get Jade to do you or I will. Roxy, you're on Kanaya. Rose, you get Karkat, have fun."
Karkat makes a face like he's not sure if he should relieved or not, but he does pull his t-shirt off over his head, so you make sure to be relieved for him.
It's pretty much the same thing that happened yesterday when they were trying to fit everyone into three dorms; it didn't matter that they'd be sleeping in single beds and sharing the room with a third girl, Rose was absolutely not allowed to share a room with Kanaya. Nope. We Love You, went the speech, And This Is Why We Cockblock. So the poor gal is exiled to Jane and Roxy's room, who she barely knows, and meanwhile Rose gets to have fun with Jade and Terezi. You're counting the hours before one of them switches and canoodling ensues.
Karkat and Gamzee were allowed to sleep in the same room because they don't frick, which makes no sense to any of the trolls, but the beds in that dorm are narrow enough that you bet they won't be able to share anyway. Which right now Karkat probably doesn't mind.
Meanwhile two levels down from adult supervision you've got a nice, private double to yourself.
You wonder how safe it'd be to encourage traffic in it.
Man, the crabtop is pretty nice for lap-obscuring purposes.
TA: come on kk, 2top 2ulkiing. you'd thiink you'd be u2ed two me owniing you by now.
TA: 2top beiing a liittle biitch already, and an2wer your damn me22age2.
TA: pagiing karkat vanta2, found: one 2en2e of humor and the driied out dreg2 of actual coolne22
TA: come the fuck on already you liittle 2hiit2ucker
CG: no can do hes getting groped by rose atm
CG: fuck yes you oil that bitch up lalonde fondle his dorsals harder
TA: ok whiich 2triider are you
CG: the maimed one
CG: sorry to fail you so close to the completion of a rather awesome clonecest fantasy btw but if i pose with my left side to you you wont be able to tell
TA: your tender attentiion to my need2 warm2 me riight up, wow. all ii ever wanted, a douchebag 2andwiich.
CG: come on at least were hot douchebags
TA: ii gue22 there'2 that.
TA: what wa2 that about kk, r2 and oiily grope2 btw? liike ii2 iit your thiing today, here, have a raunchy 2exual fanta2y about people you never wanted two iimagiine liike that ever?
CG: you vile lying liar as if you dont want to see rose pinning karkat down on the ground so he cant escape as she slathers cream on his naked back and massages it in
CG: making him all slippery and glistening
TA: .... iif ii diid ii maiintaiin iit would 2olely be for the hiilariiou2iity factor
CG: of course i mean why else
TA: of cour2e.
CG: its softcore city in this joint its seriously unreal halfnaked and slick bodies everywhere you turn
CG: its to the point im almost not minding that like half of them are related to me wowza
TA: ok you can 2top tryiing two wiin kk'2 argument for hiim now. not that you're not doiing a better job than he wa2 but iit'2 taking all the fun out of iit.
CG: haha okay
TA: ro2e piinniing kk down, you 2ay
CG: IT WAS ALL A VILE FUCKING LIE, AT NO POINT DID I TOUCH THE GROUND WITH ANYTHING BUT MY FEET.
TA: oh my gog 2he totally bent you over diidnt 2he
"Byrd?" Karkat asks fake-pleasantly, kneeling on his chair with the crabtop half dragged up and off yours. "The next fucking time you answer my conversations, try to remember that I have a whole ocean in arm's reach for ease of body disposal."
He glowers at you and finishes pulling up his heavy monstrosity, and frees a foot so he can shove you away with it. You shrug, lips pinched so you won't smile, and pull yourself up. You've overstayed your welcome, alas and woe, how will you survive!
Oh well. Jacuzzi time.
The water is super nice, cool like a dream. Maybe you'll nap in here.
Okay, you'll nap in there once Jade stops trying to drown John in it, but the intent is here.
Okay no it's not possible to safely close a single eye around the derp twins. You're pleasantly waterlogged, so you go get a towel and find a corner of deck to sprawl on.
Mm sunlight. Sunscreen or not you're going to burn so bad. Worth it.
-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] trolled truncatedGrip [TG] --
CG: HEY, BYRD.
TG: dude im like two meters away you dork
TG: so am i like forgiven now or is it official stop byrd from snoozing day
CG: I NEVER FORGIVE ANYONE ANYTHING, I THOUGHT YOU KNEW. MY GRUDGES BURN AS BRIGHTLY AND AS LONG AS ANY STAR.
CG: BUT OF FUCKING COURSE.
CG: I JUST WANTED TO ASK YOU IF
TG: spit it out dude im not telepathic yet i know im awesome in all other regards but life had to nerf me somewhat
CG: OKAY, I'LL JUST SAY IT.
CG: ON THE TOPIC OF YOUR BATHING APPARATUS BEING SORT OF SEE-THROUGH IN THE BACK. (WHICH I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LOOK AT, SEEING WHERE YOU PUT YOUR TOWEL, THAT WAS SUBTLE.) WAS THAT PLANNED OR...?
CG: I SEE IT WASN'T.
CG: NICE DIVING FOR COVER THERE.
TG: shut up that was totally smooth i just faked it like it wasnt because the swag quotient woulda scared you off otherwise
CG: JUST A VICTIM OF YOUR MORTAL PALLOR DECIMATING THE BLACK THREADS OF THIS STRUGGLING PIECE OF CLOTH WITH ITS SHEER LUMINESCENCE, THEN?
TG: no thats just my dong
TG: containing that beast does a number on just about any kind of fiber really the strain just redistributed equally to my perfect ass cheeks is all
CG: HUH, IT'S ALSO SEE-THROUGH IN THE FRONT.
CG: I THINK PERHAPS I SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING. UM.
CG: WELL, I *DID* SEE IT COMING. OCULARLY.
TG: for fucks sake karkat
TG: i will throw myself overboard see if i wont
CG: DON'T, YOU KNOW I'LL DROWN GOING AFTER YOU.
TG: that was almost sweet
CG: AND THEN GAMZEE WILL FISH YOU OUT, THE LONE SURVIVOR.
TG: yeah ok im staying on the boat
TG: dude eyes back on the pesterchum window
TG: you naughty objectifier of poor sweet innocent girls everywhere
CG: WHAT CAN I SAY. YOU DON'T DO HALF-BAD AS DECK DECORATION.
CG: OKAY, NO, THAT POSE MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE THE SURVIVOR OF A SPINE OPERATION GONE WRONG.
At dinner this evening you have to perch on the edge of your seat so your burning shoulders don't touch the back. That'd be kind of really fucking unpleasant. Also next time you're not going to forget to put sunscreen on the tips of your ears.
It's still the best day you've had in just about forever.