|askerian (askerian) wrote,|
@ 2012-01-27 03:45 am UTC
|Entry tags:||char: hs: dave strider, char: hs: gamzee makara, char: hs: jade harley, char: hs: john egbert, char: hs: karkat vantas, char: hs: rose lalonde, char: hs: terezi pyrope, fandom: homestuck, fandom: homestuck: garden|
This one's less actionny.
Karkat wasn't kidding about the sun and how it can kill you. There's a metric fuckton layers of leaves between you and the sky, and apparently the only thing it does is make things like a well-lit sauna. Standing in direct sunlight would probably microwave you alive in under fifteen minutes.
==> John: Be the Knight of Time
Hours in the future, but not many...
"And here I thought trolls were supposed to be nocturnal. S' how the top-volume schoolfeeding went anyway."
You sort of get it though. Karkat wasn't kidding about the sun and how it can kill you. There's a metric fuckton layers of leaves between you and the sky, and apparently the only thing it does is make things like a well-lit sauna. Standing in direct sunlight would probably microwave you alive in under fifteen minutes.
Terezi chuckles and sits down beside you, almost shoulder to shoulder, her injured arm to you. "Why, it does appear you care!" She pats your hand, almost hard enough to call it slapping instead. "There, there, Dave. It's not like I can get any blinder."
"Anyway, shouldn't you be asleep?"
You probably should be. Everyone else is, except for Kanaya and she's all the way off on the other side. You shrug. You get a pointy elbow to the ribs.
"The Court asked you a question, Mister Strider."
"... 's too damn hot." The elbow finds its previous bruise with unerring accuracy. Ow. "And there aren't enough hammocks for everyone anyway."
Hammocks are a necessity, if only for halfway sufficient aeration. Sleeping straight on the tree ends up with people waking up every half-hour to flip on their other side so the sweat might cool a bit, attractive bark patterns engraved into their fleshy parts.
In the past few hours, you've had a front-and-center, accelerated course in the virtues of one Feferi Peixes, only one of which was a nice supply of fishing nets to use as such.
(Other things Feferi Peixes is good for:
-Being hella cute (in a giggly, airy way, but one that never really tips over into airheaded territory either.)
-Being scary strong (holy wow she might even out-bench-press Zahhak.)
-Related to that: playing elevator (All aboard the Miraculous Catch express! Just pile up in that here huge net and I'll pull you guys the rest of the way up.) (You have bruises on your bruises from bumping into the side of the cliff on the way up, but between that and cooking alive in direct sunlight, no contest.))
So the giant tree you guys have taken over like a colony of people-sized locusts is now full of sort-of-cocoons and weird spider-nets. In front of you John, Jade and Vriska sleep in a pile of gangly limbs and flyaway dark messes of hair and sweat-stuck skin; you've spent quite a few entertaining moments watching gravity gently roll them all into each other. Jade's bare legs dangle from the knee down through two holes in the net; in a minute you'll probably go and try to stuff them back in before she loses all blood flow.
"I guess that makes sense," Terezi muses, nodding in agreement. "So what's the real reason?"
... Gnrfg. "Why do I need any other reason. Oh hey, look at that, the Angriest Napoleon and Murderclown the Haze-Brained are playing big spoon little spoon, this is so sweet it might give me cavities, honestly I fear for the future of my pearly whites here considering the state of troll dentistry compared to--"
Okay, fuck no, not going there.
"--How can they do that without burning alive, I wonder."
Terezi snickers. "Indigo blood? He's probably cooler to the touch than anyone else here save for our sea dwellers. Gamzee is the one you should pity, Karkat's like a living furnace."
"This is fascinating." You make a fascinated face. It's the same as all your other faces.
Prod, prod. That elbow should be classified a bladed weapon. "Jeeze. Nothing gets past you, does it, Pyrope?"
"Especially not your last-ditch attempt at redirection."
She poises her elbow. You give in. "I'm keeping watch. Less predators away from ground level doesn't mean no predators. Someone has to be Kanaya's backup, she doesn't have eyes in the back of her head. Jegus, I thought that was obvious."
"Hmm." Terezi does the pretend-agreement nod thing again. You watch her, suspicious. "It doesn't explain why you haven't woken up someone else to take over, though. It's well after noon! Sleep deprivation does not help anyone! It just makes you cranky and distracted and useless."
"Pshht, are you kidding me, I'm a pro at sleep deprivation. I have experience. You haven't known true sleep deprivation until your fifth night into a music-off, the hardest of rocks blasting your eardrums right through a piece of shit wall as you try to crank your gangsta rap loud enough to cover it, game over whenever the cops get around to knocking, no Mr. Officer we had no idea it was five AM on a school day--"
Blathering on about school, your shitty neighborhood. (Him.) Jegusfuck, what is with your brain today. You beat the game at its own -- ha ha made a funny -- game. You spent your morning kicking zombie ass. (You didn't get anyone killed.) This is an awesome day.
Terezi pretends she didn't notice the interruption, but her head is tilted to the side and she reminds you of a bird of prey, measuring angles and distances before it swoops in. "I'm sure, but it just so happens I'm awake now, and my hammock is conveniently empty."
Oh look at that, a drop of sweat making its way down your chiseled pectoral. It's a shame she's blind and missing it, but then again the sight might just have blinded her again. You use your discarded tabard to mop up your damp skin. It's something that require a lot of attention.
"Dave Coolkid Strider. We are having a feelings jam right now even if I have to net you up and string you upside-down for it." She pauses. She starts grinning. "Come to think of it, let's do that anyway!"
You should probably go 'oh please spare me miss legislacerator' or pretend-dodge her playful grab or otherwise play along, but you can't.
Stop the presses, Dave Strider is not in a bullshitting mood.
"Talk to me, Dave," she says almost softly. "What's wrong?"
"Wrong?" You do not want to answer this. "Nothing's wrong." You do not -- "Things are as near perfect as we could expect, right? I mean apart from landing ass-deep in fine adolescent tenderloin connoisseurs."
"Are they really? I was under the impression a perfect ending would be lower on starving undead."
It helps when Terezi looks like she couldn't care less about the answer. Like you guys are just shooting the breeze. Even though you both know that's not true.
"Well honestly. I know we jacked the stats as much as possible but in the end the possibilities were A: we land in between two stars, in the glorious void of space, and as Jade and Sweatybro frolic the rest of us gently suffocate in the endless night, because outside of paradox space vacuum actually means no fucking air to breathe. B: we reach a planet! It's seventy percent oceans. Being rock, the meteor fails to float. Welp."
"Huh, I guess we sort of did that here, didn't we."
"Lucky it was such a shit ocean. Anyway, possibility C: some brand new paradise planet full of poison beefbeasts and toxic plants none of us can recognize. I guess only some of us would die there, as noble sacrifices and-or a warning to others."
She grins and socks you in the shoulder. There's already a bruise there courtesy Peixes Elevator Services but then again you have bruises everywhere.
"You are so positive, Dave, it's what I like about you."
"Yep, unbridled optimism is one of the services we offer here at Strider Incorporated. C-two, we land on Alternia, but there's no sentient life on it! Or even no organic life at all. Being deprived of delicious lunchmeat we all go for cannibalism." You shrug and recline against the tree trunk, crossing your arms almost-negligently. "But since this world has zombie trolls I guess that means it has the alive kind too. So hey, congrats, this isn't the shittiest ending and our rumpus party did in fact manage to keep the game from giving us a last tender lube-less assfuck. Color me astounded." You pause, pretend to think about it. "What color would that even be? Marigold? Anthracite? Heliotrope?"
"It's a very nice peach actually."
You should find a comeback for that, let words keep flowing so the conversation will move, so they'll take you away. Nothing comes to mind.
"For us trolls, it's pretty much the perfect ending, yes." She crosses her hands over her folded knee, pensive. "Even if it does turn out that our society was changed from what we used to know and that our old neighbors do not exist this time around. None of us were all that close to anyone outside this group. We might have caused millions to stop existing and millions to exist instead, but from our point of view none of us will really notice any difference."
You close your eyes, shades tilted so the black of them will hopefully cut off that image-scent. "That and your culture sucks ass anyway."
She knocks the top of her cane on your skull, but so lightly you barely feel it. You turn your head away. Her face is too full of sympathy.
Possibility D: you all end up on restored Earth; codicil b, like nothing happened. That was the perfect ending for you (not the trolls yeah but) and you were not counting on it much. At all.
"True," she muses, rubbing her chin as if stroking an invisible goatee, "we didn't get to become the gods of some perfect new paradise universe, but that was a pretty selfish wish anyway..."
And one that was mostly used to entrap the suckers playing it into perpetuating that bullshit apocalypse daisy-chain. Yay we avoided the trap, go us.
The bark on that tree is pretty weird. You scratch at it.
"I don't think you fully understand the intricacies of a feelings jam yet, Dave. You're supposed to open your toothhole and let it out of your thinkpan."
"Shyeah right, I--"
"Things could be worse," you say. You weren't planning to give in and say a thing, but now that it's out you let it rest there, for contemplation. What a fascinating unoriginal transparent load of canned bullshit, maybe you should be embarrassed.
"Worse how?" she prods, patient like a rock, like she can do that all day. All month. She probably can. Pitbulls wish they clamped down half as stubbornly as Pyrope.
"Could be dead." (Been there, you think, done that.)
"It might hurt your feelings but I feel I ought to tell you this one fully deserves a duh."
"...My friends could be dead." (Been there, never doing again. You'd rather die first, you couldn't -- no, you can't live with that. You -- one of you -- tried it, and never again. Never again.)
"Duh the second," Terezi answers, but it comes out a bit quieter, like she gets it.
You consider stopping there but it's a bit like an avalanche, this idea of opening your mouth and letting it come out, a pebble here, a pebble there, and soon all the mountain comes down and good luck standing there trying to talk it into staying up.
"Could have dropped the ball." Failed your friends.
"But you didn't. None of us did. We all followed the plan to the letter. And now here we are, out of the game. It's over."
It's over. She should say it like it's consolation but she uses it like a detonator instead, like she knows perfectly well it's exactly the last nudge your mountain of bullshit need. You laugh.
"Yeah. We all cheated as fuck, too, but when the game's rigged anyway, it's the only way to get out with at least some of your initial stakes, right? The house always wins in the end so when you get a hand that's good enough, you've got to know it's the right time to quit. No dicking around with 'no, let me bet again, next time it'll be jackpot for sure.'"
Took you all a few tries to accept that.
"It's good enough that we're alive, we weren't gonna try again just on the off chance that we'd--"
"No dissembling, Dave."
"--Just on the off chance that I'd get my bro back, that good enough? And anyway it's been three years, I'm over it. I'm completely over it, flying so high I can barely see the ground, sure there's still a planet under there? Watch out clouds, here comes Dave Strider. I'll never be over it but I tried to get him back and it never worked, he wasn't a player, data unsaved."
Oh yeah. You are rocking this avalanche. The avalanche likes it, that naughty little slut. Look at it go.
"Data unsaved everywhere, wasn't there? Our session was borked from the start, I know there was no other way, we wasted two fucking years trying to find another way, I know that."
What you did in the end was, basically, the equivalent of stopping just before endgame and then messing with the disk; starting a new game while keeping all the sweet loot and terrain maps from precedent sessions. Means the trolls could go back and win their session. Not the Gods ending and its bullshit doomed fuckery, but another path. No one was entirely sure what would happen, but hey, it couldn't be worse than ending the universe, right?
Means your own session would have never happened, though.
The four of you are like glitched items, fallen through coding cracks.
"We're stranded," you say quiet as possible.
Earth has never been; the trolls never created it.
"We're stranded. Four last humans in the universe on a crazy planet of death, and I don't care how much careful breeding is done; by the third generation our kids'll all be fucking their first cousins. The gene pool is so shallow it might as well be a birdbath. Neverfuckingmind, what's the goddamn point."
Terezi's hand lands on your knee and squeezes, and it's not even worth it to shoo it off or grab it with your own or anything. You breathe. Everything's cool. Yeah.
"... Meh. The weight of a whole culture on four sets of shoulders, what for? You remember what it's like being a teenager, Teez, hell we're teenagers now. Our potential children would be all 'aw dad who cares about your old shitty stories of what it was like before the dinosaurs' like all kids everywhere ever and it'd all be lost anyway." You shrug somehow. "Also, how can I be on the cutting edge of culture if I'm accounting for a fourth of it... Hell, only Rose has any real culture of her own, so that'd probably mean I've suddenly become the Establishment. Shit, that's too ironic even for me, fate worse than death right there."
Oh hey your face is wet. What's up with that.
"So. Miss Pyrope. Any other intricacies to that sick jam I ought to get schooled on, or can I go--" home yet, okay no, this is not on, your voice is your bitch and you're not okay with that chokey bullshit, you're not, stop it.
She's on your lap. Her claws are raking ticklish paths in your hair and she's making that weird shoosh-shoosh noise that always makes you think of choo choo trains. "Afraid not, coolkid. But you did clear stage one beautifully."
"Uh huh." So beautiful, fucking unable to keep your wordtrap shut, and now all that garbage is spread out where everyone can see it, where you have to see it and what's staring at it going to change? It won't make any of it stink any less and you still have to pick it back up and get it back in that bin. "School me then. How shall we --" Words not coming. "How--"
"What do I do now?"
She pets your hair and pets it, claws light on your scalp, and she leans in until the corners of your shades clink together. "You put your arms around me and you hold on."
It takes a minute of deliberation, but you can do that, so you do.
She's cooler to the touch than you expect, just a couple of degrees but in this heat even that much is a relief. You're tempted to apologize for the body heat you must be shedding all over her but if you did she might leave, and.
She's all sinews and bones, sideway on your lap and skewering your thigh with her pointy ass and it's irrelevant. She's here and not leaving and feelings jams are stupid, it's no different from letting Rose psychoskullfuck you except you don't even get a quack diagnosis at the end for your trouble. You just get a hug.
You really don't expect it to help, but with her hair in the way at least no one can see your face as you try to gather yourself back together. You're used to the scent of troll by now after so long sharing living quarters with twelve of them but it's still a little distracting, not-human, not even mammalian really, something in you can tell even if you can't pick it apart into base components. Maybe Jade could. Gotta ask.
Later. Only hugs now.
Shoooosh, Dave, shoosh shoosh shoosh.
Yeah, okay. You can do that.
It's too hot and too uncomfortable to really sleep but at some point you doze off a bit. You know, because when John goes "Um wow, are you guys making out?" from way too close, you almost jump out of your skin.
Son of a bitch, you think, but you bite it back. You're a little cranky but not really angry, not even all that embarrassed.
Can't feel your leg, though. You wiggle it a bit, pointedly. Terezy cackles in your ear and refuses to be budged. "I assure you this was perfectly pale!" she tells John, turning on your lap like you're nothing but a goddamn chair, inanimate and with no blood flow to ruthlessly crush. You frown and dig your fingers in her ribs.
John has crawled his way to the edge of the net; he's hanging there on his belly, about shoulder high and just a bit out of arm's reach if you bothered to stand, so he's looking down at the both of you. He grins, eyebrows wagging; you flick him a tiny smile and tilt your head back so he won't see your tear-reddened eyes. It'd look like ass, as if there isn't enough veiny freakiness to see there already.
"Huh, I wonder what pale makeouts are like."
"Without any tongue," you drawl, not that you'd know -- unless that's what just happened, in which case shit.
Terezi brandishes her dragon cane in all mock-seriousness. "Lies! Lies and slander! Nothing I take part in involves no tongue!"
And then she of course licks your face, all wet and gross and almost cat-raspy.
"You are not moirailzoning me," you mutter under your breath. Except this is totally what just happened, isn't it? Feelings jam and comfort-hugs, aw hell she did everything but pap you down.
And it worked, too. Damn it.
Terezi grins a grin full of jagged knives and shifts her weight a bit so that your leg erupts in pins and needles and her elbow is comfortably tucked in your stomach instead. "Coolkid, I know a kid as cool as you has needs, but you already have three of those and as pitiable as you are I am not going to be the fourth. Don't be so greedy!"
"Um, Terezi, why do you guys never believe us when we tell you the four of us are not moirails? If you want to be pale with Dave then you shouldn't let us stop you."
"... Yeah, thanks for the help, Egbert. Cleared things right up. All is now happiness and diamonds in my sky."
John snickers in his hand, the little asshole.
You really do feel a bit better, at that. Not entirely better; things haven't changed, your planet is still gone, your species is still gone. It's still a massive black hole of suckage somewhere under the surface and you're sure you'll fall back in at some point, but... when Terezi gets off you with a bounce that digs blade-bones in your fleshy parts a last time for the road and John grins, when you see Jade all tumbled together on top of Vriska with her mouth open and drooling, Rose with her head on Kanaya's lap -- the other trolls even, Aradia holding hands with Sollux holding hands with Feferi, Tavros sprawled face down with his arms dangling in the void...
You're not alone. It sucks but you're not alone.
"Hey Dave, you look really tired. Have you slept at all?"
"No, he hasn't," Terezi answers for you. You sigh, because now John is giving you one of his sad, disappointed looks.
"It's too damn hot."
"But you're Texan!"
"Yeah, and you know what I had in my sweet Texan pad? Air conditioning and an electric fan. Sparring in boiling heat is one thing, sleeping in it is another."
John laughs. You feel a tiny bit of that tension inside unclench, just barely.
"Oh, fine, fine, you big baby. Let me see if... Yes!"
The gust of wind that buffets you wouldn't be strong enough to even make you stumble, but it does make all your hair fly back and froth in furious tangles in the vortexes that form between you and the tree. For a second everywhere you've been sweating you're almost cold. "Huh. Suddenly John is a living fan."
"I was always your fan, DJ Strider," he simpers, and waggles his eyebrows.
Your throat is tight and you're not sure why. Pain and gratefulness, grief and loss and fear of losing more and, you don't know, it might be happening in your head but you don't see why that means you have to get it either.
"Good, then you can keep fanning me. You guys want me to take a nap, fine, this is my price."
"Not promising I'll last long," John cautions. "I don't think I could do much more than this right now. But I'll try."
Terezi gives a dry chuckle at your side. "Do or do not, Mister Egbert, there is no try. Also the guys might hurt you." She points with her chin; you crane your neck to look past them both, and sure enough the trolls close enough to feel the breeze have started turning blindly to face it, net cocoons swaying gently in the branches. Off on the next tree over (or maybe they're twin trees, connected by roots and branches, hard to say with how entangled it all grows) Kanaya looks up and smiles at the three of you.
Spiderchick is clicking low in her throat, like the rattle of a motor that needs to be coaxed to start. John's face goes all gooey and soft. You close your eyes, lean back, tip an imaginary hat down onto your face. "Bully for you. Keep it up, pardner."
"You got it," a sporfle, "pardner."
You don't actually fall asleep, but you bask in the breeze and the faint shadows of leaves dancing on your face, and the almost imperceptible way the tree moves under you. Beasts and birds call to each other in the branches, all around. You'd almost like to see them try to get a bite out of that pre-wrapped buffet, if all the ensuing righteous asskicking didn't mean you'd have to move.
S'okay. Sometimes Terezi gets up to tour the perimeter, but she always comes back to sit on your branch. And John would feel anything his wind nudged.
You don't fall asleep. You just... rest your eyes for a bit.
"Alright, you bunch of lazy asses! I want everyone awake in five minutes or I will personally kick you down to the ground. Up, up, Nep and Gamzee I mean you!"
You crack open an eye. Vantas is currently busy poking a fishnet-cocoon with a stick. You see Zahhak in there, eyes open, but trapped under his catgirl palesis, who is sprawled all over him and refuses to budge. She bats lazily at Karkat's stick and turns away, growling like a half-awake yet already irritated bear who's going to get up and chomp itself some annoying breakfast soonish. You get the feeling. Goddamn.
"First order of business, inventory!"
Rose coughs and raises her hand like the best, politest student ever; you almost crack a smile. "If I may suggest... Perhaps we'll want to be at ground level before exploring our sylladexes. Considering how explosively some of those open." Hint hint. Heh.
"--Yeah, okay, what the Rose human said. Anyone need help getting down? Tavros?"
"Um, no, I seem to be --" He wriggles his toes, smiles. "Just, I've got bruises I'm not sure how I got," John coughs and looks away for some reason, "but I think I can manage."
Jade peers over one of the branches, and at the huge and ancient trunk and how high they are from the ground. Karkat turns her way, frowns. "Crap, wait, you don't have claws, guess maybe Feferi can--" and she shrugs and she ties up her skirts in a knot and jumps with a woohoo! that catches everyone by surprise.
You're on your knees at the edge of the branch before you've thought twice, trying to slow down time, but she's already caught onto a creeper with both hands; her long wild hair flies behind her, and she's laughing. "Last on the ground is an imp!"
Karkat is sputtering. John shrugs and follows her.
Damn it. Now you're really awake.
Nepeta is, too -- suddenly you see her jerking her head over the edge of the hammock, staring down at where Jade and John disappeared, and she's off her moirail and following them down the trunk in a flash, metal claws digging in the bark to slow her down -- just barely. Unbalanced by her brutal departure, Equius ends up flipped around and dumped out of the hammock; without Feferi to grab his wrist he'd probably tumble overboard and fall off the branch under him. Vriska charges after John, yelling something about how he's cool but not cool for abandoning her. Sollux shrugs, looks at Feferi, looks at Aradia, and hops off like he's stepping off the curb, hands in his pockets. Showoff.
Karkat starts swearing and climbs down, much more cautiously; Terezi teases him by putting her foot on his shoulder and pretending to kick him off. The resulting tirade scares off a couple of flying lizardthings.
Soon enough you're almost alone in the tree. Rose has waved Kanaya and Eridan ahead (Eridan looks really fucking nervous about his new babysitter, wonder why) and is now making her way on the tangled branches that link your trees, captchaloguing the abandoned nets as she goes.
"Well," she says as she reaches you.
You nod like she said something deep.
She holds out a hand to help you up. You don't need it, but you take it anyway.
Heh. You're noticeably taller than her now. In the game, with your thirteen year old bodies... Same haircut though. Bluh. At least she doesn't also happen to need a bit of a shave.
"John and Jade seem happy," she says quietly, and you nod again.
You don't need to look at her. You can tell you both know you're glitched items, things that shouldn't exist here and now. You can tell she agrees there's no need to harsh anyone's squee. If the derp twins are happy for now then let them be.
You both peer down at the group, where Jade is showing off her best gun to Nepeta and John laughing, enthralled, at some no doubt two-thirds bullshit tale Vriska spins for him. Karkat is trying to get him to put on a cloak, no doubt to camouflage his humanness.
"So. Welcome to a brave new world, I guess."
"Dave, this reference is... not the most optimistic."
So. Here it is. Game won and over. Not the best ending, but one you will live with, because it could be worse, you could be dead or crazy or someone who fails his friends. You put your tabard back on and hold out your hand for Rose, who takes it so you can tuck her against your side and jump for a hanging vine.
You know she didn't need any help, but she indulges you anyway.
Hours in the future, but not many...
"Seriously, doesn't anyone have anything to drink except iced tea and that shitty Faygo?"
God you want Nepeta to find a river already. So dehydrated. Or hey, if you're wishing, a town with actual plumbing, that'd be fine too. Last she came back from recon she'd only found a dirt road though. Which is, you guess, a good start. Sure helped with the random tripping on shit in the gloom. (That pink moon is huge, and it's still dusk, not quite night yet, but the tree leaves are in the way and you are not taking off your shades.)
"A brother might think you're an ungrateful motherfucker, he could. Needing charity and then insulting what you get, freely given, that's fucking rude, ain't it?"
Score. One distraction, coming right up.
"Shit dude," you say, bland as possible, "that was the sickest burn, I feel all schoolfed and shit. Someone throw me another iced tea."
You've been complaining for the last half-hour about how tea makes you piss like a racehorse.
"For god's sake, Strider, will you shut the fuck up already. Gamzee, that goes for you too!"
Look at that, a second distraction. "Welp, you're right, buddy. Thanks for playing referee." Karkat always underestimates how much of their shitty quadrant system you've absorbed by pure osmosis over the years and when he splutters you can tell he's not even sure if you know you've just hinted he was trying to get ashen on his palebro. Naughty Karkat, filling two quadrants with the same guy.
Then again that'd imply you needling creepyclown was actually black flirting.
... But anyway. Trolling a species actually named troll should not be that easy. It's almost embarrassing.
You open your mouth and the flat of someone's hand goes thwack against the back of your head. Ow.
"Dave, you're being a fuckass again."
"Some days, Vantas, I could hate you just for teaching her that word," you muse, tone almost pleasant. You are not taking your eyes off Jade, she might pounce, but that's okay, Karkat's strangled squawk doesn't need a visual.
Jade grins. It looks kind of trollish, i.e. sharp-toothed and dangerous at the edges. "I use it just for you!" she replies, beaming. (Somewhere inside you're glad she's so happy, even if it's at your expense.)
"So I gotta make sure for the wedding announcements, who are you getting your ash on for, there, me and the Badly Dressed Buffoon or me and Tourettes Junior? ... All three of us? Kinky, Harley, kinky. I knew you had it in you."
"Is this where I make a pun on 'in me' and waggle my eyebrows like a tool? And you're totally the one who taught me that one so hah. No wincing!"
You are so totally not wincing, you don't know what she's on about. Your face is a delicately chiseled block of polar ice, nothing's melting that shit short of a beam laser or maybe global warming and crap, right, Alternia, you bet they don't even have ice caps. Goddamn Alternia. Shitty assplanet ruining your sick burns. "Welp. I am the caliginous stud," you drawl, "it is --"
Cat yowl. Incoming.
You kinda like seeing that even as everyone chattered with everyone else, none of them really broke formation either. Feferi and Vriska ghost away in the woods on both sides of the path, weapons drawn; Rose and Sollux are flanked by their close-range bodyguard as power starts flickering around them. Even Gamzee pulls out a club, twirling it lazily in one hand, eyes focusing almost halfway and head tilted like a predator trying to decide whether it's hungry enough to bother yet.
You seriously doubt anything short of a little army will turn that corner and see the lot of you with hands on your weapons and try to do anything but go 'welp, my bad, wrong address'.
Nepeta would have yowled longer if there'd been that many of them.
Karkat plants himself in the middle of the path to wait. You're supposed to stay back, mingle with the herd and hide your face under that huge hooded cloak Kanaya nicely forced on you so you'd hopefully look vaguely trollish in the moonlight, but fuck that noise. You amble up to his side, casual; John is already there. Karkat throws you both glares and takes another step forward. "For gog's sake at least stay behind me," he hisses, claws catching in John's sleeve. He doesn't try it with you, probably because your arm's up and holding your sword casually slung over your shoulder already.
You have to admit you kind of want to hold John back, too; he's rocking on the balls of his feet like he's actually a little eager to go forth and meet the first brand new people you've seen for the last three years who weren't game constructs. Maybe you ought to remind him of all the nightmare fuel -- whoops, anecdotes that your own personal, tamed trolls have shared...
No. No, he should be hopeful a little while longer, you can be pessimistic for two.
Howdy neighbors. Let's introduce ourselves, we are aliens from an extinct race but go ahead and call us mutants if you'd rather, no skin off our noses oops we just took half your face off with your nose, oh well.
Footsteps on the dirt path, a regular, mechanical skreek, skreek noise you can't put a name on, and then they turn the corner.
There's some weird cow-looking beast with six huge hooves and faceted eyes harnessed to a medieval-looking wooden carriage, piled up full of stuff, and ...
You don't know who's boggling hardest; the carriage's rider and his two escorts at your little group, sixteen strong, or you.
"Trolls!" one of them yelps, even as John goes "Humans!" and bounces forward with a grin so blinding you suddenly realize how dim and try-hard it truly was a second ago.