Crash Standing


Chapter 2: Day Nine

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

EB: hey, pigeon face. :D
TG: hey miss beaver
EB: how's the life of cleaning lady treating you, buddy?
TG: fuck you very much my feather duster is the best in three states i will fight you
TG: whoa there stallion
TG: are you trying to take my rp virginity can we keep to one scenario
TG: like am i carmencita the cleaning lady your wife hired or am i one of those french can can dancers or what
EB: you're a maid that i'm paying a little extra to clean in costume. hubba hubba.
TG: okay i can work with that
TG: who wouldnt want to polish the family jewels while in a thong and ostrich feathers for a little over minimum wages honestly
EB: i wonder!
EB: anyway dad just called from the road and i was supposed to tell you guys they'll be there in under one hour barring accidents or traffic clusterfucks and whatnot.
EB: better hope you're ready for inspection!
TG: i am always ready for inspection senor she says while bending over like she bought her spine on clearance at ikea
TG: was that a cracking noise you might wonder no just threw my back a little but that way im already bent over for you senor
EB: that's hot. :X
EB: /he says while presenting her with the *eyebrow waggle* family heirloom sword.
TG: dude you suck at rping carmencitas head is like down to her knees its totes unrealistic that guys dong would be that long
TG: unless youre playing a strider i guess
TG: i have all the canon details at hand to smooth the way of your epic literary rp john you only have to ask
EB: ... are we going to gay chicken ourselves into cybering a full scene again.
EB: i wouldn't care but i'm kind of sitting right beside my dad's even more coddling clone.
TG: baaawk bawk bawk bawk
EB: haha, shut up, we're picking up where we left off the second i get away from the family.
EB: nothing will keep us apart, carmencita. *duck lips*
TG: ooh ooh senor strider you are so masterful and manly as shit i will wait forever for a chance to tap dat
TG: senor ???
TG: would it kill you to put up an away message i stg john
EB: will you calm down, you're so needy. other dave needs loving too!
TG: oh
TG: okay
TG: here i thought we had something special senor strider you me and the feather duster my heart is broken in so many pieces
TG: all of the pieces
TG: so is my cooch the duster was one thing but your dong was just too much
EB: hehe it isn't called the devastator for nothing!
TG: for the last time john its the stridernator
EB: you can't tell me what to call my rp junk! you're not my real sugar daddy!
EB: bluh. i am still so bummed i won't get to visit the casa de strider! it's so unfair that jade gets to.
TG: why cant you again
EB: because you're already going to be hosting karkat and gamzee for the next however long it takes to get rose and everyone, and then you'll be hosting rose, roxy, kanaya, and possibly rose's mom, and meanwhile there's some stuff that needs doing and guess who won that particular lottery!
EB: woo last minute shopping, i just love it. :/
TG: that was a rhetorical question dude have you heard of those
TG: that was another one just in case
TG: theres already a pile of shit were gonna throw away when we leave all ready in my bedroom for refined troll slumber tastes
TG: or so dave tells me they seriously manage to sleep on that shit??
TG: ps not a rhetorical question
EB: haha yeah, dad gave gamzee and karkat pillows and quilts for their pile back home and they were politely taking them all and then slipping encyclopedias and shit underneath because it was too soft. they can sleep on some pretty crazy stuff.
EB: like saucepans and forks. :/ gamzee will sleep seriously *anywhere*. get karkat to move him when he flops on inconvenient things though, don't do it yourself.
TG: duly noted professor
TG: use little shouty one as a meat shield when approaching murderhappy one
TG: there i wrote it on my hand
EB: nothing can go wrong now!
EB: anyway the plane's done boarding, i've got to log out.
EB: see you in a week!

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

TG: damn it i had a good parting zinger to impart how dare you leave first

You sigh, look over the rim of your iShades. Dave's at the laptop, tapping away. He sighs and leans back and your eyes meet.

"Dumped you too, huh," he says with ironic sympathy.

"What a cad," you shoot back. "Juggling with both our affections."

It's funny because it's true.

Not that John means to do it, but you know you're both a bit jealous of each other. Dave of you because you have three years of in-jokes with the guy, and you of Dave because even so John never truly considered you to be the real Dave.

Then again you're not, you're just a spare.

"I'm going to tell Bro," you both say at the same time as you both get up from your beds (yours is brand new, Ikea frame, shoved where the turntables used to be.) Only you get unbalanced and when you grab for the wall to push up, haha, joke's on you.

Makes you angry enough, and makes you angrier when he stops and stares in pitying embarrassment, that you just jump right back up and storm out past him.

"Bro! ETA one hour. I'm going to the roof."

You go to the roof.

For once there's wind, it stinks of car fumes and pollution and general mugginess; it's your city, it's good. You look up at the air conditioning units, the radio tower. You are seized with a visceral need to be up there, high as you can and almost nothing underneath you. Your back muscles spasm, pull on scars that feel older than nine days.

Nine days ago you could fly and today you can't even climb a fucking ladder, this is fucking pitiful.

... No, you know what, fuck that noise, you're climbing up anyway.

Grab handhold. Set foot one. Set foot two. Let go of handhold. Ripple your whole body up and forward to win another second from gravity. Snatch next handhold.

Move foot one. Move foot two. Let go.

It takes you four times as long as it should. Your shoulder aches. You can't wipe the sweat on your palm off, which is as aggravating and as dangerous as it sounds.

You almost slip off three times. Your timing gets better. Your body is a machine, trained to perfection, you can do this.

Shit -- that was close.

Almost there.

You wriggle your way onto the metal frame where the seppucrow's nest used to be. There's an odd echo, like a brush of faded memory, that makes you want to hunker down on, urgh, okay, your crow was female, you're lucky that outside of mating they're not really very gendered.

It felt right to nest up here.

You put your ass on a metal bar and your feet on another and look down at the gaping hole in between. No vertigo. You shift around a little, tuck yourself in comfortably as possible, and you look ahead and breathe.

Your ass gets numb in a matter of minutes, but you're having too much fun sulking to give in. Besides it's going to be packed for several days, and then you'll all be going on a trip -- apparently there's a ship? Apparently Jane and her dad are loaded like they'd sink the Titanic if the dough wasn't left at the bank. Apparently you're all going in style.

Alone time is going to be in hella short supply very soon and for quite a while. You should enjoy it while it lasts.

... Hell, maybe you should jerk off.


Thirty feet above the ground. Sounds smart to you!

Goddamn hormones are perking up now though. Argh.

"Dear friends," you mumble under your breath, "we are gathered here tonight to pay tribute to Byrd Sprite Strider, recipient of this year's Darwin Awards, all categories."

You can see a hundred of windows from here, but they're all under you -- you're at the highest point for a dozen blocks or more -- and so few people think to look up and you're pretty far away from all of them. It's not like they'd see anything.

Apart from you slipping and falling off at the end.

You're pretty well braced. You are totally not going to tense or twitch at the wrong time. Hrrm...

Also you've got to train up your left hand to pick up the slack.

Yeah okay.

You have totally done stupider things, and for worse reasons. You can't remember what right now but you're pretty sure you have.

Your hand is halfway past your waistband when there's a noise like a gunshot to the side. You jerk. Your foot slip. Your hand gets stuck.

Young man age sixteen found dead scratching the itch goes through your head, but you manage to jam your toes underneath a girder (ow fuck ow) and flail your hand free as your abs scream for mercy. Grab a hold. Breathe.

"Hey, Dave!" calls Jade happily from the roof.

Fuck your life.

"Nope, wrong Strider," you call back. "Actually there is no Strider. All Striders are inside. Please proceed indoors nothing to see move along."

Your boner isn't going down. Fffff. Why are you sixteen, again.

She stands there blinking and then wincing, you can see it from up here. Behind her Karkat and Gamzee are standing, squinting up at you in the dying sunset. Karkat is making unimpressed faces. Gamzee, who the fuck knows. Looks half asleep. Bec is sitting on the roof and panting.

"... Sorry, uh, Byrd. I'm more used to you being orange!"

You wave it off. "Yeah, yeah, me too, it's weird as fuck to come in, like, flesh and hair tones. All is forgiven and forgotten, move along. Shoo."

Jade pouts, hands on her hips. Uh oh. "Nope, mister! You are getting down here and saying hello properly!"

... Argh.

"Listen," Karkat tells her in a way quieter voice than you expected. "We're fucking exhausted. I just want to go ahead and have a snack and crash. It's just one floor down, right?" Gamzee sways silently, you can't tell if it's out of exhaustion or that he's having fun with himself or tripping balls or what.

You have nothing against the idea of them leaving, the less spectators to behold your unfortunate boner the better. The issue is. Well. Jade. Especially Jade and your boners. That is, uh, yeah. No.

Oh hey it's deflating a bit.

Shouldn't be visible if you untuck your t-shirt first. And you know Jade is just going to keep nagging, and... well, Dirk and Bro will have left nothing but cold water in the tank which ruins the solitary enjoyment some, but by the time you get to take a shower tonight you'll probably be glad instead of frustrated.

No, you take it back, you'll still be frustrated. You bet if you could just get laid, about half of your bitchy mopey whininess would evaporate. Or if you went back to being a sprite, you have about an equal chance at both at the moment.

You sigh, discreetly adjust yourself, and swing one-handed (haha) down to the ladder. Feet planted... look ma, no hands. It goes a little faster in that direction, demands less effort from your arm and back since you don't have to pull your weight up. It's just a matter of grabbing a lower rung and stepping down, grabbing and stepping down, grabbing and stepping down, that shit manages somehow to be both dangerous and tedious, blargh. You're only a bit over halfway down and you're already bored of that sh--

Look ma, no hands. Oh fuuuuuuck.

At least two people yell your name (one of your names) in various levels of horrified. Gravity forgets to bring your stomach along in its rush to get you down spine-first across the edge of the air conditioning units. This is going to hurt...


"You been all to eating black holes, brother? Densest motherfucker what I ever got my hold on at."

... You're upside down. Someone has you by the waist, from behind, so your legs flop forward and your ass is probably jutting impudently under their nose.

Judging from the polka-dot pants, that someone is apparently Gamzee Makara.

If your boner wasn't killed deader than Rasputin by now this would probably do the trick.

"Yeah okay thanks, can you put me down." You're still on top of the machines, but you can manage the last drop. You wriggle a bit, but the edge is a bit close to force him to drop you.

Asshole goes "Nah" and steps over the edge. You might possibly yell a little. Quietly.

He twists with the casual, unthinking grace of a cat and catches himself one-handed on the edge, and there's a yank around your waist as you both come to a stop, before you hit the ground, which seems to require about zero effort from his part holy shit. You were not expecting that.

He drops down the last few inches and you start squirming in earnest. "Okay thank you now put me down -- hey -- where are you bringing me, ow, stop kneeing me in the back of the fucking head, goddamn it Makara I'm slipping out of my fucking pants, put me down!"

"Aw, being pantsless is good for the soul, if you got yourself one of those. Now say your motherfucking greetings to woofsis, yeah?"

He dumps you. Your arm is shaky with strain; you flop down in a very impressive, knee-bruising, facedown heap. Your waistband is halfway down your ass.

When you flop around and sit, Jade has both hands on her face and it won't stop her giggles. Karkat is staring down at you like you're a very fascinating bug that he found where a bug has no business being, such as in his food. Fuck. Your. Life.

"Nice boxers," she manages between two snickers. Karkat pinches the arch of his nose headachingly.

You accept Jade's hand to pull you up (no use pretending you still have pride) and tell yourself you can still salvage the evening if you pretend nothing happened hard enough. That lasts until six feet of murderclown lean over your shoulder and shake the bottom of your right sleeve.

"Whoa there. Where's your arm all up and at, motherfucker?"

You were embarrassed. Now you're angry.

You slap his hand off. "It eloped with your fucking brain. Mind your own business."

Karkat sighs, steps forward to catch his bro's hand, tug him out of your space. "Gamzee, how the fuck could you not see that when he was climbing down, for fuck's sake, are your eyes even open?"

"Uh, maybe like halfway?"

Karkat gives a heavy sigh. You stare. Gamzee makes a sad cow face.

"Aw, bro, but I'm all sleepy."

"How did you even catch him?!" Jade marvels, and starts herding people toward the staircase. You allow it, you don't have a better idea. Can't stay on the roof to sulk anymore, now, can you.

"Dunno, felt where he was at? 'voodoos, you know." His voice goes all vague and fucking dreamy. "Terror and shit, that they know hells of well. All sweet and singsongy..."

Creep. If he wouldn't take Jade down with him you would trip him down the stairs.

"Just... tune him out," Karkat advises, and muffles a jaw-cracking yawn. His jaw hinges weird, and suddenly you kind of wish you'd gotten to see a troll skull at some point, to see how the bones fit under there, because it's not really basic Homo sapiens.

You look away. You stick your hand in your pocket, trudge down the stairs.

"Gonna get yourself a wicked sweet robo-arm like the how spidersis used to?"

You'd puff up, if you still had feathers. "Mind. Your. Own. Business."

"Just asking, motherfucker."

"Well motherfucking don't."

"You're cranky," Karkat remarks, which is so ironic you'd weep tears of sparkly unicorn joy if you could be bothered.

You stomp down the next couple of stairs. "Dude, you saw my butt crack today and none of you assholes even brought me flowers, I'm fucking entitled."

"Chill your human tits, whinelord, we just saw too much of your taste in anthropomorphic rodents as groin covers. You're still pure for ... whatever the fuck that was."

You were almost ready to not-quite-smile, and then he had to go and yawn and drop the admittedly not exceptional comeback. Oh well. You kick the front door open and usher everyone in, and you stay way the fuck out of range of Terezi charging Karkat and Jade for a group hug.

You lean against the wall by the door, way out of the way, and you wait for them to settle the fuck down. With the way Terezi clings to Karkat you'd think she hasn't seen him in nine months, not nine days.

Dirk joins you. Damn it, Dirk. Can't you mourn your boner in sulky peace already. You arch an eyebrow at each other over the shades in a Strider's tastefully subdued and sexy as all fucks greeting.

"Popped up on the roof?"


"Sorry, man."

You scowl a tiny little bit. "... For what?"

"Your super sparkly princess alone time. Shit should be sacred, is what it should be."

He nods solemnly. You kick him swiftly. Dave and Bro have emerged from their respective rooms; Dave is patting Karkat on the shoulder as awkwardly as possible while trying to keep the troll between him and Bec.

Jade bounces at Bro so suddenly you can see him just freeze for a quarter of a second, and then she's hanging off his neck and it's too late for escape. She impacts with his body -- she's light enough he doesn't even rock back much -- and she hugs the shit out of him. "Hiiii so nice to meet you!"

Bro just stands there.

From opposite ends of the room, you and Dave bite down -- too late -- on twin pfffffffffs.

"Yeah, uh... Hi to you too, kiddo." He gives her a perfunctory pat on her back and starts trying to detach her. You and Dave keep not-snickering. Nope, poker faced all up that bitch.

You don't need to see Bro's eyes to know they've just darted to you and then to Dave, and that you are in for some serious payback later on. Oh well. You only live once. Or twice, depending.

Terezi is done trying to smother Karkat in her nonexistent boobs, which Dave was mostly looking longsufferingly bored about; now she's staring at Gamzee.

Who stares back, slouching lazily, hands in his clown pants pockets, eyes hooded. Neither of them makes a move to hug it out. And now Dave's mouth twitches a little at the corner, folds down a bare tenth of an inch.

"Huh," says Dirk, sotto voce just for you.

"Gamzee! So good to see you so..." A pause. Terezi's mouth takes on a dubious twist. "Hang on, it'll come to me."

"Ouch, burn," you whisper to Dirk.

"Same right back atcha, sis," the clown creep shoots back. "The motherfucking very same thing."

A shiver goes up your spine. Huh. That voice--

"Hey, gossip girls, go back to the kitchen and make us some fucking sandwiches," Bro interrupts, suddenly in your faces, sans Jade.

You purse your lips. Sandwiches are mostly made, chilling in the fridge, which feels naked, swordless. You hope you remember where to go for a secondary weapon in case you ... somehow miss all the wall-mounted racks and the daisho in the umbrella stand.

(You kick the umbrella stand a bit in passing. "We had one of those?"

"Apparently so," Dirk says. "Terezi found it buried under years of smuppets in the crawlspace."

"Huh. Okay.")

While you're busy piling up sandwiches on paper plates and Dirk is busy making some more someone knocks again, and John's dad walks in, bags in hands and bags under his eyes, and unshaved le gasp. Another round of hugs ensues; you were hoping you holding food would save you but no such luck, you get a nice side-hug complete with enthusiastic backslapping, as does a mildly alarmed Dirk, still holding two slices of ham.

"Yo, Egbert."

"Hello, Strider. Pleasure to finally meet you in person."

They have themselves a very manly hug. You call casually, "No copping a feel, Bro!" What can you say, you've been feeling like living dangerously recently.

Everyone sits where they can -- couch, computer chairs, the floor for the rest of you kids -- and start chewing, and chattering about stuff you don't even care much about. You should enjoy this but... too many people, you lost the hang of it, three years alone with only two, and the only one you really know is Jade anyway and... yeah, still awkward.

She's really nice about it, friendly as always, but you see her eyes darting to your stump a couple of times; you know she'll only feel sorry for you in the nicest, most caring, least cloying way possible and it chafes anyway.

You make sure to handle your sandwiches as securely as you can, so nothing slips out and onto the floor. As a result you don't get to eat much. It's fine. You weren't hungry.

Gamzee eats like a black hole. You don't even see it coming close to his big mouth, and then schlurp. Karkat seems hungry, but tired more, like even lifting the sandwiches high enough to inhale is an effort.

Half of Jade's food and all the crusts end up in Bec, but only if they're dropped right under his nose because otherwise the big white lump won't stretch himself. That tells you more about how exhausting the trip was than hearing Jade tell it.

"...had to jump us out of the moving truck seven times, right to the edge of his range, and twice back to back too! Poor dog, he's not used to it anymore..."

"... and then the police lady said..."

"...what the fuck were those humans even doing in that cabin --"

"Haha bro, kinda obvious what they were all up and doing, their mating parts were all kinds of --"

"Gamzee," say Dadbert and Karkat together.

"--anyway we had to jump right back out -- saw us too, hope they won't--"

"... and then my laptop was out of batteries and we were so bored..."

"... motherfuckers sold the most delicious fucking snacks..."

"... and then..."

"... and so..."

It takes Karkat yawning three times in a single sentence to pause the conversation. You look up at the sudden quiet, blinking as Egbert Senior gives him a weirdly nice look and pats his shoulder. You were kind of tuning things out a bit there. Your sandwich fillings kept escaping, fuckdamnit.

"You should probably seize the moment and go to sleep now, Karkat," the man says, and Karkat nods, almost meekly. You don't know the dude very well but that seems kind of weird; you glance at Dave to see if he caught it, and both his eyebrows are visible over his shades.

"Yeah, good plan, I should probably hurry before I miss the public transportation device and stay awake another sleep -- nnff -- sleep cycle..."

He gets up, a bit wobbly. Dave points at the corridor door. "You need someone to show you to my room, dude? We made you guys a pile."

"S'fine. Saw most of it on viewports. If I find the field of puppets and replica human parts I've gone too far, right?"

Bro turns to look at him, pointedly expressionless. Karkat glowers back tiredly, 'yes, what' all over his face. You bite down on a little smile.

"Naw, we did some spring cleaning."

"Yeah, plastic dongs aren't in season."

"Next year they shall bloom again, the fields of--"

"Training tomorrow morning. Early. I'll wake you up."

You exchange looks with Dirk and Dave, past a giggling Jade and a mildly scandalized, pink-cheeked Dadbert. The consensus is that this was still totally worth it. Strider consensus. Stridersensus? Meh.

But Karkat is still standing there looking half asleep on his feet, and you're so not up for another five hours of blabbering deep into the night, anyway. You put your paper plate on Dave's knee, pull yourself up a bit awkwardly. "Wait a sec, I'll show you. You might get lost between the one closet and the bathroom otherwise, we never know."

You lead the way down the one corridor and select one of the three doors (closet, Bro bedroom, Dave bedroom) and tadahh, you're there. The pile of crap is particularly prominent.

"Okay if you don't both have your own piles?"

"S'fine," Karkat mutters as he advances zombie-style on the pile. The shadows under his hooded eyes are dark as charcoal. There's red flecks in there too, you think, but you don't get much time to make sure because he closes them and flops across broken sword hilts, empty DVD cases and old takeout cardboard boxes with the grace and lightness of a felled tree. Ouch?

A bit of squirming, and then he sighs and goes still, and damn if he isn't three-fourths asleep already.

"Uh. Well. ...Goodnight?"


You take a change of clothes to sleep in from the cupboard, and abscond to the bathroom before someone else can sneak in.


The water is freezing.

Your dong refuses to be stopped for such a trifle.

You're damned glad to abscond back to your bed and burrow in blankets afterwards, though.


"mnrfggh gmzee stopthat."

You frown a little bit, flip on your side, facing the wall. Mm sleep.

"gamzee damn it."

... Hrrm. Won't he just shut up already.

Ah good. Silence...

Why are they breathing so loud.

"jus' lemme fuckin sleep, stop that, just turn on y'r other side 'kay..."

You stare at the wall. You can't see it but you stare anyway. You're still half asleep but you can feel that state lifting slowly, and then there won't be any getting it back. Damn it, no.

"Ow!" Crash.

Apparently some asshole fell right off the pile, along with half the shit on it. Gamzee keeps sleeping, breathing blissfully loud. Karkat pushes himself up and knocks his head into your bed frame.

"Ow, fuck." Shuffle, shuffle. "Gamzee, move over. Hey, stop sprawling. Hey --"

"Oh will you shut the fuck up," you mutter, head rolling back on the pillow to talk over your shoulder.

"No, you shut the fuck up," he shoots back in a not-too-quiet whisper, but he sounds more sulky and exhausted than anything. "Gamzee... aw, what the fuck ever."

You hear something flop. You let yourself roll on your back, glance over the edge of the mattress. The clock gives out just enough light to make out a green-haloed shape huddled sadly on the bare floor.

"...You're in front of the door, numbnuts."


Bro is going to step on him tomorrow, and then no one will ever hear the end of it. You can see it coming like it's a freight train and you're the princess securely tied to the rails. "Just... You know what, just climb up here and shut up and let me sleep, okay."

You're blaming exhaustion, and also the fact that really you don't give much of a fuck. You don't even count the nights where Jade or John (or okay sometimes you) would request to spend the night with one or the two left on the battleship. You bet he won't smother you in man-chest like John used to. Or end up wrestled into a knot with your sprite tail, see also: Jade. Or crushing your wings with his fat ass. Or...

... Okay, yeah, your wings are pretty safe from crushing now.

You don't know if you'd have brooded more, because then the mattress dips a bit behind you. You crane your neck. A ghostly green troll is staring at you, and whoa, his eyes flash like a cat's.

"You sure?" he mumbles, zombie style.

"Just keep to your own damn side of the mattress, we won't have no problem."

"I. Uh. Might have nightmares and... Stuff. Mnh. Claws."

Frrrgh. "Don't give a fuck, kitty claws me up, kitty gets punted right off the bed. Get on if yer gonna."

"Mnh 'kay."

The kitty crack barely gets you a tired scowl. He pulls himself up, flops on his side, back to you, ten respectable inches left between your spine and his. You wrap yourself back up.

It's weird and all, but you're too sleepy for introspection. As long as he doesn't start moving again you do not... mnh... give a -- yawn -- fuck.