This entry contains flashing gifs. click here to read the entry with non-gif versions of the images.
Characters: John Egbert, Jade Harley, Karkat Vantas, WV
Tags Present: NSFW
Tags Not Used: (alternatively: No Cat.1 tags used.)
No other Cat.1 tags apply.
No other Cat.2 tags apply.
Category Three (Optional):
Tags Present: Flashing gifs
Additional Tags (Optional):
How to Live Here - Good Luck
Nest - Magic Man
You Are The Moon - The Hush Sound
Strange and Beautiful - Aqualung
Young Blood - The Naked and Famous
Venus - Air
Star Bodies - The New Pornographers
We Could Be Friends - Freelance Whales
Galaxies - Owl City
Point Me At Lost Islands - Tired Pony
Captain’s Log, Stardate 4132012
I’m beginning to wonder if space adventuring is really all it’s cracked up to be.
Not that space isn’t cool!
Space is super cool!
Well to be honest when First Mate Egbert and I departed on this mission, I kind of hoped we’d be doing a lot more! Boldly going and saving green alien babes and whatnot.
But really it’s a lot of staring out portholes and wishing I was home again.
And as long as we’re being completely honest, First Mate Egbert is being a total buttface and won’t stop complaining about the rations. Honestly, I never saw someone scream so much over a simple Crockercorp Dehydrated Meal.
Hey are you talking about me on that thing?!
NO JOHN GO AWAY!
NO WAY, I CAN HEAR YOU! YOU CALLED ME A BUTTFACE!
YOU ARE A BUTTFACE, JOHN. YOU KNOW IT’S THE TRUTH, YOU SHOULD STOP WHINING AND JUST ACCEPT THAT YOU HAVE TERMINAL BUTT OF THE FACE!!!
LET ME IN, I AM GOING TO ERASE THAT TAPE!
When you look out at the stars you feel very small. You never realized back home how big the world was. Well, you sort of knew. You knew that the sky was vast and the ocean was deep. But your world was tiny. It was Grandpa and Bec and the little island you lived on with all its mysteries and hideaways that kept you entertained as a child.
And then you’d spent six years (SIX!!!) in the academy, training and learning algorithms and strategy and fission and physics, and you were good at them!
There’d been no time. No time to appreciate the variety and the people. The drunken kisses on finals night and the summer roadtrip upstate where you’d met Rose’s mom and gotten sick on tequila shots. All the times you’d hugged John and told him you’d see him in class, and even the time you’d had all to yourself waiting for that class to start.
And now you look out through the tiny viewport of your suit at the stars, the galaxies and the nebulas and the vast, vast, vastness of it all.
And you are so full and so empty all at once.
Your name is Jade Harley and you are the captain of a small vessel. You command a crew of two. There is the Worldcom Voyagebot (you call him WV for short, because who wants to say all that really). And there is John.
John Egbert is your first mate and your best friend since you started at the Academy. He is also a horse’s ass but only sometimes. Lately it’s all the time.
He’s on the other side of The Prospit, attempting to install a new waste disposal chute. The EFS Prospit is the small scouting ship that you both have called home for the last year. When you first arrived it was wonderful, like the dorms at school except you didn’t have to share and you had no classes or monitors and you could replicate nearly any food you needed provided you had the raw dehydrated materials. This meant about a week of ice cream sundaes before you and John got violently ill and swore off them for life.
The problem is that after a year The Prospit’s gotten cramped. You see John nearly every minute of the day. It’s not always a bad thing. When you get along it’s like a party.
When you fight it’s a disaster. Yelling and punching on your part, passive aggressive hissy fits on his. Every time it’s the same. You argue. You get him good in the gut and he always lets you get it out of your system.
Then he clams up and won’t speak to you for hours, days at a time.
It’s one of those days.
You give up on trying to figure out the problem with the radio relays and float over to him, your bulky suits identical except for the extra star on yours that marks your rank. He’s wrapped himself around the waste hose like he’s trying to wrestle with it.
“Give it up John, it’s never going to love you back,”
“Go away, I’m busy teaching this stupid thing a lesson,”
“John we’ve been over this, you’ve got to account for the anti-grav-“
“Blah blah blah space blah blah science stupid shit, I don’t care Jade leave me alone,”
“John stop being an ass!”
“You’re the ass, assbutt!”
“Oooooh John I am going to kick your assbutt all across this nebula if you don’t shut up and let me help you!”
You grab the hose from him and shove him with your foot. He floats away a bit and then lets his boots scuff to a along the hull. Eventually he’ll coast to a stop. You go about recoiling the hose like you always do. This is an old fight; John is never good at following regulation maintenance. He was trained to be a Communications Specialist on a big cruiser but somehow he got stuck with you.
Lately you’ve noticed with John it’s best to just follow routine. It goes something like this:
- Wake up
- Check radio relays
- Check star maps
- Perform maintenance
- Watch a movie
- Talk shit about the movie (unless it’s a good movie and then you talk about how awesome it was)
- Play a game with WV
- Set coordinates
- Say goodnight
Deviating from this routine can be disastrous. John isn’t good with change, and he certainly doesn’t like talking about how long you’ve been out here. In the last month the only difference has been that you talk less and less about movies and spend more and more time trying not to reach out and hold his hand during the sad parts. You’ve wanted to do more than that, actually, but you always stop yourself from thinking too much on it because really, what are the chances that macking on your idiotically handsome first officer on a two man one-robot ship will end well?
You stash the hose and look up to where you last saw John. Your heart stops.
He’s not there.
He’s not on the ship at all.
He’s floated away, you’re sure of it. He’s a wonderful person and a brilliant Comm Spec but he is shit at tying knots and he’s worse at making sure his tether is secure.
You proceed to flip your shit.
“John? JOHN?! JOHN DAMMIT, RESPOND! HOW FAR OUT ARE YOU, WHAT’S YOUR POSITION!?”
You pull on your tether to get some slack and shout an order at WV to trace any heat signatures around the ship. Then you take a running start and launch away from the hull, checking the circumference to catch a glimpse of his goldenrod suit, his blue eyes, his smile.
You can’t see him anywhere and that’s when you begin to scream.
What if his oxygen runs out before you find him? What if he freezes to death in his suit?
What will you do if you lose him?
KSSSHHHH That’s, uhhhh, one small step for Jade, and uhhhh KSHHHHH, one giant leap for SAPKIND HEHEHEHE
It’s around this time you stop screaming and look over to the main viewport of the shuttle.
John is standing inside with his helmet off waving like an idiot. He’s got a bowl of popcorn.
You are going to fucking kill him.
When you get through the airlock, the first thing you do is throw your helmet at him. He laughs and dances away like a manic ballerina on speed. He’s giggling like a child and wiping tears from his eyes as he holds his stomach.
“OOOOH my gosh Jade, I got you so good! This is better than when I put green dye in your showerhead back at the Academy!” He says this as you shuck off your suit down to your undergarments and all the while you can feel a blind fury pounding at the back of your head. Up to this point you’d always thought yourself a cheerful person. Mellow. Low-key.
Right now you feel like a demon steam pipe about to explode hot acid.
“YOU ASS!” you scream, upending his popcorn everywhere. He stops laughing as you start rounding your little communal table. He keeps to the other side warily. His eyes aren’t meeting yours; instead they are wide and glued to your chest.
“Er-Jade, I don’t wanna be rude but you’re uh…you’re kind of almost naked and I don’t know-"
“SHUT UP, SHUT UP SHUT UP YOU STUPID…TERRIBLE…STUPID ASS!!!”
“Jade I really don’t think you should-"
“NO!” You realize your voice is warbling and tears are spilling over your cheeks and smearing on your glasses. “NO THAT WASN’T FUNNY JOHN I THOUGHT YOU’D…you’d…” You choke again and pound a fist hard on the table while you fumble with your stupid glasses.
At least John has the decency to look ashamed. He finally comes around from his hiding spot and stands next to you. You can see, blurrily, out of your periphery that his hand is hovering above your shoulder, quivering like he can’t quite will it to settle.
“Jade, I…I’m uh…” he stammers. You try to fix him with a glare but all you do is blubber a little more and try to snort all the snot dribbling down your face back up into your nose. He starts again, “Gosh Jade, I’m sorry, I didn’t think you’d…I guess I shoulda realized, you would…care a lot if I uh…if I was in trouble…I just…didn’t think you’d get so upset.”
“Ugh, John you can be a real jerk, you know that?”
“Sorry, Captain,” he mumbles. He lets his hand fall.
“You’re not forgiven,” you scowl. Drawn up to your full height you’re still a head shorter than him. His hair is dark and mussed from his helmet, and he’s sweating a little, just enough to make his skin shine with the gold reflecting off his suit. His big, bright eyes stare down your small, tear reddened ones. He smells like butter and ozone.
You grip the front of his suit at the same time that he fists a hand in your hair and you both smash your faces together like your lives depend on it, because way out here in the void it feels like they do.
John’s lips are surprisingly soft and his teeth scrape against yours. He opens his mouth too wide and slobbers on your chin while you’re busy dragging him down until both you’re sprawled across the floor and you finally settle in his lap. You pull back for breath but he dives in again and this time his tongue finds its way into your mouth and you pull him closer just to taste him better.
Between smacking noises and groans you hear yourself saying:
“Never. Ever. Ever. Do. That. Again.”
“I’m sorry,” he murmurs back as he nuzzles against your chin, your neck, bites at the tender flesh there, “I’m sorry I’m sorry I love you I’m sorry,”
You’ve got your hand around the back of his suit, a kind of zipper-clasp-button-down monstrosity. Meanwhile John’s fingers are making a beeline for the waistband of your underwear and your first thought is how annoyed you are that he’ll beat you to third base and your second thought is who the hell cares he’s finally going to touch your junk.
Then the world careens sideways and you both bash your heads against the console.
“WHAAAAT!?” you screech.
“HOLY CRAP!” John cries.
The two of you scramble up to the viewport. Something big and spiny is lodged onto the hull underneath the left engine. The Voyagebot’s automated voice chirps at you in loud exclamations.
“YOU THERE. BOY. GIRL. COLLISION DETECTED. UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT HAS MADE CONTACT WITH THE PROSPIT. KINDLY PLEASE INVESTIGATE. THANK YOU.”
You jam your discarded glasses back onto your face and grab John’s hand.
He squeezes your fingers tightly and looks you in the eye.
“What now Captain?”
Captain’s Log, Stardate 6122023
I’m pretty sure you’re making those up.
Ahem, we have still received no word from the Coalition on the nature of our discovery. We have now entered week two of cohabitation with the specimen with no instruction or directive on how to proceed. All of my relays and
communications have either been lost or, more likely, ignored.
Jade, why are you talking like you’re in an old movie? This is dumb.
John! I’m trying to sound professional!
To who, your DIARY?!
Bluh fiiine, but at least let ME talk about Karkat!
Uggggh, John if this WAS a movie it would be the absolute worst ever. You are ruining all the dramatic tension I was building!
Oh dang, really? Gosh I didn’t think about it like that!
Yes! What would our grandchildren say if they heard this log? They’d think we were a couple of dinguses!
You uh…you said something about grandkids?
Oh er…um sorry I meant…I didn’t um…
No I mean it’s not…you don’t have to apologize…
It’s not like uh…
I mean it’s crossed my mind.
I mean yeah! It’s….it’s something nice to think about…
Oh….gosh well…yeah…I mean it…would be nice…
You think so?
Yeah! Yeah I mean, in the future.
Oh sure, way waaaaaay in the future!
YES OF COURSE HAHAHA…
He says his name is Karkat. You aren’t sure what to make of him, honestly, or the fact that he can speak your language. John was under the belief that Karkat was in fact an Earthling from the future after a “hideous mutant plague made everyone gray and twitchy and bitey,” but you’re fairly certain it has something to do with the horns acting as some kind of brainwave receptor, like a built in translation index.
When you first found him he was holed up in his pod, this spiny crustaceous thing that looked from the outside more junk heap than ship. But it had opened up like a cooked lobster, all the segments ripping apart to reveal fleshy looking tendons, and lots of creepy green slime. It was fascinating.
Well, up until the point when Karkat had launched out and demanded in an angry screech the removal of nearly all your vital organs. Underneath his weird squishy life support system he looked like a cross between a wet Siamese cat and a Mogwai so you did what came naturally: you punched him in the face.
Since then you’ve kept him confined to the bathroom. The Prospit was never meant to house prisoners, so the best you can do is tie his hands together with industrial cord and pray he’s not strong enough to break the shower pipe off its supports.
If anything good has come of this, it’s that you and John have stopped fighting. You’re both too busy. You’ve got the alien ship to examine, slime to analyze, programming to decode. John’s been sending distress signals in every language he knows, trying to hail anyone who can help you back into your sector (you’ve obviously wandered into uncharted space). For the most part though, John’s been talking with Karkat. Well talking at. Karkat doesn’t so much talk as snarl obscenities.
“So when I get to the mess hall I see my buddy Dave, you’d like Dave, you’re both jerks kind of.”
“I SWEAR UPON THE GIANT OOZING GRUB THAT SPEWED ME FROM ITS MOST INFERNAL PULSATING ORIFICE I WILL RIP YOUR THROAT OUT AND SHIT IN THE WOUND IF YOU DON’T STOP TALKING,”
“Yeah, see, Dave would totally think that’s hilarious,”
John’s wrong, Dave would hate Karkat’s guts but you let him continue. You can hear them through the door and you know what John’s doing. If he can get Karkat to spill anything about his home planet, his species, his ship, then maybe you can convince Mission Control that your situation is worth investigating.
It could also be that after a year in empty space he’s gotten just as bored and lonely as you.
You sit back from your computer console and rub your eyes. The lines of strange foreign coding blur together and you’ve already got a pounding headache. You make your way over to the mess to synthesize more coffee, but pause briefly outside the bathroom.
No sound comes out, which is worrying. One thing you’ve observed is that Karkat, either due to the nature of his species or some kind of personal trauma, suffers from night terrors. If he’s not shouting or growling at you then he’s usually asleep and yowling like a frightened animal. It’s distressing, to say the least, especially with that voice of his.
In fact the first thing you noticed about Karkat was his voice. Screaming and cursing aside, it is distinctly inhuman, like someone took a normal voice and ran a violin bow made of razors across it. There’s a quality of timbre that makes it sound like a child’s voice, high pitched and higher strung, but you can also hear, especially when he’s trying not to make any noise, a kind of rumbling that starts in his chest and terminates when he opens his mouth; a depth that might be easier to hear if he ever stopped screaming at you every time you tried to brush your teeth.
When you round the corner into the kitchen you stop short. You blink a few times, then rub your eyes and fumble your glasses back up the bridge of your nose.
Karkat is sitting at your table, feet swinging a few centimeters off the ground. He’s got half a nutella sandwich crammed in between rows of sharp fangs and what looks like the mulched remains of a stack of pancakes laid out before him. He’s managed to completely avoid the burnt edges of the pancakes and methodically decimate the soft interior.
He swallows and stares you down with those huge, terrible eyes of his.
Those were the second thing you’d noticed about Karkat. When he’d slammed you down against the hull of your ship, howling bloody murder, those eyes had filled all of space. They are red on yellow, slit like a cat’s, shiny and just slightly too big for his head. They are like gems or scabs or thick dark blood with a bright light shining through them. You still aren’t sure what the surge in your gut had been in that moment, whether it was a primal cry to flee, or the realization that nothing in the whole of space could ever be so beautiful.
But your first thought now is that he’s broken free and murdered John.
“Hey Jade, isn’t it amazing?!” John claps you on the shoulder, his broad smile suddenly coming into view. He’s wearing the regulation apron he decorated with a shitty marker drawing of some ancient movie actor he’s madly in love with, Mick Sage or Nick Cane or something like that.
You respond intelligently with “Bwuh?” And point in Karkat’s direction.
“It’s rude to point, fuckwit,” Karkat mutters, busying himself by using a claw to pick at his back teeth. Good lord his entire mouth looks like a cutlery drawer.
“Jade, get this, I’ve made so much progress!” John leads you, haltingly, to the kitchen table and sits you across from Karkat. The more you look at him, the more you see him sitting like a normal person and not sprawled out shrieking in your bathroom, the more it hits you that he is probably a kid, barely out of space alien puberty. He sits like you would back on earth, leaning forward on his strange spindly elbows, shoulders hunched comfortably.
You look to John and he smiles encouragingly, all dimples and buck teeth, and your heart melts a little. He continues.
“So Karkat is from this really weird race of like...bug fish cat people, and they’re like a savage warrior race of space conquerors-“
“We’re not savage, you assface,” Karkat interjects. His voice isn’t actually unpleasant when he talks at normal decibels, “Unless you count creating amazing cinema with emotionally compelling protagonists savage, in which case let me get my loincloth dusted off and we’ll cook up a suckling hogbeast.”
“Oh yeah, and they make romcoms I guess? From what Karkat says they’ve got a really big movie industry, it’s like Hollywood except it takes up a whole planet!”
“Your planet’s all movie studios?” you ask, perplexed.
“No fuckass, not our planet, that’s stupid,” he sneers at you.
“Oh yes of course, it’s only someone else’s planet, how silly of me,” you bite back. If you weren’t sure he could bite your finger clean off you’d flip him the bird.
“Hey hey guys, chill! So yeah Karkat was sent out on a scouting mission in that pod thing just like us! And his navigation systems got scrambled by our hailing signals I guess and that’s why he crashed into us! Oh and apparently his whole planet is run by kids and they all get pooped out by this giant bug queen.”
“I’m losing track of how much sacrilege you managed to vomit out of your face hole in that one sentence, Egbert-“
“We are not pooped out, we are hatched and the Mother Grub isn’t the fucking queen, we have an Empress and she’s the fucking high holy fishtroll that runs the armada.”
You grip John’s arm suddenly, cutting him off.
“What do you mean armada?! Where exactly is your Empress headed with it?!” You pause, remembering your diplomacy classes. You begin again, softer, affecting politeness, “Have you received any instructions regarding a planet possibly labeled as Earth? Do you have coordinates logged in your ship that aren’t available on the programming I salvaged? I’d really appreciate it if you’d-“
“First of all, dipshit, I’m not telling you anything yet. Egbert is lucky I talk to him at all. I figure he’s too dumb to be a threat, but I haven’t gauged how bad you are.” He starts mulching the other half of his sandwich, his eyes boring holes into you. “But if the rest of you pink squaretoothed fuckwads are as simpering and weak as I’m guessing you are, then your honkbeast is thoroughly roasted.”
You clench and unclench your fists in your lap. You can see John out of the corner of your eye attempting damage control and failing spectacularly, bless him.
“I’m sorry, how is it you see me?” you manage to grit out.
“Basically?” Karkat leans forward and you get a better look at the scarred gray skin and the thick dark hair that frames his strange, sharp features, “You’re a fucking shithead if I’d ever seen one.”
You snatch him from across the table and hoist him up to your face. His eyes have gone wide and his claws scrabble and scratch at your arms and wrists. They’re surprisingly ineffective.
“I have had it up to HERE with your shit attitude, so LISTEN UP. You are about two seconds from being shoved out an airlock and if I know anything about space it’s that there’s a convenient lack of oxygen which you obviously breathe. So here’s how this is going to work. You will stop calling John dumb, you will ease up on calling me names, you will stop screaming at us and talking about ripping our heads off and YOU WILL SHUT THE HELL UP AND OFFER ME SOME RESPECT, FUCKASS, OR SO HELP ME I WILL PERSONALLY DELIVER YOU TO YOUR EMPRESS COURTESY OF MY FOOT UP YOUR SORRY ALIEN ASSHOLE.”
The whole bridge has gone quiet but for your labored breathing. You never got mad at John like this. With John you were always just hurt or frustrated or sad enough to take it out on each other and walk away feeling worse for it. But right now you feel strong and scary. You feel like an Amazon Witch Queen and it is exhilarating.
You hear John, from the floor where he’s fallen out of his chair, whisper a low and breathy wow and you suddenly get the pleasant feeling you are going to get lucky tonight.
Karkat, for his part, has stopped squirming and is looking at you like you’ve just removed your skin to reveal a different person entirely. Maybe you have.
“Alright then, but I’m still going to call you a shithead, Harley.” When did he learn your name? You decide you’ll let it slide and smirk.
“Only if I can call you a fuckass…”
“Vantas…my symbolheight is Vantas.” You lower him to the floor, and notice how he shifts back closer to John. He’s tiny and hunched, and you’re not sure it’s because you just handed his ass to him. It looks like his default position is to clam up as tightly as possible and it’s got you feeling sort of ashamed all of a sudden for hauling him off the floor.
“Dang, aliens have last names too?” John sidles up and, amazingly, claps a wide, warm hand on Karkat’s shoulder, “You are so cool man!” Karkat looks up at him like he’s grown a second head, but it’s not what you’d call a bad look.
Your heart clenches a little and you don’t understand why.
Captain’s Log…Stardate 1111…oh fuck it.
Things are…frustrating at the moment I guess?
Karkat is being SO annoying and John isn’t being very supportive at all, and I’m just really at a loss!
Command still hasn’t responded, what are they even doing? Are they getting our signals? What if we’re really, hopelessly lost? What if they never find us?
I don’t want to die out here.
I’m sorry…I’m sorry, I’m just…not feeling very happy at the moment.
Jeez, John was right. This is just a stupid diary.
“Oh sorry buttmunch, I was too busy using my totally awesome algorithm to account for the warp drive’s temporal configuration-”
Things don’t really go back to normal, they just reach a slightly lower level of weird.
Karkat has officially moved from the bathroom to the couch in the rec room. His first night there John set him up with a blanket, pillow, and the remote control and the little bastard kept you up all night watching every movie you had archived.
He seems to think he’s an expert on human romance now too, which would be a non-issue if it didn’t put a serious cramp in your social life. Every time you and John have so much as attempted to make out you’ve had to listen to Karkat making weird puking noises and running commentary from around the corner.
“UGH WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING? THAT IS THE MOST DISGUSTING THING I’VE EVER SEEN, AT LEAST ATTEMPT TO COPULATE PHOTOGENICALLY! IF YOU’RE DOING THIS TO TORTURE ME, IT’S WORKING. I’LL TELL YOU ALL MY FUCKING NEFARIOUS PLANS, JUST STOP TOUCHING ECCCHHHH!”
It’s getting pretty old. You haven’t held hands in a week, much less kissed (every time you reach out to John even the slightest bit you can feel Karkat’s piercing glare on your back and a shocking wave of embarrassment).
The only way you’ve been able to relax is by, surprisingly, picking fights with Karkat.
To his credit, he seems to thrive on it. Your meals have started to become open ground to taunt each other. You’ve grown used to the cavalcade of names and insults he hurls at you:
“Your theory is a steaming green pile of hoofbeast shit, Harley, you completely ignore the variable of time distortion-”
“Except that your instruments aren’t calibrated for those fucking speeds, you two-nubbed piss drinking piece of nook rot-”
“I’ll rip your freaking nook right out of the back of your head you scrawny little-“
This is when John usually interjects with:
“Hey guys, could you uh – you know, pass the cereal?”
You’ve found yourself lying awake at night in your bunk, contemplating possible retorts. You try to imagine his face when you fire the perfect curse at him that will make him…
What? What exactly are you trying to get out of him?
You wish it was as simple as animosity, that he was just someone who didn’t like you. You can understand that! Not everyone can like you, that’s just a fact of life!
But sometimes, when you’re out on the hull and both doing repairs and maintenance on your ships, you catch him staring at you. You know it’s not an invitation to fight - the hull is too dangerous, and thus is neutral territory. But still every now and then, when you’ve just finished fixing a tricky coupling, or you’ve scrubbed away layer upon layer of thick dust from gleaming golden metal, you catch him gazing at you in that strange way of his. Like all the stars and dust and gas in the universe were forming a sun right behind his eyes, or maybe behind yours.
You think it must be vanity, the thought that he might look at you so ardently. So when you catch him crouched and looking up at you through the thick shock of his hair, the sheen of the hull tinting his skin a dulled and hazy amber, you get irritated.
“WHAT?!” you shout at him. He flinches like a cat, hairs pricking and muscles taut. You call over again, trying to stride as best you can in the zero-g, “Why are you always staring at me Karkat?”
“I’m…fuck…I’m not fucking staring Harley, go die in a solar flare.” He snorts grumpily and slouches over to the hatch.
Normally you’d call after him, if only to gloat. But you’ve been down lately.
Harley. He always calls you Harley, never Jade.
Two months after his crash and Karkat Vantas is all “John, do this,” and “John, you jerk,” and John, John, John. Never Egbert. But you? You’re Harley, always.
It’s not very subtle, how much he’s latched on to John, and you are too proud to admit that you’re jealous of the time they’re spending together. Karkat’s taken to following John around like he’s on a leash. They talk every day, at length, usually about Karkat’s planet or Earth customs, or who would win in a fight between a space gorilla and John Cusack (apparently John Cusack is some kind of universal constant).
And there’s this way Karkat carries himself when he’s with John. He stands up straighter, his chin raised and jaw firm, as if he were passing inspection. As if he were on display.
It doesn’t take too long for you to catch on.
But you ignore it. Honestly it’s simple anthropology. You might be the one in charge, but John’s the tallest, the most attractive, the most amicable. He’s alpha male material and it’s obvious that Karkat, while under that protective shell of hostility that seems a package deal with his species, is very much a follower, and very very smitten.
So you ignore it, and the days and weeks drag on and you say nothing, because who needs more awkwardness in these tight quarters? You don’t want to make Karkat a real enemy, and you certainly don’t want to embarrass poor John. This is the boy who had a nervous breakdown when he found out that jello was made from cow hooves. Being scoped out by an alien? He’d take it horribly.
Or so you thought.
You enter the third month of Karkat’s cohabitation. You have no routine, not like before, but you have small comforts.
You take the hottest shower possible and imagine John is with you, his long fingers pressing into your waist. You envision his hair, slowly deflating as the water soaks in. His eyes, all bright and crinkling at the edges.
You lean in close, your breasts flush against the smooth skin of his chest.
You press your lips to his.
You cup Karkat’s soft round jaw and scrape your tongue along those sharp white fangs.
You thoroughly freak out and hit the switch that controls the hot water.
Huddled against the back of the shower, icy blasts of recycled water battering your shins, you take deep, shuddering breaths and pray you aren’t losing your mind.
When you exit the bathroom, huddled in your non-sanctioned bathrobe (that is to say you snuck it in before launch), the ship is dark and cool.
You head to your room but stop when you hear soft, hushed voices. They’re coming from the bridge.
You pad your way through the corridor, stopping just short of the entrance, and peek around the corner.
John and Karkat are standing in front of the navigation console, their backs to you, staring out the viewport into the abyss.
“-and that’s how we get milk!” John finished, rolling back on his heels a little as if he’s proud of himself.
“That…is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard, John,” Karkat doesn’t look at him. He doesn’t move. “That is so disgusting I am going to upend my bile sac all over your floor and then I’m going to rip out my taste sponge in protest of you making me drink that vile shit.”
“Ew, Karkat that is nasty! You liked it before I told you where it came from!”
“A grub will eat its own eggsack if you don’t tell them where it came from.” He retorts.
“Bluh! We gotta work on your people skills dude,” John says, not unkindly. In fact John sounds tired. His shoulders are sagging a bit, and he’s fidgeting with his hands the way he used to in school when he was worried about a test. He’s standing awfully close to Karkat.
“Do you miss it?” John asks, suddenly.
“Oh I dunno. Friends, sunsets, the smell of the ocean? Home, I mean.”
Since when was Karkat’s voice so small? John sallies on and ignores him.
“I miss clouds.”
“Oh man, they’re great. Clouds are like…these big puffy things, that hang in the sky and sometimes they’re white and sometimes they’re so dark, darker than space! They’re basically big pockets of water vapor, but that’s just what makes up a cloud. But what a cloud is, dude, what a cloud really is? It’s like…proof. It’s proof that there’s something big and powerful and beautiful about the world and it’d be there even if we weren’t, you know? Clouds are like a symbol on my planet. They’re like…oh gosh I dunno, they make me think of home. And my dad. We would get these hellish rainstorms out in Washington but then afterwards there’d be these clouds like you wouldn’t believe, like they’d come from another world…”
John goes quiet. You lean against the wall and clutch at your chest, remembering the storms that would roll through your island. The pastel colored castles you’d find floating through the air if you just looked hard enough. Your face is hot and you want to hold onto John and kiss him hard and talk about missing clouds together.
“And that was why I joined the Academy you know? I wanted…I wanted to see the other side of the clouds. They meant…freedom, I guess. To me, I mean. Do you know what I mean?”
Yes you whisper.
“No…” Karkat answers, soft as death, “No I’ve never seen anything like that on my planet.”
“Too bad,” you can practically hear John rub at the back of his neck, a sign that he might be feeling a bit sorry. “Hey Karkat, tell me again about the giant monsters that take care of you guys, that was really cool!”
“John…” Something in Karkat’s voice cuts through you, like someone’s walked over your grave. You manage to glance around the corner just in time to see Karkat pull John by his shirt down into a hungry kiss.
Your heart stops. You skin feels clammy and cold but your lungs are burning. Tears and fear and anger sting at the corners of your eyes.
John breaks away. He whispers something. It’s not your name. They kiss again, his hands gripping a vice around Karkat’s arms. They kiss in the same spot you kissed him three months ago.
You run as fast as you can back to your bunk. You flip on your monitor and throw yourself into your chair.
You can’t place it. You can’t place this feeling, this dull hurt, this stinging anger. Against all logic you find you don’t want to rip out Karkat Vantas’ still beating heart, or whatever it is he has. You also don’t want to brutally castrate John Egbert.
Your heart is beating so fast now. Are you…excited? Then why do you feel like punching through the wall and letting yourself get sucked out into space? Your body is numb but your insides are doing the electric slide.
You glance up into your own face. That’s right, you had been planning to do another Captain’s Log.
The girl staring at you looks small and frightened and sick. She looks like the girl who’s been left out of some big joke. She looks lonely.
You turn on the video feed.
Captain’s Log, I don’t give a shit what the Stardate is.
I’m not doing this anymore.
They don’t teach you this stuff.
They never tell you, when you’re learning to split atoms and discover galaxies, how to deal with people.
They make you think people are these tiny things, these insignificant things floating through space like…like dust.
They don’t tell you that people…persons…can make the whole thing fall apart! The whole universe!!!
I’m emotionally compromised. I relinquish command of this vessel to J- to…to…FIRST MATE Egbert.
Now if you’ll excuse me…
I’ve got to see an alien about an ass kicking.
By the time you’ve gotten dressed and worked up the nerve, John’s gone to bed. You can hear him snoring softly through the door to his bunk. You consider, briefly, slipping in to kiss him but you think better of it.
Instead you beeline to the rec room, where you can see Karkat, a small silhouette, curled up on the sofa. You square your shoulders and put on your mean face.
In the past you have been informed that your mean face is, in fact, adorable, but tonight you’re aiming more for blood-curdling. When your shadow looms over Karkat and his eyes open wide you think you may have succeeded. He looks petrified.
“You and I need to talk, Vantas,” you say as you grip him under the armpits and haul him up to meet you eye to eye. It’s easy since he weighs next to nothing, as if his bones were hollow. He sort of yelps but remains remarkably quiet and you’ve got the feeling he already knows what this is about. From the way he’s started chewing at his bottom lip, you can guess any number of excuses he might throw at you before you can wear him down.
So it surprises you when he, very gently and wordlessly, uncurls his tucked legs and places his hands at your elbows. You get the hint and lower him to the floor.
“Come over here, your voice won’t carry so much.” He motions over to the viewport where you can see a small nebula floating in the distance, giving off just enough light to limn both your features a pale blue. He faces you and looks like he’s about to say something.
You punch him in the gut before he can.
“GAAAAH, FUCKING HELL HARLEY!” he sputters and doubles over. You give him a few minutes to catch his breath and stop hacking. When he’s done making little throw-up noises he glares up at you, eyes aflame. “The nook splitting fuck was that you shitwad?!”
“When I was a kid,” you start, hoping you sound firm enough to keep him from interrupting, “I didn’t have a lot of friends. I wasn’t really in a position to meet other kids my age. So I learned a lot from my grandpa. He taught me how to be polite, and how to be confident, and a lot of other stuff.
“But he also taught me how to take a punch. Grandpa Harley always said, ‘If you’ve got something tough to say and someone tough to say it to, and if you’ve got too much feeling in your heart to tell it elsewise, that’s when it’s time for fisticuffs.’”
You put up your dukes. Karkat looks like he’s going to shit himself.
“You can’t be serious-”
“I can and I am,” you say from behind your fists.
“I’m not going to fucking fight you, Jade.” His eyes dart from your face to your hands and then down to his feet. When he says your name, your first name, not Harley or Dipshit or Assface, you feel that familiar flutter in your chest and grit your teeth against the warmth.
“You’re not getting off so easy, Karkat.” You drop your hands, but reach out to grip his wrist. “One punch. I got you so you’ve got one shot. Land a punch on me and then we’re even.”
“What fucking crap are you on about Harley?! Is this even about John?” he asks, struggling in your grip.
For a moment you think you’re going to answer yes. Maybe this was jealousy at the start. Maybe this was territorial and you were trying to keep John all to yourself on this tiny gold tub.
But that’s not right at all is it?
“No,” you answer, drawing closer to him, “this is about you and me. So stop whining like a little shit and HIT. ME.”
“NO!” he starts to thrash.
“STOP BEING A BABY!”
“WHAT’S A BABY?!”
“IT’S WHAT YOU ARE!”
“THEN BABIES ARE FUCKING AWESOME, NOW LET GO!”
His other hand lashes out and catches you on the side of your face. Your glasses fly off, hit the viewport, and skitter across the carpet. Your cheek stings. When you touch it, your fingers come back stained with just the smallest amount of blood.
Karkat’s gone completely still. His big yellow eyes are darting from your face to his claw, the one that must have snagged you. Despite his ramrod, deer-in-the-headlights neurosis, the look on his face is almost jubilant. He looks like he’s having a revelation.
“You…you’re like me…” he stammers. His hand reaches out to touch where he’s cut you. You take a deep breath and let him. The skin on his thumb is calloused, and he drags it across the cut, wicking away the trail of blood to smear across your cheek and his hand, “You’ve got the mutation too?”
“Mutation?” you whisper, suddenly aware how close Karkat is. Close enough to put your arms on his waist. Close enough to kiss.
You think better of it; Karkat is stopping and starting, trying to find the right words to begin what is probably a long story. He moves to the window and slouches a bit. You actually find it endearing.
“I’m not…I haven’t been completely honest,” he starts.
“No surprise there,”
“Shut up, this isn’t interrupt Karkat like an asshat while he’s trying to be sincere time, bulgemunch.” You smile a little at that, you’re not sure why. You just feel like smiling all of a sudden. He takes a deep breath and starts again.
“I’m not a scout for the Empire. I’m not aligned with the Alternian Empire at all. I’m…well, not a deserter, I wasn’t in the Armada to begin with. I’m more of a…” he pauses and swallows, as if the word is sitting on his chest, making it painful to speak.
“A refugee?” you ask softly. You don’t know how you guessed right, but from the look on his face it’s obvious.
“A fucking coward,” he bites out, “and a freak. I didn’t fit into the Hemospectrum – the bloodcastes – I’m not even on the register. I don’t know how I managed to survive as long as I did. I didn’t…grow right. Not like the others. By the time we were ten sweeps everyone else I knew was twice my height and looked like they’d been injecting themselves with fucking cholerbear blood. And I was still this…thing.” He picks at the limp fabric of his shirt, glaring down the expanse of his scrawny torso.
“So what was going to happen to you?”
“Same thing that happens to all sickly grubs. I was scheduled to be culled by fire.”
He falls silent, stares out the window for a moment. You want to hold him.
“So I escaped. I couldn’t fucking accept my lot in life so I ran and disgraced my entire species. Except I couldn’t even fucking do that right. I grabbed a recon ship that I didn’t know how to fucking fly and on a course I couldn’t fucking program. I was in warp stasis for months. The fact I collided with your ship was a total fluke, I was certain it was an Alternian cruiser picking me up for insubordination.”
“But we’re nowhere near Alternia…are we?” You edge closer to him, place a hand on his shoulder. He glances at you from the corner of his eye.
“Lightyears away.” His voice cracks and grows quiet. You think that maybe he’s relieved. Or maybe he actually does have a few things he misses.
“Thank you…for telling me,” you whisper, not moving your hand.
“I haven’t even told John. I can’t…not yet…” he finally turns to look at you squarely in the face. You feel a sort of electric hum from your feet to the base of your spine. You don’t want to admit it, but you take great satisfaction in finally knowing something John doesn’t.
“Hey don’t worry. John thinks you’re totally great.”
“What about you?”
“What…what about me?” You swallow hard. You’re fairly certain if your throat was any dryer you’d be coughing up sand.
“Do you think I’m totally great?” he asks. God, he sounds so dumb, it’s amazing.
“No,” you start, trying not to smirk when he looks crestfallen, “I think you’re annoying and irritable and shrill. I think you’re just about the most frustrating, confusing person I’ve ever met. And I think I’m going to kiss you now.”
You press him up against the glass and capture his mouth before he can protest. His arms come around you, claws scraping the back of your neck. You’re surprised how warm he is, how soft his lips are, the sandpapery texture of his tongue and the sharp prick of his fangs.
You think you hear him murmur your name and it makes you double your efforts, gripping at his thighs and biting his tongue. You grind your hips against his and hope that his species has naughty bits down there because otherwise this is going to be really awkward.
When you finally surface for air and get a good look at him, Karkat’s pupils are blown so wide it looks like he’s been chewing on catnip. Your breath is heavy and you’re fairly certain you’ve cut your lip on one of his incisors.
“Come on, there’s somewhere we ought to be.”
You don’t even bother knocking on John’s door. He’s sitting up on his bed, waiting for the two of you. He spots your hand wrapped around Karkat’s and cracks a big, lopsided grin.
“Took you long enough,” he laughs as you drag Karkat into the room behind you.
“Shut up, you are the worst at communicating, gosh.” But you smile too, and lean down to kiss him long and slow. You’ve been waiting three months, you’re going to take your sweet time.
“So are we all dating now, is that how this works?” he asks when you’ve broken apart. You laugh and sit next to him on the bed, arm looping through his so you can snuggle closer. Karkat is still standing in the middle of the room, trying his best to stand up straight and not flinch when you look him up and down. You get the feeling John is doing the same.
Who knew a weird bug fish cat alien could be so lovely? And who knew you could find two completely different people in the middle of empty space and adore them both so very much?
“I’m serious guys!” John continues, stroking your knee, “Are we just all gonna do it right now cuz I am one hundred percent up for that! I mean unless we’re supposed to take this thing slow?”
You bite down a snort when you glance up at Karkat’s dazed expression. He looks like he wants to interject, but when he opens his mouth all that comes out is a faint wheezing noise, and you figure it’s probably because he’s either too shocked or too aroused by John’s proposition to attempt coherence.
“I mean I got no problem with some light romance here and there,” John says with a wink, “but come on it’s already been like forever and I got a lot of great ideas for the three of us - hey Karkat, what’s with you? You look all sweaty!”
Dear Captain’s Log!
I’m not including the Stardate but that’s okay, because it turns out I was making them up anyway!
I knew it!
Shush John, you’re not allowed to talk on Captain’s Logs anymore!
Pfff, whatever, I’m too busy kicking Karkat’s ass at Terror Swords 3!
This is the stupidest game ever, you cheat!
No, you just don’t know how to cast spells and keep wasting your extra lives!
Both of you shut up! Okay so it’s been about a month since my last Log and I guess I just wanted to say things are going well!
The Voyagebot picked up a hailing signal this morning and it looks like we’re about six months from a docking terminal around Quadrant C-9
Six months? Ugghh I can’t take another six months of this food!
Karkat also seems to be adjusting well!
JOHN, IF YOU DON’T STOP KILLING ME, I WILL MURDER YOU IN YOUR SLEEP!
Nah dude, I’ll soothe you with sweet smooches. MWAH-MWAH!
Hahaha, guys wait! Don’t leave me out!”
Always room for you Jade.