Flying by plane is just about the most boring thing you have ever experienced in your life, and considering you once spent three years of your life stuck on a ship surrounded by void, some more void on top, and a little more void in both front and back, that's saying something.
Granted, the ship was large. Granted, it was well-populated. Granted, your then-girlfriend could pop planets out of her pockets and send you a-questing whenever you got bored of the corridors.
It was still three years. Right now you've been on the plane four hours and you feel like you've entered Battleship: Year Four.
Your other self is the Dude of Time; you know from time shit. Someone is definitely messing the hell out of this flow. Goddamn US Airways.
You wish Kanaya were here to chat with -- no metaphorical baggage to drag on with her, it's fantastic -- but alien on a plane, yeah, no. You bet she doesn't share your ...
... small hidden compartment behind tons of furniture stuffed with a restless Jade, a slobbery dog, a slobbery Terezi, her inappropriate clown kismesis, and his moirail with which he's in the middle of a fight over said Terezi and they still haven't talked it out.
No, actually you bet she does share your wish.
You don't even get a window. You could have, but Rose signaled you to let Dave "win" it from you, so she could corral him, and then Roxy took the aisle seat on that row. You guess so they can chat whenever Rose isn't busy skullfucking Dave. You can hear them murmuring sometimes but always too low to catch anything.
The next row's window you left to Dirk, because there was no way on Earth or Skaia or any of the planets he was going to stand seeing people come and go next to him for hours on end in a small enclosed space. Also, he is not piloting the plane, this is obviously the best reason ever for an attack of nerves. Control freak.
So you're basically sitting between your brother's younger clone, who might as well not be there he is so busy staring holes into the clouds, and your ectomom. Who you've never really talked with before. She's easygoing and hasn't asked any getting-to-know-you cliché bullshit like what college you think you're going to (SBURB U, major in Doomed Timelines, minor in Redundancy, Uselessness and Being a Drag) or whether you play the harmonica (no, it is for douches,) but you were so damn glad when she started yawning ten minutes in. She'd been driving all the way down from New York, and you suppose one short night in puppet hell followed by packing and airport shenanigans isn't really restful.
Means you're bored out of your goddamn skull, and have been kicking Rose's seat for the last ten minutes. It's almost a relief when your bladder starts screaming and you can justify pulling yourself out of your seat and wriggling past Rose's mom's knees.
She wakes up, mumbles; you lean in. She's been dozing but never very comfortably. "Move to my seat," you suggest, "assholes keep stomping by, you'll sleep better." Also maybe you'll get some vague enjoyment out of people-watching. She mumbles something that sounds like agreement; you turn to find that damn bathroom.
Your sleeve flaps. It's annoying. Should pin it up. You make a note.
There's a queue, of course.
There's a little kid in the queue. She's not noisy, so hey, whatev's. You make a duck-mouthed, arched-eyebrows face at her behind your shades; she dodges behind her mom. You're obviously not looking at a career in child entertainment.
They go, and then an eon afterwards you go, and if you never have to manage a plane toilet and your stupid shorts and your junk at the same time ever again it'll be too soon. You wash your hand, trundle back, oh hey the kid's one row back on the opposite side of the aisle. She's still staring. You arch an eyebrow and then the other to make a wave. It's a complicated skill. She giggles! Score.
Wow. You are so bored.
You flop in the outside seat that Rose's mom vacated, pretend you don't see the kid leaning out into the aisle.
"Hey umm mister?"
"Where's your arm?"
Oh hey you'd almost given up getting that question. Funny how suddenly you're acutely aware that at least three people on your row and Rose's are Totally Not Listening Oh My That Book Is Fascinating Isn't It I Am So Engrossed In It Please Do Keep Having That Conversation.
The kid's parents look horrified and about to snatch her back and berate her, but seriously? The horror faces are more offensive than the nosiness.
"I lost it in a sword battle against a devil dog," you say, serious as the grave. "Sliced it clean off, just like that, shhhick."
It's sort of almost true. Goddamn Sburb program-to-person translation glitches.
The kid looks suitably impressed -- which is to say, mildly so, which is good because your performance in that fight was passable at best and then you lost and got Bro killed, so. "Oh, okay. Did you--"
"Marian!" whisper-hisses the nearest parent. The kid gets disappeared along the aisle with a little cry of protest. Her mom gives you an embarrassed laugh. She keeps pointedly Not Looking at your stump.
"Thanks for not telling her the truth. I know most amputations are -- ah, sorry, I -- sorry."
Most amputations are the result of some kind of disease, or, at your age, probably Stupid Shit on a bike at high speed that results in a major case of road rash plus pulverized bones and shredded tendons -- that or getting caught in machinery. Yes you did look that shit up, you're a ghoulish little bastard, okay. You'd blame it on the crow but you were like that from the start.
You shrug, making sure to make the sleeve shift around your stump. Look at that hideous barely-there scar tissue, your almost-god commands you! bwahaha. (She does, with guilty fascination.) "No problem," you say, upright neighborly, and then you add, "though I really did lose it in a sword fight against a devil dog. Kind of. I was a crow at the time."
She stares at you. Her eyelids do that twitchy thing where someone really wants to look away but doesn't know how rabid you are and how likely to pounce if they show fear. You keep staring back, perfectly expressionless. You feel like your whole life training of cool with Bro was all for this precise moment.
Rose's mom snickers beside you and thwaps your shoulder with the back of her hand. "Stop being a brat, you brat. Trade? You left your bag back there."
You were trying to be nice and shield her from the noise so she could sleep, but as a matter of fact yes, you did leave your cell phone and water bottle and everything beside Dirk's seat. Be easy enough to just pass it along but -- "Aw, it's fine -- uhmom."
You barely stumble over the word. She smiles, eyes crinkling. They're hazel, of all possible colors. So weird. "Keep your brother company. C'mon, go."
She gets up so you have no choice but to wriggle under her and slink back into the middle seat. Alas and woe. She immediately strikes up a conversation about how much of a pain children are and oh but her Rosie and her Dirkie are such well-behaved children just like little Marian she was very sweet really no worries but the other three not so much let's hope yours doesn't turn as she grows. You can't see the other woman anymore but you can tell she's trying not to boggle that a woman who looks like Romy Lalonde has five teenage children.
Dirk deigns to lift his forehead away from the glass and look at you. You shrug. He grunts.
You almost think he's going to dismiss the whole thing, but he's still looking at you. You arch an eyebrow over the rim of your shades. "What?"
"Give any thoughts to getting that prosthesis, bro?"
You stiffen all over, so fast it pulls and aches in your back. Something like heartburn is coiling under your ribs.
"Mind your own fucking business."
A fake arm. To fake normal with. To hide the stump away, lest people get uneasy. Yeah fucking right.
Dirk is observing you from the corner of his stupid shades. You refuse to turn his way.
(It aches where the roots of your wings were.)
"Just asking, bro."
"Yeah, well, just don't."
If it were Dirk he'd just shrug it off and carry on the most efficient way there is. Fuck Dirk. You jam on your headset and spend the next half-hour brooding and pretending to watch the movie on TV.
You hate your own feelings on the topic of your missing bits. Some moment you'll be fatalistically fine with it -- okay, could have been way worse, it's just one arm, you got a spare, who the fuck cares -- and then you'll flip straight into rage, into wanting to shove people's faces in it, yeah, look at me, fucking look -- and then they look and nope, need to hide and curl up and whine now because they did exactly what you dared them to. You can't fucking stand yourself ever since Sburb kicked you out into reality with the rest of these assholes instead of turning you off and trashing you like the bunch of obsolete coding and superfluous spare parts you now were.
You want to be normal again and you want to shit on normal, you want to be a bird and a katana and a sprite again and that feels normal, that is the benchmark You want --
You want to not suddenly hear Roxy mewl, what the heck.
That was a very realistic mewl. So is the sudden scrabbling and sotto voce swearing, from Roxy and then from Rose, the fuck?
Dave pops up over the back of his seat, dumps something white on Dirk's lap with a hissed "Catch!", dodges back down out of sight.
You stare at the very non-plush, very alive, very displeased white cat on your parallel universe-brother's lap. The cat stares back at you. Dirk is now swearing in turn.
"The fuck, dude?"
"G-cat," Dirk explains, which explains exactly jack shit. The little hellbeast meows again. It's loud. "Fuck, since when is the little shit even--"
The cat scratches at Dirk's arm, draws blood. Dirk hisses between his teeth, tries to hug it to his chest; it pops out of his hold like a cork made of fur rags and bloodstained hooks and then it's on your lap.
You're probably expected to attempt to hold it in turn but like hell you are touching it. Dear jegus do you hate cats. And dogs. Any animal that isn't a bird, basically, they all suck and have too many teeth. Your hand stays clenched on your armrest, thankyouverymuch.
The cat decides to sit there and start grooming. Okay, no. You bounce your knee a little to shoo it off; it lets itself flump against your stomach and lays there in a casual, smug little half-circle. Gnrgh. "Dirk, get it off me. Get the fucking thing off me. Get it--"
Dirk leans in. Awesome.
Dirk untucks your shirt. Less awesome. "Okay, dude, this is so not the time for casual inces--"
Dirk pulls the bottom of the shirt on top of the cat, so its horribly ticklish fur now presses all over your tender, exposed stomach oh dear lord does he want you gutted??
"Dirk, you assbutt--"
He leans farther in and pulls up your empty sleeve, and then he looks up past you and goes "'Sup" at the stewardess looking down at you with a dafuk expression on her face.
You make your face blank and attempt to look as pregnantly amputated as possible. By some miracle of Nature the cat doesn't move and betray its presence -- apart from breathing right against your clenched stomach and tickling you with its whiskers, awgh.
"Ah -- my apologies, I thought I heard...?"
"Mrow," Momlonde goes, and giggles drunkenly.
"She does that," Dirk deadpans. After a few more embarrassed mumbles the stewardess leaves. Dirk and Mom go about constructing a wall between you and her. The cat starts kneading way too close to your balls, claws getting caught in your jeans. You are so not okay with this.
"She's gone," Lalonde the elder whispers, suddenly unblitzed.
Dirk relaxes into his seat. You don't. The thing is vibrating at you. Might explode or something. Not conducive to relaxation.
"Why, hello, pretty thing," Mom whispers as she leans in to peer down your collar at the cat.
"Welcome to Cougartown," Dave says from his perch over the backrest. "All passengers onboard undo their belts and drop trou for discerning elder ladies..." Rose is peering over as well, Roxy leaning in from the outside. They both giggle.
"I'm disowning you all," you inform them. "By the way. If you were wondering. Also someone get that thing out of my shirt or I swear to god I will open a window and punt it right the fuck out of the plane."
Roxy snerks and ruffles your hair, the witch. "You don't want to do that, it'd probably teleport you right off the plane."
You eye the weird lump in your shirt. Okay, cool, you have a First Guardian on your lap.
The fuck is this universe, that there's two of them.
Then again, you knew from the start it wasn't a perfect copy of yours, not only because of the people who should not live in it yet still do somehow, but also the fact that Jane is the friggin' suburban heiress to a multinational corporation and there are weird alien monsterparents all over Jade's island.
Explaining an appearing cat is one thing, wouldn't be too hard to bullshit something about how it slipped in someone's carry-on and security had a brain fart while it went through, but explaining a disappearing teenager?
Not that you care much about how much trouble they'd be in, explaining your disappearance, you'd be too busy being utterly fucked about suddenly being stranded halfway across the world. One good thing you can say about Bec is he knows go fetch implies and bring it the fuck back.
Pretty much the only good thing, actually.
Romy probably would be interested in stroking fur, but she has reluctantly seated herself with her back half-turned to you so her body can provide more of a barrier to curious looks. Rose manages to convince Roxy not to try petting the kitty lest someone notice, and Dirk doesn't seem interested in fondling the beast.
There's a reason your thoughts are comprised of about one masturbation metaphor per second. That reason is a warm soft ticklish purring weight on your crotch.
You miss when you were all sprite tail from the waist down and had zero hormones to mess with your -- okay no, even with the Most Morally Dubious Boner Award hanging over your head like the wrongest Damocles sword ever you can't manage to wish you didn't have a working dong and actually mean it.
Why are you sixteen. Whyyyyy are you sixteen.
Why are you sixteen and surrounded by your bro and your mom and their watchful eyes.
You spend the last hour of flight enjoying your complimentary awkward blue balls and the fondly administered pinprick claw holes through your skin. G-cat pops out of existence the second the captain announces that you're approaching the airport, proving that providing a warm, terrified lap for several hours is zero guarantee that it'd bother hanging around to potentially save you from a crash landing.
Cats are all fucking assholes. It's decided; you prefer dogs.
Dogs are all fucking assholes.
You stare at the pinkening evening sky over you, sunset clouds and waves lapping at the pier nearby and a huge fatassed furmonster sitting on your chest and trying to nuzzle your tender neck to death, and you wonder, why. Why you. Why now. There is no god.
There are some gods, but they're also assholes, and currently standing around your fallen form and laughing down at you with all their beaver teeth.
"Bec, get off -- come on, boy!"
Bec does not give a damn, Bec is busy exploring your neck and chest with his longass muzzle and all the pointy teeth in it. Oh yay, you smell of cat. You're going to get savaged out of sudden territorial fury, you can see it coming from here.
He licks your face. Phbbt.
Jade manages to haul her monster off you. You sit up, glower tiredly at John who's holding out his hand and still laughing. You take his hand, though. If there's a joy buzzer in it, after all, there's a harbor only ten steps to the left for all your dunking needs.
He hauls you up and nothing happens save for a sudden hug attack where he tries to break your ribs. You bat halfheartedly at his back for a few seconds before surrendering to your fate.
"Oh, lover, we meet again," you drone right in his ear. "I missed you so."
The asshole one-ups you by cupping your face and oh shit is he going to dip you--
Yep, he is.
"Do we know them?" Rose asks Dirk blandly. His arm around Jane's shoulders, Dirk stares back, and then he shoulders his luggage and the blood of your blood turn their backs on you, hauling Jane along. Roxy and Jade stay there, laughing.
Dave stays here too but mostly staring.
You tap John's shoulder (not nervous at all at the thought that he might choose right now to let go.) "Okay, stud, let me up, the other woman won't let you have your maid sandwich if you don't butter her up too."
"Could we have a mud fight, but with butter instead?" John asks as he thankfully pulls you back upright; he grins at Dave, eyebrows waggling full-bore. You elbow him in the ribs and follow the Strider-Crocker-Lalonde sandwich to say hi to Jane, who you don't really know, but if it means you won't keep having asshole 'hah, he said hello to me first' thoughts in Dave's direction or thinking deep down about Karkat's ridiculous shipping grids...
"Yo, Crocker, nice canoe," you say blandly, eyeing the wall of white taking up almost all of the pier.
Jane is plump and girl-next-door cute, and her eyes might be John-colored somewhat but the shape of them is all Jade. She's not as tan as either of them, or as tan as what you remember of Jake English, but still a couple shades darker than your own borderline albino pallor, darker than her used, papery old-lady skin. She looks a little hesitant, looking at you, and for a moment you miss Nanna's crinkly-eyed, gently teasing greetings.
You kind of wish Nanna Egbert hadn't technically been dead almost as long as you've been alive, some days. But it's not like you didn't understand what living on borrowed time meant.
"Ah, yes, thanks, it's not really mine, it's a company ship. They just, I guess they let the executives use it sometimes."
Dirk's arm is still around her and he watches you through his shades and he's so expressionless you know it means if you're not on your best fucking behavior imma punt you in the bay, bitch. You had no intention to be otherwise, so you purse your lips and you give your best butler bow.
"Madame. Thanks for having us on it anyway."
"You are so much more polite than the other Strider boys. What do you want?" she asks, eyes gone narrow in suspicion. You pout.
"Nothing at all. Just like where's the best rooms cause I need dibs, you understand, I need 'em to rub in Dave's face and also John's and stuff. Possibly Karkat's."
Which reminds you.
You scan the pier and the side of the ship, though you already know you ain't gonna see any trolls in a semi-public area in daylight. Beside the bridge John's dad and Bro and Lalonde Senior are having a nice little chat; you thought Jane's dad would be there but he's nowhere in sight.
The ship is actually a cruise yacht -- not one of those monstrosities that are seven or eight stories tall... nah, this one's only about, oh, two or three stories tall, tops. From nose to ass it's almost three buses long. It's huge.
It's also going to host all of you for another month and a half, two months; you're pretty sure by this time next week you'll be pacing in circles and snapping at people like a bunch of hippos in a kiddy pool just like back home.
"Where are the horny ones?" you ask. Jade snorfles as she comes up behind you.
"That was a really bad way to put it!"
"That was the best way to put it."
Only now you're thinking Makara-Pyrope blackrom thoughts again, awgh, god, no. You make yourself think Karkat thoughts instead. Hey grubfucker, show me your human equipment. You imagine him all grumpy and glaring and completely serious, it's more funny than intriguing. And now you've missed the answer, whoops. "Come again?"
"You're a pig," Rose concludes. Welp.
Now either you let it stand and have no answer to your question, or you come out about not having meant that as a comeback no honest it slipped your mind and look like an uncool twerp.
"Once it's nightfall there won't be much distance left to cross," Jade says. Phew. You smartly deduce that it means they're holed up somewhere close, maybe the truck or maybe some shack out of the way; it's a pretty big port thingy, surely there's hiding places no one uses around here. Okay, good 'nough.
Dadbert comes back from some kind of office, except Dadbert is still with Bro so this is probably Crockpop instead. Holy shit, they're even dressed the same. John's dad has a plain gray-blue button-up shirt on and Jane's has these really thin white stripes but the shade is exactly the same. So are the hats. (The godforsaken hats, dear lord.) Can one of them pick up his pipe and the other one switch to cigarettes or chewing tobacco or whatever maybe? Grow facial hair? (wait, which one would be the evil twin?) Gain a very manly scar?
Rose says "Hello, Mister Crocker" so you and Dirk chorus a "Yeah, hi." He dips his hat at the bunch of you and smiles, and finally, finally ushers everyone onboard.
When you cross the gangway you're kind of excited, actually. You bet it's going to be swank as hell.
-- truncatedGrip [TG] started pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] --
TG: hey bro hows it going in the land of cramped and dank
TG: pretty well i bet huh and here we are utterly miserable in
TG: id say in the lap of luxury but thatd be misleading re how deep in said lap we are
TG: id make up a comparison with a tijuana titty bar but youd fail to be impressed enough im sure needless to say its very luxurious
TG: balls deep would also fail to impress you on account of the lack of reference you have re where human guy balls are even located in general and the size of my man tool in particular but just trust me you should be impressed
TG: and also slobbering
CG: TEREZI IS READING OVER MY SHOULDER.
CG: BY THE WAY.
TG: its cool girl needs to know what shes getting into enough strider sausage to feed small third world nations gotta plan for that shit in advance
CG: SHE SAYS, I QUOTE, "HEHEHE YOU TASTE DELICIOUSLY RED, MISTER TANGERINE. A BLOOD ORANGE MAYBE."
CG: AND NO, I'M NOT DOING YOUR STUPID QUIRK, TEREZI.
CG: YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE, BRO.
TG: goddamn it cant a man mention his mantool to other men in totally no homo peace
TG: go away terezi ill tell your manbitch to log in so you can nag him okay
CG: SHE'S GONE.
CG: BY THE WAY. IF YOU TYPE, SAY, OR EVEN *THINK* THAT ASININE *NO HOMO* AT ME EVER AGAIN I AM STUFFING YOUR HANDHELD COMMUNICATION DEVICE UP YOUR WASTE CHUTE SO FAR UP IT'LL START GETTING USEFUL TO TRAIN YOUR TONGUE TO TOUCH-TYPE.
TG: okay fine yes homo
TG: shit was totally homo okay are you happy
CG: I AM NEVER HAPPY.
TG: i am so homo for u sensei u dont even no
TG: plz touch me in my no no places
CG: OH DEAR BARFING DWARFNUGGETS, I DID NOT THINK IT WAS POSSIBLE FOR YOUR QUIRK TO GET ANY MORE TOOLISH. WHY DID I NOT REALIZE I WAS ONCE AGAIN EGREGIOUSLY WRONG.
TG: all over my no no places
TG: with ur...
TG: *no no thing*
CG: BAM! MAKEOUT PRIVILEGES REVOKED.
TG: come on you know you were totes smiling
TG: at least inside
CG: I NEVER SMILE EITHER, WHETHER INSIDE, OUTSIDE, OR UPSIDE DOWN.
TG: thats a lie you turn your smiles upside down all the time one day your face will be stuck like that
CG: WHAT IF IT'S ALREADY HAPPENED, AND NOW YOU'RE MOCKING MY OBVIOUS DISABILITY. HOW COULD YOU, ASSHOLE.
TG: i can mock it if i have it thats the rule
TG: facialstucks assemble
TG: what if i keep telling you all about how swank this place is and how much youre gonna love it once youre out of your hidey hole
CG: YOU MEAN THAT TANGLE OF AWKWARD TROLLISH LIMBS, ABJECT MISERY, AND FESTERING SEXUAL TENSION?
CG: GOOD PLAN, KEEP REMINDING ME I'M STILL STUCK IN HERE AND ... YOUR CASUAL HOOKUP ACCESS WILL STILL BE REVOKED! BUT YOU MIGHT MANAGE TO GAIN BLACK QUADRANT PRIVILEGES INSTEAD.
CG: KEEP AT IT, BYRD, I KNOW YOU CAN REACH THOSE HEIGHTS OF DOUCHE.
TG: bluh i done told you i aint into bloodletting kisses and nonstop snarling seriously vantas stop trying to shunt me there
TG: no no and also no
TG: i dont get why you keep bringing it up either cause seriously now what kind of rival would i make atm im a maimed whiny lump of sad and suck the only thing i have going for me is my great ass and cocksucking mouth
CG: KIND OF SOUNDED LIKE YOU'RE ANGLING FOR FLUSH.
CG: VERY UNSUBTLY SO. BY THE WAY.
TG: oh hell
TG: can we just
TG: idk not complicate that with feels and quadranty bullshit i like your ass its a cute and pert ass i like bantering with you its fun and all can we just
TG: keep doing that
TG: im not saying let me use you and leave you forever and ever amen i just
CG: WANT TO WAIT AND SEE HOW IT GOES?
TG: do you even like me in a romantic way dude i mean if we werent macking would you even look at me that way
CG: SORRY. JUST THINKING.
CG: NO, YOU'RE RIGHT. I'D PROBABLY STILL BE SEEING YOU AS STRIDER BIS.
TG: wow ouch
CG: DON'T YOU WHINE AT ME.
CG: YOU'RE A LOT NICER.
CG: WELL. A BIT NICER.
CG: I KNOW DAVE CAN BE NICE TO PEOPLE HE REALLY CARES FOR BUT I WAS NEVER ON THAT LIST. THAT WAS MOSTLY TEREZI AND ROSE.
TG: jade too were marshmallows for jade then again shed tenderize us with a truncheon herself if we werent so
CG: YOU'RE JUST NICER IN GENERAL. A TINY LITTLE BIT. CONSIDERING HOW LOW DAVE'S LEVEL WAS, IT'S STILL SIGNIFICANT.
TG: do you have any idea how lame
TG: how *emasculating* it is to be known as *the nice one*
TG: here i was ready to start in on a sexy goatee and nope cut down by karkats razor wit
TG: baby butt cheeked for life
CG: NICE BOYS GET LESS TEETH AND MORE ASS GROPING.
TG: im in
TG: sign me up for sainthood vatican here i come
TG: pope strider in his popemobile puffpuffing down the street one gold plated fake hand waving at the crowd genially the other hand on his vantas shaped choirboys tender ass
CG: WHAT MAKES YOU THINK IT'LL BE YOUR HAND DOING THE GROPING?
TG: ok i have no repartee here only unf
TG: all onboard her majestys ship the buttsploration
TG: destination the unexplored strider chasm
TG: the mystery chocolate whirlpool
CG: H3H3H3 YOUR3 SO B4D 4T S3XT1NG
TG: HOLY FUCK TEREZI GET OFF KARKATS HANDLE ALREADY!!!!
Terezi killed the mood dead, so you both join a chaotic and overfull memo of everyone talking over each other and complaining that they want to be gone already bluh bluh why do we have to wait until morning (GEE, HARLEY, BECAUSE YOUR HUMAN PILOTS SUCK AND DON'T SEE IN THE DARK, AND WE SUPERIOR TROLLS CAN'T PILOT INFERIOR HUMAN CRAFTS.) You're wasting time waiting for darkness.
You get into a side chat with Kanaya and she tells you all about how tempted she was to auspisticize for Gamzee and Terezi even though they never did anything but elbow each other a bit when a sharp turn pushed them onto each other, because at this short distance the vibes were choking everything, and how Gamzee kept throwing Karkat hugely embarrassing puppy eyes -- she thinks maybe Karkat should throw in the towel and dump him clean, you think she's hoping to catch Karkat on the rebound, the naughty minx, she says you're wrong and a lying liar and also John and Gamzee could also work pretty well pale what do you think, you think John's nonexistent diamond is goddamned well going to stay yours thanks so very much. You gossip like a pair of mean girls and it's hilarious.
Gamzee gets you in a side chat and says nothing but honk. You're vaguely terrified.
Finally, it is time. John and his father go down to one of the lower decks (oh lord the ship has several decks, all wide open to the horizon and gorgeous, you are never letting go of that decadent beach lounge thing) somewhere at the ass end of the ship, and the lights along the pier flicker and go dark. Four horned shadows hurry around wooden boxes and barrels and over coils of rope and jump across the dark, watery gap, one-two-three-come on Karkat don't chicken out now four, and then they're scrambling up the ladder with their claws going clink clink clink very quietly under the noise of the lapping waves. You lose sight of them, until you drag yourself off your deck chair and wander to the lounge room, where two toothy derps are hugging two trolls apiece.
Rose taps Jade's shoulder and frees Kanaya from her embrace and they proceed to smooch, urgh, and Terezi goes bounding into Dave's arms and then drags him straight to the adults, grinning like a challenge, hello, you are so kind, yes, gorgeous place. John keeps Gamzee's arm slung across his shoulders like an affectionate noose.
You wonder how they'd all react if you walked up to Vantas and dipped him in front of everyone. Nah, you'd drop him on his ass, and then he'd cut you off. Makeouts can be had later on. Sounds kind of interesting to keep it discreet, anyway, even though with Terezi and Jade in the know it's not gonna stay under wraps long. You just sneak him a wink, and go teach Kanaya a special gossipchump fistbumpshake.
It's pretty cool and a bit of a relief -- not that you worried at all -- and you're more than ready to settle in and have the exhausted, chat-until-three-in-the-morning fiesta that the adults have already given up trying to prevent.
And then the cops ask if they can come aboard.