We are pleased to see you again so soon, young one. Will you come to us?
You are swallowed whole.
Characters: Dave, Rose, Karkat, Kanaya, Terezi, WV, PM, Bec Noir
Ships: Dave♥Rose, implied WV♥PM, implied Dave♥Karkat, implied Dave♠Karkat♣Kanaya♣Dave
Tags Present: body horror, incest
Tags Not Used: None
No other Cat.1 tags apply.
Tags Present: n/a
Tags Not Used: no Cat.2 tags used
Additional Tags: strong language, implied xeno, mild emetophobia warning, hypothetical eye trauma, gif warning
“You alchemized four cases of Tab?” You cross your arms. “I can’t imagine what prompted this decision, Dave, unless your mental state has indeed deteriorated as far as I’ve feared.”
Dave turns to look at you, and even through your irritation you are impressed at how effortlessly he can lift a full box that comes almost all the way to the rim of his shades. You can’t see his eyes when he tells you, “It’s not like there’s a problem, Lalonde, we’re fucking rolling in dough.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, we have a limited amount of grist--” You neglect to mention that the stockpile of grist between the four players is so large, that rationing it is akin to delegating sections of the universe to mosquitoes. “--collected from gallivanting about our various planets, which we currently do not have access to.”
“Don’t you dare go rationing my miracle money - we all know who’s sneaking down to the lab at three AM to create tentacle dildos out of the hard-earned haul.” He snorts. “No reason to worry, little sis. The gods of the crackshit outermost ring of dank-ass hell have declared us doomed. Isn’t it your game-given duty to save us from their shitstorms? Maryam distracting you from saving my choice ass and the rest of those grey fuckers?” You swear a corner of his mouth twitches.
Dave’s tentacle-porn digs have long since faded to a sort of white noise that you no longer acknowledge. So have his continuous (incorrect) assertions of elderly sibling status. He’s made lesbian references for as long as you’ve been on this chunk of rock, but they still sting for reasons you don’t comprehend. “If there were any semblance of a brain in this lump you call a skull, you would know that I keep emergency situations from occurring. But then, I suppose Terezi’s more interesting than I am.” You realize that you’re going too far, but your mouth keeps moving regardless. “You seem to be legitimately incapable of paying attention to anyone else, in any case.”
Dave flinches. “Well, she’s sure as hell nicer to be around. She doesn’t throw temper tantrums over shit like alchemizing a bunch of soda. Which, you know, is something that normal people actually need. We can’t all drink blood like your vampire girlfriend.”
“I know you have a tendency to imagine lesbians everywhere you go, but I’d like to know when you’re going to stop being a dick about-”
“As soon as you stop trying to fucking manage who I spend my time with, and what I spend my time doing, and how I keep myself sane with nothing to do on this godforsaken meteor.”
“You think you have it bad? Try spending all your free time trying to--” But then you stop. You don’t need to give him more ammunition. “Fuck it, Strider, I’m done here. Don’t come crying to me if Terezi--” Your voice chokes in your throat. “--when she dumps you on your ass.”
But you don’t stay long enough to hear the rest.
You absolutely do not shake when you push off with your toes to float away. The days of running out of the room when you couldn’t win a fight with your mother are behind you- you keep your body casual and your posture upright, these days. But you do leave quickly, and you’re careless enough to leave the coffee you came for sitting on the table.
Your id’s fucking around with you. You don’t care about the soda- fighting with him is a distraction. You know your defense mechanisms well. Displacement; the reassignment of aggression to a scapegoat in order to relieve the tension of the situation.
Intellectualization. That’s another.
You’re not quite sure what it means, but for the past three of what count for days on this rock, you’ve been hitting an impasse. Every direction you could steer the meteor, everything you can think of, leads to that terrible creature catching up with you.
Every time you consider your group’s odds, you arrive at the same conclusion; together, all of you may very well be able to defeat this beast calling himself the Sovereign Slayer. But not without fatalities, and you still refuse to recognize the option of simply allowing for collateral damage. You’ve seen enough of death.
And Dave-- Dave is sitting around drawing pictures with a blind alien girl and a traumatized construct of the game, while you're keeping everyone alive.
But you shouldn’t just sit around brooding. There’s work to be done.
You sit down as comfortably as you can and See.
There’s the monster that used to be Jack Noir, trailing you, closer and closer. His mirror image, the pawn-promoted-to-queen, is nowhere to be seen. You look as deeply into the darkness as you dare and you can’t see her. Is she the problem? Has she run away?
The “Mayor” has talked about her. He told you that she’s brave, that she is absolutely committed to her duty. He’s told you what she did, over the course of her lifetime, just to deliver a single letter. You are tempted to believe that he would exaggerate, but... perhaps you can take him at his word, despite him clearly being in love.
Actually, you don’t want to think about love right now.
You get up and lock the door. You don’t want to talk to Dave right now, and while he’s never chased you after an argument before, there’s a first time for everything, and you can’t imagine any good coming of him finding you crying. He would probably just misinterpret it anyway, decide it was something about Kanaya not treating you well or something, as if it was Kanaya you imagine holding you when everything weighs too heavy on your shoulders.
You swipe at your eyes and sit down on the bed. You don’t need a real ball to scry anymore, but your hands fall into place as if you were holding one anyway, and you feel energy concentrate between the palms of your hands.
You watch Dave throw himself in front of you to save you and die. You watch Karkat step a hair too close and die. You watch Dave and Karkat press him up against the wall for Kanaya to come in for an attack when he unleashes the Red Miles and kills everyone. You watch yourself blast him over and over, finally bringing him down before succombing to internal wounds. You watch Terezi dodge too slowly and gain a slash through her middle. You watch Gamzee take him down like he’s nothing and then revel in the resulting bloodlust, killing the rest of you before you know how to react. You watch the carapaced man try to do something, anything, to defend his new friends, and every time he does it, what you see makes you sick. You watch--
Nothing at all.
You See yourself dive far, far further into the dark and then it swallows your vision whole for a long, long time... but at the edge, when there’s something there again, everyone is alive.
Of course the answer is to seek the advice of the Horrorterrors. What else could it possibly be?
They like you. They’ll gladly help you.
You can taste the acid in your throat.
You don’t care. Actually, you care very much, but you can’t afford to. For Dave, you’d die all over again, and compared to that nothing else matters.
You suck in a deep breath of dark. <Can you hear me? I need-- your assistance.>
We are glad to help you, child. Don’t cry. We will make it better.
you thought it would be easier to keep them from driving you mad now that you understood but you were very
You’re standing next to the alchemiter trying to figure out what exactly just happened when someone punches you in the gut.
Your first thought is that it’s Bro, and you twist away and immediately curse yourself because the way you just moved leaves you open to having your arm pulled back in a rather painful way...
...but instead of that, your unknown assailant grabs for the cape you’ve forgotten you’re wearing and it floods back to you that Bro is dead, he’s been dead for more than a year, and trying to deal with that leaves you reeling enough that you can’t prevent teeth from sinking into your arm.
You see the trailing black smoke before you see the body it’s attached to--one wearing Rose’s God Tier pajamas, with the shape of Rose, but with skin the color of charcoal. You slide a finger between your arm and the teeth sinking into it to lever off your attacker and use both hands to shove the head up so you can get a good look and--
Shit, you’d never thought Rose was being literal when she’d told you that at the worst of her Grimdark phase she’d “turned dark.”
“Lalonde, the fuck--”
She snarls at you like an angry bobcat, and that’s when you decide that this is not the time for Bro-says-don’t-hit-girls and slap her across the face. “Rose. Earth to Rose Lalonde.”
Rose grabs you by the shoulders, then falters, not immediately knowing what to do now that she’s got them. She settles for shaking you, but you can pretty much ignore that. You grab her arms and throw your weight to the side, sending both of you to the floor. You know how to fall the right way and it’s obvious she doesn’t-- you’ll have to teach her when she’s not off her fucking rocker-- she lets go of you to try to break her fall out of sheer instinct. You take advantage of her less-than-coordinated movements to land sitting on her legs, press her flat on her stomach, and hold her arms still with one hand.
“Seriously, Lalonde, what the fuck is this shit?”
In answer, Rose growls something at you that sounds vaguely purple that you are not sure can be written down using the English alphabet. Or produced by a human tongue.
“Look, I’m sorry I hurt your feelings and all but--” No. You try again, leaning forward a little and speaking softer. “Shit, I went too far and I’m sorry.”
Rose sags a little. “Rstrsmnnl,” she grumbles, or something like that. It sounds apologetic. She’s stopped flipping the fuck out, at least, but apparently that wasn’t why she turned into a smoke monster. Well of course not, that would be far too easy.
“So now that you’re not trying to kill me how about you explain why you’re suddenly a tentacle monster when half an hour you only had two arms.”
Rose frowns, and tries to speak again. There are far too few vowels and some of the sounds could probably only be made with three or four tongues in one mouth. “Krsmrg gtel mraglth, Ktrdrer.”
“That last one was ‘Strider,’ wasn’t it?”
Rose sighs, and the familiar condescending sound is more reassuring than anything else so far. Of course it was Strider. You can almost hear her say it. She pushes at you, and you realize that you’ve still got her pinned to the floor and you should probably let her up.
You roll off of her to sit on the floor and let Rose gather herself up a little. She really does look strange. You wonder if you’d be able to tell if you’d bruised her anywhere. Could she bruise? Was she actually still circulating blood, or was the Lalonde engine running on some kind of weird Lovecraftian ichor?
Rose taps you ever-so-politely on the back of your hand to get your attention, and waits for you to look at her. She smooths out her skirts, makes sure you’re looking at her, and gestures. She’s miming holding something and looking at it. She glances up again. Apparently she doesn’t like the look on your face. She points at her eyes.
Rose nods curtly and starts to move... stops... frowns. Grits her teeth. She screams, far too deep, and your bones vibrate like they do when you’re in front of the speakers on a good bass beat. Fuck.
Rose cocks her head to one side. She looks pensive, and dangerous, and beautiful.
She lays one hand on top of yours for just long enough for you to feel how cold it is. Black tendrils crawl up your arm. By the time they reach your head, you don’t know how long it’s taken. Your sense of time is gone.
No. It’s just stretched out around you, instead, a thousand timelines held together in Rose’s hand like strands of thread. Some of them are a lot longer than the others, and she shows you one short one, lets you see (See?) a glimpse of yourself (and yourself and yourself and yourself) fight the monster that Jade was not afraid of, with bodies you don’t want to think about strewn in the corners. She doesn’t dwell there, which you are grateful for, and shows you the longer strands, twisted together.
They form a blurred picture, a composite of possible timelines, but it makes you want to squint to be sure of what you’re looking at. There’s some weird shit going on here, you’re not supposed to take this quite literally or Rose is imagining some shit or something, because that is obviously Rose’s mom there, wearing the sash that Rose keeps neatly folded next to her bed, but bleach-white and sporting out-of-place dog ears at the top of her head. A queen’s ring glitters on her finger. A ghost that looks like the Mayor flickers into view and settles his hands on her shoulders, and then you know who this is supposed to be.
You see her chase Jack Noir, or the monster that used to be him (the monster that loved Jade, somehow). And then suddenly she’s gone.
And then you see glimpses of what you saw on the way to the Green Sun and hear rumbles and laughter that you don’t like at all... but Rose thankfully filters that, too. You see images from encyclopedias: “An octopus has a sharp beak that it uses to slice its prey into small pieces.” “Flthulhu is a fictional god from the works of...” “Many emotions are commonly mistaken for love.”
You feel something black and slick drip-slide around you, so gentle, and then tighten its grip-- but then you’ve backed away, and you see it’s Rose that’s there, not you, with a slick coating of octopus ink over her skin and cascading out of her mouth.
You feel bile rise in your throat and you think you’re about to throw up-- and thank god, that’s enough to send you back to reality, choking and coughing.
“He’s alive,” Karkat’s surly voice announces. “I’d have preferred the other option. Try a little harder next time, Strider.”
“Fuck off,” you tell him, and open your eyes.
You’re lying on your back on the floor and you are not wearing your shades. Well, fuck. You sit up and find them folded neatly beside you, and slide them into position. Only after that do you actually look around the room.
What the fuck.
“Tying her up isn’t even going to work,” you inform them, getting to your feet as quickly as you can. You’re still pretty nauseated and not at all graceful. “She didn’t actually hurt me, wasn’t even trying to.” You think.
“Thanks, that explains everything,” Karkat says. “I mean, she also had you wrapped up in tentacles, but that’s no big fucking deal-”
“Training exercise,” you snap. “Preparing myself for whatever kind of junk you’ve got in those pants.”
Karkat sputters and takes a step toward you, but Kanaya places a hand on his shoulder and coughs quietly. “What he meant, I’m sure, was that we’d all like to be made aware of what exactly happened here.”
“I think she annihilated your swag, Dave,” Terezi says, with a grin far too wide and sharp to fit the occasion. “She murdered it obscenely. Would you like me to construct a case to defend your wounded pride?”
Kanaya clears her throat.
“That’s not it at all,” you say. You take a breath and look at Rose, but her eyes are all wrong and you can’t read her like you used to. “She was trying to talk to me, but we seem to have a wee fucking bit of a language barrier on our hands. So unless you’ve got a Rosetta Stone for Festertongues conveniently on hand, this is what we’ve got.”
“But how,” Terezi says, circling Rose and studying her charcoal skin curiously, “did she get like this? I assume it didn’t just suddenly happen.”
You really, really hope you’ve got this right. “It’s got to do with Jack, I guess. She’s been worrying, and apparently when you go to the space squiddles for help, they’re happy to turn you into a grey slime monster.”
Rose smiles at you, genuinely, for just a second, before everyone can look at her and she has to put her I’m-so-elegant face back on. Shit yes. You got it.
You only kind of pay attention to the boring talking part, just enough to notice that of course Rose can’t write in English--or write at all, really. She can nod, and shake her head, and she shakes her head to their questions far more often than she doesn’t.
She’s going to have to do that thing again, you realize. Which means you’re going to have to do that thing again, too, because who else would?
“I’ll stay with her- she can sort of talk to me anyway, and we don’t know if anyone else will be able to understand her,” you inform them, because fuck if you’re leaving her to this by herself, fuck if you’re going to risk losing her entirely to this bullshit. And that settles everything you give a shit about, so you go right ahead and whisk Rose away to your room.
Dave takes you by the hand without a bit of hesitation and you absolutely do not swoon one bit. Outwardly.
Under normal circumstances, you would feel as if you had to tell him that you are quite capable of following him without being led by the hand like a five-year-old, but there’s a certain freedom granted by not being able to speak in English. You can just enjoy the warmth of his hand in yours without saying something that will almost certainly result in him letting go of you.
“Sorry I was kinda out there for a moment. I hope the troll BDSM thing they were trying to do was something you’re willing to miss out on, what with this time limit and all. How long do you think we have before we need to do something, anyway?”
You give him your best withering stare.
“Oh right, sorry, you can’t actually tell me that without making me collapse to the ground like a delicate Victorian maiden.” Dave tries to say something else, goes quiet, and regroups. “We’re going to my room because I don’t know if the, um, whatever just happened to you has like made your room into a gaping abyss and shit and it just makes it more confusing if you try to explain--”
You try to say, “My room is fine,” and it sounds just fine to you, but Dave just looks completely blank.
“--So anyway my bed is really big and if you start having some kind of vision seizure or something you won’t hurt yourself flailing around.”
You realize, belatedly, that Dave is worried about you. You open your mouth to reassure him, sigh, and clench your fists. You realize only after this that you’ve let go of his hand in doing this and now you have no excuse to take it back. Well, damn.
Dave glances at you. “Uh--” Then of all things he shuts his mouth. And he keeps it shut as you reach his room. With an exaggerated flourish he opens the door, and you realize what’s going on. He’s deliberately not speaking so that he’ll frustrate you a little less.
It’s... sweeter than you’d expect from him.
Dave’s room is a mess, but his bed is completely clear of debris, and he’s actually made it, too, without any expectation of having anyone come in here. You laugh, and you catch a twitch of a grimace on his lips.
You pick your way across the floor, stepping over broken swords and dancing around Dave’s collection of genuine alchemized records. He follows you, and kicks off his shoes at the edge of the bed while looking pointedly at you. You mimic him and crawl onto the bed.
But now you’re out of excuses. With him staring at you, you can’t get out of it. You’ve got to do this now.
You don’t realize that you’re shaking until Dave takes one of your hands again and you can feel the tremor against him. You steady yourself. You can’t just drop your guard, go vulnerable. What if you said something by accident?
And then you have to try very hard not to laugh at yourself, because there’s no way to tell him that it’s not at him grabbing your hand and you don’t want to ensure that he never does it again.
You draw a deep breath, cup your hands, and dive into the dark.
We are pleased to see you again so soon, young one. Will you come to us?
You are swallowed whole.
Your older sisters can see the shining white beast well enough. She was knocked into their home by a nasty trick from the bloodstained black beast. They did not know you were interested in her. For the sake of prolonging your existence, they will show you the way. You must lead the black beast to her, so that their fight to the death may resume. You must hurry. The black beast will leave you to bleed until you die. Your sisters do not want you to die.
You come back without losing yourself. Something warm - the horrorterrors are so, so cold - is holding onto your mind, somehow, and doesn’t let go.
You open your eyes slowly. Dave is clinging on to both of your hands as if you’re dangling off the edge of a cliff and he’s trying to pull you to safety.
“Rose?” he asks, faintly.
Shaking, he pulls you into a tight hug. “Never do that again,” he whispers.
Just a few moments later Dave pulls away, and it’s like none of this ever happened. “So. The thing where you give me some kind of weird vision to talk to me. Let’s make this happen.”
You decide that you will not tell him about the part where you’re going to maybe indirectly kill the Mayor’s crush, and you get this over with. Taking him by the arm, you let a single, tiny black thread slide up to his forehead, and let a bead of ink drip along the way into his mind.
Despite his worries about you, Dave is the one who has some kind of seizure. You take his shades off him and try to hold him still while you feed him the information: look for this star and then the wind will push you left, deeper and deeper into the dark, until you can hear their voices, and you will find the solution to the problem. You hope that you’re getting this right.
It takes a full minute after you withdraw from his mind for his body to go still. It takes at least five minutes of stroking his hair and worrying for him to come to.
Dave looks sicker than you’ve ever seen him. The first thing he says is, “I’m fine.”
You hand him his shades, and he puts them back into place before he sits up. “Let me just. Write this down.” He coughs, and fishes around in his sylladex until he finds a pen and some paper. “So. I guess you’ll have to tell me somehow if I’m wrong, but I think what you said is...”
You manage to resist the urge to puke until after you’ve got the instructions from the space squiddles hashed out, but as soon as that’s all written down-- why the fuck did you write that by hand, Strider, you have like six computers and typing is faster-- you excuse yourself for a brief session of worshipping the bathroom’s porcelain god.
You rinse your mouth out and come back to your room, where you find Rose hugging her knees to her chest and taking short, choking breaths. She jerks into a more casual position when she hears the door open, and her eyes dare you to say anything. You decide to keep your mouth shut; talking about this kind of thing has never lead you right before.
She takes a few deep breaths. Your jaw hurts as you try not to grimace. Then she tilts her head toward the door.
“Already?” you ask, but you’re already wading back through your room to get your shoes on.
You’re just about to leave when Kanaya pokes her head through the door, eyes serious and lips forming a perfectly straight line. “I don’t want to interrupt the two of you, but we were all wondering if Rose has finished her... conference.” Her voice is businesslike, and you almost laugh at her word choice. “Jack Noir is within our sight, and I’m afraid that we need your assistance outside, soon.”
“About five minutes ago,” she admits. “Terezi’s precise words were ‘Tell them to get their distressingly well-formed glutes in gear,’ if you must know.”
You feel yourself snap to attention before you think about moving. You’ve flashstepped into your shoes long before Rose can slide off the bed. You don’t want to leave her, but if shit’s getting real, you can tell them what’s happening and she can’t.
You let your mask slip for exactly one second, when your whole head is turned toward Rose and you’re absolutely sure that Kanaya can’t see you, hoping that she’ll understand, and then you’re gone.
You beat Kanaya up the stairs before realizing that while you have all these directions, you can’t actually alter the speed of the meteor. There’s no use in rushing. You hurry anyway.
When you reach the surface of the meteor, you can almost believe it’s a practical joke. You don’t really see anything out on the horizon, or what passes as sky here. What sells it, though, is the way Terezi’s got her head tilted to one side and up, lips parted and tongue just slightly out. And then you realize that you’ve been up there a good seventeen (now eighteen) seconds and Karkat hasn’t said a word. He isn’t even looking at you, he’s just staring at his shoes.
You’re not sure the meteor technically has an atmosphere, but shit it’s heavy.
Terezi doesn’t have her face pointed quite the right way, as usual, but motion catches your eye. You wonder how you didn’t see it before. The... you don’t even have a word for it. The thing that killed Bro is an inch tall, silhouetted by a faint green glow.
You have to fight down the urge to move, and force yourself to stay still despite the buzzing of adrenaline urging you to go, go. Rose would probably kill you if you tried anything heroic. Or she’d try to follow you, take it on herself, just like--
So instead, you study the insides of your shades until Kanaya comes back.
When she pushes the hatch open, you can see the writhing shadow that means Rose is right behind her. You are inexplicably disappointed.
Maybe not so inexplicably, but that’s not the point. The point is that you’ve got shit to do. You turn back to your scribbled page of notes, and shit you can barely read your own handwriting and it’s so goddamn dark out here. “Maryam,” you call, and she trails toward you.
Karkat’s shaking, and you hope you’re not. The very first thing you do is swerve left, and a wave of nausea that has nothing to do with the tight curve crashes over you. It’s even darker now, and you could swear that all the dream bubbles are gone. The brightest light anywhere near you is Kanaya, and you have to shift so you can use her glow to read your notes. Terezi sniffs and winces.
Rose stays back, not far from the hatch. Her eyes are fixed on you.
Then they aren’t, and that’s worse.
Her body twitches and you hear a sharp crack that you hope isn’t bone. Her eyes close and she keens out something that sounds like rocks grinding against each other. The blackness around her rises and rises, a cold fire stretching toward the stars.
It rips from your mouth before you quite understand that it’s you screaming, with a hand stretched toward her. You can’t lose her. You couldn’t save Bro, you weren’t there, but Rose is right in front of you and you will not let those space squids take away everything you love about her.
She turns her head, and you hold up your hands without even thinking about it. The whites of her eyes have gone black, you can’t tell if she’s even looking at you-- she clenches her hands into fists and moves towards you, and it takes everything you have to not take a step back.
“Rose.” You do a dumb thing then, and step toward her, wrapping your arms around her hesitantly. Karkat is yelling at you, but you can’t hear what he’s saying.
She writhes against your grasp, hits you with her elbows and her knees and scrapes her fingernails on your skin. Rose Lalonde, she’s a tiny fucking thing and wild as a cat, but this girl hissing garbled dark sounds at you isn’t her.
“Rose,” you say helplessly, “Damn it, Lalonde, I know you’re there. Calm the fuck down, it’s me, okay--”
Her eyes roll back into her head, and she struggles for one last moment before she goes limp and her knees give out. You manage to catch her before she hits the ground- she’s perfectly still as you lay her down, and you’re a half-step away from panic when she finally opens her eyes. They’re back to normal now, thank fucking Christ.
“Rose?” you ask, and she nods, saying something that sounds like a confirmation. You’re almost relaxed until she glances over your shoulder.
You look in time to see something white and shining appear on the horizon, and suddenly you realize what this is. You aren’t trying to lose the guy, or Rose would have done this ages ago. You’re trying to distract him. That’s what that shit with Queen Mom Lalonde was all about, the first time Rose did this, and you should have put this together already, should have realized what Rose didn’t tell you. You’re about to run into an angelic canine version of Lady Liberty herself while she’s lost in Horrorterror country and dump the Antichrist onto her lap.
And the Mayor’s climbed out here, too, although you’re not sure how much he understands of what’s going on - but when he spots her, his face lights up like you’ve never seen it before. Oh shit. He looks over at you expectantly, waiting for you to give an order to slow down, something, to pick her up.
There is no such bit of direction in your notes.
You decide that despite liking the guy, you’re not going to risk getting everyone killed to save one person. There’s no guarantee that she’ll be killed, anyway. She looks pretty fucking prepared for this shit.
You stay silent as the Mayor looks up at her, as she looks down at him. Then you glance at Rose, and nod your head.
“We leave her,” you say, and everyone stares at you. Terezi actually stares at a spot over your left shoulder, but that’s not the point.
“Wow, that is kind of a douche move,” Terezi says finally, placing her hands on her hips. “And by kind of, I mean completely.”
“When it comes to bad situations, this one earns a gold fucking star,” you say lightly. “You wanna take a vote? I come from the land of democracy, you see--”
“Dave,” Terezi says quietly - hands folded on her cane, eyebrows severe, and sometimes you forget that she’s scary in the terrifying way, when she wants to be. “I don’t think I made myself entirely clear!”
You shrug, and keep your face set to neutral. “Make yourself totally goddamn clear, then.”
“What I meant,” she says pleasantly, “is that this is not a thing you will be doing! Even if my body was entirely dead in all respects, even if it was buried and oozing worms out of my ocular sockets, it would still not be a thing we will be doing.”
You’re angry, suddenly. “She’s got a better chance than the rest of us,” you snap. “Rose showed me what would happen if we fuck with the plan, I don’t fucking want--”
“I don’t care what you’ve seen,” she says, grinning even wider, “because I’ve probably seen it as well. But I’m afraid I just can’t allow this. Your proposed course of action sounds rather terribly like stabbing a perfectly innocent individual in the back!”
“It’s not--” You protest, trying to ignore the dull twinge of guilt.
“It is!” Terezi taps her cane on the ground, restlessly, irritably. “If she dies, Mr. Strider, you will essentially have been the causation! I don’t know about you, but that sounds awfully similar to the definition of murder to me.”
“Stop fucking assuming the worst possible scenario, not everything’s like your courtblock dramas--”
“Considering the worst possible scenario is part of my job! Wow, you’re a total dick--”
But suddenly, you realize that you don’t see Rose anywhere. She must have slipped away while you were talking to Terezi. You cut her off. “I gotta be somewhere,” you say. You drop the directions into Kanaya’s hands - there’s nothing complicated left - and make for the hatch.
TG: hey open your fucking door
TG: i am gonna kick your door down rose
TG: just watch me i will bust in and shatter this door into splinters or i would except its fucking made of metal
TG: whoever designed this place obviously doesnt care about dramatic entrances
TG: im gonna rap if you dont open the door
TG: okay you asked for it
TG: oh hey
“So you gotta tell me-- shit, you can’t do that, you’re still the Creature from the Black Fucking Lagoon.” Dave actually grimaces, and closes his mouth, and you can practically hear the gears grinding in his brain. “How are we gonna fix that? Can we fix that?”
You shrug, and turn your face away from him. He looks hurt-- good, you think. Maybe he’ll leave, like he should, he really should. But he never will, because Dave Strider doesn’t seem to know when to drop something and back away.
He crosses the room, slowly, watching you for any sign of dissent. You straighten yourself out and sit up, and watch him just as closely. He sits next to you, maybe too close. “Lalonde-- Rose, listen.”
Dave looks at you - you must look horrid, smoke-grey and curled up on your bed, hugging your knees to your chest, breathing so very carefully. He looks at you gently, like you didn’t try to kill him minutes ago, and he’s so mind-blowingly stupid sometimes. You’d like to kiss him more than you want to admit.
He hugs you, then, and you can’t believe that he thinks it’s a clever idea to do this again. You raise your eyebrows and look at him skeptically-- if he keeps this up you’re going to think that he’s interested, really.
You expect him to roll his eyes and make some sort of quip; you expect him to let go, or perhaps you just hope, because this is too damn much. But Dave is silent.
He stares at you for a moment, eyes wide behind his shades- and then looks hurriedly away, keeping his arms wrapped loosely around your waist. “But anyway. This fucking day, you know. I mean, I know I was being stubborn and more than a little bit childish with the whole can thing your temper was wildish. But you have to admit, Can Town is pretty rad and without it you could say it’d be boring and only a tad more somber, but there’s more to it than that. Much as I’d like to say Terezi’s the bomb, she just don’t add up to when you’re holding my palm - the icky black ink you ooze now isn’t the most assuring, but I can promise you it’s somewhat alluring--”
He cuts himself off. Your throat has gone dry.
“Excuse me, but did you just--” And then you realize that you’re talking, and stop abruptly. You look down at your hands- pale and human again, and you’re so relieved that you think you might cry if you possessed less self-restraint.
Dave’s expression mirrors yours; he is wide-eyed and relieved, and slowly, a grin spreads across his face. “Lalonde, don’t tell me that my rap cured you- holy shit, I am never, ever going to let you live this down--”
You laugh, giddy and thrilled and god, it feels so wonderful to be able to laugh again. “It absolutely did not!”
“It so did, ha fucking ha, I knew you appreciated--”
“No, never--” You realize, suddenly, that your hands have somehow found their way to the back of Dave’s neck. You stroke a finger along the top of his spine, what are you doing--
Dave breathes in sharply, looks more panicked than before. “Rose-”
“I am making a move on you,” you say, and hope that he didn’t catch the nervous wobble in your voice. “And you are going to have to man up and do something about it, David Strider, because we’ve been avoiding this for--”
“Fuck, Rose, you know that we’re--” He swallows, and pushes his shades up onto his head. “Shit, okay. Okay.”
“Okay,” you say quietly. You lean in to kiss him; he tries to beat you to it and meets you halfway there. Dave laughs, quiet but happy- his breath is warm on your cheek, and you smile and pull him towards you again.
The roof is full of people. You stand in a line-- trolls, humans, with the tall white carapace slightly in front of you. Karkat draws his sickle silently, nods to the rest of you- you all follow, weapons appearing in your hands down the line.
Noir is a dark shape against an even darker background. He has been floating a few hundred feet away, watching you group together, but now he moves toward the meteor in a flash and crackle of green uranium. The static makes your hair stand on end.
“He is coming,” Kanaya says, quiet and determined.
You glance at Dave. He looks out into the void, then turns back toward you; he looks at you for a moment and then nods, shifting Caledscratch in his hands.
“Let him come,” you say, and smile.