Midnight on the Demon patrol


Chapter 15

From: Jade
Subject: (none)
Message: ummm dave why is there a dildo in your cubicle? :/


Karkat starts dragging himself out of his funk by seven PM and six minutes. Dave knows, because that's when the mezzanine comes down with a case of quiet, droning buzzing.

Fuck Jade for bringing it along. (Fuck himself for asking her to, after mucho flailing and justifications he can't even tell if she bought or what.)

Seven PM and twelve minutes. "I am going to kill Rose," Dave announces to the living room at large in a pleasantly conversational tone. You should be polite with inanimate objects and empty rooms, after all, you never know what random undetected magic leaks can do to their hostility levels. "I am going to kill her until she is dead, and then I am going to magically transmogrify myself to Life, revive her, and kill her again. Somehow."

"Who are you even talking to, douchewhine?"

Oh hey no more buzzy noise. Hallelujah. Dave looks up from the paperwork and laptop on his coffee table; Karkat is peering down at him over the platform's edge.

The underside of his eyes look a little bruised, the yellow darker, more orangeish. Might be the light.

"The floor, I think. Good brave floor. Should appreciate him more. He'll feel all neglected."

Karkat doesn't even dignify that with a response, just snorts quietly to himself and disappears. Dave sighs and bends back to his work.


Note to self, he thinks, do not headdesk on laptop, laptop is expensive shit to replace. Do NOT headdesk on laptop...

Aradia grins in the back of his head. Dave pouts, since there's no one to see him, utterly sincere jutting lip and all.

Would you even want to be Life if you could?

Nah, it'd be boring as fuck. Sorry, Strider, no more daring rescues for you! Sit here and fix all the dumbasses who get to have actual adventures.

Seriously, poor Jane. Dave doesn't understand how she can stand it. Her sense of duty is just way too overdeveloped for her own good, is what he's always said.

Okay he might not have said it much but he's always thought it. Yep.


Wonder how a Knight of Life would fight, though? Wow that is some fascinating shit. Would they like just mundanely kill people, or use their own life as a weapon somehow? Fuel for their attacks? That'd be just as efficient as a Seer of Void, holy fuck someone call the press, we figured out the most useless superpower bar none. The Guinness Book of World Records is all over that shit like an armada of shit-starved flies, buzzing up a storm across the horizon and aahh shit.

I think it's just Karkat's dildo! Aradia says, mock-innocent.

Dave thinks she's right and he hates her a lot. I think how about someone kill me instead. Rose is too far away. My only hope of revenge left is for her guilt to do her in.

Bzz bzz bzz.

Where is he even running that thing, Dave wonders despite himself. Up his leg? His neck? Maybe against his little nubhorns, maybe the spines along his back. Is he ticklish anywhere but his wing membranes? Does he like it yet, or is he still making his doubtful face with the furrowed brows and the squinting upper-eyes?

BzzzZZzzZZzzZZzz. Zzzz.

Has he tried lodging the thing between his long velociraptor toes yet?

Shit. Dave bets/wonders/wishes Karkat is touching himself all over. He wants him to go hey this is my body wow that's not bad after all, oh hey I have shoulder blades and heels and palms and all that good shit. Is this a sternum? My good sir, this sounds positively excellent.

He hates that Rose had such a horribly awesome idea.

Zz zz zz zzzzzzzz.

Or an awesomely horrible one. Probably it's both.

Okay, he's got work to do here.

It's weird how much harder it is to concentrate at home than in the middle of a full room with a dozen coworkers moving around.

Granted he spent his first hour or so running his fingers through Karkat's hair as Karkat soaked his pants leg through with demon tears. That was pretty distracting.

They didn't burn or anything. Dave almost expected they would. But no, just salty water, like a human's. He wonders if they have any magical properties. He could try to sell them as knockoff unicorn. Dark unicorn. Just sob in this tiny flask if you don't mind, Karkat, it's going to your smartphone fund.

As with all of his powerfully organic experiences so far, Karkat really did not enjoy crying. Dave didn't enjoy it much more than he did; when Karkat decided to disappear upstairs because his shame was overtaking his need for comfort Dave caught himself feeling almost glad.


Fuck Spades Slick.


Yeah, whassup?

If you found a Knight of Mind summoner -- no, never mind, it's a stupid question and I'm stupid for thinking it.

She laughs, almost gently. No, I wouldn't trade up. Another Knight of Mind would rock the sick mind shield already, they wouldn't need my bangin' chops at all. Mellow out, flameo.

... Can you go back to calling me firetruck. Please. As a favor to me.

Aww. Firecrackz? Tick Tock Bombz? Hm, Bombzor.

Firetruck is cool. Don't you change on me now, I won't know what to do with myself anymore.

He doesn't send her anything about the gratitude and relief he feels. He knows she can tell.


"God damn it."

Zz zz. Blessed silence. "Are you talking to me now?"

"Yeah, this time around I think I am. Hey, wanna watch some TV? Play a game? Man I've got to get my old gaming console from Bro, you'd probably like it."

Karkat's head pops out again. "I thought you were working," he says, suspicious.

"I... am? Was? I need a break? Oh hey it's pretty much dinner time. Want me to teach you how to cook?" Karkat makes a doubtful face; Dave hurries to add, "The prize is that you then know how to cook."

A moue. "Would I even be allowed to do that without supervision?"

"Hm." Dave considers it. "Once I'm satisfied that you won't waste shit right and left or burn down the building, probably. We'll negotiate."

Seems like a good thing for Karkat not to be utterly dependent on him for sustenance, anyway, even though at the start he's likely to give up eating with Dave entirely to go off on his own, which would suck because Dave got used to having his meals in his company instead of the TV's. Maybe he'll overeat just because he can, too.

Maybe Karkat will start cooking for two... Haha, yeah, him deliberately being nice and helpful to Dave just because? Not very likely. But anyway. Dave piles up his papers and moves his laptop to a corner, and drags himself on his feet.

Does he even have any perishables... Nope. He does have cheese though. Okay, mac 'n cheese it is. He needs to start with the basics anyway if he's teaching Karkat. (It has nothing to do with the fact that he doesn't know much more than the basics anyway.)

"Okay, grand secret of cuisine numero uno: read the box." He produces a box with a flourish, waves it under Karkat's nose and then lobs it at him as he goes hunting for a clean saucepan.

Karkat grumbles something as the box impacts with his forehead. Whoops. Dave fills the pan with water.

He narrates every single action he takes, including "And let us not forget a lid for the pan, makes bubbles come faster, nanana" complete with little hummed tune.

He doesn't even know for sure why he can't manage to turn around and look at Karkat. Probably there are too many possibilities.

John will be dropping by after work. Dave isn't too sure why. Likely it's to discuss today, maybe catch him up, maybe tell Karkat off.

Talking to Karkat about his behavior is Dave's responsibility, though, but Dave isn't sure how to get there without bringing Slick up again and yeah, no, he really doesn't want to.

Water salted, he dumps the pasta in, and wastes half of a minute watching it cook.

"Hey, Karkat?"


"Why'd you want to try it?" he asks, studiously watching the pasta. "Was it just because of what the anons said about the desk thing?"

"You'll need to define 'it'," Karkat says, sounding like he can guess but Dave's refusal to say it is too stupid to let it slide. Dave still refuses to turn and look back at him.

He gets a block of cheese and a bowl and grate and starts decimating the cheese.

"Putting my dick in your mouth," he barks, like another minute hasn't gone on between the question and the answer.

Even without looking he can tell Karkat is bristling. Fuck. "If it was a problem--"

"No, no! I was just -- didn't expect it. Is all." His ears are warm. "It was -- really nice." Awesome. Fantastic. Fantabulous. "Usually you're content with letting me do my thing, so I was just wondering if -- I -- aw, shit. I'm not saying I minded. Fuck, I did the opposite of mind, I--"

Something room temperature and smooth presses against the side of his neck.


Half the cheese takes off flying; the cheese grater clatters to the very edge of the counter. Dave has whirled around and is backed up against the same counter, a hand on his neck. He stares in horror at his demon, who sits patiently on his haunches with the crime weapon still raised.


Karkat stares back, lips pursed, unimpressed. "Me?"

"No dildo in the kitchen!" Dave tries not to hyperventilate. Spoiler, he fails. "Holy shit, you don't bring that thing to -- no, okay, no, it stays on the mezzanine or maybe in the bathroom if you, I mean okay I'm not thinking about that."

Karkat has stepped back to the door, so the dildo is technically outside the kitchen, but apart from that he is still staring. "This is the most ridiculous display of irrational what-the-fuckery I have seen you perform so far, and I've seen quite a bit. I should probably be taking notes. What do you have against my dildo anyway?"

Dave produces a very manly whimper.

"That thing is a sex aid," he bites out, face gone red. Only Karkat can make him flush like that, he swears. Not even Bro has managed since Dave stopped being a teenager. Maybe Rose once or twice but that's it. Karkat is breaking him. "You're not using it for sex, I get that, okay, whatever, I see it and I still think about you using it like in the manual. I mean why the fuck couldn't she have gotten you a real massager?!"

"They short out if they get wet," Karkat replies, 'duh' infused in every syllable.

It is not duh, Dave feels. It is not a duh thing at all. "How do you know that--"


"--why would it get wet--"

"Put it on my tongue."

"--aaaahhh. Haa. Haha. Aaaaaahh. Someone kill me." He rakes both hands through his hair, whimpering and laughing both.

"Don't be stupid, I wouldn't let anyone kill you," Karkat says with zero sympathy. "You'll have to live through it."

Dave massages his forehead. A lot.

"Why did you even touch me with it. This is a Karkat-only toy. I don't care where it goes on you, it does not go on me." Or in -- aaaaahhh.

"Why? It's not like it's dirty."

"You're just fucking with my head now, aren't you."

Karkat's brow furrows. Dave sighs.

"If you use it on me," he says, trying to keep it the simplest it can, "then it stops being a Karkat toy and becomes a Karkat-and-Dave toy. And I, personally, can only see it as the kind of sensation play that is not platonic and innocent and yippee yay discovery."

Fuck yes he can. He wants to discover how deep that soft, tiny gap between his thighs goes. Considering it looked tight enough he might have had trouble working a single finger in, imagining that silvery rocket slowly spreading -- argh. Argh, argh, argh. No, bad, stop.

"It's yours, Rose gave it to you, it's for you to do whatever you want to yourself with zero input on my part, so I absolutely refuse to engage with it. Okay?"

"I don't get why you're making such a federal case out of it, but okay, I suppose I get the reasoning." Karkat shrugs, rakes him with a last searching look, and trots off to the mezzanine. Dave goes to save the cheese grater from its cliffhanger state and breathes. Woohoo, productive dialogue achieved. He feels like he should award himself a truckload of points.

The counter is clean enough; he gathers the spilled cheese and puts it back in the bowl, and starts grating anew. This meal is going to be Cholesterol Central. He's fine with it.

"There, I put it away." Karkat pads inside the kitchen, pulls a chair to the counter, and perches on it, casual in his curiosity.

He watches Dave's hands. Dave bows his head over the bowl and talks himself out of kissing him. "Wanna try?"

"Mnh. Why the fuck not."

"Good, thanks. Wash your hands first."

Takes half a minute and some stretching. Once that's done, Dave hands over the culinary instruments of doom, and goes looking through the cupboards for one of those big dishes that can go in the oven and not explode.

"You know what, we should totally add bacon."

Karkat blinks at him, briefly distracted from his slightly too tight hold on the cheese. "Are you telling me that it's possible to add bacon, and yet sometimes you don't?"

"I know, right, my laziness will lead me to a tragic end some day."

Dave gets the bacon. Karkat grates half the block with dogged determination; Dave hands him another bowl to fill, since he seems to be having fun.

It's... really nice. Cooking with Karkat like this, just -- no hostility or anything, just working quietly together. He likes it.

"I like it better," Karkat says, still scowling in challenge at the cheese.

"Hm?" For a second he wonders if his demon has gone telepathic somehow.

"Feeding on you like that. It wasn't as good as when you rub between my thighs, but way better than when you just touch yourself on your own. And I liked doing it myself." He's mumbling now, like he's embarrassed. (Dave's own embarrassment is a tidal wave that he can feel coming, but for the moment it's still looming threateningly over the landscape and not coming down to crush him, so he can observe.) "It was -- more fun. Doing it myself."

Dave is torn between hngh and aw, straight down the middle.

"I -- kinda liked it too. Really liked it actually. So I --"

If he tells Karkat he should do it again if he wants to, it kind of becomes selfish again, like he's angling for another blowjob. He's not... quite angling for that. If tomorrow Karkat decides he wants to give Dave a footjob with his terrifying mantis-velociraptor toes and all the sausage-shredding, eviscerating power he can pack in a single kick, Dave will still say yes.

Not even because it's dangerous and he's fucked up like that. But because...

Roxy was right, enthusiastic consent is the sexiest fucking thing. (Even if Karkat doesn't do it because he desires Dave in a filthy carnal way, only in a hungry one. It still... it's probably as good as it'll ever get. He can be content with that.)

He shakes himself out of it, gives Karkat a tiny flick of a smile. "No complaints."

Karkat grates, head bowed studiously over the bowl. His little tail flicks from side to side happily.

Dave gets cream from the fridge, and does not, not, not kiss him.

He drains the pasta while Karkat butters the inside of the plate and then they layer pasta and cheese and cream and bacon and some more pasta. Karkat insists to spread the cheese properly on top; leaving holes in the coverage would apparently be a crime and Dave would get stuck with disposing of the cheeseless evidence. And then in the oven it goes.

"How long?"

Dave doesn't bother to put on a timer; it's one of the perks of being a Time summoner, he's gotten pretty good at tracking that shit. "Half hour."

Karkat deflates, glowers at the oven.

"Staring won't make it cook faster. Probably the other way around actually. I've heard a number of grandmas say it, and they know their shit. You stare at a pot of water on the fire, poof! It'll never boil, ever."

"Quantum mechanics don't work like that," Karkat retorts with a roll of all his eyes.

Dave snorts. "Pff, a demon talking about quantum mechanics."

"Just because your understanding of science is flawed doesn't mean there's any contradiction, dickweed."

Dave drags a chair from the table so he can sit at the counter with Karkat, elbows propped up on the ceramic, cheek resting on his hand. "Ooh. School me, then, science teacher Vantas. Explain how the wisdom of my forefathers is wrong."

Karkat rolls his eyes at him again, but almost fondly. (Well, not too disdainfully, at least.) "Can you school me on gravity? Laws and constants, ballistic equations?"

"Uh, no."

"But you can still tell when you're about to tip over and that you should rectify that, or how to throw a rock so it'll land roughly where you want it to land. Because you've lived in that shit ever since you've been conceived."

"Okay, point. So demons live immersed in quantum physics. Sounds fun."

"So do you, meatsack. It's so far down you don't notice it, is all."

Dave might be smiling a little. Just a little.

Dickweed, meatsack. It's got to be love. Heh.

"Hungry," Karkat grumbles, and glares through Dave at the oven. That or he's glaring at Dave's lower left ribs, but Dave doubts it somehow.

"Let's hope we'll be done eating before John drops by, or he'll want a bite."

"What?" Karkat straightens up, offended. "Fuck him, no! He didn't cook it, he doesn't get to eat it. What the fuck is he coming over for anyway? Why is he always at your place, it's annoying!"

John's been at Dave's exactly three times since Karkat came home. He might be overreacting a little. Dave secretly thinks it's cute as fuck when Karkat gets territorial, so he lets it go.

"Work stuff," he answers vaguely, and looks away. "Keeping me up to date, maybe."

"Maybe?" Karkat stares at him, puzzled for a second, and then -- "Oh."

Subdued, deflating. Dave doesn't like that.

There's that conversation they've got to have, though. The one he's not going to let John handle, because John might be the detective in charge on the Slick dossier but Dave is the detective in charge of Karkat and everyone else can fuck off.

"About Jack?" Karkat asks, all quiet.

Dave sighs. "Maybe about you." He looks at his demon, sober. It aches, breaking the comfortable closeness, going back to being a cop here, in the kitchen where it smells good and it's warm and they get along so nicely. "I won't order you to stop caring about him. That'd be so unethical I have no words for it. But can you tell that the way you acted during the interview was not okay?"

Karkat looks down, shoulders drooping, drawing in defensively.

"You took his side," Dave points out, not entirely necessarily. "You took his side against John and me. We were before a criminal and we weren't presenting a united front. It's okay to make them see that, might get them to think they can get better deals if they play on that -- but not if it's actually true."

Karkat opens his mouth, hesitates, closes it without saying a thing.

"So I need to know your priorities here."

Heh. Like he doesn't already know. He doesn't want to hear it confirmed.

Needs to have it out in the open, though. Where everyone can see it.

"I know you can't really decide to act against my orders and it sucks. But if you feel -- it might be better for everyone if I didn't place you in a position where you're stuck between my orders and your wishes."

It's silly how much it aches, on the side of his heart that is a cop before all else, all the way through. Karkat's been exceeding orders and getting interested in their investigations, and contrary and hostile as he can get on a bad day he couldn't even bring himself to say he didn't want that badge, back in the hospital with Heuang. But he can't be even a honorary cop if he's going to try to save the criminals from the police.

Karkat's mouth is all small and pinched down at the corners and his eyes are sad, it aches.

He's unexpectedly solemn when he meets Dave's eyes, though. Determined.

"I don't know what broke him," he starts quietly. "I wish I could fix him, but I can't, and even if I could he wouldn't let me. He's been living that way so long he'd feel like I'm breaking him -- breaking who he is now, not helping shit. And he certainly knows he's going against the rules, so."

Oh. Huh.

But logic versus emotions, yeah, logic actually rarely wins. It's crazy how often it doesn't. "So?" Dave prompts.

Karkat breathes in, squares his shoulders, nods to himself and looks up again. "He made his choice -- and the civilians whose lives he's fucking up haven't. I agree he should be punished. It's fair. It's right. I just -- I can't help but also want to fix him. Punishment without healing at the end is kind of -- what for? Might as well just kill him, he won't change his course for so little, not now."

Oh. "Legal system says he hasn't done anything quite that bad yet."

"Mnh." Karkat sighs. "He needs to be kept away from civilians, at any rate. I guess prison works well enough for that goal, even if death would work better."

He's trying so hard to sound dispassionate. Dave reaches out slowly, rests his hand on Karkat's wrist, squeezes. (The chitin doesn't give.)

"Is that what you think?"

"It's what I just said." Karkat growls a little, annoyed, but relents. He can't lie to Dave but creative evasion is still possible and they both know it. "Yeah. It is."

"And is it what you feel?"

A beat of silence, of hesitation. "...It hurts."

Dave runs his thumb against Karkat's thumb and waits.

"But if -- the bank. There could have been someone in it -- hiding from him -- they could have died. The bank could have fallen on a house next door. Erisol could have -- I don't think they had any clue what Erisol could do, with the right orders, or the wrong fucking ones. It's fair if he kills to eat or to defend himself, but not by carelessness. Or just because it's easier, what kind of waste is that?"

Dave finds he's smiling. He doesn't try to stop. "So you feel...?"

"Actually I think I'm a bit angry at him. Huh." Karkat blinks -- deflates. "But I still... I mean. I don't think I can stop wanting to -- I -- he's Blood."

Dave pulls his chair closer, slips his hand around the back of Karkat's neck, tugs him in gently. "It's okay if you wish you could help him. You just can't save everyone, and he doesn't want to be saved. I need to know if you'll prioritize a grown-ass man who made his own choices, or civilians."

Karkat gives a tiny nod, teeth worrying at his lip, one that says 'I heard,' not necessarily 'I agree.'

"And if you're gonna prioritize the civilians then you've got to work with us."

Karkat snorts quietly, gives him a sharp look. "What if I don't agree with how you handle it?"

"Then we talk about it, in private. If we spend our time trying to put spokes in each other's wheels we'll just crash everyone and none of us will get anywhere."

He lets Karkat think. His thumb runs back and forth over interlocked shell segments; he looks down at it, the intricate precision of it. Smoke gray and blood red.

"You have my Name," Karkat says, slow and measured. "I will follow your orders."

It aches like a surprise kick to the heart.

"In the places where you leave me my free will, I will side with the victim and the good of the community."

Dave's hand closes on the back of Karkat's neck and he squeezes. His fingers rub against the leather string holding up his own badge.

He wants to hug him, like, a lot. An awfully unprofessional lot. Maybe with tongue. Karkat isn't much into kisses, though, so Dave just bumps their foreheads together gently and smiles at him, nose to nose, eyes meeting over his shades.

And then he pulls out his phone.

To: John
Subject: (none)
Message: hey you remember that thing you know *the* thing
i need you to bring it with you after all
i hope youre not already enroute

The answer is near instantaneous.

From: John
Subject: re: (none)
Message: uh, yes, i kind of am :(

Crap. It would have been such nice timing.

And then some asshole knocks hard on the door, making both Dave and Karkat startle.

"Just so happens I had it on me anyway!" John yells right through the wood.

"You asshole," Dave grumps back, and trudges to the door to let him in. Karkat follows, puzzled and wary.

"What are you guys talking about?"

John grins down at him as he steps in, like the thing with Slick didn't happen at all. "Top secret! For the next, uh, I dunno how long. Dave?" He grimaces in a way that is supposed to convey things, probably. Dave gives him a bland look.

"Had a talk."

He expects to be asked what about, but John just nods.

"You're satisfied?"

"I'm satisfied. Hand it over."

John pulls out a Kraft envelope from inside his jacket; Dave takes it, crouches before Karkat.

"So," John asks, looking interested, amused, teasing, and not serious one bit. "Decided to protect and serve this fine city of ours?"

... Of course John would deduce that. Bluh.

Karkat still looks baffled. Even more so when Dave tugs the leather string around so he can see the knot, and starts to pick at it with his nails.

"Shut up," he growls, briefly distracted from Dave. "I already protected it, so now it's mine. I'd be everyone's laughingstock if I let just anyone waltz in and fuck it up again. Uh, what the fuck?"

Dave doesn't answer, too busy with the knot. Karkat's been showering with it, it's been tugged at, it refuses to loosen at all.

Oh, whatever.

"You bring the other thing, too?"

"Yeah, it's in the envelope as well."

Dave gets his Swiss knife from his back pocket and slices through the string. His badge falls in his hand. Karkat looks down at it, stunned silent.

Dave pockets the knife and the badge (still warm from having been nestled against Karkat's collarbone so long, and his neck looks weirdly bare now, weirdly naked.)

He opens the envelope and fishes out a length of wide, dark blue leather, with an impressive silvery buckle. No spikes, at least. (It'd suit Karkat better if it were red, but blue, even in this too-dark shade, is more of a police color, and besides John didn't have anything in red anyway.) Karkat looks at it with distaste and a strange look of disappointment.

Dave fishes out the other thing.

"Here. This is yours."

Karkat turns the badge over in his hand. The metal is still bright, brand new. Dave watches him discover the ID number and the pin on the back of it.

"It's... mine," he repeats, like the words don't quite make sense.

"If you want it," Dave says. John stands beside them in silence.

Karkat stares at it for another long moment before his fingers close on it and he looks up.


He gives a look of distaste at the leather in Dave's hand, and then he breathes out and lifts his chin anyway.

"It's not a collar," John says, a smile in his voice -- but thankfully there's no laughter. "You put it on your upper arm. Won't bother you much there."

Karkat blinks, startled. "No collar? What about all those little old people who need to see I'm under control or some shit?"

Dave takes the badge out of his hand -- it's a little difficult, Karkat's fingers are closed on it and he resists some -- and threads it on the leather armlet thing, whatever it's called. Cuff, maybe? Whatever. "Collar says animal. Armband says security." He shrugs. "We're weeding out the unfit and the slow-witted. Bit late in their breeding season but better late than never."

"Dave!" John protests around a laugh. "He's bullshitting. Don't listen to him. Anyway there's been some news coverage and I wouldn't be surprised if you end up on TV again soonish, so hopefully soon enough people will be more used to you."

Dave reaches for Karkat's left arm; Karkat holds it up for him, still a little baffled, a beat too slow.

"We'll have to take off that stupid dangling ring, you might get caught on something," Dave muses as he belts it on. The shield is on the outer side of his arm, under his shoulder, far away enough from his shoulder and elbow plates that it won't rub against anything. "You mind, Egbert?"

"Nah, I'm not using it anymore, you can do anything you want with it."

Karkat blinks up at him. "What the hell were you using it for?" He peers down at it; the inside is padded, not that Karkat cares with his shell but still.

Dave groans. "No, please, don't ask him--"

"It's Equius' price!" John says with a bright, bright grin, right over Dave's protests. "He's got a bondage thing."

Dave wishes Karkat would react normally, but the second he hears 'price' he just goes "Oh. Huh." And then he squints at the buckle and the ring on his armband. "They're used to restrain humans, aren't they. I think I know that."

"Yup! I used to wear wrist cuffs under my shirts but a judge saw one at court once and le gasp shocking so I had to move them elsewhere. I don't mind, makes me feel badass."

Dave groans, again, massages the bridge of his nose. "John, they are not badass biker spiked cuffs, they are bottom boy please tie me down and molest me cuffs."

"They're whatever I want them to be in my heart! But anyway, upper arm kind of wears on my shirt sleeves, so I moved 'em somewhere else again, and now I've got like a dozen wrist cuffs and armbands that I have no clue what to do with. Equius is all prissy about them all being for a specific place each, and it's not like I can just hand them away! Well, I guess I could give them to Roxy--"


"--but none of them would fit."

"John I hate you. We do not mention sisters in bondage gear, even the tamer things I don't care no shut up. That is taboo and does not exist. Equius has another, entirely wholesome price for her. He does. I know it in my heart."

Karkat is sitting on his haunches and his right hand is covering his badge, like he wants to make sure it's real or maybe that it's not going to fall off. It makes Dave's chest do funny and possibly illegal tricks.

Still, he looks at Dave's attempt to smother an anguished expression, and then he smirks, long and slow.

"So..." he drawls, looking up at John. "Where are you wearing it now?"

"Oh my god, I hate you. I hate you so much."

"Well, it depends on if I'm paying off anything big--" oh lord please make it so John says nothing about any kind of harness, please, please "--but today it's just a retainer, so it's a single strap."

He smiles and dips his head, bashful, and shuffles his feet a little. His hand curves toward his hip.

Dave is still crouching on the floor with Karkat. He is at exactly the wrongest possible height.

"No. No John. No."

"Huh," Karkat says, and ogles John's fly.

"No. Oh god."

"Aw, come on, Dave, it's really not that uncomfortable once you get used to it to wear a cockr--"

"No! Holy Jesus and baby Satan and their lovebaby I swear to fuck Egbert--"

John starts laughing, and so does Karkat.

Dave pauses in the middle of straightening up, giving the both of them wary, betrayed looks. "You fucking bunch of assholes--"

"Just kidding." John pulls up his pants leg. It's on his ankle; a dark, almost black blue. "By the way it smells like something is burning."

Dave and Karkat knock into each other rushing to the kitchen.

They manage to save the mac 'n cheese -- though it's a good thing Dave likes it really well browned. When John predictably invites himself over for dinner Karkat makes Dave feed him on his half of the plate.

[Chapter 14] -- [Chapter 16]