Midnight on the Demon Patrol

The scene with the OCs is def. one I'd trim some if this was a book, but this isn't a book and I was having fun so y'all get to deal with my ramblings. Muahaha.

Chapter 19

The first thing Karkat does when they finally come home is to rush up the ladder and check on his nest, wings flapping along pointlessly. (The new shell is still frail enough that they have to alternate keeping the muscles exercised and making sure no wrong movement cracks him open again, but to return home he refused to be bandaged up.)

Dave's shoulder is still not to be strained, and climbing would be awkward one-handed, so once again he's right back to sleeping on the couch. He's starting to think the universe wants him to cede the space to his demon, but damn it, he is not giving up his futon under the slanting ceiling and the odd light that comes from the window.

"Marshmallows still good?" he calls up to Karkat, even as he flops down on the couch under the mezzanine.

"Uh -- lemme open the bag." A pause. "Yeah, they're still edible, though I was more concerned about rats or those motherfucking crows."

Dave snorts quietly. He can't say he was honestly worried about the marshmallows, those things last years. Okay, at least half a year. He's pretty sure he read things about that before.

The crow vendetta keeps being silly and hilarious.

"We don't have rats!" he calls up.

"Uh huh," Karkat replies, muffled and distracted, as he rummages into a plastic bag. "You keep thinking that."

Aw, man. "We have rats? Seriously? Hell."

"If they're not rats I'm not sure what else. Wall wolverines?"

Blargh. Dave reclines against the back of the couch, eyes closed. He watched too much TV at the hospital, turning it on sounds even worse than doing nothing.

Since he's doing nothing, hey.

He gets the candle and the matches, sets them on the coffee table before him. A little flame -- there.

Aradia. Aradia, Aradia, Aradia, spring after winter when it's getting nice and warm and you almost don't notice the bite of frost still lurking in every shadow, and time keeps turning and soon winter will come again, but...

So will spring! Hey, Dave, been a while. I was starting to think you'd stopped liking me!

His lips crook into a tiny smile. His eyes stay closed. Preposterous. I'd even say unpossible. It was just that slight case of Damara-induced brush with mortality...

Pff, you brush against mortality every day, you guys are all in each other's grill, it's pretty cuddly as relationships go.

A snort. Thanks for the reminder, Aradia. Where would I be without it, thinking I was immortal and shit.

Probably dead!

"... Yeeeeah, that was the implication there."

"Who are you talking to?" Karkat asks, peering over the edge of the mezzanine.

"Aradia. Wanna say hi?"

"No. Pay her more, so you get to have her around instead of Damara next time."

Aradia giggles in his head. Or maybe cackles, but in a pretty cute way. It almost doesn't sound vaguely evil! (It's evil in a fun way, at least, instead of a vicious, hateful way, so hey, he'll take what he can get.) I like the way he thinks. Oh, I know a surefire way for you to outbid that other summoner! Actually, pretty much the only way, considering your respective resources.

Dave wonders what that other summoner pays for her services. Maybe they're the type who has hours to waste on meditation. "Yeah? What is it?"

He gets the feeling of a cheerful, hopeful grin. Can I have a dead Dave?

... Huh.


I'm not asking for Dave Prime's death! Just a branching Dave. It'd still be you enough to be pretty powerful.


Also I've been wondering how you'd taste for a while now, and you're going to live so long!

"Sixty-six years is not that long. I mean, it's average I guess..."

He'd still be old and slow and probably in pain from all the bones he's broken and articulations he's fucked up in his life and unable to kick much ass, so. He doesn't regret it too horribly. Better a few painful, boring years shaved off the end of his life than that building destroying the street, his coworkers crushed underneath. It was worth the trade.

Does creating an alternate Dave in order to kill him count as murder or suicide? Self-sacrifice, maybe -- considering he'd be him, he'd know why it was necessary... But wouldn't it be hard, to be the alternate instead? Could he -- either of them -- do it in cold blood?

But wouldn't it be necessary? How much easier would the fight against Kurloz have gone with Aradia with him, willing and eager to fight, maybe even eager to collaborate with Kankri's thing, instead of Damara?

"Do you know what Kankri did? I mean, what he can do? With his -- like -- using demons to..." He doesn't know how to word it. He waves his hand vaguely. Karkat is still peering at him, chewing on marshmallows. "I could act as a Knight of Time. I don't think it really hurt Latula or Damara -- would you be okay with that?"

Huh. Yeah, I heard a bit about Blood things. Sounds potentially fun, but I don't know how much I'd like being tangled up in you when you're in danger like that... I'd probably do it for a dead Dave though! she says with a mental eyebrow waggle.

Dave sighs. "I'm not saying you can't ever have one straight off the bat, hon, but I don't even know how I managed the dead Dave the first time, so you'd have to explain--"

Karkat snarls.

He throws the marshmallow bag on the floor -- huh -- swings himself over the railing, lands hard on the table, which creaks but somehow doesn't break. (His claws leave gouges in the wood.) And then he's in Dave's space, bristled all over, eyes glowing, pouncing to plant his hands on the cushions around his head. Dave's head bounces with the impact.

"You are not allowed to fucking die," Karkat snarls, his bristly bangs tickling Dave's eyelids, "no you is allowed to die, you can't ever fucking do that again, do you hear me? Zero yous, none of the yous, you are staying the fuck alive and if that means we end up with a dozen bleached turds in shades in this apartment then good!"

He looks... Furious, yes. Dave is pretty sure they have achieved Spittle.

Also panicked, underneath.

"Is this where I make the Dave Strider harem joke," Dave says, dumbly, because he's a dumbass.

He only figures out a second later that Karkat's forehead just impacted with him straight on. Ow! One of his hands rises to rub at his face -- it gets grabbed by a hand like a shackle; Karkat headbutts him again. Not as hard, this time, mostly to get his attention, and he swears because his eyes are watering and motherfuck, did Karkat just attack him? It makes no sense, he can't do that. Dave just stares at him, at the incandescent eyes only two inches away from his.

"Are you listening to me," Karkat rasps. His throat is full of snakes. Dave's mouth opens and a hard palm pushes against his mouth, claw-tips come to press lightly against his cheekbone, fan out over his jaw. "You will not deliberately kill any iteration of you."

Aradia is laughing her incorporeal ass off. Dave is mostly poleaxed.

"What the hell," he says. (Okay, he actually says "Mffthll." It's the intent that counts.) He could do it mentally, even if it's harder without the focus that speaking gives to intent, but he's too baffled to grab onto Karkat's Name and force him off.

He tugs on his wrist and it barely moves, Karkat's hold doesn't slip at all, he's caught. He's caught and gagged.


He knows Karkat has got to feel his reaction, he's certainly mentioned he could enough times, but that expression on his gray face, that furious fear...

Dave lifts his free hand, cups Karkat's cheek gently. When he turns his face to the side, Karkat lets his own hand drop, freeing Dave's mouth.

"You want to tell me what exactly this is about, buddy?" he asks, cautious. "It's not the first time I've almost died on the job."

Oh. Oh fuck, he's shaking, Karkat is, no, this is wrong, very wrong, horribly wrong. Dave tries to tug him closer and Karkat resists all of two seconds before pouring himself onto Dave's lap, knees squeezing his hips like Dave is a wild horse, armored arms wound around his neck.

He mumbles something in Dave's neck. It takes Aradia repeating cheerfully, he says it's the first time he's killed you! for him to understand.

... Huh. I see. He hugs and squeezes back, even though Karkat probably barely feels the pressure and there are those long, dangerous blades to navigate down his spine. They're bristled up far enough to allow him to slip his wrists safely in between. Mind wandering off and giving us a little while? I'll call you back.

Aw, not fun, she says, but then she leaves his brainspace. Might still be around and watching, but so long as she doesn't distract him from this he doesn't care if she voyeurs it up.


"I killed you. I don't care that it wasn't -- it wasn't the you my current me was bound to -- it wasn't him, but it was still a you, I still fucking impaled you through the ribcage and then you died, we have a contract and I just--"

--Oh. The contract. (Haha, what else. Hah.) Right. He closes his eyes, works his fingers into Karkat's hair at the back of his head, still holding him close. He didn't think how nasty it might feel to a demon to come so close to breaking his own contract. Not like redundant timeline clones are common enough happenstances to be mentioned in a standard clause.

"You didn't break it. You didn't deliberately kill him, anyway. Moron appeared in front of you as you were attacking. Not your fault. I'm not sure what he was thinking though. What a brainless asshole."

Haha yeah right he doesn't know. He was thinking Karkat is about to be mowed down by that huge son of a bitch let's get in the middle. He isn't sure if other-him just assumed he'd get a brand-new idea while staring death in the face or what, but that's a very Dave thought to have had. He can recognize himself just fine in that localized clusterfuck.

"I don't care it's not my fault, it was my attack, it was my blood, and since when did intent count for jack fucking shit?"

Karkat tightens his hold on Dave's shoulders and neck. Dave starts feeling a little smothered. He... doesn't really mind. When Karkat holds on so tight, so desperately, it almost feels like...

... well.

"Promise me you won't," Karkat rasps against his neck, head bowed, the shafts of his quills pressed against Dave's jaw, his temple. "It's -- every time one of you dies, I fail. Even if it doesn't count, I still -- I still fail and you're still dead except you're not dead on a technicality! It -- it feels really fucking shitty, why doesn’t your language have better words for this, it just--"

Dave kisses the corner of his mouth; Karkat stutters to a stop, inhales sharply through his nose.

"I can't promise you I won't. Might have to, and I -- well. Duty. You know how it is." Eyes clenched shut in fury, Karkat starts growling, rattling. Dave rubs his cheek against Karkat's, velvet cheek and armored cheekbone, so warm.

He would never place such a caveat on himself, if it was just him, but. Well. The point he really should wrap his brain around already is that it's not, anymore.

"I give you my word -- it'll stay a very last resort." Nose to nose, his eyes meeting Karkat's over his shades, and then he gives him a tiny, tiny smile. "This I do swear."

"On your name," Karkat asks, just as quietly.

"On my name, Dave Lalonde Strider, Knight of Time."

He can't help but smile when he's done. It sounds silly from him, middle name and all, and besides it means nothing. Nothing here is binding him but his own decisions, and free will means he could change his mind tomorrow (Karkat would hate him, but he's bound tight enough that it wouldn't affect his trustworthiness any); but it's... It's charming too. Makes his heart do improbable acrobatic feats in there, the way Karkat's spine loosens against his bracing arm, the way he slumps just that little bit against Dave's chest.

They both know it means nothing, because last resort is still subject to some measure of personal judgment, and Dave's judgment is...

... he doesn't think he'd enjoy freaking Karkat out like that again if he doesn't have a really awesome reason, though. Shit, the sorry bastard must have been stewing over it for the whole two weeks they were in the hospital.

"Was that why you were so cuddly when I woke up?"

Karkat headbutts him -- not that hard, but right in the middle of what Dave is sure will soon be an impressive bruise. "I told you already it was because of the blood transfusion!" he sputters, and then he breaks eye contact. Not suspicious! Dave doesn't suspect a thing.

"Uh huh."

"Shut up."

"Mm, yep. Sure thing."

He gets nipped on the jaw for his trouble, sharp enough that he almost expects blood. But no, despite all other amendments and loose interpretations of orders, blooding Dave without permission is still going to be pretty damn well restricted.

Karkat rolls his hips over Dave's lap, his ass rubbing hard against Dave's thighs. He nips him again, his earlobe this time. "Shut up and put your grabby bits on my ass cheeks. I'm starved half to death, I should have thrown you down and ridden you on the welcome mat."

Ngh. "Oh fuck yes." Nibbles down the side of his neck. Dave tries not to gasp. "That -- would have been a plan. Mnh. Nice to know I rate lower than checking on your marshmallows."

He slides his hands down, since he was invited to, fits them to the slope of Karkat's lower back. Velvet under his thumbs; he runs them against the swell of Karkat's ass, against the sides of his tail, which flicks at the touch.

He kisses Karkat's mouth lightly, nuzzles his face, even as his hands curve along the underside of Karkat's thighs, knead at those sensitive places where they become the bottom curve of his ass.

His fingertips are close to demon crotch. He doesn't go there. He just kisses Karkat's nose, and kneads at his double handful (Karkat grunts, and then frowns like he's annoyed at his own reaction).

And then Dave smirks a little bit, pretends he's not hard enough to pound nails, and tells Karkat, "This is not distracting me from the mild harm thing. By the way. In case you were wondering."

Karkat huffs in annoyance, even as he burrows into Dave's neck and his back arches, pressing his weight into Dave's hands. "Whatever. Knew it was a one-shot. I really don't regret using it when I did. Keep -- nnh. Keep doing that."

Note to self: Karkat enjoys getting his butt fondled. Yeah, Dave doesn't think he's going to forget that anytime soon. His previously-dislocated shoulder is starting to ache under the strain; he shifts a little, tries to let Karkat's shivers distract him. It doesn't entirely succeed, but it succeeds enough to keep going.

"Feels good?" he asks, attempting casual.

"Mngh." Signs point to yes. Rolling booty types of signs. "It's -- totally unnecessary, but--"

"Mn--what is?"

"Me feeling good!" Karkat snaps, and then burrows against his neck again. "I was talking to people on the internet and they said only a psycho would enjoy it if their partner wasn't, though, so... whatever. I mean, obviously that's not at all what I'm in this for, this is feeding, but if it helps your strange mammalian instincts then -- then whatever."

Dave leans back to stare at him in disbelief, hands gone still on his ass, two fingers still raised to lift his tail.

"I've been trying to tell you exactly that from the beginning."

Karkat leans back as well, furrows his brows, purses his mouth in disapproval. Dave glowers back.

"How come you totally miss the point when it's me, but some random assholes over the internet send it to you with a couple lawls attached and suddenly you get it?! This is so gigantically unfair I have no words for it. Wow."

Karkat makes an annoyed cricket-hiss noise. "Do you want me to headbutt you again? Because I will find it in me to make that sacrifice. I'm starving so badly I'm not even in a hurry to feed anymore and you're whining about -- khsssst."

He attacks Dave's neck, pointy teeth pressing and releasing their way down his throat, his jugular vein. Dave groans (annoyance or lust, he doesn't even know) and gives in. His still-healing shoulder is twanging its displeasure, so he takes that arm out of full extension; he needs to undo his zipper anyway. He rummages awkwardly between them, knuckles nudging Karkat's soft belly, fishes his dick out.

"Be nice if I could get fully undressed one day," he mumbles against Karkat's shoulder, and gives himself a long, slow pull -- the last spat softened him a bit.

Karkat's tail quivers against the back of his hand -- it's probably shaking like a lamb's and he can't see it, god. He captures it in his hand, squeezes the bottom of it and lets it glide out of his fingers the same way his other hand pumps up his dick. (He doesn't have spines to avoid, but he still doesn't close his fingers all the way around himself, just because.)

"Mnh." One of Karkat's gauntleted hands cups his (healthy) shoulder, kneads with the balls of his palm, knife-claws brushing ticklishly against his shirt. Shit, Dave needs his shirt off now.

Karkat presses their cheeks together and his hand slides between them and is he going to touch Dave's dick? Fuck yes, though it's not the best angle by far to guarantee a lack of slicey on his baloney. He doesn't push Karkat's questing hand off his wrist, at any rate.

He can feel Karkat hesitate, pressed as tight as they are together.

"Give me your hand," he says, rough and low. Dave does.

When he realizes where Karkat is guiding it he stops breathing, too.

It's so, so soft between his thighs, velvet and the gentle swell of his mound. Dave doesn't turn his hand palm up, lets Karkat guide the side of Dave's fingers against himself. Karkat is tense all over and if Dave startles him away now he'll probably die.

The pads of his fingers caress Karkat's inner thigh in passing. He can feel damp trailing against his pointer finger.

"A-alright." Karkat butts their heads together, rough, nervous, and then he loosens his hold. "Just -- careful. I will bite, don't think I won't, I don't care if I can't, I--"

Dave kisses him, wet and slow, coaxing his mouth open. So many pointy teeth in there, but Karkat's tongue is hot and after the first confused grunt he licks back, lapping at Dave's exploring tongue with his oh-so-slightly-raspy one.

Dave cups Karkat's crotch, not so lightly it will tickle -- he hopes -- not caressing yet, just touching, holding, and his shoulder is going to hurt so bad, he should change hands but.

So, so warm down there, so soft and a little wet (oh) and the way Karkat quivers against him...

"Still nothing inside!" he breaks the kiss to say, a bit shrill, clinging to Dave's shoulders. Dave nods, eyes closed, head tilted against his.

He caresses him, back and forth, gentle -- with his whole hand, with his palm, and he tries not to let the tip of his middle finger press down against that slit.

He thinks it's... maybe opening a little, because that's not velvet under his fingertips, it's slick and burning-hot and not shelled even a little bit, not even flexibly so, the way his belly and inner thighs feel under the fuzz.

Karkat is shaking all over; he twitches between freezing and pushing, rubbing down against Dave's hand, freezing again. Trying to find the angle that works best. Dave kisses him a second time, languid and deep, tongue moving inside his mouth the way he wishes he could fuck him, long and slow.

Karkat goes up on his knees without warning, rearing off him, and Dave's hand almost follows; he lets it fall, making a small disappointed noise in his mouth. (They're still kissing. He's glad for that.) His hand is oddly cold.

Karkat nips his lip -- almost slices the inside of it, Dave's sad when he doesn't -- and growls into his mouth, frustration more than anger.

"Why does it feel so much worse when you do it?!"

"... Wow." Dave levels a flat stare at his demon. "Thanks. I'm really flattered. I mean it, such honeyed words, I'm gonna swoon, quick someone catch me, I can't resist the suave there, oh, oh, gonna burst out of my bodice--"

Oh, mouth of Karkat. Not a French kiss this time, just lips pressed against his, brief and hard.

"Shut up, Assturd McMotormouth. I wasn't trying to seduce you -- when am I ever, fuck -- it's a fact, I can touch myself there okay but it's fucking intolerable when it's you."

Dave takes in a deep, long breath and tries to release his stupid whining along with it when he breathes out. It's hella flattering that Karkat would be oversensitive to his touch, actually. Flattering in a way that makes him cup himself and give his Stridernator a squeeze, because fuck.

"Yeah, uh. That's -- that's normal. Like how when you massage your own skull it's okay, and when you go to the hairdresser and they wash it, it's more like, oh my little Jesus please make sweet love to my scalp for another hour, yes, fuck yes."

He, uh, might have put in too much acting in this last sentence; the begging moans sounded pretty much just like the real thing. It's not at all because he's jerking it while thinking about Karkat overwhelmed and lost and letting him touch him anyway, for the record.

Karkat's hand curls cautiously around Dave's hand; Dave slows down briefly, but then he starts up again and Karkat just follows, like he wants to feel the way Dave does it, like he wants to help.

Dave licks his dry lips. "Do you -- want me to -- like. Try again? Later? Carefuler?"

"Mnh. No, it's fine. I didn't mind -- it was nice. No, nice is the wrong word, but I--"

Dave can't help smiling, dopey and half-drunk with pleasure and affection. "You liked it?"

Karkat's lip juts out in a vaguely grumpy pout. "... Maybe a bit." He tightens his hand on Dave's a bit, teases his fingers with delicate claw tips. So close to his dick, and they'd slip between his fingers so easily. The risk is a little bit hot.

The fact that Karkat is so cautious about making sure it doesn't happen is better.

"Wish I could get you off," he pants in Karkat's shoulder. "Wish I could -- make you come -- and it didn't mess with you so bad, and you just -- it's so great, wish I knew how to get you there--"

"Your father figure has been emailing me links about getting someone with no penis off," Karkat says -- casual, thoughtless, making Dave burst out laughing against his collarbone even as he groans, "noooo!" "I assume I'm supposed to forward them to you. I don't even know if I have a clitoris."

"Yeah," Dave manages to reply once he has laughed enough. "That's the problem. Looks like you've got nothing, where the hell do you even pee from, it is a mystery."

He is going to die of blue balls. Blue balls and laughter. He's still battling giggle fits as he pumps his dick. Still hard, but the urgency has gone a bit.

His shoulder hurts. Fuck. He switches hands, awkward and sore, hissing a little bit as he tries to find a good position for his injured arm and his newly dick-holding hand both.

"Hell, why did I not learn to jerk off with both hands. Tragic -- fucking -- oversight..."

Karkat pulls back a little to stare at him, eyebrow quirked, and then he shuffles off Dave's lap entirely. Nooo, nonono --

He lifts Dave's knees and swings them onto the couch. "Turn sideways." Dave does. Karkat climbs back on top of him, a hand on his chest guiding him down against the arm rest.

He takes Dave's hand off himself, guides his hurt arm in a comfortable folded position on his chest, and then he shuffles forward until Dave's dick is nestled between his thighs, and he starts to rock.

The hold isn't tight enough -- and Karkat isn't about to grind his crotch down on Dave's dick, not after his last overload. But the sight, and the teasing little brushes, the way he braces a hand by Dave's head and looms over him, fuck, yes, so many worlds of yes. Dave plants his heels on the cushions, rocks with him, fits himself to his beat.

It's quiet now, only panting and cloth rustling quietly -- the couch springs, barely audible. It's dim under the mezzanine and under Karkat's body, under his wings spread like a net, like he wants to surround Dave as much as he possibly can.

It's ridiculous how tender they make him feel, those wings, so stunted and useless and almost whole, almost fine, fine soon, even with the funny discolored scars where the shell got cracked open.

He'd touch them with his other hand if Karkat's hand wasn't still on his wrist, keeping it pinned safely against his chest.

Dave brushes his free hand down Karkat's shoulder, against Karkat's badge, and down his long smooth hard-shelled arm and the violently red ropes of apparent tendons. He worms it between Karkat's legs -- he's going to destroy his wrist. He uses the flat of his palm to press his dick against a velvet thigh; they speed up the beat, and he gives everything he can muster of his failing mental faculties to winding his will around Karkat's Name and imagining himself deeper between those thighs, buried where it's slick and burning-hot.

He comes with a strangled gasp, a burst of white behind his eyelids, a burst of warmth blooming in his body from the hips out, and he goes slack on the couch and pants and melts into the cushions. Karkat lifts himself, frees Dave's hand (Dave wouldn't even have bothered), leans down to lick at his exposed throat.

"Want -- want blood? D'you get enough?"

"It was fine," Karkat says, eyes heavy-lidded, and gives a longsuffering look at the wet splatters down his thigh. "I'll want another meal in under twelve hours, though, think you can?"

Dave is completely floppy with the aftermath of pleasure and he still throws a thumbs up instantly. "Oh hell yeah, no problem."

Karkat drags himself off him, climbs on the coffee table on his way to the wider floor. "I don't think I'll bother letting you fondle me next time. I'll just go down on you."

"Oh heeeell yeah. Motherfucking score."

He's rummaging in the bag Dave dropped by the door. Huh. "We'll have to set a strict schedule, because I am really fucking starved, and you can't imagine how much that tomfoolery set me back in terms of regaining my full power on this ridiculous plane of existence."

Oh no. Schedule? "I get the feeling I just walked into a very sexy trap."

Karkat snorts, and throws a wad of cloth at him from the other end of the room. It lands on the back of the couch and flops back into his face.

"Put your sling on already. I'm taking a shower and then making pasta, just take a nap or something."

Dave obediently puts on the sling. Wouldn't want to roll over and sleep on his bad arm or something. "Any of the pasta for me?"

"Maybe the burnt bits at the bottom of the pan, if there are any," Karkat returns casually, and walks into the bathroom.

"Aw, come on," Dave groans, and lays back down for a nap. "How'd you want me to feed you right if I'm all weakened with hunger my own self?"

"Not my problem!" Karkat calls from the bathroom. "But you know what, I'll trade you a pasta meal for a pint of ice cream."

Yeah, ice cream is going to become a staple of Karkat's diet soonish, he thinks. "Done. You are the most generous, it is you."

"I want strawberry. With real fruit chunks in."

Dave wants his kitchen not to be a burned mess, but Karkat is actually pretty good at machines and technology -- case in point, he already thumb-types faster than Dave, and Dave doesn't have claws he needs to avoid piercing the keys with. "Mmh."

It's probably safe to fall asleep, so that's what he does, listening to the shower drumming on.


Two days later he's applying styling foam to his impeccably coiffed locks and ignoring the way his legs still want to shake -- note to self, shower sex is less woozyfying when the water is not left on boiling-hot -- when he leans forward to fix a lock into the perfect "accidentally tousled" configuration and... huh.

Okay, is he imagining things maybe.

He leans in toward the bathroom mirror, cranes his head so more light will fall on his irises.

"Is your hair still not done? I'm not greeting your guests for you!"

"Uh, almost," he calls back through the bathroom door, distracted.

"You're not trying to attract any of them as a mate, so why the fuck does it matter. It looks the same anyways, only now it stinks!"

"It's just fun is all." Huh. Yeah, he's about 70% sure that the little spokes running from his pupils to the rims of his irises didn't use to be so... zigzaggy.

There are some lines now that don't go all the way across, or at least there are more than there were, he's pretty sure. Almost looks like shakily-drawn, irregular teeth, trying and not quite managing to circle his pupils.

"I hear the elevator! Move your geriatric ass and stop fondling your own eyelashes!"

You really have to stare at them from up close to notice. "Okay, if you let me fondle yours!" And it doesn't even look unnatural, it's just, well.

He has crude attempts at sketching clock gears on his eyeballs.

He bets he knows what this dates back from. Be interesting to know if Rose has anything like suns in hers.

"Changed my mind! You can tongue-kiss the shower drain and drown, after all."

He puts on his shades, flicks the lock of hair in place, and walks out, in time to see Karkat arrow for the door and yank it open an instant before Detective Grier can knock.

"Hey," Karkat tells him, gruff but polite, and steps away from the door to let him and Officer O'Dell in.

O'Dell still looks like a Labrador puppy, especially with the eager way he checks out the apartment from his spot -- it's the first time Dave has had him over -- but he does juggle his two pizzas onto his left hand so he can offer his right to Karkat to shake.

Karkat shakes. He hesitates a bit first, but he shakes. John is going to be so jealous. Dave walks up to them to greet them in turn.

"Any news on Burnett?" he asks her partner. Grier nods.

"She's parking. Carpooled with Maguire and Aguilar. Welch will be by a little later."

Dave guides them to the coffee table and its array of chips and things; O'Dell chooses an ottoman to perch on, and Grier sinks into the couch with a little sigh and a vaguely pained grimace.

"Your back?" Karkat asks -- Dave was going to, and he blinks a little.

"Mnh. I'm not young enough to get into that kind of scrape anymore, not like you all." He leans forward to prop his elbows on his knees, gives Karkat a little smile. "It was aching for a while before that, mind."

"You should have stayed home," Karkat opines with a little frown.

"Can't stay home when your partner isn't," Grier replies with philosophical resignation, and lets Dave pour him a drink.

The second batch of guests arrives soon afterwards, Aguilar laughing her butt off over the Karkat flyer that's still pinned in the lobby even as she comes through the door. Burnett is smiling kind of despite herself; Maguire stops himself with a whoops the second he sees Karkat, and then smiles down at him.

"Hey, man. Heuang told me to ask you how it's shakin'."

"--Oh." Karkat's little tail flicks like there's a fly on it for a second, and then he flattens it down self-consciously. "Is she out of the hospital yet?"

"Yeah, but she's still figuring out crutches, her arm was in a cast until two days ago, she'll break it again at this rate -- ah, Detective, hi."

... It's so fucking adorable when Karkat makes friends. Dave unfreezes his face enough to send the dude a tiny approving smile.

Aguilar is touring the living room and peering at everything -- the posters on the walls, the photographs he hung from a string in the corner to dry and forgot to take down and then decided to leave up as decoration, the furniture.

"Didn't take you for a scented candle guy, sir," she throws over her shoulder, along with a grin.

"Masterful deduction. That's Aradia's."

"Oho. Girlfriend?"

Blink. Snerk. "Kind of. She's definitely one of the most important ladies in my life."

"I sense a scandalous affair."

Grier and Burnett, seated at the ends of the couch, are exchanging amused glances.

"Indeed. It is a story of tragic love that could not transcend the barriers of time, space, and the fact that I've got my hands full with one corporeal demon already and besides Karkat would probably eat her if she got in range of his snacks."

Karkat grumbles. "If by snacks we also include -- wait, that's another Bro situation, isn't it."

Dave keeps a straight face somehow. Oh lord. "Okay, who wants what drink? You guys working tomorrow?"

O'Dell and Aguilar are; he gets them beer from the pack Aguilar brought in.

Burnett accepts a whiskey on the rocks, and pretends she is not smirking thinly in Dave's direction. Pretends really badly.

"Scented candles, huh? Could have been worse."

Well okay Dave is the one who chooses the scented ones, Aradia doesn't give a crap what they smell like and he just so happens to like patchouli in an entirely ironically sincere way. He takes a seat on one of the chairs and gets himself a coke. "Yeah?"

"Teisat wanted kids."

He almost spits the coke right out. "Jesus."

All the officers are staring at her. Burnett chuckles. "Fortunately, so did my husband and I, or I would have had to pass him up, and that would have been pretty sad."

"That's your perfect match, right?" Dave asks, an eyebrow up. "Isn't he Rage? I thought asking for babies would be more of a Life thing."

Burnett shrugs. "Would you believe that in twenty-five years I never once bothered to ask him?"

"I wouldn't," Karkat says, eyes narrowed. He picks up a fistful of chips and crunches away, still trying to stare her down.

Welp. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Karkat Vantas, Prince of Tact."

People laugh, some more awkwardly than others. Dave opens a bag of fancy chips and passes it around, and declines to comment on Karkat's frowny face. Man, it'd be cool if Latula could transmit his topic change, topic change!

Maybe she does, because Karkat bounds off to the door, and there's Welch, with her hair down for once and wearing jeans.

"Are you out of uniform?" Dave teases, and waves her to the last pouf without getting up. "For shame."

Aguilar mock-glares at him from her own seat. "Wow, the station sure has changed since the last time I was there!"

Welch laughs politely as she leans over to shake hands. "I'm taking evening classes. It's with civilians, so... Ah, yeah, whisky please."

"The Force not enough for you anymore?" Dave deadpans. Welch pinches her lips.

"I'm aiming for your job, sir." Then she hides a smile behind her beer can. "It's summoning classes. Still only the basics though."

"Guess I can keep sleeping soundly for a while longer then."

Grier asks for news about a teacher he knows at Welch's classes. The guys are listening politely; Karkat is frowning at their drinks.

Dave watches him perch on a low round stool, palms pressed to the seat between his thighs for balance. His wing is bound down today, he was sore; still there are shoulder spurs to make his silhouette strange. Dave leans in wordlessly to pour him a glass of lemonade, ignores the vaguely defiant look he gets in return as Karkat snatches it from his hand and cradles it with both of his.

He's like a man in medieval armor, an anachronism seated between colleagues and friends. Dave's fingers itch to take that picture. It'd be even more striking as a black and white silhouette. "Knight Enjoying a Pint With the Local Constabulary."

"But you're not a bit old to start summoning?" Maguire is asking with a little doubtful moue, lips quirked in a way that reminds Dave of the way Rose's mouth looks when Terezi has it. Dave takes a sip so he won't smile. "I mean, you're -- how old?"

Welch snorts through a mouthful of chips. "Twenty-six, thank you very much."

Maguire turns dubious brown eyes on Dave. "How old are you again?"

Dave pretends to think about it. "Oh, at least twenty-three."

Everyone but the other Detectives stares at him. Welp. "Holy sh-- uh. Crap. Wow. How the hell are you a Detective already?"

"Yeah, wow, I think we're all older than you, sir. That's just weird."

O'Dell raises his hand. "I'm twenty-two? Hey, Karkat, how old are you?"

Karkat blinks, thrown. Dave is briefly interested in the answer, before he remembers that, er, yeah.

"I'm a demon, dumbdumb. Time kind of means jack shit to us. You could count it linearly from when I was incarnated, I guess, in which case I win by leagues."

"Or lose by leagues," Dave can't stop himself from saying. "Anyway, about the age thing," he continues before they can descend into snark in front of the guests. "Most of the other young detective-summoners we've got were born close to the same year I was, and if you'll recall, that was the year the hell gate started expanding. It's not a coincidence. Magical contamination means pretty sizeable power levels means it was a bad idea to leave us untrained until college."

"Why, you'd start summoning in your dreams or something?" Maguire asked. Aguilar snorted.

"Noo. Teenagers who can summon? Not like you can completely stop them, so it's probably not a great idea to leave them not knowing how to at least do it right, right?"

"There was some of that," Dave allows, thinking about Bro and Rose. Thinking that Dirk probably did experiment early, but at least he was never caught.

Also no one knows what the fuck is up with Jade and Bec. Was he dog-demony before she tamed him? It is a mystery. She just came back home with a stray one day and that was that, and it took Roxy's mom three years to figure out what was fucking up her readings.

"The main issue's the incarnate classes one and two roaming around the gate. Most of them are shy of people, or they don't like being away from the gate, either or, but when you don't cast for a while your life energy kind of piles up." He shrugs. "Untrained strong threes and above make for pretty tasty bait."

He remembers hearing Jane had screaming nightmares about leading demons through her nice suburbs, getting her neighbors' kids eaten instead of her because they were in the way and running and accidentally attracting the demons' attention. He wasn't scared, personally, because Bro is a fucking badass, and Mom Lalonde is also a badass, and Jade and Jake's grandpa's home was wall to wall rifles, and John's dad was okay, but Jane's dad? He works in an office, Dave also remembers being dubious about the man's ability to lay the smackdown on intruders and protect his turf.

Dave had vague thoughts of coincidentally going to visit his main man Egbert Junior and just happening to save Jane's hot teenage butt with nothing but his thirteen-year-old mangrit, but Bro laughed in his face and then made him start on after-school classes and that was it.

"Wow." Maguire looks all sympathetic and worried, bless his little heart. "You ever get attacked?"

Karkat let out a loud disbelieving snort. "With Calloz around? Yeah, I'd like to see that."

Awgh. Burnett is arching an eyebrow. "My bro's -- boyfriend," Dave lies. (Or was it a lie. Uuuugh.) Dave just really doesn't want to get into the matter of summoning licenses and people who do not have one who perhaps should. "Yeah, with that bad dude around we were safe as houses, I barely noticed. Should we open the pizza?"

Pizza is brought out. Fuck yes. Dave grabs the first slice he can and busies himself munching. Grier is asking Maguire for news about his aunt, who it turns out is Captain Maguire of Robbery's wife and they're cousins-aunt/nephew to the second degrees or some shit. Dave thinks he must have met her once at a cookout, but he's met and seen so many police dependents it's a bit like suddenly being parachuted into the middle of the stereotype of the sprawling Southern family Bro tells him they totally have.

Grier seriously knows everyone, this is mildly scary.

"I don't know, we haven't narrowed it down that far yet," Welch is telling her fellow officers. Dave blinks behind his shades and wonders what he's missed.

"Maybe Karkat can tell!" O'Dell leans over the table toward him, looking hopeful. Even kind of puppy-like, to be honest. Karkat looks nonplussed, which is hilariadorable.

"How the fuck would I tell, dumbass, do I look like a sensor class to you?"

"You look like a demon to me," O'Dell points out in a reasonable tone. "I mean, it's pretty much all I can see about you with my eyes. Because, you know, not a summoner, so you could be asking me to see air molecules. Is it oxygen, is it carbon dioxide...?"

"Statistically it'd probably be nitrogen," Burnett points out. (She's more than halfway done with her whisky. Dave hefts the bottle in a silent offer to top her off, which she accepts with a crinkly-eyed smile.)

Karkat is rolling all his eyes. (Then again Dave isn't entirely sure he could roll a pair and not the other pair. He'll have to ask him some day.)

"Oh wait, how could I miss it. It's so obvious. You are..." He squints at O'Dell some. Everyone is already snickering. "You are... A turd of breath."


"Or was it a turd breath, I always mix them up. Oh well, same difference."

He leans over the table and snatches O'Dell's beer up.

"Oi, oi, come on now--"

"Penalty for being you in my apartment."

He brings the bottle to his mouth. Dave thinks that if other people were there they'd tell him to stop Karkat, maybe, question him. Karkat has never had alcohol before. It's just a beer, and this is the most harmless place for him to try it out. Save for alone with Dave to stave off boredom and loneliness, which strikes Dave as too sad to contemplate.

The truth is the thought of stopping him is fleeting at best and then Karkat is drinking anyway and Dave shrugs it off. Aguilar shoves at O'Dell's shoulder and rags on him as he play-pouts; the guy doesn't look like he even minds getting bullied by Karkat like this, just takes it in stride good-naturedly.

Neither Burnett nor Grier is saying anything, and as his seniors and summoners in their own right they're the only ones who could say anything, so.

Wow, looks like he actually gets to make adult decisions.

His decision is that so does Karkat. Yeah, he's cool with it.

"I wasn't even asking mine! I was asking hers!"

"Heir of Heart," Karkat replies decisively.

"What, really?"

He takes the time to pull a long swallow from the bottle, and then he smirks, the cocky little shit. "I have no fucking clue."

"You should ask Kankri if he'll take a look, but you'd better be ready to bleed for it," Dave suggests. He doesn't want them to just ask, because Rose might pay the price without saying anything and Kankri is unlikely to request blood from her if he can get another word instead.

"Oh my god, I bled too much last time as it is," Maguire protests. "Karkat got me in the thigh, I couldn't walk, and then my hand was full of holes, what the heck even was that."

"Oh like you can talk," Aguilar retorts, and throws a chip at him, "it wasn't even that I ended up cut up all over, I looked like I got macked on by a vampire, my neck is still bruised!"

Aw, Karkat's gone all curled up on his perch. Awkward little gargoyle.

"Dude," Dave protests, "if he were stupid enough to let his man organs hang out like the rest of us you'd have unmanned him, you totally deserve the bloodsucker snack stamp."

Dave throws a chip at her. Grier is chuckling between his disapproving groans. Burnett calmly snarfs another slice of pizza.

Karkat uncurls when he realizes they're not blaming him, that they're joking around. It was scary as hell when it happened, now it's an occasion to rag on each other about their silly tactical choices while mindfucked by a soul-devouring Class Four.

Rose could talk for hours about the place in the Force of the ritual post-mission mocking of the threat to reduce its credibility and potency, he's sure.

"Most badass bar none was Aguilar. The rest of you guys kept bumbling right back into the barrier and tripping on your own feet -- Maguire I swear to fuck you went and grabbed Karkat by the quills and then you were like, okay, why does it hurt--"

"So that's where the holes came from!" Maguire exclaims.

"--and meanwhile she was busting out karate moves. Seriously, props to you. Good training, good killer instincts, and if you turn out to be Rage I would not be surprised an iota."

(He almost let Damara have her that day. Karkat was in danger and she was in the way.)

"Still, props to you for wanting to deal with demons more closely after that clusterfuck," Burnett says to Welch, who blushes. "Seriously, I would not have been surprised if all of you came back in with notes from your moms saying you couldn't be allowed out to play anymore."

Now Welch is twirling her hair shyly. Pff. "So long as they need manpower, any officer will be tapped for demon hunts regardless, ma'am, I might as well learn how to tackle them properly."

Maguire sighs and flops against the back of his chair. "Yeah, huh, we were pretty useless."

Karkat snorts, flicks his one unbound wing open briefly in annoyance/threat (Dave isn't sure which, but he translates it as "annoyed enough to posture.") "No, the most useless wasn't you, it was Burnett's Asshole of Rage. He wasn't even just useless, he was actively making things worse."

Dave groans and lets his head fall into his waiting palm. Burnett stares back at Karkat for a moment and then she raises her whisky in salute. "I plead guilty."

Dave winces some more. Way to bring the mood back down; there's no way she didn't get in trouble for that one.

But then she shrugs, crooks Karkat a smirk. "Bah. If I was too perfect they'd take the division away from Egbert to give it to me, and then I couldn't go in the field anymore," she intones, fake-seriously. "And then Teisat would sulk for the next six years."

"That sounds like a pretty specific number," O'Dell remarks.

"That's when my last kid will hit eighteen." She sighs. "Not too sure what I'll pay him after that."

Karkat lets out a rude noise. He has filched Welch's coke and is sipping it. She pours herself another one without comment.

"Adopt a pregnant cat."

Burnett gives a slow blink. "He says fuck you."

Karkat makes a rude noise right back. "I say he put people under my protection in danger so if I survive being disincarnated he had better pray the first thing I do won't be to come after him."

For a second her skin flickers with weird dark shapes, and huh, Teisat must be hovering right now, the way Latula hangs out in his head for days on end. He wonders how it feels to do that with your perfect match.

Karkat's eyes go narrow and mean and he stares right at her. Or maybe deeper. "No, you shut up when the adults are talking, I get that you're still a brat with the impulse check skills of your average Bard of Breath but that's no excuse to be a fucking moron, you've got guaranteed food for the next several years and you risk your fool head like this?"

"You shut up," Burnett-not-Burnett growls, three octaves lower and rattling like a dying truck. "You're not my summoner."

Dave tries his hardest not to start laughing. But O'Dell and Aguilar crack the fuck up and then he's sporfling into his hand.

"You're not my mom!" Aguilar says in what she thinks is a discreet aside, and the rest of everyone giggle along.

Karkat is bristled up and his eyes glow a bit. Oh lord. Dave knows it's going to offend him even worse but it just makes him snicker harder.

Burnett cracks up, leans back all loose against the back of the couch, whisky dancing in her glass. "Ahaha. Okay, kids, that's enough. I'll send you to your respective corners, don't think I won't. No, Teisat, I won't tell him that. I really won't, stop insisting. No."

Karkat sniffs disdainfully and picks up a slice of pizza, More Mature Than You written all over him. His expression is so completely Kankri that Dave has to excuse himself to the kitchen.


It's getting pretty late in the evening when Burnett brings out the pie she made (pear and apricot) and Dave realizes one of the cokes Karkat filched must have been rum'd up. He realizes because Karkat flops off his perch and goes to swoon adoringly on Burnett's knees, crosses his arms on her lap as he gazes up at her.

He smiles, this heartbreakingly sweet expression, and he tells her very earnestly, "You know, if you won me off him in a duel I might even forget to test the bond completely. Like. If you fed me pie."

She laughs down at him and pats his horn. "I'm not rated for Class Fours but thank you for the offer. My pies are flattered."

"It smells really good. You'd win easily, he's a pushover. It would be a slaughter."

Aguilar, Maguire, and O'Dell obviously find that pretty hilarious. Dave purses his lips very sternly and does not pout.

"Teisat says he would eat your face."

"Teisat can try," Karkat says, and smirks in an almost indulgent way. "Kind of cute that he thinks he could compete."

Aguilar stretches her leg over to nudge him in the shoulder. "Are you getting the d'awws over a little bratty demon, brother, is that what's happening here?"

Karkat frowns up at her, but more thoughtful than annoyed, and shifts so he's slumped against the couch and not Burnett's lap so much. "... Maybe... a bit? I mean he's destructive and short-sighted and ragey all over the place, but if that stopped me I'd never get to meet anyone."

Dave snorts. "He sounds like a minikat when you talk about him like that. Is he one of your spawn, Karkat? You can tell us the truth."

O'Dell makes a weird snort-honking noise and giggles something that sounds like baby daddy.

Karkat splutters, almost knocks Burnett's hand holding the pie-cutting knife in the air with his sudden flailing. "What? No! He can't be mine, I've never spawned."

He looks so flustered, Dave kind of wants to kiss him.

"I wouldn't anyway." He shudders, pulls his knees against his chest to hug. Okay, make that 'tipsy' into a 'mildly drunk.' "... Give me pie."

Grier and Burnett can tell he's hammered, too. They exchange a speaking look with Dave, a nod. It's getting late, huh.

Once everyone's done eating their pie slice Grier goes, "Okay, I should go home," and the two of them move everyone along with Dave barely having to do anything to kick his guests out.

Karkat shakes hands with people from the floor and doesn't make a move to get up. There's a funny expression on his face that Dave doesn't have time to read; he's walking people to the door, saying his goodbyes. Yeah, it was fun, see you at the station, yeah, okay, later.

Dave settles his arm into his sling comfortably and goes to gather leftovers. There's some pie left, and pizza for breakfast, booyah. He juggles those boxes to the kitchen and ... Karkat is still on the floor, okay. Dave moves the bottles to a corner of the floor; he'll throw the empties away tomorrow, he doesn't want to go back and forth a dozen times tonight.

"Hey, Karkat? How 'bout you go to bed? It's late."

Karkat slowly looks up at him, lips parted, an expression on his face that Dave can't read and which still makes him reach out without a thought.

"I'm altered," he says, and then his nostrils flare and his eyes widen and ooh, hell no, Dave is not letting him freak out.

He crouches and puts a hand on Karkat's shoulder, tugs him closer, but Karkat grabs his wrist like a vice and repeats, louder, more strident, "I'm altered! I can't think, what the fuck is wrong, I think all weird, this -- this isn't me, there's, it's wrong--"

Goddamn. "It's just the alcohol, Karkat--"

"I didn't give permission to be altered! I'm fine the way I am, make it stop--"

He really should see about that mild harm thing. "Karkat, you're crushing my wrist."

He bets Karkat didn't even realize, from the way he flinches and lets go, the way all his eyes go round, oh shit on every inch of his face.

Wonder if alcohol might dull a corporeal demon enough that they'd be able to drunkard their way past their contract. Nah, probably not. Better not suggest it though.

"Fuck, fuck. D-- ah -- Master? Make it stop. Tell me -- tell me to be normal again, I don't want to change--"

He's starting to twitch all over, feet kicking and curling, hands fisting. He's going to start pacing and freaking out all over the place in a second.

He did ask Dave to order him. Which, yeah, drunk and all, not really consent, but -- argh, shit, it's nothing bad anyway.

"Karkat, this is an order. Be still and listen to me."

Karkat goes still. A bit too much. "You can breathe and blink," Dave says with a groan.

Fuck. Okay, what does he say now.

"Alcohol has a temporary effect. You know that." He waits a second for an answer. Oh right. "... You can move your head." Karkat blinks, eventually. Dave figures he didn't want to nod. "Anyway, tomorrow you'll be back to normal. Okay? You're gonna sleep through it, and then you'll wake up and at worst you'll have a headache for a couple of hours, but we do have drugs for that."

Blink. Blink. Yeah, okay. He picks up a bottle of water from the coffee table, offers it to him. "Here, drink some water, while we're at it."

Karkat doesn't pick it up from his hand. Damn it, he didn't order him that hard, did he? Dave brings the bottle to his mouth; he drinks there at least.

"You'll be just fine tomorrow, I promise. Just sleep on it. Okay, you can speak now."

"I don't like sleeping either," Karkat says quietly, and looks away.


"I'm not aware of myself for hours on end, that's freaky. I can't control my memory and imagination and my me, and I get psychedelic what the fuckery scenelets that I can't even tell aren't real while I'm in there, it feels like being tenderly loved over by a Witch of Mind. D'you know, they mess with your self while they're eating you, so you can't figure out how to escape."

"Jesus." Dave site beside him, wraps an arm around his back, squeezes as hard as he can. "Why didn't you --"

Tell him. Yeah, tell his master that being a slave has downsides. What could Dave do anyway? Flesh and blood beings have to sleep and dream and that's it.

Karkat gives a dry chuckle, one that doesn't sound all that amused. "I guess it's not too bad. Sometimes. Waste of time though."

"It does work to reset you some, though," Dave says, for lack of a better argument.

"I guess. I'm really not feeling right," he adds, plaintive.

Dave works his fingers into Karkat's messy hair and pets gently at his scalp around the horn. "You'll be fine, bro. Pinky swear, you'll be just fine."

"But it's changing me! And then I won't be me anymore, I, Karkat Vantas will be gone and then you'll have. I don't know. Kakatoes Vantas? Cricket Vantas? Words are weird. Why do you guys use noises, why not scents, or, I don't know..."

"Okay, you're more hammered than I thought after all."

"Anyway point is that new demon won't be me and it'll eat you."

Dave keeps petting around his horn, long slow glides, soothing as he can make them. "Dude. Your consciousness is set in flesh right now, it's not floating freely in the ether, yes?"

"Uh. Yeah?"

"Flesh is like... a hard drive? And what's happening to you right now, that's more like..." He looks for something to complete his metaphor, but all his ideas are silly. Oh well, let's go with it. "It's like you're viewing your blog with a different skin. Things look and feel different, but the data hasn't changed. And even if the data was altered, like, someone put in a stupid midi that auto-runs in the background, once the great DDOS attack of evil alcohol stops it just rolls back to a point it wasn't. Your blog is safe."

"Huh." Karkat takes a minute to consider that. Dave rubs his shoulder, in a gesture that probably only comforts him and that Karkat doesn't even notice. "Huh."


"I want a blog."

"... How 'bout we blog your bedtime, champ."

Karkat gives the kind of thoughtful, considering look from three steps left of reality that is a staple of the drunk guy everywhere. "Yeah, okay. I'm feeling so off, being asleep might be an improvement. Can I move now?"

"--oh, right. Yeah, sure."

Karkat wobbles his way up, leaning hard on the coffee table, and then goes for the ladder.

"Wait a minute, you really should sleep on the couch, the stairs aren't--"

"No," his pet demon says with clear, diamond-pure certainty. "Upstairs or no dice."

Dave, of course, gives in. Because he's a moron he climbs up after Karkat, one-armed, in case his blade-studded, armored demon stumbles and falls back and needs a flesh cushion to stop him from getting a bruise. (Or his wing broken again, yeah, okay, that's totally worth the risk of getting stabbed through.)

He gets to follow Karkat's ass, so it's not too bad, and eventually after some fruitless heaving and awkward pauses Karkat makes it up to the loft. Dave turns off the living room's lights, leaves only the bedside lamp on, sees about getting undressed.

He dumps his shoes down the ladder. In boxers, he shuffles to his bed. Karkat is half-curled at the head of the mattress, kneading at Dave's pillow and looking vaguely displeased. Dave's a bit of a dick, so he yanks the sheets out from under him and carefully doesn't smile when Karkat lands on his shoulder on the mattress with a bewildered, betrayed look on his face.

"Your nest is like two steps away," Dave remarks pointedly, and tugs on his pillow. It stays stuck under Karkat's unmoving chest.

"Too far." As Dave takes off his shades and puts them safely away, Karkat crawl-flops until he's resting along the length of the mattress, feet toward the head, and tugs the comforter closer. Dave watches him, an eyebrow up. Then he looks up at Dave with a sudden piercing look. "Also if I throw up I want to throw up on you."

... Right. Yeah. Dave supposes this garbage bin will do as an emergency vomit receptacle. He ejects random odds and ends from their plastic bag on the mess of his floor to line it with. Okay, he's ready to deal with Karkat's potential vomit. As ready as he'll ever be.

"You're so suave, I'm swooning here, I'm completely seduced. Mm, talk dirty to me, baby."

He sits on the mattress and reclines, pulling the comforter up his legs; Karkat lurches along with it, lets himself fall across Dave's ribs. Oof.

"I could tell you 'bout my bowel movements and you'd be seduced," he grumbles, eyes half-closed already. His low voice thrums through Dave's body.

"That's a fair point," Dave replies, and turns off the light.

Karkat starts snoring three minutes in; a soft, purring sound that sounds too much like a cat and nothing like any of the three hundred and fifty-three noises Karkat makes in other occasions that Dave has previously catalogued.

He's barely kidding. He doesn't have the exact number; he does have all of Karkat's little noises and gestures catalogued. Photographed, registered, and put up in his mental gallery with playfully informative tags. There's the 'someone dared to be an idiot before me, I have to show them the error of their ways' rattlesnake noise and the 'I am going to have so much fun showing them the error of their ways' cricket-trill-rattlesnake and the 'that was so stupid it was almost endearing except I'm still feeling duty-bound to eat their face', there's the 'it hurts, I want to be out of here' snarl-whine and the 'it hurts, I can't wrap my mind around it, this is positively bewildering and I'd be bewildered if I wasn't in pain' mewl-gasp, and the 'you'd never understand because you're a stupid lowly peon with deficient hardware' gravel-snort and 'you'd never understand because you're my master and I'm your slave' silence.

There's his marshmallow face and his salmon face and his 'oh someone likes me that was unexpected' face. His 'getting the better of Kankri' face and his 'Kankri is getting the better of me!' face and his 'I'm the only one allowed to be an asshole to him' face and...

His furious, glowing-eyed 'I hate you because you're a human turd' face. His disdainful, sneery 'I hate you because you're so lame, are you really the one who's had a computer for years, how did you not know how to do this' face. His small and tired 'I hate you because you trapped me here and I will never be free again' face.

Dave runs a hand down Karkat's back, rubs at shoulder blade plates, brushes against the gaps. Feels him breathe, on Dave's chest and under his hand, like a little metronome, one-two-three-pause, one-two-three.

He's so fucked.

He's fucked, but at least there's leftover pie.

[Chapter 18] -- [Chapter 20]