Crash Standing


Chapter 13: Still Day Sixteen

For a too-long moment you're struck completely dumb. You kneel there like a tool with a cat on your shoulder and a cat on your head as gunshots keep cracking on the deck above.

Running steps, several, heavy, and you can't really tell but you can tell anyway, they're not any of yours.

Steps on the stairs. You throw yourself back into the laundry room, your hand up to keep Gcat from falling. He slips anyway to become your new kitty hat, his paws on your shades knocking them askew and those are automatic guns outside so you captchalogue them, hat-cat and ear-warmer-cat both. (You tag them FELINE OVERLORDS for sylladex indexing purposes.) You just, nowhere fuckin' else to put them and ooooh fuck, where are you supposed to hide in here, the light's still on. You slap it off but the corridor still has little lights on so you can't come out, and then you hear them, one person, two.

They stand at the bottom of the stairs for a minute or maybe a century (it's unnervingly unclear to you at the moment) and then you hear one of them move away. In the direction of, shit, the engine room. They probably want to shut down the ship to make it easier to capture.

You perch on a dryer, silent as possible. Someone walks down the corridor, pauses at the door, swings a flashlight perfunctorily across the laundry room as you attempt to become one with the corridor wall, then leans back and turns to keep going. Okay, so, plan -- let them do their thing, and report to their buddies that they have it under control, and then take them out one by one and unfuck whatever they fu--

A crackle of green lightning blinds the hell out of you, and then a cat yowl deafens you, and the contents of your sylladex burst forth all over the fucking place. A bottle of apple juice ricochets off the doorjamb to bean the pirate in the temple.

Jesus motorboating dick nipples.

The cats are way out of the bag. Also, yowling. Also your shit is everywhere on the floor. You recaptchalogue Mutie (FOUR-EYED FREAKACUTIE) (Gcat can fucking fend for himself, the asshole) and jump off the machine in the detritus of your life. Your foot slips on a Game Bro you kept for ironically sentimental reasons and you end up doing the splits ow motherfucking ow. The pirate's gun waves toward where your head was a second ago like it's confused.

Your katana is out in the corridor.

Your katana, the one that used to be you. You haven't used it since. You can't.

You're not carrying anything else.

The pirate reaches down for it and you dive like an eagle and snatch it up. You do a roll, which is a bad plan because the corridor wall is too close but not as bad as doing a belly flop and offering your back. You come to a stop on your shoulders and the upper half of your back with your ass and feet propped up on the wall and that means during the half-second he's blinking and wondering what the fuck you can shove off the wall, rear up on your shoulders, and kick up under his jaw.

If you could breathe this would be the perfect time to go Shoryuuken. (no wait, it's Chun Li who kicks -- never mind.)

You roll back onto your feet with your shitty katana in hand -- fits so well -- and he might be shaking his head like his brain got rattled but he brings the gun to point at you, so you swing.

The blade gets lodged a little way into the side of the barrel and you shove up, twist to get the gun out of his hand. You expect your katana to break any second now. It's a law of shitty swords and Davehood.

The second dude is charging at the two of you. You let the first dude's bigger weight shove you back, and then you twirl and let him keep running himself into the laundry room, tripping on your shit as he goes.

The other dude is almost on you, and man, he's huge.

You captchalogue a washing machine, decaptchalogue it immediately. It hits him in the chest with a noise you don't want to think about and he's down with barely a grunt, the machine perched at an angle on top of him. You don't have time to check if the edge is crushing his trachea or what because the other guy is shooting at you jesusfuck get out of the doorway.

Someone's yelling down the staircase. Someone not yours. Reinforcements are imminent.

This is a very real gun, which can kill you very real dead. There's no more extra lives, no more going back in time and making it unhappen.

This is a very real pirate threatening your very real family.

What would Bro do what would Bro do --

The pirate bursts out into the corridor and shit you dodged to the side away from the staircase and the engine room, there's nothing but locked doors at the end of this corridor, there's nothing here but narrow walls and the two of you.

He's going to shoot either way. You flashstep toward him, ricochet off the wall. There's no space.

Just enough for your knee to find his temple and for your elbow to hit the top of the door when the two of you fall right back into the laundry room.

Things go crunch. You barely feel the impact. You landed on him.

You landed on Gcat's tail.

With a hiss like Satan's forges the space warps around you and your dazed enemy.

Holy shit, saltwater up your nose. A slap of cold. Under you the pirate dude starts flailing to resurface. You kick off his belly because you need to be dragged under by an asshole who thinks he's drowning like you need... well you don't need it.

You ditch your tennis shoes (can't captchalogue them in the water, damn it, they were brand new) and kick your feet to float farther away. You're ... yeah, there's the yacht, Gcat just popped the two of you forty or fifty feet to the left, looks like. Two or maybe three long, low-to-the-water boats are tied to the back of the yacht; another, bigger one is waiting out of Kalashnikov range, another circling around the prow with some dudes riding on the front like they think they're gonna jump up like highwaymen on a carriage. They're waving guns around. They also have their backs to you, so they're not seeing their guy or you. Cool.

Your shades are pinging you. Yep, totally the right time.

-- gunningGorgon [GG] invited you to memo ahhyo me hertiez MOTEHRFUKKIN PIRATES PARTTITY --

-- gailyTerminating [GT] started pestering truncatedGrip [TG] --

GT: Where the fuck are you.

-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] started pestering truncatedGrip [TG] --


-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] invited you to memo ahhyo me hertiez MOTEHRFUKKIN PIRATES PARTTITY --


-- ectoBiologist [EB] started pestering truncatedGrip [TG] --

EB: dude, you'll be all left out of the plan if you don't join in right now!!
EB: haha come on already
EB: asl?
EB: especially l. your bro's being fretty about that.
EB: buddy?

It's hard to read while keeping an eye on the pirate. He's sort of swimming, but it's not efficient. He's staring at you with wide freaked out eyes -- you'd think it's his first time teleporting! -- so you wave in friendly neighborliness. The katana's still in your hand. You don't know if he still has his gun. If he does, you hope he's one of those idiots who buy into the myth of "oh no it's wet it can't fire anymore now."

He does still have his gun. He yells something at you and starts swimming in your direction, the gun held out of the water and vaguely at you. Like, what? Does he still want to take you hostage?

You dive under him and poke him a couple inches deep in the thigh. It's neat how much faster swimming works when you remember the aerodynamics of your body in flight. There's almost zero water resistance to the blade when you keep it properly straight.

Whoops, that was a gunshot. Doesn't hurt; he must have missed you. You slip the blade up between his thighs until the back of it is pressed against his balls (eurgh eurgh unclean, forever unclean) and resurface, hair glued to your shades and still expressionless.

(You don't feel expressionless, but the cool water did fix some of your excess adrenaline issue.)

"The gun. Throw it."

He's frozen.

"I will cut you open from asshole to mouth, buddy." (Wrong, his pelvic bone would stop you. His balls, perhaps not so much. You turn the blade so the back rasps against his shorts.) "Gun. Water. Now."

He lets go. Glub glub, have fun little fishies, don't shoot anyone now.

You get out of his grabbing range using his guts to kick off of, again. His leg's bleeding, he won't chase you. You swim away on your back, batting your feet slow and steady, watching him.

-- gutsyGumshoe [GG] started pestering truncatedGrip [TG] --

Goddamn you are loved. You're just a little busy to chat now, but you guess a "yo still alive" wouldn't be amiss.

GG: I see you.
GG: Can you be at the starboard prow in five minutes? We will get you.
TG: yeah that is a thing i can do
TG: provided no one shoots me
GG: Don't worry about that.

You swim on your back, with your legs only. It's harder to correct your trajectory when you can hardly see where you're going, but you go faster that way, strain your back and neck muscles less, don't get as breathless.

Also you can concentrate on how much you are totally not freaking out about going from laundry and sulking to shanking pirates in the open ocean. You feel gypped that none of them are in costume.

TG: roger
TG: casualties?
GG: One of Dirk's computers. He is not pleased. :B
TG: k
TG: stand by now
TG: swimmin in progress
GG: I'll inform your family you've exhibited signs of life and contact you when we're ready to extract you.

You don't bother answering, just keep swimming. You aim for the hull, and then you follow it -- gives you some cover. It's hard because while the ship has slowed down a lot, it hasn't stopped yet, and it'd be way easier to just float and wait for the ass end to come in reach, only that's where the pirates have boarded.

When you glance back, the pirate is making his awkward way to the waiting pirate mother ship. He'll be a while longer, it's pretty far.

GT: Jane tells me you're alive. Cool. Now I only need a location.
GT: I've been looking in cupboards and dryer machines for the last five minutes and only found a pancaked asshole under a poor beleaguered appliance.
GT: I swear to God if you're hiding under a bed and giggling to yourself you will never sleep after six AM ever again.

... Wow, uh. Worried.

TG: nah im swimming after the yacht
GT: ... How did you get *out* of the yacht.
TG: it was
TG: iit waaaas
TG: shenanigans
GT: That's code for I'm embarrassed to death. Spill.
TG: sry bein paged in another window
TG: brb with more exciting adventures!
TG: (ps calm yo tits mother hen we got enough species in the strider aviary already)

Hopefully it was "dismissive asshole" enough to reassure him. Would he fret if you told him you were fine and could totally handle your own rescue in so many words? Perhaps. That's unsettling. You managed the game, after all.

Well, sort of.

For chest-stabbity values of managed.

You're almost (another minute or two!) where you should be when someone on the yacht whistles at you, sharp and low. "Byrd!"

A motor roars and one of the pirates' low assault boats circles back around the nose of the yacht. Fuck. You swim harder. You think you see a flash of Jane's hand over the railing, signaling you, but you won't -- aw, fuck, they saw you.

You keep your sword under the water, and you stop swimming so intently, staring at them, bobbing on the waves from their boat as they do an U-turn and come back at you. Assholes are grinning.

A couple of them lean over the railing in your direction like they're trying to grab you in passing as the boat roars past, splashing you in the face. Okay, apparently the name of the game is try to get Byrd waterlogged enough to be docile and stupid enough to get away from the hull. One of them with a red hat gets out some kind of megaphone and goes, "We have a hostage! Put down your weapons!"

Fuckers don't even have you yet! That is seriously insulting.

In the water, one against six or seven, though -- yeah.

GG: On my mark, dive, and *stay under.*

You blink furiously up, startled and half-blind with water, but you can't see her over the railing.

You can see some of the upper deck. Mom Lalonde is walking out onto it.

On the farthest loop of their figure-eight path from you, she decaptchalogues a motherfucking bazooka.


You're already diving holy little Jesus. All Lalonde women are terrifying. You put one meter of water between you and the surface, fight your buoyancy to try to put in more; you still hear the WHOMP, still feel the way the water shivers around you. You eel with all the slinky grace of your missing sprite tail toward the yacht, eyes squinched almost closed in the salty water, as long as you can stand before you need to resurface and breathe.

"-- but what if you be all to hauling, and I be teaching at those--"

"Gamzee," you hear Jane saying, no-nonsense and muffled, "swing the rope and pull him up."

You grab the rope. (Surprise it's another noose. Does Terezi make nests out of the things or what. Haha.) You prop a foot in the noose, wind your arm tight around the rope, and grit your teeth when you're pulled up so fast you almost end up crouching and do end up with rope burn on your biceps. You then get to bounce off the hull with your shoulders, back, knees, elbow, and basically any part that sticks out even a little bit. You're twirling too. Ugh, dizzy. At least you get to observe a lot of assholes swimming for it. The pirates' assault boat is in three pieces.

You're up several meters in a crazy short time. Your arm gets stuck between the rope and the edge of the railing, but Gamzee -- braced with a foot on the railing -- stretches out his long-ass freak arm and picks you up by the collar of your tanktop. You suddenly feel an uncomfortable sympathy for all cats everywhere, holy hell, is he trying to strangle you?

He dumps you on the deck just beside some KO'd dude in a wifebeater. The round end of Jane's war fork is kinda bloody; as you watch she swings it in a wide arc to keep three pirates at bay, herding one of them right into John's hammer. Wow, if that one wasn't a skull fracture, shit -- you struggle back to your feet, ready your katana.

"Now can I go, sister?" Gamzee -- buzzes, holy shit creepy.

"No -- you -- can't!"

He slips under her swing like a boneless reed under a gust of wind to plant his foot in some dude's face and send him hurling back into a nearby wall. Jane swings her war fork up under the last one's jaw's. Teeth break.

You can catch glimpses of a lot more pirates starting to converge on you through the glass to the reception room. Fuck, fuck, fuck. None of them are shooting, though they are waving around guns -- of course not, Jane's their meal ticket for the next twenty years and probably John would make for a nice spare.

The yacht is too wide open, no defensible position anywhere on the main deck. Jane signals the two of you to a corner where you won't be exposed from being right in front of open doors or standing in the gallery; you flashstep there without thought. A rope ladder almost lands on your head and when you look up it's Karkat and Terezi, yanking on knots to secure it.

"Gamzee I swear to fuck if you go and massacre them I will tell Dad," Karkat hisses in a whisper. "Byrd? Can you climb?"

You uh. Purse your lips a bit. Considering how well you did with metal rungs back when Jade brought them to the apartment. Yeah.

"Don't think I'd EYAGH!"

Oh, there's a barricade of lawn chairs on this side's gallery. When a pirate tries to climb on it he gets a porcelain vase dropped on his skull from above. There's a rattle of Kalashnikov, you don't know who from or at. You get to see all this from the enviable position of a sack of potatoes elegantly draped across Gamzee's bony shoulders.

You end up sprawled and drippy on the floor between Karkat's and Terezi's knobbly knees as they crouch behind the railing. Gamzee's head is tilted forward like a charging bull to keep his horns from showing over the railing and he moves like a spider, body low to the ground and his limbs at vaguely creepy angles.

John drops onto the deck with a little surprised oof, like he still finds it weird that he can't soften his landings. Karkat grabs you under the armpits and hauls you a few feet away from the railing, so John can move. You help by kicking blindly at the wooden floor with your wet bare feet; he trips and sits a bit hard, you land with his knee in your spine, between your shoulder blades.

You kind of want to grin up at him and giggle. Holy shit you're alive.

Roxy and Jade are in sniper positions one floor up, on both sides of the ... sort of tower thingie that contains the pilot's room, rifles in hand. Rose's mom is perched in an open window in the pilot's room, and she waves down at you. She's in a two-piece swimsuit with polka dots and her bazooka is still propped up on her shoulder. You blink up at them, and then at Karkat, and then at Rose because she went and inserted her face between yours and Karkat's.

"Status update if you please!" she whispers with ferocious cheer. You'd almost think she was -- oh god no -- having fun. That or about to make you pay for not mentioning your wounds.

"Wet and bruised," you report dutifully after a second of thought to assess yourself. You're not actually sure, you're not even feeling the bruises much just yet. It'll come later, you're sure. "Also I shanked a dude in the sea, but last I saw he hadn't attracted any sharks, so."

You're still holding your katana. You captchalogue it quickly, almost sheepish. This deck's got to be safe and... well, it's a pretty shitty katana.

That was once literally part of you.

Yeah, you're putting it away. It's weird enough you haven't broken it yet, you are not tempting fate any longer than you have to.

You don't see any of your brothers. Your heart totally doesn't jump in your throat. You figured they'd be here first thing and you're not sure why, Striders don't need coddled. "Where is everyone?"

"Bro and Dirk are in the engine room," she says first, like she knows, "keeping it working; there was some damage. They've barricaded the staircase. Dave is keeping watch on the back with Kanaya. Mr. Crocker is at the till, Mr. Egbert is holding out in the kitchen downstairs, and since you are now safe it's time to go and extract him."

"Finally!" John goes. He crabwalks closer and claps Gamzee on the shoulder. "Whatcha think, bro?"

Gamzee's eyes have gone heavy-lidded, almost thoughtful, and then he starts to smile. You feel Karkat stiffen under you.


Augh, is this going to devolve into diamond drama again. Shit, you hope not, you're in the middle here. You sit up, but you're sitting between his legs and it'd be way obvious if you skittered off now.

Gamzee is staring back at Karkat, bland and silent. You don't get him, yesterday you were sure he'd give his left nut for Karkat to talk to him and now it's borderline 'who are you, bitch.'

"Jane Crocker!" someone yells from downstairs. "We have your father!"

You can see the mood on your deck change from giddily excited to oooh you di'nt. Jane's eyes go flinty; Jade reloads her rifle. Mom Lalonde up there is smiling, mouth closed.

John is scowling, but compared to Gamzee's face it looks almost childish.

"Gamzee," Karkat says again, with an odd trollish note thrumming there almost too quiet to hear. "Dad wouldn't want you killing people."

"Uh, yeah, that is a thing I can confirm?" John says, looking a bit weirded out, but he stays where he is, his arm slung across Gamzee's shoulders. Gamzee's eyes are orange and not lazy-bored enough, and something tickles down your spine in a way that reminds you of spiders and killer centipedes.

Karkat's eyes harden. "But he said no damn thing about their fucking kneecaps."

John slaps a hand on his mouth to smother his first burst of shocked laughter; Gamzee doesn't bother, and Jesus but he's loud.

Your eyebrows arch. "They do still have to be able to drag themselves off the boat," you point out reasonably.

Jesus, are you really sitting around discussing the pros and cons kneecapping pirates. What is your life.

No, really it isn't even on the top ten list of weird shit that's happened in it. Okay, move along.

Gamzee's sudden grin is unsettlingly wide. "Said no damn thing 'bout their arm hinges either, did he?"

"Can't recall anything to that effect," Karkat says, and then you figure out that he's honestly pissed off, that he does have an anger mode that doesn't fall into histrionics or blowing off steam, that this hard restraint is bad news.

Here you thought he was squeamish, but apparently when he's really pissed off maiming becomes an option. This is actually kind of hot.

TT: To your positions, gents.
GC: N3V3R D1D! >:]

You watch them all ghost into place. For lack of anything better to do you follow Dave and Terezi to the stern end. (You cross paths with Kanaya, who's standing guard by the blocked staircase, lipstick tube in hand; she nods at you.)

"He's my uncle!" Jane growls over the railing. You think the pirate yells something back, you're not listening, who the fuck cares, it's just wasting another minute before things can happen.

TC: no need to be telling at me twice, chica
GC: 3V3RYON3 BR4C3 FOR 1T!!!

You don't know what the hell you're bracing for, is the problem, that'll learn you to miss big swathes of chatlog.

It's a feeling at first that maybe there are clouds passing over the sun, that maybe it's dusk, maybe you're falling. Maybe -- maybe you want to throw up and maybe there's something just behind you, breathing on the back of your neck, maybe the corners are darker and there's something in them.

Terezi curls her hand around your wrist, squeezes. You try to still your shakes.



On her other side there's Dave, and you twitch a little seeing him in the same crouch you're in, same knee down, sword held before him at the same angle. (When did you get your sword out? You don't remember.) Terezi is holding his other hand, you think.

Karkat can't hold your other hand because you're fresh out on that side, but he bumps his shoulder into yours, rough and awkward. His eyes are angry slits as he stares through the cracks at the pirates milling on the sparring deck.

Your shirt is full of spiders; it's not sweat making its way down your spine, you're sure it's blood, you're going to touch it and it'll be blood, thick and tacky and, and you breathe in through your mouth even though there's no smell; it helps a little somehow. There's something tracking you down, there's something, fuck, no there isn't, they'd have to have passed Kanaya and that broad is, she's not, she can't have --

And then Jade goes "Bec! Go fetch!" and then hello pandemonium.

A crackle of power -- on the lower deck people yell in shock, muffled -- they're inside -- and then another crackle and Bec is back, his teeth planted in some asshole's leg as said asshole and a second pirate hold Mr. Egbert's arms behind his back.

You move with Dave, mirror images, flashstep in with sword edge first.

Your target's hunting rifle shears in two with a noise oddly like cut silk. You land, smack your shoulder into the wall (this deck is too narrow!), turn. Half of the magazine is on the floor along with the barrel. Can't shoot anymore. Cool. (You want to throw up. It's Gamzee, you tell yourself it's Gamzee.) Dave's target is holding the kind of handgun that looks like a pocket cannon, even though it's now just as fucked as the rifle, but thick as it was, it sharded on impact; Bec yips, teleports away. Fuck, you think you saw red on his coat.

The first half of Dave's sword lands on the floor with a discordant chime.

"Whoops." Dave glares at his sword, and then shrugs and resettles his stance. You shrug with him (your heart is in your mouth, what the fuck is it doing there, this is nowhere near that bad yet.) Ain't like you both don't know how to handle half of a blade in battle. It's a quirk of being a Dave.

Your black headband-wearing pirate is still way close and even though he's holding onto Egbert's arm something fierce he still flips around and swings his rifle butt straight at your face.

You parry with a sweeping pommel-strike to the trigger guard; he yells when his finger goes crunch. You're kind of boxed in here, between Dave on one side and Egbert in front and him kind of blocking your right and he's furious enough he's gonna try to hit you with the rifle again --

Snarling, Karkat lands on him feet first and then snick, sickles around the neck, and when the man stumbles back he headbutts him hard in the face. (It's not a good day for Black Headband Pirate's cartilaginous parts.) You scuttle out of your corner in a hurry, eyes a little wide, heart hammering. Karkat is still hanging off the dude's neck, feet in his guts; there's blood, you think human (but you wouldn't know with Karkat, would you, you wouldn't know until he falls.)

Karkat's sickles are scissoring their way deeper in the man's thick nape flesh with each moment of struggle. He's gonna nick an artery if the asshole keeps fighting -- no, he's jumping off, he's being charged at -- you flashstep in, katana held point first, and you miss because the dude was not where you were aiming for on account of the spectacular haymaker Egbert the Elder just unleashed on him.


You think you stepped a bit on his junk when you braked. That was not steady footing. You end up between Black Headband Pirate and Purple Wifebeater Pirate once again. Purple has a machete as long as your arm and Dave's blade is hardly that long and you -- you're at the enemy's back and you don't know where to strike that wouldn't either kill him or make him angrier. (You can't think, what's wrong with you.)

Terezi doesn't have that problem; she winds around his guard, slashes up his arm, and then she's in his face and it's not so much a smile on her lips as it's a rictus.

The scream is pretty indicative of the exact second Purple realizes her teeth are the real deal, and they're aiming for his face.

He stumbles backward -- straight into you and your raised swordpoint, and you let your sword angle with his weight rather than allow it to pierce any deeper. He's heavy; you both fall, the sword jarred almost out of your hand by his weight, and then you can't breathe; the guard digs into your ribs. You kick on instinct and try to pull free but he's squirming and crawling away from Terezi and right on top of you and there's a live fucking blade in the melee --

Egbert grabs him by the collar and socks him one in the jaw.

Bam, down for the count.

Headband is trying to crawl off, choking and wheezing pitifully. Karkat stalks him with his bloody sickles held out, knees oh so slightly bent, ready to pounce.

Another wave of sick terror-rage rattles up your spine, Dave's spine, and Headband yells and scrambles right over the guardrail and probably onto his buddies below.

Dave grabs you by the elbow and hauls you to your feet as Egbert lifts the pirate pinning you off the ground and marches his dazed ass to the guardrail. You let out an entirely sincere whoop when he grimly pitches him overboard on top of a knot of his friends.

They're milling about, leaving the shadowed inside of the ship, the dining room, the pretty corridors. You count -- huh, eight, nine who boarded? And probably another half-dozen on the boat still circling and freaking out with their rifles and rocket launchers, the one boat Lalonde Senior didn't -- boomf.

Okay no never mind, a half-dozen in the drink. Lalonde Senior doesn't approve of any potential rockets she can't launch herself, it seems.

Another two pirates stumble out of the dining room. One of them is limping fast as he can and the other one's arms are hanging weird, like they're not really in their sockets anymore.

You catch a glimpse of Gamzee wandering his wobbly way down the guardrail on the lower level, a club in each hand for balance, hear the purring rev of a chainsaw.

Still hidden from them, Terezi lets out this grating cackle that makes you realize how inhuman the undertones of her voice truly are. Karkat doesn't participate in the scare-off, but at this point it might be overkill. (Also he's too small and blunted to be the scariest.)

Kanaya steps onto the deck, elegant as ever with her chainsaw in hand. Another nausea-inducing pulse of chucklevoodoos and they break, a mad rush for the boats tied to the back.

(Huh! Either Jade or Roxy has shot one of the boats' mooring ropes off, so there's only two of them left. It'll be fun piling themselves up on that.)

"Hey, motherfucker." Gamzee has one of them by the arm. Oh, shit. Karkat goes tense as a strung bow beside you, his claws screeching against the metal of the railing. "Pick up your homie, yeah?" Gamzee says instead, almost calm, as the man frenetically pulls to free himself from his grip and doesn't manage. "We ain't gonna be littering all up on boats as don't belong to us, are we? Pick up that filthy infidel before I smash his skull in your nug and chuck both your meat costumes into the bath."

The pirate grabs his unconscious buddy's arm and then Gamzee lets go and he lands on his ass, though that doesn't slow his escape down much. They topple into the last boat left and all of you start to whistle. Jane steps out onto the deck between Gamzee and Kanaya and yells, "And stay dang gone!"

You race back inside and pour down the staircase after Dave and Terezi, race right back out onto the back deck. You're giggling like a motherfucker.

"Oh my god, why are we so fucking epic," you and Dave chorus accidentally. You're in too good a mood to get bothered so you hip-check him off course and wrap your arm around Maryam's fine waist. You swing her around in the riskiest dance move ever with your sword and her chainsaw still out, and she stares at you in shock and then laughs a little, almost despite herself. You grin up at her.

"Let me spell badass, M-A-R-Y--"

Her face is green. She's still smiling, though. "And what do you call your underwater attack, then? That was pretty, ah--"

"Ninja? Yeah, it was totally ninja, glad you noticed. It's ridiculous how badass we all are, I mean, wow, they couldn't have chosen a worse ship to attack if they'd tried."

Terezi and Jane pass you, Terezi having dragged Jane into a mad waltz across the deck. Dave is offering Gamzee a leery fistbump. You and Kanaya exchange a look and then you both laugh.

"Shall we dance?" she offers, and bows over your hand. You blink down at your katana. "--Ah, Byrd?"

"--Wow, sorry, I was just. It didn't break." You don't think you could explain if you tried. You captchalogue it and curtsey. "I'd be honored."

You waltz like doofuses who've only seen it done on TV until Jade charges in for a group hug, and then there's John stealing you for a whirl and then it's a mess of people backslapping and cursing and laughing. Mom Lalonde kisses you on the cheek and Roxy smacks your butt.

When the crowd pushes you chest-first into Karkat next you totally take it as an excuse to sneak a grope to his ass and kiss his scandalized face, as loud and ridiculous as you can make it.

Gamzee stares down at you from where he's serving Karkat as a backrest, his arms crossed loose and possessive over Karkat's chest, and he smiles the scariest smile ever down at you.

"Oh my fuck, Byrd, what the hell?!" Karkat's burst of spluttering unfreezes you soon enough, and after that you just have to go and laugh at Dirk and Bro, who are finally climbing out of the engine room and who totally missed the whole showdown like a pair of drama-impaired tools.


"Police locked onto their emergency beacon!" Mom Lalonde announces from the door. "Also, I've got snacks."

Stuck in the middle of a cuddlepile of epic proportions, you doubt any snacks will reach you in time. Oh no, your rightful share of doritos.

"Well I guess it's... good? That they won't have to resort to eating each other before they wash ashore," Terezi muses.

You don't care super much about the unconscious pirates Bro and Dirk hauled out of the lower levels and dumped into the unmoored boarding boat, but you grimace anyway.

"You don't have to sound disappointed, Terezi, I swear," you groan, and then you blink because Dave was laughing.

Well, not out-loud laughing, but. Huh.

Jane follows Romy in with a plate covered in tiny cakes. The couches are enormous and the luxurious carpets pretty damn sizeable themselves and yet the room is crammed with assholes, barely any space to put feet and certainly none to do it without wobbling at least three or four times. You're not surprised when Bro pulls Jane onto his lap and steals the plate from her, hands it off to Roxy. "There. Pass it along."

Dirk is busy fiddling with his laptop and the giant TV screen that takes up half of the wall, but he still finds the time to glare suspiciously at Bro. C'mon, they're just as homogay as each other, what does he think Bro will do to his BFF, for serious. (She's pretty cute when she's blushing. Heh. You guess brunettes are just your type. Though if you catch yourself thinking Jake is cute when you get to the island... yeah okay let's not do that, self. You're not going to crush on every single Prospit idiot you know.)

(Karkat's Prospit too, isn't he? Hm.)

(No wait, so is Gamzee. Theory discarded with great prejudice.)

AA: so what are we watching tonight?
GT: A true masterpiece of the human big screen!!!
GT: Or so dirk tells me i never did get much in the way of sense out of this series myself but im not too inclined to thirty layers of subtleties.
TT: I seem to recall you found it entertaining nonetheless.
GT: Oh of course old chum! There was a preposterous amount of entertainment.
TA: ju2t mo2t of iit flyiing over your head, ii take iit.
TA: all 2ynced up over here, ready when you guy2 are.
GA: And Here I Had My Heart Set On Seducing Dave Tonight
TT: And here I had my heart set on seducing Terezi tonight.
GA: That Was A Joke And Not A Great One Either My Bad
GA: ...
AA: no kanaya it was a good joke!! 0u0
AA: well an 0kay joke i guess
GA: Rose
TT: ...
TT: Heheh.
GC: > :] W1F3 SW4P!!
TG: i know none of you
TG: what are you assholes doing on my chumproll oh no messenger intrusion ill call the web police
TG: oh believe you me bro im p sure itll do absolutely jack shit to detract from said experience

... Yep, you were right, it really doesn't.

It takes you until the middle of the first movie before you remember Mutie.

You lean in over Kanaya's lap. "Oh, Rose. Psst. Rose. Hey."

She can't seem to tear her eyes away from the gloriousness of the nancho party in full swing, but she tilts her head your way, a little. "Hmm?"

"Look what I found in the laundry." You decaptchalogue Mutie and drop him on her head. "I told you guys to check your pockets, goddamn, what if I didn't check people's pockets, huh, this would now be ruining a washing machine."

No reaction. She's staring at the cat in her arms, mostly expressionless, only a little puzzled like she's wondering which end to psychoanalyze him from. Um. You thought you'd be getting more of a reaction than thholy fuck.

Rose has just snapped out of her seat to hook you by the neck and crush you in sisterly cleavage.

(It also means you're crushed in squirming cat. Phhbt.)

"Oh my god. Dave, Dirk, I'm sorry, Byrd is now my favorite brother. Fuck the lot of you."

Roxy and Mom are also squeeing. You hear shuffling. Are they charging in for a group hug, oh god, this was a tactical mistake, this was a hideous tactical mistake. "No hey guys I can't handle all this pussy guys stop I know I'm irresistible but--"

The only good thing that happens is that a half-second after Roxy lands halfway across your back the cat ejects himself from the hug with all the grace and velocity of a feral banana, and it's not your face but Rose's boobs he climbs clawingly on his way to escape.

From the swearing, it's a pretty fair bet he's landed straight in Karkat's soda.