Karkat and Kankri are the least compatible pair of clonesibs that has ever been presented to a Shatterdome, and besides Kankri doesn't want to fight, he wants to go into PR (he wants to "open dialogue with that fascinating -- if misguided, of course!" BuenaKai rot-stinking Kaiju cult.)
Karkat stays with the pilot program anyway because he's had the training, damn it, and maybe a miracle will happen and maybe they've sent him to this Shatterdome at the ass-end of nowhere for reasons other than "we wanted you as far as possible from the last place where you burned all your bridges."
After the massive brawl in the cafeteria is contained they tell him in cold, disappointed tones that the guy whose nose he broke for being an intolerable shitwaffle (which started the whole thing) was the same guy who they summoned him here for, for the way their scores match so strangely well on paper.
Dave doesn't want the asshole in his head (he doesn't want anyone in his head but bro) but life has never cared what he wants and besides there's something he needs, there's Tempest Grim out here at sea about to become kaiju chow (there are more who he can't think about who are already kaiju chow.)
He will drag him kicking and screaming from his sulky little grump-hole in the unmatched, Jaeger-less pilot dorms, shove him into a drivesuit head first, leash him to the conn-pod -- bondage for the win and who cares if Dave gets kicked out of the program afterwards for the breach of every sacred trust (he has to tell himself he'll be able to go that far, because Rose, because John.)
When he crosses through the Jaeger docks Vantas is waiting for him by Knight Ardent, helmet under his arm, fully suited up, and he bares his teeth and snarls, "What the blood-shitting fuck are you wasting our time traipsing around for when we have kaiju to curbstomp?" and for a brief, incandescent moment Dave loves him so much he could scream.
(swirl around trust the mech it can take it yes were behind it STAB cauterize EAT WHITE HOT METAL YOU MISBEGOTTEN FREAK OF UNNATURAL FUCKERY haha yes yeeesss pull it out straight dont want unnatural toxic fuckery everywhere yesss now whirl away HOW CAN SO MANY TONS OF METAL DODGE SO SMOOTHLY THIS IS GORGEOUS a lot of hula hoop in my formative years YOU KNOW I CAN SEE YOUR MEMORIES RIGHT YOU AREN'T EVEN BULLSHITTING OH MY GOD.)
(shit shit shit its coming STAND OUR GROUND that thing is like an avalanche we are like a smaller avalanche STAND OUR MOTHERFUCKING GROUND AND PUNCH IT NOW oh fuck this is pancake season we must have done three whole flips is this my stomach or yours MINE I THINK BUT WE REAMED ITS UGLY MUZZLE IN UNTIL IT CAME OUT THE OTHER SIDE I CALL IT A PRICE WELL PAID we totally did hahaha yes good jaeger best right hook KNIGHT IS BEST KNIGHT BAR NONE YES AGREED now time to get back up woohoo wanna barf DO NOT BECAUSE I WILL TOO is it dead/IS IT DEAD it is OH MY GOD IT IS WE RULE SO FUCKING MUCH HAHAHA hahaha yeeeeeeeeeeeeesssss.)
(this is gorgeousperfect everything i have ever dreamed it would be (i am terrified))
Their sync ratio starts crashing after they've pulled Tempest Grim up for the helicos to clamp on and fly back to shore. Karkat wants to ignore it and keep walking, and Dave doesn't because he knows it'll remind him of bro trying to keep walking that strut impaling him burning right through Dave's chest it hurts it hurts it burns father they're burning him, father no please he's not even your real dad anyway he's just another clone just a little older just try to get along with Kankri aren't they basically the same anyways.
Knight Ardent faceplants in the sea and Vantas disengages with a scream of pure rage, and Dave unhooks himself and goes to sit in a corner, music on and back turned to where (Karkat) Vantas (Line: Cancer, they went out of business as unethical not two years after Karkat was decanted anyways, no matter how starved for jaeger pilots the world is, clones never worked any better in practice but this is what he was made for this is who he could be) is pacing and kicking at things like that can get Dave out of his head, or him outside of Dave.
Fact: he knew he would have to show a stranger all his mundane horrors and private wonderments some day.
Fact: Dave Strider irritates the piss out of him and the computers must have been virused up to the moon the day they paired them up.
Fact: it's been a week and he still dreams of a too-old half-brother he never had who was borderline abusive in how maladapted he was to child-rearing and never could show love outside of a fucking cockpit, and he still he sees himself standing in his battle armor ready to charge and save his (not his) friends and he wants to cry with how much he wants someone to feel so violently about him again.
The pons helmet hits Dave in the chest and he grabs it out of pure reflex before it can fall to the ground. Karkat is standing there, eyes narrow with leashed fire and chin down like he's about to headbutt Dave in the face (which he would, Dave can still read his body with distressing fluency.)
Another helmet hangs from his hand, and he doesn't wait for Dave before yanking it on, like a gauntlet for Dave to pick up if he's not too scared (like a hand for Dave to take, and he knows it will be just as shaky and damp with fear as his own.)
They rock and sway together, wordless, pressed against the wall of Knight Ardent's dock (one of them is pressed there it might be karkat it might be dave neither one knows.) Their hips are fitted together and their thighs strain and caress each other in turn and their arms are locked and won't let go and they've triggered each other into an orgasm twice and no matter how nice it feels it won't be happening a third time do you think we're still teenagers dude seriously now spirit willing flesh kinda bruised.
In a little while they will disengage and walk down to dinner their hands trailing across each other's back (touch my ass in public and I'll kick you) (I'll like it anyways) their shoulders braced against each other and they will be dave and karkat again but for now they breathe in unison helmet to helmet and they think about the first kiss they will share when the bridge goes down.