At least Karkat has gone back to resting his chin on Dave's knee, in the week between their blow-up and Kankri's summoning. At least there's that.
There's a strange cautiousness to it now, though. Karkat will come sprawl on the couch against him, and nap on the futon, but there's -- he keeps watching Dave.
Dave tries not to notice. He often fails.
Dave tries more, harder, to get his hands off Karkat the second he expresses discomfort. That shit he did, trying to go down on him -- he doesn't like it. He doesn't like how it made him feel back then -- horrible, dirty, rejected.
Heartbroken. He doesn't like how it makes him feel now.
It would have been rape. (Like this whole situation isn't rapey enough.) It would have been. The worst is he'd have managed to borderline rape himself on top, in some twisted, completely ridiculous way where he was not even wanting it one bit but kept trying to make Karkat want him back with shit Karkat had explicitly told him he didn't want.
Too many wants in this thought. Dave works his fingers through thin quills, to Karkat's skull and pets and ruffles gently. Karkat's eyelids droop.
Asshole spent the morning napping blissfully under Dave's desk. Dave spent it working with his brain dragging through molasses, except when it was slipping into vibrator-pondering asides.
Totally productive, those. Time to get better ones.
#fuckyeahpetdemon i wonder if im ever gonna need to trim his quills what if they bleed
#fuckyeahpetdemon worse what if they grow at the same rate as his hair ouch
#fuckyeahpetdemon dont even know if his hair grows at all what if it stays birdnesty all his fleshy life
#fuckyeahpetdemon and like his quills are the only thing that grows and he ends up like a porcupine and pokes me at every cuddle
Sigh. He puts his phone back down; his other hand is still buried in Karkat's hair. His demon is looking up, eyebrow quirked in question.
Oh hey a message ping.
@turntechGodhead dude, you shouldn't nightblog at noon, shit's just wrong :p
@rkmarciano fuk u i was busy doing important police things at three am what were you doing citizen hands on your car now
"Are you texting," Karkat asks, not very impressed, and grabs the phone right out of Dave's hand.
His pointy thumb goes tippytippytip on Dave's keys with pretty impressive speed. Barely scratches the keys at all.
Dave is a little more interested in the way he nudges him so Dave has to back his chair away from the desk a bit, then turns to put his shoulder and half his back against the edge of Dave's chair, snuggled between Dave's knees.
#fuckyeahpetdemon CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ASSHOLES ARE DISCUSSING MY *HAIR.* OK, ONE ASSHOLE. THANKS @REST OF YOU MEATBAGS FOR NOT ENCOURAGING HIS JACKASSERY.
#fuckyeahpetdemon ALSO SEND ME YOUR FAVORITE TYPES OF CANDY. IT'S FOR VERY IMPORTANT AND ENTIRELY SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH.
Karkat starts poking and scrolling around, Dave's smartphone cradled in his spiky gauntlet hands. Dave watches him for a minute. He really should see about getting Karkat his own phone. His own tweeting and email accounts, too. Maybe give him the talk on cyber threats, forgeries, and internet perverts... hahaha, nah, he'd figure it out on his own, he's a cynical little bastard.
Giving him the talk anyway would be hilarious. Yeah, okay, he's doing that.
Dave tugs his laptop closer to the edge of the desk and tries to go back to work with a gap between him and the desk and a demon between his legs. Karkat has absently wound one of his wings under and around Dave's calf.
Dave is not paying attention, Dave is not paying attention, Dave is not... "What are you twitching over now?"
"Um." Karkat throws him a glance from underneath his mess of a fringe. "Nothing."
"... Phone, pleez."
Karkat huffs, but hands it over. There's a wall of new messages. Dave scrolls back up a bit.
#fuckyeahpetdemon @labellesansculotte MY WRITTEN/SPOKEN NAME IS KARKAT. YOU MAY CALL ME KARKAT. IT IS PRONOUNCED KARKAT.
#fuckyeahpetdemon @labellesansculotte IF YOU CANNOT PRONOUNCE IT, GO BACK TO KINDERGARTEN, THE ALPHABET IS TOO ADVANCED FOR YOU.
#fuckyeahpetdemon @nekomiao0o0 MARSHMALLOWS, BAR NONE.
#fuckyeahpetdemon @belloSergio777 RIGHT NOW? UNDER HIS DESK. WHY?
#fuckyeahpetdemon @LoLaLaLa UH, NO? I LIKE BEING OUT OF SIGHT, HIS COWORKERS ARE NOSY. IT'S DARK TOO, RESTFUL. GOT PILLOWS FROM THE BREAK ROOM.
#fuckyeahpetdemon OKAY, YOU ASSHOLES, WHAT'S WITH THE SECRETARY JOKES.
After that the tag is full of lame innuendos and people snapping at the assholes making them and "helpful" explanations of what exactly people usually do with other people hidden under their desks.
Dave thought it would be funny to give Karkat a talk on internet perverts. Right now he mostly feels embarrassed to death.
Also a little too warm under the belt.
It doesn't help when Karkat turns to look up at him, chin propped on Dave's knee.
"Okay, I see we have to install a cybernanny for you. You're much too innocent and pure for that naughty crap."
The look Karkat sends him back is cynical enough, but then he rolls his eyes too. "Yeah, sure. That's why I'm not getting why you're oozing lust all over the place suddenly. What an interesting coincidence."
Dave sputters. Oh Jesus asslord buttercup. Did anyone hear him?! He's not speaking loudly, and other people are having conversations around which acts as a kind of brown noise, but he's not whispering either.
Karkat tilts his head a bit, looks up at Dave, expression thoughtful and almost sweet.
"Do you want me to?"
Dave's brain enters the state known as bluescreen of death.
"No!" he hisses, horrified, the second he remembers what words are for. (So, way too fucking late.)
Karkat gives his crotch a pointed look made of 100% disbelief, harvested from the most hardcore atheistic, conspiracy theory-sinking, anti-Santa Claus rainforest of the Himalayas.
Maybe even 110%.
"Are you fucking crazy, not in public, not at work -- and do you even want, why the fuck would you want, shit --"
Karkat shrugs, looks away. "I'm hungry. You're right here. Why not."
Yeah, that cools him down a little. Dave throws little looks around. No one is visible over their partition... Okay, safe. He looks back down between his thighs.
His dick is still half-hard, and Karkat is still at face level with it.
He seriously, honestly contemplates it. Karkat's shark teeth and the fact that he has never even sucked on Dave's fingers before barely rate a quickly dismissed afterthought. What stops him is --
Not getting found out, exactly, not the embarrassment of being caught in the act (the possibility of being almost found out, of having to pretend all is normal while Karkat has his dick halfway down his throat, that'd almost make him say yes) but... he's not sure. He likes his colleagues. He respects them. It's... he can't really explain it. He doesn't want to bother them like that.
The real no, though, is that as hot as the fantasy is, the reality of Karkat on his knees, "servicing" him, would make the fantasy go sour in his throat.
"I really am hungry," Karkat mutters, staring at the floor, shoulders hunched.
Shit. Argh. Now it's different.
He glances over the partitions. Okay, half of everyone is still out for lunch. Dave extracts himself from the chair and the demon, untucks his button-up shirt artfully. "C'mon. Bathroom break."
He stalks ahead. Karkat pads after him, perked right up. His dick doesn't know what's up, caught at a confused half-mast.
Hossler and Johar aren't in today, so anyone who wants the handicapped stall has no more of a claim than Dave and his demon. He holds the door open, ushers Karkat in, steps in after him. Locks the flimsy door.
All the other stalls are empty. Yeah. Okay.
Why does he still feel nervous just about every time it happens? Shouldn't it have gotten better by now?
No, it did get better, a little bit, and when they're just lying around in bed listening to music or the rain or whatever and suddenly nibbles happen it's not really awkward anymore to take himself in hand and give himself long, lazy strokes as Karkat presses against his back. Right now, though...
He stares down at his demon, who stares back, and wow he's not sure about the mild degree of sordid that having someone on all fours on a public bathroom floor infuses this with. Even if it looks clean enough today.
"Right," Karkat says, "sit on the toilet."
He glowers up at him. "Sit."
Dave steps around him and sits on the lowered cover, a little startled. Does he want to straddle Dave's lap? The wall will make this a smidge awkward, but he can --
Oh huh. Hands on his knees.
Dave could also do with a handjob. His pulse speeds up a little as he watches those raptor claws make their way up his thighs. Karkat isn't very good at slow and sensual -- hard to be when his hands don't feel what he's doing -- but he tries; he reproduces the long gliding movements he enjoys the most, the way Dave touches his own velvety thighs.
He glowers at Dave's fly. Dave undoes it obediently, before his buttons get sheared off. The smooth outside curve of a claw runs up his dick through his underwear; he chokes a little as he fishes himself out. He needs, he reminds himself, to keep breathing slow, quiet, he needs to not make noise. Someone could walk in any time.
Two segmented, hard-shelled fingers curl cautiously around the base of his shaft, guide his dick away from his belly.
Karkat leans in, dark lips parted. Dave's breath hitches like someone just kneed him in the stomach.
"Wait wait wait -- you're not going to -- Karkat?"
"I'm not going to bite," Karkat growls back, and leans the rest of the way in to give his shaft a cautious lick.
Dave almost doesn't notice the pinpricks of Karkat's quills on his belly.
(He does notice them a little; he smoothes them back, rests his hand there. All the half-panicked thoughts from a second ago sound as if there's a wall in the way, muting them.)
A lick and a lick and another lick, slow and measured, testing. His tongue is so, so warm, just a little bit raspy, not to cat levels by far but a tiny little bit anyway, a bit long, tapering. He leaves a damp trail up Dave's dick that dries under his hot breath.
It's a fucking tease. Dave is fully prepared to sit here another three hours while Karkat maps the entire contours of Mount Strider.
He's gonna need a little more stimulation in a minute though. His hand inches toward his balls.
Slap. Karkat glowers. "No. I'm doing it. Suggest shit if you want, but otherwise sit there and shut up."
The surge of arousal that blooms in his belly and races up his spine forces him to lock his throat, still his lungs, so he won't make more noise than this first startled little gasp, so he won't whimper. His face has gone hot, his ears burn.
Karkat blinks up at him, as if he oh right, he can tell, and then--
It's just a crooked little thing of a smile, pleased, not really smug. Dave wants to kiss him so badly. Karkat makes a little humming, purring noise in his throat and licks a stripe up his cock instead.
Ngh. Okay. Yeah. Kissing is a thing that can happen later.
"It tastes mostly like skin," Karkat muses. "Bit salty."
Dave whimpers. "Please do not comment on the taste. Please. As a favor to me."
"I just thought it'd be more gross. Shut up."
He nips the inside of Dave's thigh through his slacks. Dave's dick jumps a little. So does the rest of him. Oh fuck yes, teeth. "Uh, and do you know about the no fucking teeth thing. Because I'm not sure what you know about this, I should have supervised your internet time more, and--"
Karkat looks up long enough to roll his eyes, and nips his thigh again. "Yeah, that's not common sense at all."
Dave would keep talking -- he can keep talking through so many things he really should shut up during, it's both a blessing and a curse -- only then Karkat takes the tip of his dick in his mouth, black lips wrapped around his shaft just under the head, tongue pressed flat against him.
And then he looks up at him, burning red eyes under black tousled locks, and he smirks around Dave's cock, and he curls up his lip to bare his fangs. The head of Dave's cock is nestled on a wet, warm, very red tongue, lower lip made to pout underneath, and over it are lined all these bear trap teeth.
Karkat is a fucking asshole. Also, there is something very wrong with Dave's libido.
"No need to rub it in," he mutters as his dick pulses. He thinks he sees, oh hell is that precum about to drop on Karkat's tongue, what if the taste--
Karkat wraps his lips around him again, and laughs a little. Dave's eyes close of their own volition.
"You could," he tries to say, "if you felt like it," but it sounds wrong, like he's giving Karkat permission to do what he wants when what's so awesome about it is Karkat is doing what he wants. "Please?"
Karkat is sucking on his dick, not too hard, not too deep, more interested in testing how things work than in ravaging Dave's body. "Hmm?"
"Your hand -- bit tighter? Please?" 'You don't have to' dies on his tongue.
Karkat hums thoughtfully around his dick. Dave dies a little. He pets his hair, nervously, trying to encourage him or change his mind or whatever, and he waits.
Dave whines. His hips twitch, try to roll. He lets his head rock back, bump against the wall. Ow. He bumps his head again, deliberately. Damn it. "Okay." Okay, whatever Karkat wants.
And then his hand tightens anyway, moves up and down in cautious halves of an inch -- and a good thing they don't go faster or farther too because Karkat's hand doesn't give like flesh would, and it hurts a tiny little bit in that way Dave's body actually likes somehow, what is wrong with his nervous system, seriously.
"Oh fuck, thank you--"
Someone walks by. Dave freezes, and Karkat doesn't stop sucking and suddenly those little wet noises are so, so loud -- but they don't walk in. The relief is so intense Dave slumps against the wall, all limbs loose -- slides a little farther into Karkat's mouth, who gags, and then he feels the point of teeth grazing him and whimpers. He can't even tense again, he just -- if Karkat wants to bite, well then, bite away.
He doesn't, but he pulls off, laps at the part where his teeth pressed in, even though that didn't really hurt, before swallowing Dave back down. He's graduated to little clicky noises, like a motor trying to start.
"I need -- up and down -- please, fuck." He mimes with his hand. He has no more words to describe. He can't can't can't guide Karkat's head down, it's his show today not Dave's show he's totally fine with it, yes, he is, totally fine.
Sexiest bit of torture, like. Ever. But he's really going to need more than those teases if he wants to ever come; the longer they're here the more likely they'll get caught, and people might theoretically understand that he has to feed his demon, but... But.
"What if I didn't want to," Karkat muses, lips against his dick.
"Then I'd get blue balls and it would hurt like a bitch and I couldn't feed you for a while?" Dave blurts out, which he's sure is the wrong answer, but Karkat just looks up at him again and snickers. He is so fucking cute when he smiles. Or smirks. Or basically any expression that isn't a glare. No, his glares are hot actually, though also cute somehow. But yes, smiles, not enough, love to see more of, and Dave is totally mooning at his demon's face like a complete idiot.
"You're the most idiotic piece of talking meat I have ever heard of," Karkat replies, but he's still smirking, so Dave just smiles back. He has a vague feeling he looks goofy as fuck.
After that Karkat takes him in his mouth again and starts bobbing up and down, slow and cautious at first as he figures out how to keep his lips in place, and Dave stops thinking about what his own face looks like, because he's busy staring at the ceiling. It's an awesome ceiling, like wow, all those tiles on it. Karkat doesn't take him very deep, but he picks up some speed, slowly; his hand is nice and tight around the root of his dick and his other hand is prickling Dave's knee through the cloth with all its claws.
Dave's pleasure rises in twitches and sudden starts; he has time to spare a thought for a quick oh, hey, with my luck, isn't it time I got interrupted, and then he's choking on air and pleasure, fingers forced apart so he won't tear off a fistful of black hair and spines as the rest of him clenches through the height of his orgasm.
It takes him half a minute, and the realization that his dick is wet and cold, to blink his eyes open and wince. "Oh shit, sorry, I forgot to warn--"
Karkat is grimacing as he spits on a bit of toilet paper in his hand, but he spares the time to roll his eyes at him. "I can feel your pleasure, asshole, if I couldn't tell when you're about to blow by now I'd be the sorriest demon in all the planes of existence and some that were invented just for the occasion."
"Thar she blows," Dave mumbles. Karkat arches his eyebrows. "Nuthin'."
He tucks himself back in, still reeling, gets up on shaky legs to let Karkat throw the toilet paper away.
"So um, can we spend like ten minutes wasting the taxpayer's dollars while I cuddle you on the job. I have a mighty need."
Karkat looks up at him. For once his expression is hard to read. Calculating? Wistful? Something else entirely? It's too subtle.
"I don't care about the taxpayers, but someone has been waiting outside the bathroom door for the last two minutes."
Drowning in a toilet bowl is a thing that can actually happen, right? Someone should test this important security issue for the good of the public.
His face is burning still, but not with arousal anymore. Dave takes in a deep, bracing breath, goes to wash his hands and avoid his own eyes in the mirror, and make his much too slow and unsteady way to the exit.
Of course then Karkat reaches the door first.
"Oh. It's you."
Not any more of a clue. Dave tells himself if it's Captain Egbert it will actually be a good thing. Or a not as bad as it could have been thing. Yes. That.
He walks out, somehow. Jade purses her mouth at him.
Behind his awesome poker face Dave discreetly boggles at his partner. "What the heck are you doing h--"
"I guess with their weird locks bathroom stalls are hard to hang socks on."
Dave's face burns a little harder. "What are you doing here Jade Harley you were supposed to be resting at home."
She takes his wrist, pulls him along; he walks after her, purely out of habit. She seems in a hurry, eyes bright, steps bouncing. She was so drained last night... this morning. Can she really be fine already just because she slept in until noon? "Like it matters! HR only gave me a free half-day for the summoning, the stingy assholes, and I don't have a lot of sick leave left, so I had Feferi boost me a bit."
"Isn't that like taking your own blood so you can give yourself a blood transfusion so you won't be dizzy from the blood loss?" Karkat asks, frowning in puzzlement, as he trots by their side. Jade is apparently getting them to the elevator.
"It's okay!" she tells Karkat, and ushers them in. "We'll just go clubbing tonight, Fef and I, find a cute boy to bring back home."
She's still rocking on her toes as she hits the button. Hm. Detention and Interrogation room level. What is going on? Dave's brain is starting to defuzz enough from the orgasm and panic to start wondering really hard.
"Jade, what's going on?"
"Waiiit aaaand seeeee," she sings, grinning brightly. "It's so what the fuck, I just want to see your face. I couldn't see mine when they told me!" She punches Dave in the shoulder -- not very hard, so she must be happy. "And then I had to waste five minutes hunting you down! You'd better hope they haven't started interrogating. Though I doubt it, they were still flailing around when I came in, I don't know if they even knew where to put him."
Wow, okay. Something significant, then.
Jade cracks open the observation room door and suddenly Karkat, bored and loose-winged Karkat, jerks like someone ran a live wire through him and eels through before her, hip-checking her aside.
"Hey!" Dave protests, and pushes in with Jade through the doorway.
Inside there's Captain Egbert and Arne Revere, John interrupted by their entrance in the middle of a quiet, serious discussion with them and Captain Maguire from Robbery, three other detectives gathered by the window who apparently have nothing better to do -- it's going to be really cramped.
It's already cramped enough when Karkat shoulders the detectives out of his way and stands on his back legs, leaning heavily on his hands on the one-way-mirror's ledge.
"Who the hell even caught him," Karkat says in a low, strangely intense, almost offended way. A few cricket clicks escape his throat.
"No one," John replies, voice lowered so it won't resonate through the mirror, almost casual otherwise. "He walked himself in."
When Dave makes himself a space at Karkat's back he doesn't know if he's surprised or not to recognize the man lounging on his precariously balanced chair looking bored out of his mind as Spades Slick.
Jade elbows herself a space at Dave's side, grins up. "Bricks?"
"Shat." Dave swallows. Shiiiiit. Hello adrenaline. What is going on, something massive has to be going on. He will laugh himself into the hospital should anyone try to tell him Slick had a change of heart regarding his criminal lifestyle. "Any of his buddies with him? We might have enough for a wall soonish."
"Nope, he came alone." John shakes his head in disbelief. "He just walked right up to the front desk, said, hey, I'm Spades Slick, get someone to put me in custody. Let 'em put the handcuffs on and lead him away easy as you please. My prank alarms are at defcon five."
"Sounds legit," Dave replies. Between him and the mirror Karkat looks still, but his wing membranes are vibrating, tense like drum skin.
Dave rests a hand on his demon's shoulder, heavy, more to remind him to keep himself in check than for support; even from the back Karkat looks like he wishes he could do truly unreasonable things and Dave doesn't want him to try to go against orders. He's... not entirely sure that Karkat wouldn't try something, and it's disturbing that there is even a doubt.
"It does beg the question," says Captain Egbert, "of exactly how long he plans to stay in custody..."
John's eyes narrow and his chin sets mulishly. "Well, I hope he didn't leave a soufflé on. Okay, I'm going."
"I'm going too."
Everyone in the room stares at Karkat. Karkat is only staring at John. He still has a hand on the ledge for balance, and his back looks a bit too arched, like he's straining his muscles to stay at face height. It does give him a different presence than usual.
Dave isn't sure what to think. He glances at Captain Egbert and Captain Maguire, but Egbert Senior just looks thoughtful and shoots John's pointed questioning look back at him. 'What do I do?' 'I don't know, son, what do you want to do?'
"Uh. Karkat. You seem kind of weirdly attached to the dude," John says. "We don't even know if you'd be trying to help him escape if you found a way."
"I wouldn't," Karkat replies; he's frowning, but it's like for once he's working on not growling at people's stupidity, he sounds more sober and resolute than annoyed. "But don't take me at my word, make him order me."
"Hm. That answers the why not, but not the why. Why would you be needed in that room? You can watch from here."
Dave watches him hesitate, there, open his mouth, close it, bite his black lip. And then he frowns, lifts his chin. "He liked me," he says, almost forcefully, like he's trying to convince himself. "It might not change jack shit, but what does it hurt to try?"
Stares. Reactions range from baffled confusion -- the non-Demon Crimes peeps -- to watchful interest, but all seem intent to let the John-Karkat staring match go on.
Jade breaks the silence by snickering. "Wow. Good demon, bad cop, there's a variation I've never heard before!"
John grins, sudden, all teeth out. "Heh. Depends on Dave! You want in, buddy?"
Dave considers it. Does he want his demon alone in a room with Spades Slick... hahahaha no. (Does he want to veto it entirely, when Karkat wants it so much? ... no. Well. Yes, but insecurity is a shitty motivation, so no.) "Sure, I can be the wall-holding cop. Keeping y'all safe with the strength of my back muscles."
He follows John and Karkat into the corridor, stops them for a quick list of orders -- no helping Slick get free in any way, intel goes in and not out, etcetera -- and then they're unlocking the interrogation room door and walking in.
"Jack 'Spades' Slick! Leader of the notorious Midnight Crew for the last thirteen years, wow, I was still in school, the normal school not the police school. I'm impressed!" John dumps his file on the table. It's thick enough it makes a nice amount of noise. "Detective-Summoner Egbert, a surprise to meet you today."
Slick looks anything but impressed. He rakes him with a quick assessing glance, and then his dark, heavy-lidded gaze travels onto Dave and Karkat in turn. Dave goes to lean against a bit of wall by the mirror, so he and John will have the man caught in their crossfire, and pretends he doesn't see the tiny flicker of surprise on the criminal's face upon seeing his demon.
"Don't bother playing up the inexperienced angle, brat," he says, still balancing precariously on the back legs of his chair. "How's your old man doing?"
"Pretty well, thanks. I don't know if I should feel honored by your trust in my abilities or insulted by your insinuation of nepotism!" John says, falsely chagrined.
Spades snorts, doesn't answer.
"And these are Detective-Summoner Strider and Knight Vantas, I'm told you've met."
John puts his hands on the table, leans in, shoulders pulled in, still pretending friendly. "So. What brings you?"
Slick looks him up and down, and pointedly rocks in his chair.
"Because I'm sad to tell you that cupcake day was yesterday."
Dave doesn't sigh visibly, though he wants to. They're settling in for a long stretch of Slick being silent and bored and John trying to annoy answers out of him, even though everyone knows he's going to say stuff in the end, even if it's just a cover story. It's a pissing contest, is all.
"Jack?" Karkat says, all quiet and oddly subdued. Dave's stomach executes a complicated squeeze-and-drop maneuver.
The crime lord and Dave's demon stare at each other. The man is inscrutable.
Must be some truth to Karkat's belief that he likes him, though, because then he opens his mouth.
"Got wind that some dickwad was gonna frame me for their shit. 'd like to see them try now."
Dave blinks, watches John's eyebrows go way up.
"Whoa, dude, what kind of crime is it going to be that you don't think it'll match on your rap sheet? Because, I mean, with everything we have on you so far we can put you away for anywhere between two and three hundred years, if we go with consecutive sentences."
Slick gives a short, annoyed shrug. "I'd rather have a hot poker shoved up my ass than let 'em get away with fucking me over that deep. Plus that shit carries a capital sentence. Rather earn my own."
Dave doesn't even need to see the guys on the other side of the mirror to be able to tell they're all bright-eyed and hunting-tense and hanging onto the asshole's every word. Dave knows, because so is he.
John nods to himself. "Yeah, okay, I will take you at your word, with trust and faith in the inner goodness of my fellow man." He says it sincerely enough that Dave snorts. "So. What's that mean thing they're accusing you wrongly of?"
"First things first." Slick balances his chair back on four feet; it lands with a little thump. "Not Northampton or Selridge. I don't fancy having to shank my way to the chow every single day."
John purses his lips. Of course, they've heard about Selridge's rep, but Northampton is pretty okay as prisons go, not too overcrowded and hardly a riot to be seen. "What makes them more shank-happy than other prisons?"
"Nothing." Slick shrugs. "Number of guards on the take make it easier to get away with."
John's eyes narrow; even Dave's twitch a bit. Corruption is a problem everywhere, but coming from an out and out criminal it's not something any cop likes to hear, fuck.
"What does it cost, John?" Karkat asks, and drags a chair out to sit on, glaring at John like he's daring him to step off. "Do you want him alive to see a trial or what?"
Dave snorts quietly. If Karkat believes Slick is planning to let it go to a trial then he's the only one in the room. But they can't show anymore of a divided front, so he doesn't say it, just throws Karkat what he hopes is a sufficiently quelling glance. Karkat refuses to look at him.
"Don't worry," John eventually says, to Slick, ignoring Karkat. "Only the best incarceration experience for our favorite VIP. Solitary work for you?"
Slick shrugs, again. "Whatever. The crazymaking demon spree."
Dave blinks. John blinks. Karkat tilts his head. "The terror spells?"
"Mnh. You got like ten of them so far, right." Slick's brow knits; his facial scars pull at his eyelid and at the corner of his lip in a mildly disturbing way. "That's aggravated assault and I don't fucking know how many cases of murder and soul damage and erasure by way of demon. I'm not frying for that shit."
Officially, they've got eight. One case is confusing enough with the victim's psych and drug history that they're not sure whether to count it in, and they might not have found them all. "Right," Dave says, and knocks on the mirror. "Someone get Burnett down here."
John looks at Dave, nods toward the door. Dave follows him, crooks his fingers for Karkat to follow, which he does, reluctantly.
"Back in a minute."
John closes the door behind them, and they stand in the corridor and stare at each other. (Karkat shifts his weight impatiently and throws half-longing, half-irritated looks at John's hand, still resting on the door handle.)
"Believe him?" Dave asks, and doesn't offer his opinion first because it's John's case that he's been nursing for two years, not his.
"Weirdly enough, yes." John frowns at the floor, thoughtful. "It's not his style at all. He'll get one of his buddies to get a demon to knock down a wall, if necessary, they're not as hard to procure as explosives, but mindfucking people? He'd rather just stab them."
"Could be he got inspired by someone else."
"Could be," John echoes, but he doesn't believe it. S'okay, neither does Dave. "Just one more question now. Because, you know, the frame wouldn't work any other way, what with it being a stupidly easy thing to disprove, but. Spades Slick is a summoner?!"
"Oh yes," says Kankri as he trots down the corridor, Rose power-walking at his side, heels clacking.
She has no makeup on, makes her look washed out, half a ghost, and her eyes are two large bruises, but her teeth are bared in an anticipatory smile.
"Hello, partner! Cracking cases open without me?"
John laughs and beams back. "Gee, sorry! Wow, Kankri, nice look."
They come to a stop and Rose smiles and nods at John. Kankri sits on his haunches, back straight, tail coiled behind him -- not on his toes like Karkat does but on the whole length of his lower legs from claws to that backward-knee part that would probably be a heel on any normally proportioned human.
"Kankri woke me up in the middle of a rather sound and much-needed sleep and insisted we needed to be here--"
"And so we do, I assure--"
"--So here we are. Now... What is this about Spades Slick being a summoner?"
Karkat grunts, points a thumb at the door over his shoulder. "Spades Slick. Walked in. Is in here. Is a summoner. Why is that even any kind of fucking surprise."
John huffs, blows bangs off his own forehead. "Because in all the years he's been around making a nuisance of himself he has never, ever used magic, is why."
"It was not a matter of a lack of ability, I can assure you," Kankri says, eyebrows arched, tone oddly pinched. Karkat's lip curls up over his teeth and he puts both hand on Kankri's tail, pinning it to the ground, and pivots on one foot to plant his other foot in his ribs. Shove. Unable to catch himself with his tail, Kankri ends up on his ass.
He's still sputtering his outrage when the door to the observation room opens and Captain Egbert leans out. "Detectives," he says mildly, the way he used to say 'children' when they were preteens making a mess of his house. John and Rose stop smiling immediately; Dave's spine straightens up a bit. "Detective Burnett is en route. Detective Egbert, it might be time to go back in."
John gives a sheepish little smile and starts turning the handle. Dave nudges Karkat away from Kankri to let Kankri get back up and moves toward the door as well. The Captain looks at Rose.
"Detective Lalonde, you and Kankri should join us. It'll be a tight fit, but..."
Dave is barely through the door, so he can't see Rose or Kankri anymore, and at this angle he doesn't think Slick sees more than a trailing tail and the points of blood-red wings past the doorjamb.
The Captain's voice should be slightly muffled as well, but.
"Hey. Vantas. Wait a sec."
Karkat perks up, steps inside, little wings up. "Yes?"
Slick only spares him the quickest glance. "Not you, kid. The other one."
One part of Dave's brain notes the way Karkat flinches, like he stepped on a lego and didn't somehow crush it to splinters with his armored weight, the way he deflates. Another part -- "Okay, how the fuck do you know that."
Dave grits his teeth as he realizes he's gone from bored to not fucking amused, at least to someone who'd know him. He's tense all over and it takes him a second for his mind to catch up with his instinct. No one should make the link between Kankri and Karkat (Vantas, who knew they were both named that before the summoning?) and no one should know what Kankri looks like, unless they were watching him being embodied (the police station roof is at a bad angle from the nearby buildings and for anything farther away the summoning was throwing off so much interference a camera should have captured nothing but static), or unless they have a spy. He shouldn't know a thing about Dave's sister's demon, about Karkat's not-brother.
Spades Slick looks at him, cold and patient and absolutely not impressed.
Outside there's Kankri's tail slithering out of view like a startled lizard, a bout of hurried whispering. "Ah -- Master -- if you will allow me a modicum of self-determination--"
"Naturally," Rose answers, "if you will allow me to ask..." and trails off suggestively.
Silence. Dave keeps glaring at Slick, who keeps not giving a shit.
"Stop being a fucking pansy," Karkat snaps toward the door, and stomps back to his chair, which he drags out pointedly and climbs into, growling under his breath. Slick snorts quietly.
"Might as well ask a pig to fly." The glance he gives John and Dave is not subtle.
Karkat resettles his spines with a determined rattle and turns back to Slick, chin up. "Well, if he doesn't want to talk to you--"
"Very well," Kankri is saying from the doorway, crackling with resentment. It's the closest Dave has heard him getting to a real growl so far, the same inhuman echoes Karkat throws around like breathing creaking quietly underneath his words.
Meanwhile John holds the handle with the look of someone who wonders where he went from detective in charge to doorman. "If anyone who wants to come in is in...?"
Rose follows her demon, throwing her partner a little apologetic nod, and John sighs as he closes behind her.
"Ah well, it was messy from the start."
"So," Slick says, as he looks Kankri up and down. "Doesn't suit you at all."
"My embodied appearance is none of your concern. If you cannot wrap your primitive brain around the concept that I am still the same person inside, then... Well, I won't be extremely surprised, disappointed as that makes me."
"If I ask you how you and Mister Slick met..." Rose starts.
"I will have to regretfully inform you of the existence of a preexisting confidentiality clause. My apologies."
"Of course." She smiles, turns to Slick. "So when did you last summon Kankri, Mister Slick?"
Because yeah okay. Uh. Okay. Slick is a summoner. He knows Karkat and Kankri. Kankri especially is liberally referring to a previous encounter. It's pretty easy as deductions go, but it just won't mesh in his brain.
Slick... smiles, if one could call it that. It's just a shadow of a smirk, and it doesn't stay long, but it's clear as day; the asshole is laughing at them. "Never did summon him."
Rose's eyes narrow, but she doesn't call him on it. Shit. Did Terezi confirm? Okay, what the hell. Maybe he knew Kankri's previous summoner. Yeah. Makes sense. And Karkat... well, Karkat had never been summoned before Dave, so Spades Slick can't be it. But then why the fuck -- argh, argh, argh. Dave is starting to get really annoyed at this stupid mystery.
"I was under the impression that you wanted something definite, Mister Slick. My apologies but I do not think my Master has a whole day to spend trading idle barbs and pleasantries, and I, personally, am alas not in a position to offer you anything of my own will any longer."
"Mnh. Your Master, right." He looks at Rose then, measuring her up. Rose smiles back, perfectly poised, perfectly cold. "'d take it as a favor if you could get your demon to scan the prison guards, figure out if they've got any allegiances or money flows where they shouldn't."
Rose's smile widens a little, becomes almost pleasant. "Where should he be tracking these back to?"
"Oh well, I figure we will find out shortly. It's interesting that you know Kankri would do well with this type of Seeing. Allegiances, flows..."
Kankri and Karkat grit their teeth the exact same way, Dave notices.
"If I may offer some advice," Kankri growls, eyes gone to slits, "make sure his containment cell is rated to withstand a strong Level Four."
... Shit. Okay. Shit. Spades Slick is a Level Four summoner.
A strong one.
Who never summons where anyone can see him.
For the love of fuck, why?
(And if he never does use it, who found out and is now using it against him?)
At least the suggestion seems to have annoyed Slick, from the way he glares daggers at Kankri. Kankri is glaring back, chin up, starting to puff up like a cat.
The door opens, and Burnett walks in, folder under her arm. She arches an eyebrow at the number of people in the room, and steps past Rose and Kankri's mess of tail and wings to place herself with her back to the mirror, next to Dave. "Detective-Summoner Burnett," she tells Slick. "Captain Egbert briefed me. Now tell me how you're linked to my investigation."
The mobster sighs like he thinks shit is getting tedious. Dave feels sorry for him, no, really. "I told 'em already. Someone's gonna try to frame me for your crazies. Make it look like I summoned that thing."
John nods. "And as we've already wondered... what makes you so vulnerable to it?"
Slick growls, then, short and irritated, and his fingers twitch. Dave knows he has no knives left on him -- he seriously hopes, if the officers haven't frisked him properly Dave is going to kill them -- but he still tenses, starts nudging at Aradia.
"The aspect," Slick eventually grumbles, and sinks in his chair a little bit. Burnett relaxes faintly, not very much but just enough to make a point.
"I have it narrowed down to Mind, Heart or Rage," she offers, which makes Dave twitch but he supposes there's not much this would affect. Likely she's narrowed it down farther than that.
"Yeah. That." He sucks on his teeth, prods at something with his tongue, like he doesn't give a fuck. Dave is pulling for Burnett to bludgeon him with her files. They sure are thick enough. "I'm told I ping most demons' radars as Rage. Wouldn't know better unless you looked pretty hard."
Burnett purses her lips. "But all those demons are somehow wrong, and you are not."
Karkat was so still, Dave almost forgot he was sitting there, up until he shoves himself up and his claws embed themselves in the table. "Jack--!"
"Shut up, brat."
"But you know--"
Dave doesn't get it, doesn't get any of it, the way Spades Slick turns to look at his demon, who has never been incarnated or even summoned before, looks at him like Karkat annoys him but he's -- he's -- they're on the same side somehow.
Not only like Karkat thinks it but like Slick does too.
"They can only play that card against me," he rasps, "if I don't play it first. You dig?"
He gives Dave's demon's head a backhanded tap, a bit too harsh to be friendly, not anything like an attack. Karkat takes it. Karkat is appalled and furious and lost, stares at Burnett and at Kankri and at John and Rose.
Slick looks at Dave. "Get him out of here. Too much fucking noise."
Dave's jaw tenses. It'd be good advice if it came from anyone else. Karkat might have helped getting the discussion started, but now? He's just getting in people's way. (Dave doesn't even fucking know how it doesn't count as interfering in Slick's favor.)
Still, it is good advice, and then Burnett turns to him and goes, "I think we're too many for a room this small," and yeah, they are, and he's not bringing anything to the conversation, so.
He shoves away from the wall. "Karkat, come with me." He twists a thread of power in the words; he's not in the mood to argue.
Karkat leaves his chair with a sullen thump and follows; Dave closes the door behind them and they're alone in the empty corridor, and he could lead them to the observation room but...
"I think you need to tell me now," he says quietly, "how you know him. I've been trying to give you your space -- your life, right, I'm not gonna put my nose in your shit, but looks like your shit is on a collision course with our investigations." He turns to face his demon. Karkat stands in the middle of the corridor, a few steps behind him, looking lost. "I need to know now."
"How I ... know him?"
He seems not to know what to do with that question. Dave reformulates. He'll reformulate as many times as it takes. "Where did you meet?"
Karkat sneers. "You were there the first time we met, asshole."
He's not asking the right questions, only confirming stuff he already deduced.
He already knows the shape of what he wants to know, anyway; it's just the details now.
"Kankri knew him before, though."
Karkat looks away. "Who Kankri hangs out with isn't any of my fucking business, and I most certainly did not keep myself informed. We weren't in any kind of contact before you incarnated me."
But that's derailing, that's not what... "Rage is a pretty rare affinity, huh," he muses. "Pretty incriminating if it matches. But he says he's not, and there's that way he gets to both you and Kankri somehow. So."
"He's Blood, isn't he."
Karkat hunches his shoulders, looks away.
Dave sort of guessed a little while ago, but saying it...
Blood Aspect is so vanishingly rare. Rose made enquiries, but in the whole of North America there is no other known Blood demon. South? Maybe, their paperwork sucks and they don't classify things quite the same way. Europe, there was a rumor they had one, a half century ago.
A human turns up with it, and he turns out to be Spades Fucking Slick, mobster extraordinaire. That is so far past irony it just goes straight back to being ridiculous.
Karkat is still hunched small and defensive -- defending himself from Dave. Defending Slick. Some guy he keeps saying he's never met.
The earlier bathroom escapades seem a hundred miles away.
"I don't get it," he admits quietly.
Karkat looks up, lips pinched, eyes wet. "He's a Knight," he says, and then Dave figures out demons can cry.
He goes to Karkat and crouches, pulls him close, hugs him. Quills prickle his neck. Whatever.
"He's -- he's a Knight, he should be a Knight, only he's all -- twisted inside and cracked and, and. It hurts. I keep seeing what he could -- what he should be, and I just want to -- and I can't."
Karkat burrows his face in the crook of Dave's shoulder. It's wet.
"He should protect and he's not,and what the fuck happened, it's not right, it's -- he'd be so perfect."
He whispers it in Dave's neck. Tears keep coming, slow and regular and warm.
Dave tries to think up a good joke to himself about forbidden romance and sundered soulmates and he can't.
He's got nothing good to say right now anyway. (Sorry he's not yours.) Nothing he should say. (Sorry I'm not Blood.)
He guides Karkat's arms around his neck and picks him up. His back twangs and his thighs ache. Whatever.
When he's in the car he texts Captain Egbert about how sorry he is to bail mid-day and whether they can email him things to work from home with and if it would be possible to get Jade to bring him any missing paperwork.
Karkat curls on the seat next to him, and sighs all quiet and wet and shuddery as Dave runs his fingers through his messy hair.
[Chapter 13] -- [Chapter 15]