There are a lot of existential questions you get to ponder, being the divine-computer-generated split-timelined double of some guy who was (the double, not the guy) merged with a crow and a katana and an alien Gamebro FAQ database while that other guy went on to become a god. Such as:
Why are you standing in a parking lot.
Why are you in a parking lot at the mall.
The sun is shining through the pollution haze; it's still morning but the heat rises from the asphalt already; the truck will be boiling by the time you come back out. You gaze at it longingly and sensuously caress the thought that Bro might let you stay in it if you asked.
Alas that thought is frigid as fuck and basically throws its how dare you even think me martini in your face.
Okay that metaphor got away from you a little.
What it boils down to is that by asking the question you are basically admitting that you're a total pussy. You are not asking it.
You're still barely halfway to the mall doors when you attract your first double-take. Bro accidentally on purpose steps on your foot. "Where's the camping gear shop again."
"What," you reply, "you think I go trekking every other day? Oh hey I need crampons to match my rappelling gear today, maybe in a nice spring green to offset my eyes." You bump into his side. Yeah you know you're not supposed to care about the looks you're getting. You're not, really, it's just bothersome.
It's cooler inside, and not too busy at this hour, not horribly so at least. You're kind of torn; it's by far not as crowded as a tiny little apartment full of Striders and trolls in the full bloom of a glorious quadrant clusterfuck.
On the other hand (haha), strangers everywhere.
You tell yourself they're oddly-shaped consorts.
It's warm outside so your shirt has short sleeves. A long, empty one flapping in the breeze would be too silly, but it means the stump shows. The scar is not a horrid raised scabby mess, it hasn't gone necrotic, it isn't joyfully discharging pus (oh, what Google can teach you), it just ends oddly round with a little slightly-redder-than-your-skin, smooth scar. Yay for Sburb surgery. You should recommend them. You never worried about your wing healing in all those catastrophically wrong ways after Doctor Jack operated it off, it just bled for a while until it scabbed shut and after that it was done. You were more worried about your evisceratory stomach slice (which was to say not much at all because sprite, and a Game sprite cannot be erased by such a negligible amount of damage and the pain felt so weirdly distant anyway...)
"Anything else you want while we're here, man?"
You ponder. Your feet keep going slap, slap, slap on the floor (apart from when they go schliiirrrp-flop when crossing a patch of oh-hey-someone-dropped-their-it-better-be-soda.) You eye them.
"I'm pretty rad with my chicken legs in camper chic, I know, but--" laces are pissing you off recently-- "I really want nice big kiddie shoes with the velcro ties, betcha I can rock them, soon all the kids will want some. Maybe in puke pink and radioactive green? With a nice pony on the side or like a Barbie, that'd be awesome."
"It's a shame you've got the biggest feet a princess was ever cursed with, cutie-pie," Bro says over his shoulder as he opens the way through a clump of people.
When you can walk side by side again he's by your stumpy half. You wonder if he meant to.
He does dodge into the nearest kids-and-teens shoe shop. You follow. No Velcro in your size; Bro's pointed comments make four salespeople squirm and look as guilty as if they were getting a lecture on checking their arm-having privileges; you make sure to look wobbly-lipped. You're a couple of assholes and it's hilarious.
But then a fifth salesgirl comes by and she's like 'let me show you a one-handed lace-tying trick', casual as you please, and you think by the way Bro's lips almost quirk up if he wasn't gayer than a Pride parade in New Orleans he'd totally ask her out right there on the spot. Shit's fit to make you blush.
(And the trick works why the fuck did you not check the internets for any such tricks instead of moping. Oh right, because you're a whiny emo-lord.)
You buy three pretty expensive pairs of jogging shoes. Woo, laces. This is the best day.
Bro hip-checks you into a wall on the way out. You glower at him. You were so not bouncing, the shoes are springy okay.
Next stop, camping gear. You purse your lips as you consider the rows and rows of specialized gear. "I want a pink tent Bro can we have a pink tent."
"Sure you don't want a rainbow one? Oh hey that one comes in juggalo purple. We can always buy glitter at the arts and craft next door."
You go about looking at the actual specs, like what kind of wind or rain the things will resist, if they'll catch on fire should someone smoke nearby, the number of people you can stuff in so long as they don't mind ending up knowing each other biblically well. Bro pulls a couple of the biggest off the racks, sticks them under his arms.
"By the way," he says without looking. You grunt an acknowledgement. "Situation update for last night please."
He actually pronounces it like he spelled it plz in his head. You're mildly impressed. You'd take being fully impressed over being asked to talk about that clusterfuck, but.
"Came back home with lil' me and all was chill and swell, and then suddenly rampage in the night. What the fuck happened there, dude?"
"Can I say 'nothing'."
"Sure. You're going back on foot."
Bluh. You trudge after him on your way to the inflatable mattresses. Not that the trolls will want them much, but Rose and her new mom-sis will, and you certainly fucking do.
"Terezi is hate-dating Clowny the Hell-Giraffe."
"And his lil' shouty boyfriend used to have a hatecrush on her and apparently Hardy didn't tell Laurel he was macking on her."
You give a bored shrug. "Cue drama. Can we change the topic now."
"Okay, bud. Since when do you like dong?"
"...Can we change the topic again."
Bro is laughing at you. It's a kind of Striderly laugh that doesn't involve any sound or facial movement, not even the merest shiver of shaking shoulders. He's totally laughing, the asshole. You kick him in the calf. He kicks back before yours has even landed. Ow.
"Denied. You were so horrified whenever you found my magazines, I'm rather fucking perplexed."
Can you perhaps gnaw off another limb to escape. Is that a thing you can please get to do. You pick up a couple of mattress boxes on the way to the checkout and tell yourself they're not big enough to hide yourself behind entirely anyway.
"That's because even the most homogay fag in the state would find your magazines brain-scarring, dude. I was twelve year old, I did not need to see borderline literal bears performing ye olde pony play. With draft-horse-sized dildos, I mean dude, you could have put two fists up there, that's just, gross, no, I kept wondering if they'd need diapers afterwards, how do you ever close your asshole again after that please dear lord don't tell me."
He is still laughing. (So is the cashier. Fuck your life.) "Gotcha. I've failed you and allowed you to become boringly vanilla."
"Be glad I didn't become a monk. Shit was that close to going critical." You huff. Your face is not pinkening around the shades. Nope. You neither feel it nor see it in the mirror above the cashier's station. Noppers. "... Anyway I still like girls fine, thanks. I'm a teenage guy, I'm allowed to explore shit. Advance Man's understanding of alien mysteries, 'cause Dave ain't the one who's going to."
Take the bait take the bait please let's rag on Dave instead his insecurities are so much juicier than yours promise.
Bro gives a sad nod. Phew. "Dude's completely pussy-whipped and he hasn't even seen it."
You nod sadly with him. The both of you proceed to hold a moment of silence in mourning for Dave's balls, which is broken when the cashier asks Bro to fork over his money.
You juggle bags until you figure out how best to hold them -- hung casually over your shoulder is the coolest -- and make your way back outside the shop. Hm, what next...
"So how many bases you made it to, lil' bro?"
Ffffff. "I promise I don't need a condom talk or how not to make your alien make-out buddy Earth pregnant." You grumble. "Your male alien buddy."
"You sure? He's an alien, they could have a seahorse deal for all I know."
"Nah, I think they hatch from oh hey what's that it almost sounded like I care, quick buy me a taco."
Okay, this time he snickered audibly. This is so wrong you want to dig a hole somewhere and bury yourself. It doesn't even need to be that deep, just enough to stuff your head in and wait for asphyxiation to catch up.
"Gotcha, kiddo, a last taco before you go on a hot dog diet."
You swing the bag at him; he dodges, and the cheap plastic rips a bit, so you have to stop. "Okay, drop it. We swapped saliva like once, seriously, jumping the gun much?"
"So you admit that there is a gun to jump? Because if so it is my civic duty as an older brother to take that gun to dinner and show it a good time. If it's a particularly big gun, I may even respect it in the morning."
"... Wow did that one get away from you."
"Like a wild bronco."
"You are not seducing my gun, I saw it first, dibs. Go hit on rifles your own age, you old lech."
"I have a cannon joke on the tip of my tongue, hold on, it'll come to me... By the way do you need any--"
"--no oral tips no Bro none at all I will end you."
It is ridiculous how easy you are to fluster today. You don't get why, it's almost like you kind of lost the habit of rolling with Bro's barbs in the three years he was dead for.
Surely can't be it. Nah.
The asshole pretends not to hear you as he ambles casually toward a taco fast-food joint. Mnrgh. You're hungry and you actually do want one, so you follow. While doing something that doesn't sound like but is totally whining. "But seriously can you not cockblock me too much and condemn some poor dude to going all his life knowing he missed the whirlwind affair of his sad, empty life. Do you want that on what passes for your conscience."
"Aw, you care," Bro deadpans (even for him it was deadpan.) "Eh, dodging the 'rents is a time-honored tradition. The fruit tastes sweeter after the effort. The taste of the forbidden--"
"Oh mighty jegus asslord buttercup no. Stop. Desist--"
Should have watched where you were putting your nice new shoes instead of glaring ineffectually after Bro, because the toes catch on something and you take a header toward the nearest bench. Aw shit--
Oh hey you're floating just over the bench and also something is strangling you.
Bro has you by the collar; the tents are on the floor. You blink up.
He stares back for a second, and then it's like he realizes what he's doing. Plop; you're on the floor. You haven't brained yourself on the bench, though, only smacked your knees. Urgh, mall floor, urgh urgh urgh. You get up in a huff, make yourself not scan the crowd for the assholes who burst out into snickers when you fell.
"What was that, Bro, getting jealous that the floor was impugning on your sacred Dave-tripping rights?"
... Shit, you just called yourself Dave, didn't you. You did. Wow, so not only you're enough of a douche to snark at a guy for helping you because it's mortifying that he had to, but then you mess up your zinger with a -- with -- shit.
Suddenly, elbow on your head. You used to serve as an armrest so often as a kid, wow, even the sudden crick in your neck and the stumbling under his weight make you vaguely nostalgic.
Granted now he has to stretch up a bit to reach. You elbow him swift and merciless under the ribs. He curves with the blow to soften the impact and props his elbow right back on.
"Yep," he says after due deliberation. "Still armrest sized."
The two of you spend the rest of your mall time beating each other over the head with various purchases.
By unspoken agreement you both studiously ignore the bag of tacos tucked under Bro's right arm, seriously compromising his mobility.
The second you get home Dirk -- apparently lying in wait for you -- ganks a taco and a tent from your and Bro's waiting arms and absconds to the roof.
"Gonna test how easy they are to set up!" he calls back on his way out. Slam! Door closed. You guess it's his turn to get some alone roof time. Neither Karkat nor Gamzee are in sight, and Terezi and Dave look like the most uncomfortable assholes in all of Paradox Space and also the real Space and basically all Space ever.
Bro just shrugs and starts eating. You and Dave hurry to snatch some food before it's all gone. Lunch and small talk ensue. You can't tell if Dave and his girlfriend talked anything out, or Karkat with anyone else, and you don't want to ask. It'll blow over on its own.
You hope. You are so not wading in any deeper than you already got. The water is freezing and you are crotch-deep in and Here Be Crocodiles.
Lunch had, you abscond to the bedroom and settle in for an afternoon of arduous interwebs surfing.
You manage to ignore the blinking pesterchum icon for a grand total of three hours and 47 minutes. No one contacts you, even though you're on idle.
You think you're a little relieved behind the disappointment when ectoBiologist turns out to be gray and offline. He's not around! Sad. But at least he's not around and ignoring you?
God you sound like a twelve year old girl with a crush. Shit is so four years ago.
You've got a group chat invite in your tray. Before you can talk yourself into hermiting it up again you click it. Might as well. Who knows what you'd miss because no one would bother keeping you informed otherwise. (Yup, still holding a grudge.)
-- truncatedGrip [TG] responded to memo --
Then again it'd be awkward with just about any asshole you know right know, except maybe Roxy, and that mostly because you don't know her much.
You sigh with the soulfulness of a Tom Hiddleston stan who cannot hold all these feels and aim your eyes back to the chat window.
TG: are you impugning on the power of my transcendental broship with john you unremitting asshole
CG: ONCE AGAIN STRIDER DEMONSTRATES HIS TOTAL LACK OF DEEPER QUADRANT UNDERSTANDING. YOU CAN BE *BROS* WITHOUT BEING PALE, AND THANK FUCK BECAUSE IF THAT MATTERED AT ALL I WOULD BE IN A MOIRALLEGIANCE WITH *SOLLUX*.
-- twinArmageddons [TA] sent the automated message ii diiam2 u 2 kk honey --
GC: 1 H4V3 TO 4GR33 W1TH K4RK4T H3R3 MUCH 4S 1T P41NS M3
GC: 3V3N 1F H1S CONCLUS1ONS 4R3 3NT1R3LY 3RRON3OUS
CG: SHUT YOUR DEPRAVED WORD TRAP, YOU PALE SLATTERN. YOUR CONCLUSIONS ARE THOROUGHLY REPREHENSIBLE AND MORALLY UNTENABLE.
TG: i thought humans were reprehensible and morally untenable ??
TG: yo guys what are we talking about here
TG: depravity hell yes sign me up
CG: ... OKAY, WHO SAW HIM COME IN.
GC: NOT M3 >;]
CG: THAT JOKE WAS NOT OLDER THAN DIRT AT ALL.
TG: wow cold sugar my <3 is like in a bazillion pieces now
TG: welp wasnt paying attention to policing the chatroom i am the worst gatekeeper
TG: yo you heard the shouty one no orange assholes here
TG: imma tell dirk on you
TG: ok fine jegus twisting my arm so damn hard its bound to fall off any second now
TG: ... shit okay i did not mean that one my bad
GC: 1 4M F4C3P4LM1NG SO H4RD R1GHT NOW
TG: jeeze it just slipped my mind it happens some days okay
TG: im totally going to cry in my pillow now you callous evil bitch
TG: unless you stop dodging the question like a pro ie previous topic is ??
TG: mnrgh do we have to
TG: i am guilting you with my brain right now
TG: fff theyre shipping gridding us what else i mean theyre trolls its pretty much their single topic of conversation ever
TG: whoops i just lost my interest down a mine shaft
TG: no get out get out theres schist gas everywhere welp too late it croaked
GC: W3R3 4TT3MPT1NG TO F1GUR3 OUT YOUR P4L3 OTPS ! >:]
TG: in depraved ways right how do you get pale depraved exactly
TG: she ships us like
TG: lemme look up the formula
TG: o i c rose sandwich with jade on top
TG: you go dogg
CG: AND SHE IS OBVIOUSLY DELUDED. AS I WAS SAYING, FRIENDSHIP AND MOIRALLEGIANCE ARE NOTHING ALIKE. IT'S ENTIRELY POSSIBLE TO BE PALE FOR SOMEONE YOU ARE NOT INFECTED WITH THAT HUMAN DISEASE OF FRIENDSHIP TOWARD.
TG: so what do you ship then school me in how it oughta go
CG: WELL. THE CLOSEST TO REAL MOIRALLEGIANCE IS THE DAVE<>ROSE LINK. JOHN HAS NEVER PACIFIED EITHER OF THEM OR LET THEM PACIFY HIM ONE DAY OF HIS LIFE, THE CONTRARY ASSHOLE.
TG: i dont pacify rose much tbh the broad is tractable as a mule tied to a boulder thats still rooted to the mountain underneath
CG: YOU STILL HAVE THAT VIBE, OKAY, DON'T MAKE ME EXPLAIN WHEN WE BOTH KNOW THAT ONCE I'M DONE YOU'LL JUST SHRUG AND SAY YOU BOTHERED TO RETAIN EXACTLY NONE OF IT.
AA: also you ship john<>byrd anyway! its kind of naughty to sideship you know
CG: I AM NOT SIDESHIPPING! IF I WERE SIDESHIPPING I WOULD BE USING A PAIRING I DON'T TRULY BELIEVE IN TO GET RID OF AN INTERLOPER IN MY REAL OTP. I'M SORRY IF YOU CAN'T SEE BOTH ROSE<>DAVE AND JOHN<>BYRD ARE TOTALLY VALID AND JUSTIFIABLE IN THEIR OWN RIGHT AND OH DEAR LITTLE HORRORTERRORS I SOUND LIKE A DOUCHIER NEPETA.
TG: i see how it is byrd gives you the sweet brocuddles so he gets the diamondbitch award
TG: your honor i wish to lodge a complaint the dishonorable karkat vantas is obviously taking hugglebribes
GC: YOU DONT S4Y >:O S1R V4NT4S WH4T DO YOU H4V3 TO S4Y 1N YOUR D3F3NS3
CG: THAT YOU ARE BOTH DELUDED.
TG: yeah all them snugglehos love my biznasty platonic cuddles bitches cant get enough
TG: never scared one off in my life or anything
CG: ANYWAY MAY I REMIND YOU ASSHOLES THAT JOHN IS MY HUMAN BROTHER NOW AND AS SUCH I AM PRIVY TO SOME THINGS.
TG: what like he told you or like you imagined in your head he drew diamonds in sparkle gel pen on his screen around any orange text that pops up on his screen
TG: ffs you get to be pale in a rosejade sandwich if you play your cards right i think i completely screwed the pooch that way
TG: i screwed it in a way that means im never gonna get to screw it ever pale or black or fuchsia striped do you even understand the anguish there
TG: you rock that dirty diamond twinbro
TG: you rock it like youre the elvis of human quadrants
TG: the pale hugh hefner
TG: the gibraltar of moirallegiance
TG: thats where you guys go whos gibraltar and we spin some bull story btw guys
AA: i think by now we have all learned to feel that kind of tricky setup coming
AA: sorry byrd!! better luck next time
AA: and now for a cunning distraction!!
AA: its lucky you never did go pale for sollux karkat id hate to have to destroy you!
AA: that wreck is mine step off biatch
AA: and on that note!
-- apocalypseArisen [AA] is idle! Message: pile time wooo --
TG: dude radia is jake making moonshine in his mancave and using it as a deodorant
TG: might have you been lighting the chimney with ample armfuls of hemp
TG: swam in miraculous brandy fountains
TG: volcano fumes ??
CG: IN CONCLUSION: THE FUCK WAS THAT.
-- apocalypseArisen [AA] is idle! Message: mmm pile --
GC: H4H4H4H4H4 >X] N3V3R CH4NG3 4R4D14
-- twinArmageddons [TA] is idle! Message: LATER2 BIITCHE2!! --
CG: SOMEONE CULL ME.
-- grimAuxiliatrix [GA] started trolling truncatedGrip [TG] --
GA: My Apologies For Trolling You Out Of What Rose Assures Me Is The Blue
GA: I Hope I Am Not Interrupting Anything Important However Unlikely That Is
TG: wow how dare you you just managed to divebomb right as cristina was about to leave for albuquerque
GA: Who Is That Albuquerque Person
TG: a real cad and not someone id introduce even the worst ever alien to so youre pretty safe i guess
TG: ok whats up on your side of the states anything interesting zapping by real quick outside your darkened window
GA: Okay If You Say So
GA: And No Not Really Driving Down The Interstate Is Really Dull After The First Six Hours
GA: I Was Wondering About That Worrying Incident Dirk Told Roxy About
GA: His Account Is Kind Of Lacking As You And Dave Have Seen Rather More Of It Than He Did
TG: oho is this the fabled maryam meddling they warned me you were a true style meddler of old
GA: Do You Truly Mind
TG: idek do you mind if i put you on standby for a potential kinkily platonic four way auspititty fling in case gamzee flips his shit at me and or dave
GA: I Believe My Response Is Best Framed In Human Style Punctuated Facial Mimic
TG: you can platonically chainsaw his horns off i guess
GA: Im In
TG: haha seriously ??
GA: I Was As You Call It Playing Along
GA: Though If The Situation Devolves As A Human I Do Not Think You Can Sustain A Black Relationship Long Term But Thats Ok Neither Can I So I Would Be Willing To Intercede That Long
GA: I Am Not The Best Auspistice But I Believe I Can Do A Satisfactory Job On The Short Term
TG: well idk how long itll last for
TG: as long as murderclown is on the warpath i guess
TG: but dirk was all ready to step in to conciliate and even if were all poor humans pretending because of the one troll i dont want to accidentally get into even a fake romantic relationship with 1 gamzee motherfucking makara and 2 a guy im genetically related to shits just wack man
TG: if you object to the three assholes to keep in line thing dave and me could pull off ye olde switcheroo behind your back and you could pretend youre only shooshpapping one of us
TG: so what do you say babe
GA: I Feel I Should Warn You A True Auspistice Is Impartial
GA: As You Are Lacking Horns Which Parts Do You Preferentially Wish Me To Chainsaw Off
TG: whoops look at that a case of facial mimic thing
GA: In Cases Of Grave Infraction
TG: oh in that case
TG: my uhhhh hair ???
TG: do you do hairdos girl youd be awesome at them
GA: Why Yes I Do
GA: Are You Indicating That You Would Prefer Our Ashen Dates Revolve Around Hair Styling
TG: dates what who talked about dates i said platonic
GA: No Matter How Short Lived A Sham This Turns Out To Be I Am Not Putting Out Without Any Dates To Show For It
GA: What Kind Of Lady Do You Take Me For Strider
TG: no cutting until
TG: i mean unless
TG: i do something shitty to the clown first which he has not asked for okay
TG: i guess for less srs stuff im down with like hair ribbons and even temporary dye and shit should be fun
GA: No Cutting Of Hair Until You Do Something Shitty To The Clown Point
GA: If I Let Either Of You Start A Revenge Cycle Soon You Will Have No More Limbs To Chop Off
TG: bluh bluh okay geeze youre a harsh mistress
GA: As Befits A Middle Leaf
GA: Auspisticism Is Also A Relationship Based On Hate You Realize
GA: Granted It Usually Takes The Form Of Mutual Annoyance Irritation or Frustration And Not A Passionate And All Encompassing Loathing As That Is More Of The Domain Of Kismesissitude
TG: annoyance i can deal with esp if youre gonna be doing my hair
GA: I Also Have This Dress You Would Look Gorgeous In
TG: on second thought how bout we break up
GA: Dont Worry We Are Not Together Until Both (Or All I Suppose In This Case) Mediated Parties Agree To It Or Cases Of Murder Are Narrowly Avoided In Which Case It Becomes An Emergency Thing Until We Determine if The Murdering Would Have Been Platonic
GA: In Which Case You Are On Your Own
TG: i love trolls so much dude
TG: so much
TG: ill get out the curling irons and stuff brb
-- truncatedGrip [TG] is idle! --
GA: I Know You Are Likely Not Meaning A Single Word Of This Conversation And Will Quickly Disabuse Me Of The Notion That I Am Possibly About To Albeit Temporarily Fill A Quadrant
GA: But In The Meantime Please Allow Me This One Small Affectation If You Dont Mind
TG: aw damn girl
TG: i got no idea if gamzees manslaughter lust is actually sexual at all
TG: but even tho i understand jack shit about them i seem to keep falling assbackwards ever closer to all sorts of quadrants recently so why not awkwardly flirt with one more
-- tentacleTherapist [TT] started pestering truncatedGrip [TG] --
-- tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased pestering truncatedGrip [TG] --
-- truncatedGrip [TG] started pestering timaeusTestified [TT] --
TG: welp so i accidentally on purpose fell in clubs with maryam
TT: Log or it didn't happen.
-- truncatedGrip [TG] sent timaeusTestified [TT] the file heresyourhardproofmrskeptic.txt --
TT: Looks like. Congrats on getting your ... second quadrant filled!
TG: whats the ellipses for asshole
TT: Nothing, bro. Stuff falling on the keyboard. You know how it is.
TT: Wonder what's going on on Kanaya's end.
TG: i did not notice that distraction at all truly you are ninja
TT: I'm banking on you getting sidetracked by a sudden and irrepressible desire to make impressions.
TG: curse you down to the ninth level of hell my good sir
TG: Gamzee What Are Your Intentions Toward The Byrd And Dave Humans
TT: Why sis nothing they won't like hur hur hur.
TG: youre the shittiest most ooc gamzee dude at least make some effort on syntax skullfucking
TG: dirk dirk dirk dirkiepoo dirkybaby
TT: Hold your horses, I'm writing up some code to do the shitty seesawing caps for me. I'm not developing carpal tunnel syndrome in my shift finger just for the sake of broviding you with your allotment of impersonational shenanigans.
TG: c3< you too bro
By mutual, unspoken agreement, Dave Strider and The Strider Formerly Known As Dave decide to abscond in the middle of dinner.
You could not fucking abide the racket Bro and Gamzee were getting up to, with their impromptu rap battle over the fate, destiny and true allegiance of motherfucking Lil' Cal.
You'd probably have stayed were the topic anything else, because your Bro rules at rapping, okay, you can always learn more from him, and Gamzee oddly enough isn't half bad at it either, the fucking creepster. Bro would keep him in line easy enough, and the Terezi awkwardness would be relatively ignorable, but... just... Lil' Cal.
You suspect for Dave the reason was Terezi first, Cal second. Anyway here you both are, absconding up the staircase with dinner in hand, one paper bag each.
You sneak him a glance. "So. Uh."
He's one step ahead; he rounds his back pointedly, shoulders hunched. No Byrd nosiness allowed! he telegraphs. "No, I'm not worried over what Terezi and Gamzee are gonna get up to for fuck's sake. I've got to let them bond or whatever anyway so why not now."
"... That's nice, I was going to ask if you thought to bring the mustard along but okay."
He kicks back at you without looking back; you high-kick his heel aside, making him stumble a little bit. You're pretty sure his face is flushed a little bit. "Fuck you, who do you take me for, mustard and ketchup."
"Awesome." A beat. "Especially since Bro's here to chaperone, amirite."
He pauses on the landing between the two flights of stairs, purses his mouth at you, his glare invisible behind the shades but felt anyway. You quirk an eyebrow back, hop the bag of fried chicken up, snatch a piece with your teeth when it jumps free. King of smooth.
"Man you are so uninterested in my life story, I cannot get over how much you never prod or nose around whenever the topic comes up."
... Yes well. "Dude, I just want to make sure I'll be losing my V-card first, it's pure asshole schadenfreude."
He stares. "Who do you even want to lose it with, dude."
Good question. Jade's way out of the question, even if she took you back you'd be too ashamed; John, haha, so not going there again; Roxy's kind of your ectomom, Jane scares you a little, you barely know Sollux -- oh hey looks like at the moment Karkat is still the only tail in town but before he puts out you might have to buy him a ring.
Anyway you are so not here yet.
"Idek. Whoever. The rate at which you're going with your actual official girlfriend, I'll be getting hitched to some gorgeous nympho and you'll still be seeing unicorns."
Dave pushes up his shades to massage the bridge of his nose and glare at you, but he looks tired. It's weird seeing his eyes. You don't even see yours all that often, not even in the bathroom mirror. You look away, kick awkwardly at the step, regret the fact that you can't stick a nonchalant hand in your pocket and hold food both.
"Just ask, dude."
Okay, good, you're on the same wavelength, you want to know and he wants to tell, awesome. "She put out for him yet?"
"... Nah." You can't tell if he's relieved or not. His mouth is folded down a bit at the corner.
"Huh. 'Cause it pisses him off more to wait?"
"I'm sure that's half of it," Dave says, and flicks you a little smirk. He, huh, wow, it's hard to tell in the bad lighting of the stairwell but you'd almost swear he's blushing. You arch your eyebrows. "She, uh. Er. I was here first so I get to, you know."
It'd be pretty hilarious how raunchy and callous he can get when it doesn't concern him and how bashful when it does, if only you weren't pretty sure you'd be the same in his place. But hey, Terezi's not your girlfriend, so you can be callous if you want. "Tap dat ass first? Plow that virgin field? Boldly go where no man has gone before?"
"Mnrgh. Yeah." ... Okay now he's squirming, ahaha what. This is disturbingly hilarious. "But I can't drag it on and cockblock them for ages either."
You stare. And stare a little more. And then you crack up. "Oh dear baby Jegus and his sleigh of squiddles, she gave you an ultimatum to put out, that's straight-up magical."
Aw fuck, you really do like her. No, bad, no. Okay, she still grates, but you guess you can stamp your seal of approval on that shit. Not that either of them would give a shit and not that it was your place but... okay yes cutting off that line of thought now.
He kicks at you, grumpy, wide enough that you barely need to lean back to dodge.
"Welp, guess you get to explore that crawlspace after all. I don't see where else you're gonna find the privacy. I'd tell you the shower but even if you walked in already joined at the crotch you wouldn't both fit inside that goddamn cabin. Unless you didn't mind your pasty ass hanging out the door."
He's pretty much pink now. You pinch your lips.
"Rose and company get here tomorrow," he tells you with what you recognize with embarrassment as soul-deep horror. "I've got until tomorrow? And then they'll all be here and then we'll be on a cruise and -- how the hell -- I, where, when ? -- aw, fuck you. Fuck this. Fuck everything."
He turns away, stomps up the second flight of stairs. You amble after him, and generously do not prod or heckle or otherwise do anything he might do back at some nebulous later date.
You emerge on the roof in sunset light, the city sprawling all around you in reds and golds through the haze of pollution fumes. God you're going to miss the view when you're stuck in that tropical paradise of Jade's.
You hop up another chicken nugget. Chomp.
"Did you guys bring us dinner? You shouldn't have, thanks," Dirk drones from his six-people tent in the middle of the roof. He rolls on his front half-out of the tent flap, propped up on his elbows, and makes gimme motions with his fingers.
Probably in a hurry to escape the conversation you guys just had, Dave trudges his way to him with barely a sigh. You did steal more than enough for three...
Oh hey tiny horns and a black tuft of hair. The second tent is set up further back, by the radio tower; Karkat is peeking out, you can barely see him over the roof of Dirk's tent. You shake your paper bag at him meaningfully.
He furrows his brow like whether to come out and grab some food before it's all gone is a complex math problem. You shrug and tilt the bag over your mouth to get another two pieces to roll right in -- whoa, almost dropped one.
Dave is sitting cross-legged beside Dirk, the bag set down beside them. They're not talking, just fishing in the bag and munching together, gazing vaguely at a plane trail in the process of crossing the sunset.
Okay, you're not gonna stand here like a tool until nightfall. You amble toward Karkat's tent, peek inside curiously. It's pretty much empty, not even a sleeping bag or a mattress -- not that a troll would like one, or not kill it with claws -- just a backpack and a weird leggy laptop, which he finishes shutting down before turning back to eye you.
It's funny how Karkat looks at you, vaguely frowning like he's not too sure what to make of you. You hold out the bag like a peace offering.
One of his fangs snags on his (gothy black) lip. Hm.
He reaches for the bag; you hand it over at his tug, even though you didn't intend to give him the whole thing, damn it--
Fingers coming back to hook into your collar, the bag abandoned off to the side. Okay. Tugging you down on one knee, to lean inside the tent. Why not.
A kiss. Sure.
Your lips part under his; you press back. He's not tentative or gentle this time around, the kiss is a little hard, almost like he wants to prove he can. It's nice. It's... really nice. You nibble; his tongue darts in, his hand slips around the back of your neck, claws prickling, and you groan, you can't keep it in.
Tent cloth rustles hard and you both jerk back, breaking contact. Shit, shit, Dave and Dirk saw you --
A crow takes flight from the top of Dirk's tent, a chicken nugget in its beak.
Fucking feathery asshole.
You turn into your crouch and eye the hanging cloth flap warily, embarrassed. Karkat bats it away from his face and stares at you. You stare back with equal amounts of 'well that went smoothly, and was not at all embarrassing as fuck, is it even worth it to try again'.
You're teenagers so you're pretty sure the answer would have been yes, only then there's Dave calling out, "Dudes, the mustard is here, you're gonna have to move your asses if you want any."
You breathe in. You breathe out. You rake a hand in your hair to smooth out any potential telltale mussed lock. "Yeah, one minute, Vantas fucked up his tent, don't eat everything."
The glare said Vantas spears you with as you kick one of the supports out of alignment does not speak well of your chances of a repeat performance.