"And this," Karkat mused in the direction of his husband, "is why I bothered with the gauntlets today."
The stall's half-door rattled under a heavy kick. Dave glowered at Karkat from his place, back against the wall. Karkat glanced down at his hand. No blood. Good. He could keep being an asshole without remorse.
He picked up the bacon roll Dave had dropped, reached out an armored hand, palm up, His mount snorted against his fingers, and snapped his fangs closed around the meat.
"How come he didn't even try it with you," Dave muttered as he peered cautiously over Karkat's shoulder. Karkat tried not to pay any mind to the tense-wary-interested tingles making their way down his neck.
"You have no idea how many time he tried to bite my armor before he figured out it didn't work." A thoughtful pause, as he remembered dented metal with painful clarity. "Much." He flicked Dave a side-glance. "Still want to go riding?"
"Damn it, yes I do." Dave's white-gold head nodded sharply at the stable door. Outside friends from both courts were still waiting, probably, to assault them with fascinating pastimes such as gossip and wine-drinking.
Karkat had downed enough alcohol on his wedding day to last him a lifetime; remedies could only go so far, he was pretty sure he would be hungover for the next three days at best.
(Also one of their closest, nosiest friends was bound to ask how the wedding night had gone. Which... yeah. No.)
"Your monster was so well-behaved during the procession, too, what happened?"
Karkat snorted, watched Slick turn over in his stall, long tail slithering against the wall, long neck bowed to snuffle at the straw. Drakes usually nested on sand, preferably kept hot with coals, or via being built over some kind of underground kiln or oven. It was warm enough in summer that he would be fine without, but Karkat was glad that drakes did not spit fire like their bigger cousins.
"I was in armor, he thought we were going to war." He rolled his eyes, turned a bit to quirk a smile at Dave -- a small, hesitant one. "So now he's pissed off because he didn't get to maul anyone yesterday after all."
Dave let out an almost silent chuckle.
"C'mon, let's go see Crow."
Karkat fell into step with him, eyebrows furrowed in doubt. "Crow?"
"Yeah, see, you totally want to say hi to my own beloved war mount. Because if you didn't we couldn't tell the guys that nope, we're not done, sorry, we'll join you guys later maybe."
Karkat gave a slow blink, and followed him out into the courtyard. "You're talking about the hippogriff, right. You fucking asshole, you named your hippogriff Crow. She's fucking orange." He waved from afar at Terezi and his brother, still turned toward Dave with all the appearances of involved, private conversation. "I totally want to meet a hippogriff while smelling of bacon I don't have anymore, this is a smart idea, you should have been your Empresses' advisor instead of your genetic relations, I don't get how Peixes and Peixes ever passed you over."
Dave's mouth was pinched and he was just too impassible to mean it, Karkat was sure he was laughing inside.
They ducked to safety inside a fuller stable; apparently Dave's own mount didn't think horses were food, because he was seeing them everywhere, and they seemed pretty placid. An oliveblood girl was mucking one of the stalls; Dave nodded at her.
"Sir Dave, hi!" she sang from the bottom of the stall. "Congratulations!"
Karkat wondered if Dave was yet grown weary of being congratulated, like sitting there repeating a couple of lines while priests waved incense and things at them was some kind of feat that they should be especially proud of.
"Yeah, yeah, thanks. Hey, Nep, any of these need to be walked? Not any of the twitchy ones, though. Because I feel a powerful need to take my husbando on a good long hard ride ifyougetwhatImean but I'd also like him being able to close his legs at the end of the day."
Karkat spluttered, almost punched Dave in the arm and then remembered he was wearing his gauntlets. "What are you telling her?!"
"Shh, Nepeta doesn't gossip. All gossip comes to her and then never comes out again. Unless you're her favorite Knight, right?" He leaned on the stable door and wagged his eyebrows. Karkat glared.
The girl was snorfling in her hand. "It depends! What'll you give me?"
Dave pouted at her. Karkat stomped past the two of them down the row of stables to look at the horses, which he did not care about, and the couple of hippogriffs there at the end with their vicious raptor beaks and their suspiciously bristled crests.
He did not move any closer to the birds. They were war steeds, no doubt it'd be as stupid as going to Slick and climbing on like he was a plow horse. He supposed the lines of their skulls were elegant enough. At the end of the row there was a skyhorse, lusus-white. Probably it only remained stabled because it felt like it, because the doors didn't go all the way up.
"Heylo, my tenderest half, you joining me on my escape or should I tell your bro Kankri to keep you--"
"I'm coming, Christ on a flying pig!"
"--company. Haha. Okay, you get Snort. He's the gelding with the forehead star. And mine's Stinky. Their names are actually like twenty syllables long and with more 'of the' than I have to my name, but, you know."
Karkat wasn't too sure what he felt to be called those pet names. Dave didn't mean them one bit, naturally, but they slipped off his tongue with amazingly casual regularity.
He rolled his eyes, approached his designated mount. The girl was finishing saddling it. "I know what a stable name is, do you think Slick's name is actually Slick? When he hatched he chowed through three of his nestmates and then we couldn't pick him up from how gross and slippery he was."
Dave stared at him long enough for Karkat to start squirming. "Snort is... just... called Snort... because he snorts."
"Sorry for having the better story," Karkat grumbled, and stuck his gauntlet in his belt so he could pet the horse's nose.
"The better story? Wow, that sure sounded like a challenge to me, what do you think, Nep, it was a challenge, right."
"It was completely a challenge," she confirmed staunchly as she finished cinching the saddle.
"My poor honey," Dave said sadly, "I am going to verbally annihilate your delusions."
When Karkat led his horse out of the stable he made sure to lead it into Dave, so he had to dodge into a yet unmucked stall to avoid being flattened.
Dave went silent the second they left the road and turned into the woods. The horses were sedate and pretty much led themselves; Karkat didn't have to direct his own hardly at all, it was content enough to trail after Dave's horse, and Dave's horse seemed to know where they were going just fine on her own.
After the months and weeks of meetings -- strategy and decoration, the people helping him into his ceremonial armor, the people making him learn his vows by heart, the protocol lessons, the dance lessons, after his friends everywhere, worried and regretful and telling him again and again how sorry they were that this was necessary--
After the full-to-bursting cathedral with its eldritch flames and the low rumble of the crowd that resonated like whispers in his ear...
It was green everywhere and there was sunlight enough to make things light and happy, but under the shade of the trees his eyes could rest. There were a couple of faraway birds and there were the horses placidly rocking them along and there was only Dave and no one else, not for miles.
For the first time in a year he felt like he could breathe.
The path went in a wide circle around the castle; he watched the highest towers circle the horizon between the trees during the next hour as the woods went up and down and receded sometimes before hardy grass and riots of small flowers, smatterings of torn rocks. It was nothing like the gentle waves of the Prospitian landscape but there was a savage beauty to the land around here, to the wind-twisted trees.
He couldn't feel his ass. Stupid unfamiliar saddle.
"Dave," he called, voice coming out low and quiet without conscious input. Maybe he didn't want to disturb the wild animals. "Let's take a break."
"Saddle-sore? A big tough manly knight like you?"
Karkat snorted, tugged on the reins to stop his horse; it snorted at him, shook its head, dancing to the side in wholly unfamiliar ways. It was less dangerous than a drake, but at least he knew drakes. "You remember how your sister laughed at the thought of us going riding right after our wedding night?"
Dave reined his horse in, scowled at him. "Okay, I--"
"Do you really want me to walk back bowlegged, is what I'm asking."
"I'd look pretty studly," Dave replied, but in a mildly pouty tone which told Karkat well enough how acutely aware he was of the weapon in Karkat's hands.
"Do you realize how I would repay you for that," Karkat asked placidly.
"Okay, okay, we're stopping, here, there's a stream nearby, the horses can drink and it'll even be pretty."
Karkat swallowed a smile; when Snort shouldered past Dave's mare on its way down the steep path he leaned in and whispered, "Virgin," and snickered when Dave shoved at him.
"The Emissary as my witness, you are evil. What cruel fate tied me to this heartless monster, I'm asking you."
"It's karma, compliments of the universe for being such a massive douche," Karkat replied, and slid off his horse before it could pitch him into the stream. He tied the reins to the saddle so it wouldn't walk on them and break its fool leg, and climbed back on the bank, sat on the grass.
It was a nice place, Dave had been right. Secret and shadowy, bare shreds of rock climbed by red-leafed vine. There were bushes and the slope to hide them from the path, should anyone wander their way.
Dave sat at his side, controlled and oddly graceful, and for a second Karkat felt self-conscious of his own potato sack impression.
"The horses won't run off, right? We don't need to tie them up?"
Dave shrugged. "They're better trained than that, and there's nothing left to run from in the woods, not so close to the castle. Take all the time your poor abused derriere need."
"Hmm." Karkat toppled onto his back, watched the sky through dancing leaves. It always was windy in the heart of Derse, but today the wind was mild, almost playful. He could like it.
It was strange how trusting he felt around Dave, how easily he relaxed. Arranged matespritship -- no feelings yet, maybe ever, but the mutually beneficial thing was nice.
So was the trust, developed after a single night, that Dave wasn't the kind of man to ever abuse his access to Karkat's defenseless body.
Well, he might still wake up to a face full of pillow or pastry or housecats, but he was oddly certain this was as far as it would ever get.
"You know, it isn't like we don't have the notion of unions of convenience, but with trolls we usually go more for arranged moirallegiances," he mused.
"Yeah, uh, considering how I do not need my face patted obsessively and I don't have the wrist control not to leave bruises and broken noses, that would not have been a great idea. By which I mean arranged pale hookups sound even more bizarre than arranged marriage where you at least get to frick."
Karkat sat up, eyes narrowed, and put his palm right between Dave's eyes. He patted soft and precise, reddening a little for how kinky it was, even for a joke.
"There. You're contaminated with pale cooties. With this diamond ring I thee wed--"
"Ooooh no you fucking don't," Dave replied, and grabbed his wrist and rolled on top of him.
He had obviously not considered that strategy properly. Karkat didn't bother fighting (not yet), just stared at him with an eyebrow arched cynically as their bodies made full still-clothed contact. (The edge of Dave's thigh-high boots was digging into the inside of his own.)
"I had not considered this properly," Dave mused after a handful of seconds of staring and breathing each other's air.
"You really hadn't," Karkat replied, and rolled them over to get on top.
The slope being what it was, he felt he should not have been surprised when they rolled downhill for a short heart-stopping instant and his bracing foot ended up in the mud.
"Argh, shit." Dave squirmed off him, pushed himself uphill, offered his hand.
Karkat let him help drag him up where the ground was flatter, and then he pushed him down and tried to pin him again so he could rub a handful of grass into his dumb pale hair.
"Do not," Dave was saying as he grabbed at his wrists and tried to lever him off, "mess up the hair, do not put grass anywhere near the hair, do not make the hair green that is a travesty, no flowers, leaves, crickets or other vegetation, no slugs, we are -- ngh -- not five -- I will tie you belly down across your saddle and make your horse gallop, I will lose you in the woods--"
Smirking down at him, Karkat used his greater mass (all muscles) to slowly force his hand down.
He was two inches from the field of ridiculous white gold when he relaxed his own fingers for some reason he didn't understand and dropped his handful of grass, and then his fingers were sliding over and through silky locks, so fine.
"This is not hair," he complained, in a whisper for some reason. "You grafted spider silk to your cranium like the vain strutting vagina-gremlin that you are. This is nothing like hair. How much do you even spend on dyes, it's ludicrous."
"Is this where I offer to show you that the carpet matches the drapes," Dave whispered sensuously in his ear.
His arm slid around Karkat's neck to pull him the rest of the way down and then they were kissing -- their first kiss not in front of an audience, for show, and it figured Karkat would laugh and mess it up.
Dave snickered in his mouth, their lips didn't fit properly anymore; Karkat nuzzled blindly at his face, elbows planted in the earth over Dave's shoulders, both hands cradling his skull. Damn but he did like the feel of his hair. He almost twitched away in embarrassment when Dave's hands rose to touch his own, but then Dave was snorting at himself and biting down on his leather glove to pull it off. He spat the glove on his own chest and then his hand was going straight for Karkat's horn.
"Ffff -- you kinky little shit. Aren't you sure this isn't too advanced for you?"
"It's not really kinky," Dave countered, but doubtful enough that Karkat could tell he believed him. He smirked against his mouth, and kissed him again.
"It's depraved. Just kidding, you could do it in public and people would just giggle and think we're cute. Rub the bases, the skin around the -- mmh, yes, here."
He purred against the thin skin of his neck, against the veins visible right through. Dave's other hand was tugging on his shirt laces, fingers dipping in to tease his stomach and then tugging a bit too hard to pull the shirt tails free from his belt. He wasn't too shy to turn his hand and press the flat of his palm to Karkat's stomach, fingers teasing at his belly, over the edge of his pants.
Karkat pressed a thigh high between Dave's thighs and kissed openmouthed at his soft, tender neck.
"When you think -- nnh -- we've got a full royal suite, with like -- gold coverlets and velvet pillows and shit -- and the way this is going I am totally going to lose my maidenhood while rocks try to embrace my spine and scratchy shit gets in my--"
"If you get my shirt off, you get to lay on it," Karkat whispered in his ear. Dave made an inelegant snorting sound.
"Blackmail," he managed to say, and then they were busy with other things, with Karkat's hand cradling Dave's nape to hold up his head as Dave stared between their bodies, watched Karkat's body over his, with Dave's fingers on his horn, tightening and tugging without thought, dragging a crackle of instinctive noise out of Karkat's throat.
Between the two of them they eventually managed to wrangle Karkat's long belt off, though he growled when he had to let go of Dave and sit up across his hips to finish taking off his shirt. He was still wearing one of the gauntlets; he yanked it off, and arched an eyebrow at the involuntary noise coming out of Dave's throat. Definitely a protest.
Dave met his eyes and started reddening, turned his head and glared stubbornly into the distance. Karkat let the shirt fall off, and then put the gauntlet back on, trailed its metal knuckles down Dave's side. Dave jumped, hips rolling for a second before he mastered himself.
He'd gone red as the length of cloth joining their wrists, only yesterday, red as Karkat's wedding shirt, as the curlicues on Dave's silvery parade armor.
Karkat used his other, still-bare hand to undo the laces on Dave's shirt and spread it open, and then he glided cold metal all the way down to his belly.
Dave hissed between his teeth, hands clenching on Karkat's thighs. "Okay. Okay, this is officially a thing. If you ever laugh I'll --"
His words died in his mouth and he looked up at karkat, all flustered and lost, no threat at hand. Karkat leaned in to kiss his lips, all soft and careful.
"I really fucking like your hair," he said against Dave's mouth.
"Not the same thing--"
"Exactly the same thing," he forced himself to say. "You have no idea where I want to feel it. Do I have to detail."
"Uh." Dave stared up at him, flushed deep, lips parted like he'd forgotten to check his expression and shit, that was -- shit. He hadn't been sure he could bring himself to actively desire his husband, yesterday, apart from in purely aesthetic ways, but.
Fuck. Yes. This man, he wanted him.
"Wow that is, uh. Kinky." Dave licked his dry lips. "I guess there is a stream, even though it's cold as fuck and, and what if it stains, pink and green hair, what is my life, haha--"
Karkat cupped his crotch through his pants, set his palm nice and firm against his shaft, and closed armored fingers around his balls.
"Shh." He bumped the tips of their noses together, smiled a little secret smile. "It's your deflowering, you get the kink. We'll get to my things later."
He could feel heat radiating off Dave's face without touching it. He'd closed his eyes. "Yeah, okay."
In the months before their wedding Karkat had been preparing himself to embarrassing private negotiations about everything in their life, girded his loins to bring up all those gross or weird, unspeakably important little details and forging unsatisfying compromises, and it came so easy. It seemed like cheating.
He shuffled his weight off Dave, went up on his knees to battle his pants. Dave groaned, grabbed at Karkat's thigh and then blinked, "Oh." It was inelegant and silly and Karkat didn't want to laugh when Dave spread both of their shirts fussily on the ground, he wanted to caress him all over, bury his face between his thighs.
His boots, knee-high, tugged free easily, and then his pants and underpants slipped off like magic and he was entirely bare on the grass, sheath barely managing to still contain his bulge. Dave was...
"Shut up, oh my Lord Fluthlu, just--"
Karkat moved between Dave's legs and started pulling at his boots, a wide, white grin on his face as he watched Dave's erection bob around with each tug, and his pants bunched down at mid-thigh where his riding boots stopped.
"You know -- not today but some other day," he said as he threw the first boot off to join his own, "you might also want to put the boots back on." A cheerful leer -- he hadn't even known his face could do that. "Nothing but the boots, I mean."
Dave pressed both hands over his eyes. "Oh my Christ-fucking dark saints and all their noodly appendages. Do you want me to jizz myself?!"
Karkat snickered against his chest even as he kissed the keel of his ribs. "Viiirgin... Heh, at this rate we'll end up having sex in nothing but armor."
"Are you kidding me, wearing mine without pants? It'd pinch little Dave right -- hff -- off."
Dave toppled on his back; Karkat almost toppled downslope, the last boot in hand. He threw it over the rest and crawled over Dave, stretched out on his back and watching him with his pink cheeks, his darkened eyes.
They kissed again, bodies pressed together. All that bare skin was intoxicating; the breeze caressed where their own hands and bodies didn't. It would have been easy to rock together to orgasm, huddled as close as they could.
He wanted it better than that. He sat up between Dave's thighs, caressing the slope of them as it rose to bracket his hips, one hand bare and one armored. He could feel Dave's attention snap to that one, could see the shivers, the muscles bulging over his stomach, in his thighs as he clenched them around Karkat's waist.
Karkat picked up his other gauntlet and pulled it on with his teeth, slow and thorough. He tested the fit, curling and uncurling his fingers; Dave groaned, knees digging tight into Karkat's waist.
He touched him then, drew designs on his skin and drew the bones and the veins he could see underneath, the tender underneath of his arm and each one of his ribs; he followed cold steel with his mouth, his teeth.
Quiet breaths became choked-up moans, became gasps, tiny whimpers, became all ten of Dave's fingers clenched tight on Karkat's knees and his spine arching, his belly rising to meet Karkat's hands and Karkat's name in his mouth -- just that, just his name and noises without syllables. Karkat shuffled backwards on his knees to kiss his way down Dave's belly, gauntleted hands closed firm on his narrow hips, keeping him prisoner.
"Oh fuck, fuck, please, Karkat, Karkatkarkatkarkat--"
His hands were in Karkat's hair now, fisted around his hair, not even going for the horns like another troll would have, and each tug made him groan against Dave's skin. He smoothed steel-shelled fingers up the back of Dave's thighs, guided them up as he slid his body underneath. Dave's legs thrown over his shoulders, he pressed his mouth to his taint, felt heels drumming mindlessly on his back.
He kissed his way up, to the side, his inner thighs, every square inch of that ridiculous, delicate sac of his, drawn tight against his shaft, he used cold metal fingers to straddle his erection right behind the head, keep it pinned to white-blond curls as he explored it from the root up.
Each yank on his hair sent a jolt of hot, clenching desire down to his nook; but eventually he did make his way up and take him in his mouth. Dave started patting his head frantically, babbling thanks spilling from his lips, body trembling with desperate tension as he tried to keep from fucking Karkat's mouth.
His hands were so stupidly clumsy in Karkat's hair as he tried to smooth it down, so awkwardly tender, a purr started to build in Karkat's throat. He didn't try to stop it. He swallowed more of Dave's oddly stiff shaft and purred all around him, eyes closed. His matesprit. His husband.
Dave came with a cry he couldn't smother, right at the back of Karkat's mouth, and it must have been pity because Karkat let him finish and slump back down boneless on the ground before he pulled his mouth off his still-stiff dick and coughed.
When Dave patted blindly at his arms Karkat crawled up his body and cuddled up, and tried to think counting thoughts. It did not keep his bulge still.
"--I just got goosed by your willy."
"I'd need to flip you around for it to be goosing," Karkat grouched, and nuzzled at his jaw. He kind of wanted a kiss, but he wasn't sure how reasonable it was to ask that with a mouth full of genetic material.
Dave chuckled tiredly in his hair and kissed his temple. "Well, uh. You could... do that, I guess. I mean, for it to be the complete deflowering. The entire devirginization. The full--"
"Shut. Up. I will bite." Karkat nipped at his collarbone, tried not to rut against his belly. Dave's legs were still wrapped around his thighs, and it was not helping. "Penetration isn't even necessary anyway under the definitions used in our vows, so." Dave blinked mutely at him. "I'm not saying I never want to bugger you but with how nervous you sound this is not arousing."
Good thing everything else was doing a good job of keeping him aroused.
"Well, it's -- you know. Traditional." Dave bit his lip, darkened red eyes barred through with lowered silver lashes. "And I -- it's not fair if I get to be inside you and you don't, um, like, what if I suck at blowjobs, like suck in a bad way, or your crotch anaconda chokes the life out of me and then you never get to -- um, yeah. Not really fair, and besides, and besides maybe I want it--"
Maybe he did want it, and maybe he was nervous as hell about it without arousal to cover it up, and maybe they were going to have their whole life to work up to it and Karkat was pretty sure it wouldn't take that long.
"I've got nothing on me to make it easier, dearheart," Karkat apologized softly, and kissed the underside of his jaw.
He sat up, fingers gliding a last time along Dave's sides before he took the gauntlets off, one by one, Dave's eyes on his hands every second of the process. He took one of Karkat's hands when it was free, warm and dry against Karkat's sweaty hand, and Karkat guided his thigh up and dropped a kiss against the inside of his knee.
Dave didn't even ask him what he was doing as he pushed his legs up, held them against Dave's chest; he could probably penetrate him and Dave would just grunt and grit his teeth.
He pressed his hips against the back of Dave's thighs and let his bulge push and squirm itself a way between his thighs, solid with muscle, only softer, squishier where they met his body. He rocked a little, head bowed, trying not to come so fast. Dave's thighs were warm, and when the tip of his bulge found his sac he groaned and squeezed all around him, Karkat's bulge tried to lash and could barely move, deliciously caught.
"What -- should I -- how do I help--"
Karkat had to swallow twice before he could speak. "Squeeze -- yes, here -- release -- again, yes, fuck, that's how -- inside, how a nook would --"
His own was going crazy, clamping down on nothing and he almost wished Dave's arms were somehow long enough to get fingers inside him ,at least. He would plan the logistics better next time, but oh, oh fuck, those ticklish white curls on the end of his bulge, so intense it felt almost like pain.
It didn't take him too long before he caught up, coming in thick, hot jets between Dave's thighs, on his belly.
He was glad that Dave seemed to be a cuddler, or at least was willing to indulge him, because if there was something better than lying in someone's arms after you made sweaty hot love to them he wasn't sure what it was.
"Dude, you're clicking, that's so weird."
Karkat blindly nipped at the neck under his nose. Dave grunted. His hand didn't stop petting Karkat's head, though. "Like you can talk, you mewl. I human-married a meowbeast. Do meowbeasts even fucking marry, I don't think so. Travesty."
"Mmm," Karkat concluded, an appreciative moan that had Dave laugh through a surprised cough.
They cuddled a little while longer. When they weren't moving, though, the constant breeze on their sweaty bodies made things uncomfortably cool. Karkat still would have kept cuddling, stubborn to the end, if Dave didn't start shivering.
"Alright, I need to clean up, c'mon, Karkat."
With a sigh, Karkat sat up. Huh, wow. Translucent red material on pale human skin made for an... interesting contrast.
"Yeah, your handiwork is magnificent, I am an artist's canvas. Troll Spunk By Mountain Stream."
Karkat shoved Dave a little, rolling his eyes, and got up, holding up his hand to help without thought. He had a bare half-second to feel self-conscious, and then Dave took it, allowed him to pull him up. "Next time you can swallow my load, if you'd rather. When you say mountain stream...?"
Dave nodded sadly, white gold hair tumbling in messy locks across his eye in a way that made Karkat want to ruffle it even worse. "It's going to be as frozen as our dread Lord Oglogoth's tentadicks. Woohoo."
"Huh. Oh well." It'd wake them up. They did need to get home.
He started walking toward the stream, bare feet in the scraggly, prickly grass, Dave's hand in his.
Dave gave his hand a little squeeze. Karkat's lips quirked up helplessly.
"You see our horses anywhere?"
They stared at each other blankly for a handful of seconds, and then Karkat nodded philosophically -- what getting laid did to his brain chemistry, wow -- and said "you know what, clean and dressed first, panic second."
Dave gave himself the hiccups giggling, and not even the stream's cold water stopped him. In the end Karkat gave up and joined him.