So Bec is supposed to stay in the car, of course.
Jade is just dropping pieces of wood at her cousin's, for some play thing he's building in the back yard. She isn't supposed to stay -- she might have vaguely planned for a couple of minutes of petting the tamest of John's trolls, to get them socialized (okay, also because they were fluffy) -- but her boyfriend is waiting at home, and it's been a while since their schedules met.
Bec is supposed to stay in the car, like a good dog. She doesn't know if he heard one of the baby trolls whine or if the scent just got him curious, but by the time she's done detangling a little brown-tufted troll with huge horns from her leg and makes it out of the front door, her car is empty.
"Shit, John, Bec's gone!"
John pauses in the process of closing his front door, and peers out. "Oh hell. Didn't you lock the doors?"
"Who the hell wants to steal a car with a hugeass wolf-dog of doom in it?!" Jade retorts, and stalks her way past the gate and to the car. It isn't hard to guess what happened -- her dog long ago figured out that putting his weight on the jutting-out parts of a door usually made it come open.
John follows, Tavros on his hip, scans the road; nothing, of course. (Tavros looks around, too, mimicking John. Ahh, he's cute, even though it makes her extra-sad to see his tufted tail hanging limp even as his ears cant alertly this and that way.)
Jade kicks at a tire, narrows her eyes, and brings out the ultimate weapon.
"You might want to cover Tav's ears, John," she warns, even as she lifts the dog whistle to her lips.
Bec knows what the whistle means. He doesn't like it, but he knows. It means if you are not at heel in a minute there will be no cookies ever again.
Soon enough Jade can hear his big dull claws scrabbling away on -- is that the path around John's house.
Now guessing how the hell he made his way over the fence, that stumps her completely. With all the injured or traumatized animals he's caring for, a lot of them having run afoul of traffic or pet dogs, John makes damn sure his fence is secure as a matter of course.
"Okay, how did Houndini even do that," John grouses, even as he cautiously pulls Tavros higher, draping the little troll on his shoulder. Tavros is whimpering already -- the whistle -- but the second he sees the dog bounding at them he shrieks and tries to drag himself up on John's head by hands alone.
Jade would help detangle him, but she's too busy staring at her dog.
There he is, the big lug, all thick white fur and perked ears, head tilted enticingly, come on, I'm adorable, you don't want to hurt me.
There a bundle of black and grey fur is, clinging to his back, little paw hands and feet fisted in, tail wound as far as it can go around his barrel.
"Bec," Jade asks very patiently, like the totally understanding dog lady she is, "why is there a baby troll riding you like a pony?"
TG: cmon jade you were supposed to be home an hour ago you can tell me if you found another guy to run off with
TG: i will totes deal w/ it like a mature adult and gratefully change out of all that lingerie i wriggled my way into just for you
TG: this teddy is riding up my ass its ridic how lace itches cmon save me
TG: swoon swoon iyaan who will undo my bodice and save me from asphyxiation
GG: pics or it didnt happen ;ppp
GG: also umm im super sorry dave but
GG: no you know what, im on my way home now, lets talk in person!
GG: NOT DUMPING YOU!!!! DD:
GG: totally bringing home another man though ;DDD;;;
Of course the first thing that happens is that instead of Jade getting her kiss hello Dave's head tilts down.
She'd think he's engaging in his habitual staring contest with Bec, but today she's pretty sure the staring contest is with the little troll still perched on the dog's back, glowering sullenly with eyes that did not at all remind her of her boyfriend's, nope. (Complete with squinting against the light.)
"I'm so sorry, we spent like a half-hour with John trying to tempt him off Bec's back but he didn't want any food or toys or anything at all, and then we tried to pull him off and we would have broken a finger if we'd pulled any harder, and he kept yowling and crying, and he's pretty cute and he's not doing well with the other rescues and Bec likes him. So, uh."
Dave stares at her blandly for a handful of seconds, and then pointedly leans past her to close the front door of their apartment.
They stare at each other in silence for another couple of seconds.
"Tell me you did not impulse-adopt a freaky exotic pet."
"I could tell you that! But if you believed me, I'd have to worry," Jade replies with a thoughtful moue. Groaning, Dave plants his hand on her face and shoves her. (Pretty gently! Still, ow.)
She rubs her nose, and toes off her shoes, dumps the plastic bag of food and things John dumped on her in a corner.
"I'm really sorry. It's just, did you know that trolls are brood parasites, do you get what that means--"
Dave grimaces faintly. "Really gross stuff?"
"--it means that they always always always get other species to raise their children, and this troll thinks Bec is his mother." She plants her hands on her hips, scowls. "It would be much too cruel to separate them! John told me they found him when that forest burned down last summer cuddling up with his dead Crabdad mom, isn't that horrible?"
It is. It's the horriblest.
Bec is wandering around the apartment, already nosing at the French door opening onto the tiny bit of garden they could manage to get. The troll clings like a baby koala.
John told her he was the equivalent of a five year old kid, developmentally, but he's the size of a toddler at best (some of that is malnourishment, but trolls don't get as big as people anyway.) They don't sell them that young in the few shops that even sell them in the country.
That one wouldn't sell easily, anyway, the eye color is unique enough to be interesting but his horns are barely-there nubs and he's much too light-sensitive. The blinds are always half-drawn in their apartment, though, because Dave's eyes often ache as well.
A squirrel lands in the grass outside and dashes past the window, and the troll lets out a shrill cry that makes Jade and Dave jump. He's up on his back paws on Bec's shoulders now, balancing onto fistful of dog ruff, and his tail is up and puffed at the end like a pineapple. She thinks it was a scared cry for two seconds, and then he bounces and starts a loud chittering, teeth-clacking cry, like he's trying to encourage Bec to give chase.
When Bec scratches at the French door again, smearing dirt on the glass, she goes "Bec, no" and both the dog and the troll hunker down, the troll flinching like he totally forgot the humans were there for a minute and immediately hiding his face in Bec's neck-fluff.
"Can I even talk you out of it," Dave says tiredly, not even bothering to make it a question.
She turns to him, and she gentles her voice. "No, sorry."
He breathes out, long and slow, pinches the bridge of his nose. "Okay. Okay, I am now sharing the apartment with a hairy monster who sheds, a huge slobbery dog --"
"--and a baby howler monkey. Awesome."
Jade throws her arms around his neck and kisses his cheek, grinning. Dave sighs, longsuffering.
"But trolls aren't monkeys, though, they're actually closer to platypuses. They're mammals that lay eggs, it's really cool, Dave!"
"Yeah, yeah, and it's gonna be cool the same way Bec is cool -- it's your baby howler monkey, you feed it and clean its messes. I am entirely not interested in its supposed coolness. You nerd."
Jade grins. "That's good, because you kinda suck at getting animals to listen to you anyway!"
"Also I better get some sugar for being so understanding about this. Like, a serious amount of nookie, this is my only free weekend for the next two months and it better see a significant increase in traffic in my underpants."
Just so happens she missed him too. Where does Jade's boyfriend get off, being a wildly successful DJ, one wonders! She grins and bats her eyelashes at him. "That could be arranged!"
Of course they spend the night trying to get the troll off the ceiling lamp and cleaning up houseplant-speckled vomit.
Over the course of the next month and despite his best attempts to maintain sanity-saving ignorance Dave learns a lot about trolls.
One, they're nocturnal. Or at least crepuscular; they're most active when the sun is going down. When Dave is at work, he doesn't care; by the time he drags himself home at five AM the little beast is usually asleep.
When he's not at work it's hell. Their living room is only separated from the kitchen by a counter, not a door to be seen, and there are knives and liquid soaps and chemicals everywhere. The bathroom is a similar no-no. The only safe place to close up a baby troll who hasn't learned to stop tasting everything is in the walk-in closet in their bedroom. The one that opens in arm's reach of his side of the bed.
The one that has super hard to pin down accordion doors; they get rattled at least three times a night. One time Dave tried to guide a little hand back inside and got clawed up for his troubles, and then Bec growled at him too. It almost needed stitches.
Two, apparently the trolls that have been raised from the egg by humans talk. Like, actual context-appropriate words, and short sentences even. Jade's troll having been raised by a Crabdad (they're not actually crabs! they're closer to turtles the more you know!) came in only knowing how to chitter and click and go SKREEE like a terrifying jungle murder machine. (He is toddler-sized seriously what the fuck, do his lungs open onto another dimension?) Now he knows how to whine, whuff, pant happily, bark, and howl to the death. Still hasn't said a single word, despite how much time Jade spends going "This is a spoon, do you want the spoon? This is chocolate, mm chocolate."
Three, Jade doesn't want them to name the troll Fuckass, even though she calls him that at least three times more than she calls him anything else.
Apparently trolls ~name themselves~. What a crock of bull.
"Okay, he's detached we're going bye!!!" Jade yells as she races Bec to the door. Slam! Dave is left alone at the computer.
A second later a small bundle of gray fur gallops its furious way in the direction of the front door, skreeing bloody murder.
And now the troll is scratching up the door. They're never going to get their deposit back at this rate. "Hey!" Dave goes, and turns in his chair to scowl warningly at the little beast. "No scratching. Bad."
Wow does he feel like a douche baby-talking a pet. Even if it's displeased baby-talking.
He's pretty monkey-like in appearance, really; he has hands, relatively long-fingered, only furry on the back a bit and pink underneath. Hell, even his back paws have opposable thumbs. Also, the body proportions, the way the back limbs are longer, how he can stand on his hind legs. The face also, a bit; it looks a bit like a human-cat mix, a cute little muzzle instead of a chimp's bowl-shaped lower face. The ears are large, but they almost disappear in the longer, wilder black mane.
Some adults that Jade showed him despite his best attempts at not paying attention looked like little lions, half their silvery bodies swallowed by the black head fluff. Fuckass isn't that bad off by far. He kinda looks a bit like a baby emo boy dragged backward through a hedge, though.
Also, the horns, pretty much the only spots of color apart from his eyes and twitchy pink cat nose.
He is now using them to ram the door with.
The little bastard.
Dave gets up, grabs him by the flanks, lifts him up. The troll screams like a baby that wild dogs are gnawing on (or who's getting his diaper changed, either or) and starts fighting in earnest. Dave holds him at arm's end and tries to wait him out.
"Okay, settle down, they're coming back. Bec can't go walkies with you on his back, okay?"
The little garden is starting to stink from dog and troll pee and poo, plus the number of times Jade almost got bitten lifting Fuckass off Bec's back to put a harness on him -- Bec can't jump the old wrought iron fence, but the troll sure can climb it and there's traffic just on the other side. Without even a fence? Yeah, no, but Bec needs to run around or he's gonna start teaching Fuckass how to destroy the couch.
Dave wonders if he imagined the way Fuckass seems to go limp for a second when Dave says his mom's name.
Kick, kick, a long doglike whine.
Whiiiiine, a little puppy yip. The troll hangs limp in his hold, lets out a little heartbroken sigh.
"Bec is coming back. If you're good he'll come back faster. Yeah? Can I put you down now, I can't feel my shoulders anymore, I can only feel like a douche."
He puts the troll down. The troll doesn't run away from him, just oozes in a sad puddle of fur against the door, sniffing dejectedly at the crack underneath.
Dave sighs, and almost leaves him there, but... "No, okay, if you stay here they'll step on you when they come back." A tiny arm being broken by accidental huge hiking boots, tiny fingers caught under the door, no, that's just, ick. He picks him up again and goes to drop him on the couch. (Keeping him off it was doomed to failure halfway into the first week, anyway, and it's not like he's dirty.)
Flop, emo puddle of troll on the couch. He's not moving, though. Dave goes back to the computer desk.
Thump, scrabblescrabble. Of course when Dave turns around the troll is once again huddled against the door. Argh.
Are those tears. Oh for fuck's sake.
Dave picks up his laptop, puts it on the couch -- the internet connection will suck, stupid router, but whatever -- and goes back to the front door to get the troll. He kicks halfheartedly, growls a little, but when Dave puts him down on the couch and sits beside him he wedges himself in the corner and doesn't try to leave again.
"They'll be back, I promise. You think I'd let Jade go out if she wasn't planning to come back? Nope, I'd totally lock the door on her like some asshole controlling douchewagon."
He rests a tentative hand on surprisingly soft head fur. Baby fluff. The troll flinches, but after a couple of cautious scritches around the horns he seems to relax and his eyelids start drooping a little bit.
"Bec will snuffle you all over, and then he'll probably bite me for making you cry, I'm seeing it coming big like a house. And I won't even have finished my taxes either, fuck money, why do we even use it. Why am I talking to you? It's not like you ever talk to me."
"Douchewagon," the troll tells him, bushy little eyebrows scrunched in concentration.
Dave stares dumbly for at least thirty seconds before the troll headbutts his hand to get him scratching again.
"... We are never telling Jade this was your first word. I don't know if she'd kill me because she wasn't here or because I'm teaching you rude words but she'd kill me for sure. Maybe even twice."
"Douchewagon," the troll says again through a yawn, and shuffles his paws a little to make himself more comfortable.
Bec comes back and life goes back to normal, which is the troll ignoring the humans as much as he possibly can (so, nonstop outside of bedtime, feeding, and bath hours) and only communicating his disappointment in the world and in Jade's ignoble habit of petting her own dog in screeches, chittering and wild storms of poodle-worthy barks. Dave pretends he isn't weirdly emo about it.
-- timaeusTestified [TT] started pestering turntechGodhead [TG] --
TT: So I hear I'm an uncle and I wasn't even invited to the christening.
TT: That's grounds for a curse or three, lil dude. I sure hope you plan to lavish attention on me while I spoil the hell out of your furry heir.
TG: oh bro no
TG: were super busy and have no time to entertain you im serious
TT: I'm at the airport. See you in six hours.
-- timaeusTestified [TT] stopped pestering turntechGodhead [TG] --
TG: damn it bro one of you is gonna bite the shit out of the other one for sure and i dont even know which one is more likely
When Jade gets home that evening she is greeted by Dave, Bec, and Dave's brother.
She tells herself Fucka-- the troll totally greeted her too, and it wasn't at all just because he'd taken limpet-like residence on Bec's back once again.
"Hi, Bro, what the hell are you doing here?" she asks; she's not surprised, because Dave texted her, but it's still something she'd like to know.
He shrugs. "Felt like it. Mind if I take the couch?"
He takes the couch. The troll does not like it.
The next morning he also takes Dave roughhousing across the apartment, which really isn't that big. The troll likes it even less somehow -- snarling and howling ensue. The neighbors will be happy. Jade has to leave for work in a half-hour -- class waits for no man! okay, it'll wait for her, but talk about a bad impression -- and she's not sure she can leave. Bec is starting to bark as well, excited by the troll's reaction.
"Another round and I'm getting the broom!" she threatens them, hands on her hips, glaring.
"Welp," Dave goes, because he knows she's not kidding. She doesn't know if Bro believes her but he seems at least willing to play along; he relaxes his hold a bit, and then he drags Dave to the couch and sits them both down, and he starts messing with Dave's hair. Dave endures it wordlessly. She eyes them suspiciously for another couple of seconds, and turns to get her breakfast.
It takes her a minute to realize that Bec and the troll have gone quiet; when she checks the room for them, the troll is staring intensely at the two dumb men, a finger in his mouth, brows knitted. He is so damn cute.
She wonders if he thought Bro was trying to hurt Dave? Maybe it bothered him because he's starting to see Dave as a packmate. That'd be neat. Smiling to herself, she finishes breakfast, and goes and gets dressed.
In the afternoon, as Dave naps to compensate for getting woken up so early, Jade and Bro have a fascinating, super-nerdy conversation about troll habits.
Mostly it consists of watching Fuckas -- argh, the troll -- explore the room and climb all over things and hoard pencils and scented candles on top of the TV stand, and exclaiming over how precious that shit is.
Jade's dog is sleeping on her feet by the couch, and when the troll starts whining because he's stuck on top of the floor lamp his ear, for once, doesn't flick. The troll whines louder.
"Think I should get him down?" Bro asks. Jade grimaces a little.
"He'd scratch you. He lets us handle him, but he doesn't like it much..." She ruffles Bec's ear between her fingers. "I'm not sure what he thinks Bec could do anyway."
Her dog's ear twitches at his name; she smiles at him and nudges his side with her feet.
"C'mon, big lug, get off me, I need to rescue your little cowboy. C'mon Bec."
"'mon Bec!" a little voice pipes up from the lamp. "Gooboy Bec!" A long, pleading whine follows. Bec's head lifts.
Jade is too busy squeeing to care about dislodging her dog now. "Oh my god. Did you hear that! Did you hear that, he called Bec, it was totally a sentence!"
Bro is smiling, just a bit. "Bet your ass he doesn't even know it's all separate words, though."
Jade scowls at him as she gets up, following her dog who's sniffing at the bottom of the lamp. "Oh, shut up, like you didn't think it was cute!"
"Shit was adorable as all motherfucks," Bro agrees, as Jade goes on tiptoes to get the troll down from the furniture. "Almost swooned."
She manages to catch him, and he doesn't even wriggle much, though she knows he would if she tried to put him down anywhere but on Bec's back. She pets his ears and around his horns. "Good boy! You're a good boy too." The troll grumbles at her, but then he butts his head against her hand and she melts again petting him some more. His tufted tail swings up from its scared curl, all proud and happy. "Good, good boy."
Eventually he has enough of pettings and goes bouncing off after a suspicious balled-up sock that dares not to be in the toy box. Jade returns to the couch.
They watch the troll beat up the sock and strut back to the box to put it away with great prejudice. Bro nods. "A touch of OCD in that boy, perhaps," lips pinched very seriously.
Jade cracks up.
"Were those his first words? 'Cause that was adorbs for real."
Jade chokes on her laughter. "Umm. Haha. Hahaha."
Bro's eyebrow goes up. "I sense a story."
"No story at all! It's just I've caught Dave going -- you know how he's all he's not my pet he's your pet? I've caught him going 'come on, say Dave, Daaaave' like a dozen times."
She grins brightly, scratches the back of her neck. Bro pretends he's not smiling.
"So... What were his actual first words?"
They laugh so hard they wake up Dave. When he emerges they both make blank faces in perfect unison.
On Monday morning Dave wakes up when Jade is already gone for work. He'd sleep another three hours if he could, but he's got to drive Bro back to the airport.
They've done the visiting your club as you spin but no pressure thing, the strifing thing, the ironic hair ruffles and manly sideways hugs and the kicking your ass at videogames. Any longer than that and it'll just drag on into boredom and mutual annoyance, anyway. Dave is not sad at all to see him go back to Houston.
They have breakfast together in silence, Bec waiting for crumbs by the table and Fuckass perched on a couple of telephone books on a chair, gnawing on his toast (he has very firm preferences in matters of jam; strawberry and apricot are absolutely not allowed to touch, so he has one piece of toast in each hand. He alternates between bites.)
"I'm pretty sure he's had breakfast already," Bro points out in between two sips of coffee.
"That was the balanced mom breakfast," Dave drones back. "This is the dad breakfast, where he's allowed to eat whatever tooth-rotting shit he wants so long as it'll get him to like me best."
"My little boy is all grown up," Bro says, and mock-sniffles, expressionless, which is not weird as shit for every witness involved. Okay, mostly for Dave.
When Bro finishes packing up his shit and puts on his jacket to leave, though, Fuckass gets weird, perches on the back of the couch to chitter at him anxiously -- look at Dave, at Bro, back at Dave.
"Yeah, bud? What is it? I'm just driving him to the airport and then I'm coming back, you'll have to play nice with Bec."
Aw, crap, yeah, with their working hours it'll be the longest he's ever been alone. Maybe Dave should get the harness, bring him along -- but bringing a high-strung, badly socialized, exotic (therefore interesting) pet to a busy airport? No, surely that'd be worse.
For a second he thinks the troll read his mind, because he bounces off, and when he comes back he's dragging Bec's leash.
"No, Bec isn't going out, bud."
It's easy to talk to him like he understands, the way he watches so intently, the way he tilts his head, eyebrows scrunched in concentration, it really feels like he's listening. Then again Dave knows he's a smart little bastard; ain't no way to trick him with half of the tricks he plays on Bec, like pretending to throw a stick and hiding it behind his back, the troll checks immediately. He even checked up Dave's sleeve once, and Dave had never played that one on him.
The troll barks at him, sharp and annoyed, holds out the hand-loop end of the leash, thwaps it on Dave's hand until he grabs it, then tugs the other end to Bro. He then spends ten seconds waving the clip end angrily upwards. Meanwhile Bec watches the proceedings with pure doggy bafflement.
"... I... don't... have a collar for you to clip that on, lil' buddy. Totally neglected to pack it, my bad."
"Oh lord, Bro, don't fucking remind me-- urgh. What the hell, bud?"
He whines up at them, frustrated, stomps his paw; his mouth opens and closes like he can't find the right noises -- the right words? -- he needs.
"No Bec stay!" he finally manages to fling out, and he stares up at Dave intensely, chest heaving.
"... Oh lord he knows I'm your dog daddy and I'm leaving, that shit is the cutest, all my manly is turning to flowers."
Dave can not do much else but pick up the troll and sit him on his hip and smooch the hell out of that space between his horns. "Your manly was already pretty damn flowery, Bro," he manages somehow.
D'aww. So much d'aww. All of the d'aww. He is causing a worldwide d'aww shortage and he doesn't even care.
"It's okay, kid. He'll come back. When you're big like me you don't need a dog dad as much, anyway." The troll whines quietly and clings to Dave's shirt with all his needle claws. "It'll be fine, I promise."
"What happened to he's not my troll he's Jade's troll? Did it fall down a mine shaft, maybe?"
"It happened fuck you. Fuck you is what happened."
When Dave tries to detach the troll from him, he jumps to Bro instead, all claws out. Bro has to leave his shirt behind and change in the car. They almost miss the plane.
EB: you realize if he'd glommed onto one of you instead of the dog he'd be talking already?? maybe even reading, vriska totally knows her alphabet. well, half of the alphabet.
GG: yeah well he didnt :/
EB: do you know, when a human kid is raised by wolves, past a certain age he can *never learn to be a human again.*
EB: trolls have a more elastic learning period somewhat but do you want your troll to never get any smarter than *bec*??
EB: no offense to bec of course. :B
GG: ill ask bec what he thinks of your offending ways and let him decide how big a chunk to bite out of your butt, mister hes not smart enough to make that informed choice about your delicious rump meat
Jade has to admit that she felt a bit abandoned by her dog. She's had him all his life -- she was ten -- and he's getting old, but he's still so willing to play. It's spring now; she drags him out in the garden to throw balls, learn new tricks.
She enrolls Dave to help, for all that he still pretends to drag his feet. She pretends she's not watching the troll at the window, staring at them and whining quietly in his throat.
Dave has to insist -- gently -- before he will leave the window at all, and even then he comes back like clockwork to check that they're still there.
They make some progress; after a week he doesn't check quite so often, or so nervously. But the next stage...
It's hard, with their disparate schedules. She could take Bec to the university with her, he's well behaved enough, he'd just sleep under her desk (also she could threaten to sic him on the students) but ... well, maybe the days where Dave doesn't work, or only works once she's back home.
The next Monday morning she gently bundles the little troll up and sets him and his nest of shirts down in the crook of Dave's arms, where she was only a half-hour ago, and she quietly leads the dog out.
TG: gdi he sobbed his little heart out all morning jade imma swandive out of the window cant go on like this
GG: :((( oh nooooo
GG: (youre on the ground floor, doofus :3)
TG: aint ya lucky about that youll only have to worry about mud and grass on my forehead
TG: buy a box of tissues on the way back k
TG: two boxes of tissues
GG: okay okay, no need to be melodramatic
TG: wait youre planning to try again tomorrow right
TG: make that ten
TG: day ten of my terrible journey
TG: i have given up trying to fathom the whims of those evil giant monkeys who are holding me captive
TG: the pale assed one is kind of warm and comfy
TG: i shall now proceed to whimper quietly just in case dog mom whos totally a boy and also not even close to my species hears and comes back to save me from scandalous ear pettins and cuddle abuse
TG: i shall also bite him if he dares to stop the miscreant put his hands on my ears of his own volition they had better stay there now
TG: ps why is all the milk chocolate gone
GG: for fuckass not for you ;pp
GG: ..... we should totally find him a real name, wow, if we slip up next to john hes gonna sic his vriska on us
TG: but it fits so perfectly
Three weeks later it's to a point where the troll drags his t-shirt and his dog out of the closet and climbs on the bed to sprawl on the super-nice fuzzy comforter.
Dave is watching, maybe secretly smiling a tiny little bit.
When the troll tries to get Bec to follow on the bed, and Bec whines, though, he stops smiling. It wasn't a nonono Jade will be sooo angry with me whine, it was a yelping aw shit, that hurts.
"Buddy, stop," he says, sitting up. The troll blinks up at him with his huge red eyes, baffled. "Let Bec go, yeah, good boy."
He moves to the edge of the bed; he has to work the troll's fingers out of his fur, the kid is stubborn and whines when Dave refuses to let him pull the dog on the bed.
"No, stop, he's -- aw, shit, how do you talk to pets anyway, where's Jade." He looks at Bec, baffled. Trolls are one thing, but he doesn't get dogs.
Okay. He gets up, pats his thigh.
"Come on, Bec, kitchen."
He has to take him by the ruff to get him started, the dog just stands there indecisively otherwise, and after that point it gets hella obvious that something is wrong with the way Jade's dog walks. Shiiiit.
TG: jade whyd you leave bec here btw just asking
He makes a quick breakfast as he waits for an answer; she's got to be in class right now, he knows she can't answer straight away. He makes sure to give Bec a treat for coming this far.
GG: oh, he was tired and didnt want to get up, he played a lot with the students yesterday
GG: figured it wont hurt this once, why?
TG: cause hes lame like a three legged horse and also he whines like someones walking on his paw with each step
TG: calm yo tits harley
TG: ill get him to the vet you stay in class ill keep you informed
TG: itll be fine its just one of his legs maybe like a sprain or smth
GG: yeah...... i hope :'(((((((
GG: my poor baby
GG: shit i have to go back to class
TG: dont worry its all handled here
GG: wait what about fuckass???
TG: i said it was handled stop texting in class harley or do you want to be sent to the principal
TG: for shame
GG: yeah okay <3
The heart might have tipped her off. Bec is a pretty old dog, especially for his size. It's already pretty lucky he's lasted this long, and the last months of babysitting a very active young troll and being ridden right and left can't have helped much.
He gets dressed quickly. Pants and a pullover over his sleeping t-shirt and boxers, his old jeans jacket in case someone barfs in the car. Money -- oh right, the dog's papers -- the leash...
What is he going to do about the troll.
Gnargh. Not a hundred solutions. He's never been left entirely alone before, and he's gonna freak out in a major way if he's left alone now, especially with the worried way he follows Dave with his eyes, ears flattened back, a hand on Bec's ruff.
Dave gets the troll harness too. "C'mere, kiddo, we're going out."
He clips the leash on Bec first -- maybe seeing it happen to Bec will make the troll think it's fine -- and then he tries to figure out how the harness goes on. It's a bit tight, they haven't used it in a while, what with it being winter and all; there are straps to resize and everything.
He's already done when he figures out he should be surprised at how docilely the troll allowed himself to be wrestled in.
Dave picks him up, races to put him in the backseat of the car, and comes back to awkwardly help a huge wolf-dog limp his way in.
He has everything; he drives off.
Before they come in he picks up the troll and stuffs him in his jacket, zips it up so only their two heads come out; he doesn't want him freaking out the other animals, or getting sniffed and panicking. He's already bracing for the awesome scratches his needle claws will leave when he stresses enough to really cling.
Bec doesn't even whine when he sees the vet's office. Poor dude really must not feel well.
They come in, sit, wait their turn. Bec doesn't even try to sniff the cat in her carrier, or the -- huh, snake. If this guy does exotic pets too maybe they won't have to look around to find somewhere for the troll, he's just realizing that they have nowhere planned in case something happens, wow, they suck as pet owners. Okay, no, they'd have called John, he must have someone. But still. He pulls his phone out, shoots John a quick message about getting a vet referral.
The troll is watching his screen and rattling his teeth very quietly, so Dave goes on Youtube and finds him a puppy video to look at as they wait.
Inflamed disks, aggravating some preexisting arthritis. "Not as bad as it could have been," Dave tells his troll, and drops a little kiss on the closest horn, since his hands are busy signing papers.
"We just need to keep him overnight, to see how well he reacts to the cortisone," the vet says, talking all soft and to the troll instead of Dave. "Tomorrow he will come back home."
The troll stares at her for a second before hiding his face against Dave's neck. "No," he says, muffled. "Bec home."
"Tomorrow, lil' dude," Dave says, and rubs his back through the jacket.
"No fuck want Bec. Shitfuck."
... Ahaha. Ahem. "Kids this age, right. No bad words, kiddo."
The vet is pursing her lips, but she doesn't comment on it. "Does this little one have a clinic of his own? We can offer emergency care in case of accidents, but I have to admit the species is new enough as a pet that--"
"Oh, our friend has a rescue, that's how we got this little dude, actually, he's got to have someone who knows their stuff." Wow, Dave sounds so concerned and caring and like he planned for things well in advance for his charge. He tries on a little smile. She doesn't smile back. Um. "He should have a referral for me before this evening. No playing in traffic before then, promise."
"Of course," she says, perfectly politely. Ummmm. "Let's get Bec settled in, and then you will be free to go."
"Yeah, okay." He gets up -- it's hard with the troll in his shirt. "It'll probably be my girlfriend who comes pick him up, he's her dog, uh, I told you that already. Right."
They lead Bec to a cage, and Dave wonders if he should have gotten one of Jade's shirts for him or what. Poor dog. He looks exhausted already and it's barely noon.
"Bec," the troll whines quietly in Dave's ear. Something warm and wet glides down his neck. Aw, man. It's reflex to start rocking him, which is weird because it's not as if Bro had any siblings or cousins to get Dave used to babies.
"Shh, Jade is coming to get Bec back tomorrow. He's just going to sleep here today, and then his back won't hurt and he'll come home. It'll be cool." He's not even sure how much the troll understands. Blargh.
"What's his name?" the vet inquires on the way out. Dave feels even more like a shit troll dad having to admit that he has no idea.
TG: help ive caught the humongousest wart ever
TG: its shaped like a little monkey slash kitten slash boy and its straight on my chest
GG: awwwwwwww. pics or it didnt happen!!
GG: i need a photo for the guinness book of records
"Hey, lil' dude."
The troll is asleep on his back. Dave put him down on the floor when they came home, went to sit at the computer desk, and was immediately climbed on.
The little fuzzbutt is wedged between Dave's back and the back of the chair, and Dave can't shift too far or he makes him slip deeper and then risks flattening him when he leans back.
Jade came home and squeed silently for a bit and took like a dozen pictures, the wench, she says she'll put them on Facebook and everything. Rose will never let him hear the end of it. She's almost done cooking now, though; time to wake up the beast. (It was his turn but umm he didn't want to wake their troll, okay.)
"Kiddo? Time for dinner."
The troll is half-awake but he clings anyway as Dave gets up cautiously. Okay, no danger of dropping him, Dave's shirt would have to lose a lot of structural integrity for that to possibly happen.
"Bratling? Hey, what's your name anyway. Jade, the vet looked at me mean when I said I didn't know his name. I felt like a neglectful mom, wow. Can we ditch the hokey pokey trolls name themselves bull and just name him already?"
Jade huffs at him, but she pulls the troll's chair closer anyway, so he can sit on it without letting go of Dave's arm.
They blink down at him in tandem. Well, one good thing about the Bec-less cure; he's been speaking a little more, John was right, the asshole.
"What's your name or what's a name?"
He makes a frowny, confused and displeased face. "... Name?"
"My name is Jade," Jade says gently. "His name is Dave. Bec's name is Bec."
The troll processes it. Chirrups briefly; it seems to be an "okay".
"What's your name?" Dave asks, as Jade brings a huge plate of pasta that they'll still be eating in three days to the table. "What do you want us to call you? Got any idea?"
The troll makes a weird clickety-chrr-tt noise. "Oh man," Jade goes very quietly, "I bet that's Crabdad noises. Oh, honey, we want to call you that but we're not good at those noises."
Dave puts a few meatballs and a raw carrot on his plate. Trolls are omnivorous, but John wasn't too sure about letting them eat pasta. The troll watches him, muzzle pursed weird; it twists strange in Dave's chest when he realizes it's a human expression, on a not quite human face.
He wonders if Bec felt like that the first time he tried to swish his tufted tail from side to side.
"Krrkat," the troll eventually announces, and nods firmly. "Me. Krrkat."
Jade and Dave exchange a quick look. "Karrkat," Dave repeats. "Karkat?"
The troll steals Dave's fork and stabs at his own meatballs with it. Jade quietly fetches a third for Dave to use.
"Mnh. Kaa-rkat. Me, me."
He's so intensely serious as he hunts his meatballs around his plate -- and then outside of it. Why is Dave's stomach made of gooey chocolate, this makes no sense, he doesn't even like animals. "Okay, little man."
"Not lil man! Karkat!" Karkat's eyes narrow as he watches him, measuring. "Ass face."
Dave puffs his cheeks right back. "Not ass face, Dave."
"Ass face Dave."
"Okay, if you insist."
"Why is your troll wearing miniature sunglasses, Dave. Why."
Dave extracts himself from the car -- Jade drives them everywhere they go as a group now -- and waddles over to John. "Duh--"
"Cause it's bright as shit out," Karkat finishes with a disdainful sniff. "Also we're too cool, your eyeballs go boom."
"That's it exactly," Dave says. Jade laughs and punches him in the left shoulder. John gets him in the right one.
She goes to put the ramp for Bec to get out of the back, and then she locks the car and they walk into the rescue center.
"Shit, yeah, it's gonna be nice, so many other little trolls. Yeah?"
"Stinks," Karkat replies, and pops his head in through Dave's collar and zips it up to Dave's neck after himself, so Dave looks pregnant with a set of triplets. Apart from the tail sticking out of the bottom, bristled and lashing like a cat's against his legs.
Jade is sneaking them little looks and giggling to herself. She does that all the time now.
Anyway, Karkat needs socialization with his own species. And other species, too, he likes big dogs a little too much and can't stand the little ones, cats baffle him, and once he brought Dave a dead budgie that Dave is pretty sure used to reside in a cage one floor up from them. But other trolls is a good start.
As John predicted it goes pretty badly, in a somewhat encouraging way.
In under two hours Karkat headbutts Vriska twice, bites her once -- no blood (she can read and he can't, this is a travesty) -- slaps Sollux across the muzzle, and traumatizes Equius into a whinnying stampede, but that's apparently funny and after that he deigns to pet the poor little asshole's head and condescend to boss him around. And he makes no move to bother Tavros, who's a rather easy target.
They'll have to install cat trees in the apartment, only especially reinforced to take a troll's weight, because the way Karkat just leaps and glides across that arrangement of branches and planks and ropes is rather awe-inspiring.
"He's flying," Jade says quietly, and leans on his shoulder. Dave pretends he's kissing her head for a totally unrelated reason and not because they just shared a daww our baby all grown up moment.
They have an afternoon snack on the grass in the back of the house. Karkat worms his way between the two of them, eyeing the other trolls with suspicion as he curls around his cookie.
"Open it," he orders Dave. Dave obligingly rips the plastic open and pockets it. Karkat munches happily. Dave gets himself a cookie of his own.
"You know, guys," John starts, as he expertly stuffs a cookie in Nepeta's mouth, "a lot of albino animals actually have those weird difficulties separating their species from other species. Or maybe they have too much empathy? Like, the set of genes for blue-eyed albinism is linked to something just a bit wonky in their brain chemistry."
Dave groans. Ever since John took over the refuge from his late dad, he's been turning into a nerd to rival Jade. Speaking of his girlfriend, she's leaning in, eyes bright, interested. (He bets she's going to wiki the hell out of this shit later tonight instead of coming to bed and... playing trampoline with Karkat on the mattress yeah okay.)
"It could have been linked to three-toed animals or a lack of sense of smell or some other random thing, but instead they're just accounting for about sixty-three percent of spontaneous trans-species adoptions! And apparently troll evolution taps into that -- in captivity they latch onto just about anyone but in the wild when you find them, like, ninety-five percent of the time they'll be raised by an albino animal. It's pretty awesome!"
"It's nerdy as shit." Dave eats another mouthful, feeds Karkat a bite when he sniffs at Dave's hand and decides that Dave's cookie, despite being identical, must be superior. Pauses. "Are you saying trolls are set up so that any white animal pings as a potential parent."
"Yup!" He grins, teeth almost too bright.
"... Are you saying my pale-ass hair is why he's latched onto me and not Jade."
"Ayup. Why else?"
Jade sticks out her tongue. "Curse you, biology! I'd totally make a better troll mom than you ever would."
Dave sticks his tongue out back. "Fuck you, I'm the best mom there is."
"Fuck you," the troll chirps up. "My mom. More cookies. Three cookies!"
Dave pinches his lips so he won't sputter (or maybe squee at how fucking hilarious, hilariously awesome his kid is) and feeds the troll the rest of his cookie.
He bets he can totally teach Karkat to call Jade dad. She'll get a major kick out of it.