The following is a whacky sci-fi crossover between two of my favorite franchises, Rick and Morty and the webcomic Homestuck.
I had so much fun writing this back in February of last year. If I could write an episode for either story, it would look something like this. Hope you enjoy!
Snuffles, formerly known as Snowball, the peaceful leader of this paradise planet, communes with you one last moment before your return to Alternia. You arrived here hours ago, you think, via the strange “portal gun” that Vriska found along the cliffs of your hive. You still have no idea how this thing works, but you’re here. She won’t let you hold it, of course.
You sit in your wheelchair, as ever, before the complicated mechanics that tower this fluffy barkbeast over you.
Vriska is waiting below the grand palace for your procession with the leader to terminate, growing impatient. Not impatient with you whatsoever is Snuffles, his thin, robotic voice smooth in your thoughts.
Most of the intelligent robot barkbeasts have been kind to your brand of tourism, just trying to learn more about them. But Vriska has, in her way, upset the local barkbeasts by openly questioning their society to such a degree that you have to leave now, hours in.
So it goes. She just wanted to make sure things were in order, that they’d be safe if the Condesce came through.
But is it just her order, Tavros?
You can see your reflection in the shine of Snuffles’ steel frame, as you hear his voice. You look tired. Adventuring used to make more sense, just for the shit of it, before the accident. Then you thought Vriska forcing you to spend time together was just her trying to make it up to you.
Now? This other world is perfect to you. It’s a deadly, freak accident that you’re here. If any adults find out you left, you’ll both be culled on the spot.
But the white sun outside here does not scorch the skin. The grass is actually greener, there is no widespread violence just for entering the street, just for being a different breed.
The society was created because it was a dictatorship once, learned its lessons.
Though you’ve never seen this variation of a barkbeast creature before, in your eight sweeps of life, as soon as you felt them in their dimension, you were able to connect.
What does that mean? That you’re meant for more in the universe than Cavalreaping at conscription?
I don’t know.
Snuffles lowers the chamber containing his body, more level to you.
What happened to you was not your fault. Do you want to walk again?
Uh, yeah. But –
Do not ‘but.’ We can supply you with our technology, to restore your usage of legs. We will have to make some adjustments, but it can be done.
You roll your chair back a bit, stunned. The hairs on the bumps of your skin stand on edge.
“But that must be so, uh, expensive, for you, and I’m not a barkbeast, so, how would it connect to my biologies?”
That is why I said we will have to make some adjustments.
Vriska’s bellowing, outside.
Not now. She wants to unleash some kind of revolution on Alternia, now, with this “portal gun.” Create an underground railroad to funnel out young trolls, some witchcraft tech that she found in the ground.
What about this world? If the Condesce ever comes through?
What about you, Tavros?
“I don’t know, if I have time – “
“You may return whenever you like,” Snuffles speaks through the equipment. “We will be waiting for you. You remind me of an old friend.”
You take the elevator to the ground, slowly making your way to the entrance. Vriska has taken a seat in the center of the path to the double doors, yards away from the barkbeast guards who keep turning around to observe her. She has a panel of the portal gun open in her lap, staring intently, her vision eightfold at work.
The doors open automatically, but she doesn’t turn when she hears them.
“There you are. Man! Thought I was gonna have to go up there and interrupt some mpreg.”
“Uh, what’s an ‘mpreg’?”
“Some shit Terezi’s lusus told her in a dream once. Thought it sounded funny. Trust me, you don’t wanna know what she thinks it means.”
“Okay, I don’t.”
That gets her to look at you.
A little too saucy. Oops.
“Are you fucking ready or what?” Her voice drips with venom. Your hairs stand on end. “You took forever. I can’t believe the idiot this gold mine belongs to just left this on Alternia? What were they even doing here, spying on us? Doesn’t matter. We can go so many other places than this, Tavros, probably anywhere! If we don’t get killed the second we get back, anyway.”
How is she able to joke about things like that?
“Oh, please,” she reads your mind, cheater, “you and Gamzee joke about that all the time.”
She exaggerates all her vowels at the end there. You aren’t exactly sure what she’s making fun of you for. Is that what she’s doing?
“I thought,” you say, “you wanted to go back to Alternia now.”
She stands, abrupt, and regards you with a glare.
“We wouldn’t’ve even spent so long in this boring little prairie if you weren’t so obsessed with sharing your feelings through that feeble little mind of yours. I wanted to know if this was a planet worth taking over someday, but no, you wanted to discuss the finer nuances of barkbeast shit!”
You don’t point out that her psionics disallowed her primary access to the most powerful beings here.
That was just your luck, for once.
But she heard you.
Moments in the future…
The air is thicker, almost suffocating. You know home. You open your eyes to find yourself rolled back into your hive, from the same place you left, in front of the nearly barred window. Vriska follows you shortly after, closing the green, glowing portal behind you.
“Don’t tell anyone about this,” Vriska begins. She opens that one hatch on the portal gun, frowning, scheming, scheming. She starts to pace around you. You turn back to the window. “This is way, way more important than I’m sure you can even grasp.”
“You got that right.”
Both of you turn to find the strange voice coming from an alien in a new portal, floating ominously across the room.
“What the fuck,” you say, without even meaning to.
You wish Tinkerbull was here.
Vriska doesn’t play this, whatever this is, tucking “her” portal gun in her inner jacket. If Gamzee’s hellish clown gods are real, maybe this is one of them.
Equipping her current sword, Vriska charges at the fragile, blue-haired, bipedal thing in the portal.
“Hey, hey, murderbitch, knock it off!”
“What did you just call me?”
Quickly, the alien barrel rolls out of the portal under her slice, coming up unstable, but finding his bearings as Vriska tries to slice at him from behind.
“What are you? How can I understand you?” Vriska demands this while almost taking his head, but he ducks quick, unbothered.
“A simple voice recognition system, sweetheart – “ He dodges a lash to his face, keeps dodging and dodging, how can he move like that? “Translated into millions of dialects across galaxies – part of the way the portal system works, since I’m here, now it works – which you’d know if you didn’t fucking steal my portal gun.”
“This is yours? Ha! You’re a pathetic, ancient demon!”
“And you’re a future war criminal.”
“You don’t know anything about me!”
Vriska throws the sword and it laces his arm, cutting the white lab coat down to the skin.
“Fuck! The fuck is wrong with this planet?”
“You are, right now!”
“Oh, Morty, you’re really in it now. But no, you weren’t gonna drop the extra portal gun somewhere so obscure that it fled your cumfilled brain the second Jessica even breathed in your perimeter.”
“Who, uh, are you talking to?”
The grandiose alien turns to you, but just for a moment. You’re almost invisible.
“Not you, half breed. Man, it must be hell for you on this world, living under a violent fascist dictatorship where she basically left you to die and you’re disabled? Quick, someone – someone get, the Hallmark channel, or, fuck, is it TLC? Yeah, yeah – ”
“Don’t fucking talk about him like that!”
Vriska defending you? In your sci-fi fantasy nightmare come to life?
Another portal opens, bringing with it a draft of cold and another alien, and this is way too much foreign activity happening in a random brownblood’s hive off the Southern Coast. It’s still evening so the drones won’t be around for hours, and you don’t know how that makes sense if you were in the barkbeast utopia that long, but still, but still –
Vriska always puts you here, too deep in political shenanigans. And you can’t walk out anymore.
The other alien looks like this one, sort of, meager skin pulled over thin bones, but a young one, disoriented from falling ass backwards out of the portal and into your crowded hive.
He has another portal gun, maybe his own, clumsily fixing it to his belt. This forbidden science magic from these aliens, it intrigues you, even if it might be why you die –
“Oh hell no,” says the old alien to the young one, “bitch, you took another one of my guns to look for the gun you already lost?”
“Rick, lay off, I didn’t mean to lose it – “
“Morty, this episode’s only been on for a few minutes and you already fucked up this spectacularly, you’re, you’re wanted upstairs.”
“You were here? How?”
Vriska wants answers. Now.
She marches over to her sword on the floor, expertly kicks the hilt to flip it into her hand, and points it at “Morty,” the young, now mortified alien, whose skin is turning red. You wonder what blood color the old one has. Him, like you, running around with a guy like that? In your outer space?
“Uh, hey, n-no, not really, I was just, y’know, p-passin’ by, up above, just passin’ through – “
“Wow, Tavros,” snorts Vriska, “I think this unintelligent creature is you.”
You and the other unintelligent creature make eye contact.
He doesn’t seem like to you, upfront.
“Wow, if you think I’m like that guy, then, then you’re wrong.” “Morty” laughs, or something. “At least my legs work, and, and some other stuff, am I right?”
You don’t seem to like him upfront. Technically, you have the better blood here, but you can’t say that out loud. You’ve tried.
That other stuff also works about half of the time. You almost say that, because you think it’s funny, but the old one is one roll ahead of you.
“Shit, Morty, the guys upstairs are in talks with TLC for this storyline, you ableist piece of shit.”
She charges Rick again, but this time he pulls out his own weapon – some sort of prismatic gun, hot where the lasers would spill, nothing you’ve ever seen –
Vriska falters, backs up.
“Yeah, no FLARP-ing here, little mistress.” He cocks whatever mechanism, doesn’t pull, which angers her back, defenses raised. He knows what FLARP is? You’re gonna die here. This is a triple agent here to murder you for going off planet. Was it worth it? Is this worse than the drones? “Just give me the gun and me and my grandson will be on our way.”
“Your fucking what-son? Not until you tell me where you’re from, or why you think the Condesce’s territory is your petty playground.”
“None of your business and everything in existence is actually my territory, thank you very much.”
“I don’t belong to you.”
Rick looks amused.
“No, you belong to Fish Hitler.”
“Uh, haha, Hitler,” Morty supplies, “we’ve never been here, by the way, he’s just pulling your leg, um, a-arms, and I don’t know how the gun even got here, that’s, that’s still something – “
“You’re not getting it back,” Vriska growls, ignoring the wide-eyed little one, and you, ever still, “I bet you have eight million! Surely you could spare one for us poor, poor little victims of fascism.”
“Bullshit, you’re probably secretly her biggest fan.”
Vriska jumps for him, physical scuffle, both weapons dropped, and you have no idea why this is happening, neither does Morty, but they seem to have auto-agreed on some kind of villain’s code.
“So, uh, who’s she,” Morty says, suddenly near you, as you watch in horror as their scuffle begins to knock into your desk, throwing things around.
“Trust me, you don’t, want to know.”
It doesn’t last long, Vriska far stronger than him once they’re on the ground, but a sharp elbow to her face that breaks her glasses disorients her long enough that he steals the portal gun from her jacket, bleeding vibrant, uncanny red all the while. She’s barely injured, besides some glass shards to the jaw.
“Morty, let’s get the fuck out of here, stat!”
Vriska roars as she chases them towards their quickly vanishing portal, reaching for Morty’s foot at the last second, taking his shoe, only that.
When the portal closes, that feels like a death sentence.
You almost hear something knocking on your front doors.
You’re just, imagining that.
“Shut the fuck up.”
Vriska sighs, tossing the alien shoe, kicking your floorboards, and observing the mess that is her glasses, the remains of the your Fiduspawn cards on the floor, and the desk turned over with all the trivia you’d been collecting in piles, discarded haphazardly now.
You could, not listen.
“Don’t worry, I’ll clean all this up. Put all your little fucking stacks back in their hives.”
That counts as an apology, you think, in Vriska’s world. You guess you’ll take it, if she’s pitching.
“And we’re getting that fucking gun back.”
She squeezes her eyes shut, the sign of her communion attempt, the tendrils of her hair swaying slow. Chills rise all over you, as usual, but you aren’t her target.
“What kind of backwards ass convoluted neuro pathways are these?”
You can’t, get into the alien’s head.
She drops her attempt. “I will.”
I want the gun, also.
That piques her interest, genuinely. Maybe for the first time all night, you think. Sometimes, Vriska can see you. Ironically, she’s not hiding behind all that glaring glass, at the moment.
You wish she couldn’t read the reason why, that her vicious light would stop exposing you. She can see and hear Snuffles’ sacred, impossible promise to you.
“That’s not gonna happen,” she chuckles, coming closer to your chair. She kicks the wheel a little. “There’s no time.”
It’s a nice idea.
“Keep it at that, ‘toreadoormat.”
Hours in the future, but not many…
Your name is Morty Smith, and you really didn’t mean to drop that portal gun on Alternia. You swear. You’re not even sure what’s so wrong about it, to be honest.
You know how it goes – you being, like, the audience, not, yeah – opening portals right and left, sometimes you get ’em mixed up, you may have stepped into one for a second, realized you fucked up, and turned right back around. It happens.
As for when you lost the gun, or how the gun ended up in the hands of “the Scorpio,” one of the many nicknames Rick has already invented for her and her “past” counterpart, you don’t really care at this point, nor do you remember. Could’ve been a wild beast on that planet who just happened to find it when you dropped it and dropped it in her vicinity, for all you know. You don’t care because she’s the one who found it. It’s like Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, and a bridge troll had an evil, popular cheerleader with candy corn horns for a baby, or something.
You wonder if their horns taste sweet, if there’s any way to find out without getting beheaded by popular cheerleader aliens.
You wonder if that other, vaguely bull-looking troll is her alien husband. He seemed pretty, uh, “pussy” whipped.
You don’t have time to wonder about that. In this moment in particular.
School is out of the question today, you suppose, now that Rick has been maimed before school could even begin, and had his galactic ego bruised by your future murderous wife. That’s fine, you didn’t do your math homework anyway, now that Mr. Goldenfold has been guaranteed to give you A’s. Rick could freeze time over there if he really needed to, if you convinced him of that ever.
So by that logic, shouldn’t you just wonder about it? Better yet, you could go back to Alternia while he’s in the garage licking his wounds…
You start walking into “Rick’s garage” before you’ve formulated a plan as to how you’re going to manage to steal another gun or ask him to go back while he’s this on edge.
“Knock first next time, Morty, could’ve been pulling the padge for all you know.”
“Uh, hey, Rick.”
“Make it snappy, Grandpa’s trying to figure out why Fish Hitler hasn’t been sniped by the Federation yet, might be some kind of killer virus, kind of important.”
He sure is doing something, crunching numbers on three vaguely insect-looking computers that you’ve never seen until now, you think.
“Uh, hey, speaking – speaking of which, of that, of that subject – “
“If this is about putting your sad little dick in the future war criminal, and trust me, she is a future war criminal, the answer is no.”
“No, Rick! Sheesh!”
“Sorry, I could just smell the desperation when you walked in. Take a shower.”
“It’s not about that, I just, y’know, h-had some questions, about the culture.”
“Don’t be like that, I’m missing history class, okay? Because, because of all this mess – “
“Yeah, that you started.”
“Okay, maybe I wanna go back because of Vriska a little bit, alright!”
“But I’m not going to, because she’ll kill me!” You’re not sure you even realized that until you said it. Is this a deterrent for you whatsoever? Nope. You’ve done worse for less. “So I’m just going, to make sure everything’s good, y’know, that we didn’t upset the balance – “
“You realize you going back would be upsetting the balance.”
“Can I just go, Rick? C’mon, you already, already fucked up the day when you woke me up to go space snake shooting when it was still dark out for no reason! Maybe, maybe I wanna do something that’s my idea, for once – “
“Jesus Christ, if it gets you to shut up so I can finish this, you have five minutes. Exactly five, cinco, ¿tú entiendes?”
Wherever you’ve portaled yourself, somewhere on Alternia that was supposed to be wherever you just were, it is not Tavros’s hive.
“What the fuck?”
There’s an alien standing behind you, in this bare bones room with a strange, twelve-paneled window in one wall, and a computer that looks like the ones Rick was just using, but this is a boy alien. You think. Kinda hard to tell around here, not sure how you feel about that.
Sounds like a boy voice, though. Damn.
“I come in peace,” you say, pointlessly.
The alien drags a sickle – a sharp, real sickle – out of a sheath on his belt. This planet has really been through some shit, huh.
“Uh, okay, this planet has really been through some shit, huh – “
“How can I understand you? Am I not speaking Alternian right now? What the fuck are you speaking? What are you?”
“A human, like, from a family, on Earth, a-and this is English, because of the portal – “
“What is any of that?”
“Uh – hey!”
This asshole just stabbed you, and stabbed the portal gun while it was attached to your belt.
“What the fuck?” you repeat.
But he’s now way, way more afraid of you than you are of him. He drops the sickle on the ground, splattering with your blood, as you wrinkle over in sharp pain and hold the latest shallow gash in your gut. If this could stop happening once a week, whoever lives upstairs, that would be swell.
“What the hell, man, I said I come in peace! Do you, does anybody else see a weapon on me right now? That thing you just broke wasn’t a weapon, it was my way out!”
“Seriously, what the fuck are you.”
The boy alien looks like he might pass out. You just wanted to find Vriska. Why can’t the plot ever be simple?
“Um – “
“You shouldn’t look like me.”
He’s cutting himself now, on the wrist. Is this a suicide attempt? God, this day can be over now, you’re done –
He isn’t cutting himself nearly hard enough to kill, and his hands are shaking while he’s doing it, and returning the bloody sickle to his belt. You get it. That was you once.
His blood is also red. This is one of the colors they can be, Rick told you at some point, you think you remember now, although it’s supposed to be bad in some way. This explains, well, this boy troll, you guess.
The boy troll, very calmly, all of a sudden, lets the blood from his wrist drip onto the floor and into the puddle of your own. This is disgusting. Does Vriska worship blood this much? You hope not.
“I’m Karkat,” the boy alien says, cathartic, “And I’m not supposed to exist. Neither are you.”
Sirens go off, somewhere outside – the sky is violet here, you realize now, but there’s red light flashing against it now – as if just him saying that was illegal or something.
“No, no, no,” the alien’s panicking.
“What did you do?” you accuse.
“I don’t know how this planet works, you just stabbed me!”
“Are you fucking serious? You crash landed into my hive like troll Will Smith and signaled the drones!”
“Do you have The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air here? No way – “
Karkat is throwing a blanket at you, suddenly – into your face, which you can’t catch because you’re holding a puddle of your own blood – but you let your blood go and grab it when you realize he’s suddenly donning one of his own, and running out of this room.
This alien you don’t wanna fuck at the moment and probably won’t wanna fuck until you get older and high enough knows how the planet works, genius, says Rick, somewhere in your mind. Stop thinking with your other head and follow it.
Karkat has run down a spattering of interconnected hallways, and were it not for the sound of his footsteps, you would’ve lost him. He disappears into a solid door and you follow, down a staircase that’s so steep you almost trip several times.
It’s still pitch dark when you get to the bottom and you’re claustrophobic, wherever this is. Some kind of underground bomb shelter? Is he getting blown up just for being red in his own house? Fish Hitler is right.
You had five minutes. Five fucking Earth minutes, Morty.
Well, whatever’s going on, you guess Rick hates Hitler enough that he’s about to show up.
A portal open behinds you, and there’s Rick, drunker than before, significantly, holding an honest to god torch on fire.
“Where’s the illegal piece of shit?”
“You mean Karkat?”
“Who’s there? You seriously fucking think there being more of you is a good idea right now?”
“Come out, come out, little mouse.” Rick loves this, whatever this is. You suddenly feel bad for this boy alien. You should’ve before, probably, but you don’t wish your grandpa’s special interest on anyone. “I promise, I’m not gonna experiment on you and turn you into your fascist government. I do actually come in peace, I’m just not fucking saying that. If you were as wasted as I am right now, you’d get it.”
Moments in the future, but not many…
Begrudgingly, you stand before the portal that will lead to the Smith’s “house,” on “Earth.” The green slime spins coldly, slowly, ominous. Should you just forget the world that banished you to a swift end? The world as you know it would push you into this shit.
Your bloodpusher breaks, for the sixth hundredth time, as you push yourself in.
The air is thinner, and warmer, immediately.
You open your eyes to find yourself in a plain room, carpeted, with white walls and cushioned flatbeds. Similar enough to walls on your planet that you figure it’s some sort of strange, green, non-murderous-sun-containing anagram. You mean, it’s freaky enough that these aliens have four limbs, like you, that both eyes sit central to the skull.
That Morty, that Rick, apparently, has your blood color. You hate him, platonically, you knew that the second you looked at him.
This is a hell of a fever nightmare.
“Oh, c’mon, Rick, what the hell is that?”
You turn, hand to the sickle on your belt, to find a human man wearing an ugly green shirt, holding what looks to be a box of grub juice, strawed, in stern disapproval.
There is also a human girl, or woman, or something, with bright orange hair, but she isn’t looking at you. She’s typing into her Earth palmhusk. She looks like Morty, and this man.
“I,” you state, rising to your feet, which causes the man to panic internally, worn ferociously externally. This one isn’t Rick, that’s for sure. “Am an intelligent, rebellious insectoid here to destroy your society with hostile rhetoric.”
“Uh, haha,” Morty interrupts, near you. Shit, you forgot about him already – he’s sitting on the floor by the strange, sleek television screen, knees buckled into his chest, rocking back and forth – he needs a fucking Earth Xanax. “He’s not here to do that, with the rhetoric, right?”
The green shirted man looks slightly appeased in the face, but just as anxious in stance.
“He just wants to go home, I mean, hive,” Morty rambles, “but he has to wait – “
“Until Fish Hitler decides he isn’t worth the XP points.” There’s Rick. You don’t bother looking in the direction his scraggly voice is coming from, somewhere near the glass door that leads to the grass. He burps, loudly. Spits somewhere. “The poor thing’s heat signature makes him a target, will build him some gear to keep him cool on the house, since he’s dying pretty soon after he gets back one way or another, is not going anywhere that isn’t the Smith family prison, and is Morty’s fucking problem. You wanted to fuck the alien girl, you reap what you sow.”
“Rick, c’mon, that’s not cool – ”
“Wait, there’s Hitler on your planet too?” The human girl is suddenly looking at you. They are really into this word. “What is he, a shark?”
“She’s a seven foot brickhouse of hair,” Rick cuts in, drooling, hearts in the eyes, which disturbs you deeply. Your gastric chamber, it begs for mercy. The old man drops the expression quick, bored again, reminds you of Sollux. Shit, you can’t tell Sollux about any of this. This is way too embarrassing. You walked ass backwards into this, you deserve it. “Who’d fucking kill you for thinking that if her psionics could reach your sad, malleable blood vessels from whatever hellworld she’s conquering next.”
He even knows about her psionics?
“You’re not coming back,” you repeat. Your bloodpusher slams in your chest, hearing your own history repeated back to you by a voice so ugly it sticks to your thinkpan.
You finally swivel to look at him, trying to take him down a peg. Those stains are atrocious, has he been wearing that sweater for eight sweeps? He’s giving Gamzee a run for his money, hair falling off the skin of his skull as you speak, and that’s saying something. The anger swells.
Rick raises a crusted brow at you. He won’t match your anger, on purpose. This is a troll.
“Oh, what, how did I find out your governess can slaughter you based on all the colors of the wind because she’s so deeply fucked through your minds that you can’t help but not strategize against her in any way that matters, or doesn’t end in you all just getting murdered sooner? That one bitch ass’s ‘troll father’ failed pretty hard at that shit, gotta say. Don’t look so shocked, Karklubin, I own the intergalactic internet, do you know who I am?”
“Obviously not, you decrepit defecation masquerading as a sack of bones!”
“Karkat, stop arguing with him, it just makes his ego bigger.”
You turn on your heel. The kid’s standing now, looking calm, bored, as if copying Rick. You didn’t think he was capable of that. Of mimicking arrogance, or something, or not freaking the fuck out.
You can sort of see the “family resemblance,” now.
“My ego could eat yours for breakfast,” Rick chants to the kid. Or does he? Unknown. He’s talking to the whole “family,” probably. He’s pacing in front of the glass door like that’s his audience. Morty looks unmoved. “It will, it does, every single formulaic morning. Am I right, ladies and gentlemen? Shit, sorry, that’s not PC, uh – nonbinary individuals and possibly asexual TERFs. Am I doing this right, Homestuck fandom? Did I get – did I get the upvotes?”
“Holy undulating Mother Grub, shut the fuck up!”
You bellowed. Shit. It echoes, haunting, as every human but Rick directs the same, dumb, wide-eyed expression at you. Rick continues looking at the grassy audience.
“Ha.” Morty laughs, you think. There was an attempt. This is somehow Tavros. “Thanks.”
“I’d high five you,” says the human girl, monotone and calm as soon as you look at her again, typing into the palmhusk, “but you look like you’ve been living under a bridge your entire life, and I’m not even sure you’re real, like. Are those candy corn on your head? If I lick them, do I get your magic troll powers?”
“All of you fucking suck.”
There’s a tremble in your voice.
“Hey,” says the green shirt.
You wish very much to disappear. In your mind’s eye, you see past you standing in front of that portal, such a coward, wish he would die.
“Alright, alright.” That’s Morty suddenly, walking into the center of the room with his arms stretched, as if he’s going to end the debacle once and for all. “Karkat’s tired, I’m tired, we almost died because Rick wouldn’t listen to the other troll talk about her evil ghost, uh, Mom thing, all that, like, backstory and stuff – “
“Get to the point, Ernest Hemingway.” Rick.
“Nice one.” Human girl. Meanwhile, the green shirted human is wearing pursed lips, backing away slowly into a doorway that leads to another room.
“I’ll be here all week,” says Rick.
“So, uh, don’t worry about anything, don’t uh, tell Mom I have a troll under my bed, i-if, when she gets back, we’ll just hang out, upstairs, I can show him some cool Earth stuff, and we’ll figure out when to take the portal back to Alternalia.”
What’s the point?
Moments in the future, but not many…
Rick has made you this heat signature proof gear, so you can visit what few “friends” you have on planet, and strategize, if possible, where the fuck you’re going to live now that they’ve found your empty hive.
With all your shit in it. What little shit you had. It’s probably gone, ravaged, if not by the drones, by the neighbors who realized you were gone. At least you still have money in the Condesce’s bank, you think. You know how to live under the grid, at this point. Sollux helps, if possible. You were already living in bare bones, the most invisible of poverties. Nothing they found will contain your surname, your illegal sign.
The cooling gear is heavier than you expected, but fits you like a glove; blue, sleeved material that coats your ribs, breathable, cold as ice in contrast with your natural burn. It’s uncomfortable even over your thick sweater, but Morty is handling it just fine, despite his skin being thinner than yours. This makes you feel pathetic.
You pull your palmhusk out of your back pocket, grateful your battery is charged enough, but sick about your lack of signal. You open your contacts list, to give Morty the coordinates for the portal gun, if you ever get it from the villain downstairs.
You can’t involve Terezi in this Earth business. You can’t. Her lusus probably already knows too much, has seen the blood spilled across universes, and when it wakes up – if it wakes – Terezi will raise you both from the dead just to humiliate you for running away from your problems so fast that you could’ve been killed either way. You also might tell her as soon as you see her in troll again. She has that effect on you.
Gamzee is obviously your first attempt. Highblood status, so oblivious to the hemospectrum that at least until conscription, if you can drill it into his slime filled conscious how vital it is, you could survive with him under the radar.
That just might throw you into a messy quadrant that neither of you are ready for.
You don’t want to think about that.
Morty is staring at Terezi’s icon in your palmhusk with damn near heart eyes. You don’t blame him, but still. What is it with these human males and your female variation? Do they not realize you’re basically the same? Morty’s room is covered in posters of human females, scantily clad, torn in several strange locations.
“Anyway,” you announce, swiping ‘next’ in your contacts, causing Morty to back away from you a touch – good, he was standing too close, and their skin smells like something that makes you want to cry – no, you won’t explain.
“Uh, wow, does this one think he’s in ICP?” Morty says.
“What the fuck is that?”
“It’s like, these white guys, uh, the ones with the pale skin, like me, they just make shitty rap for edgelords, I think.”
“That explanation sure was useful. Thank you, human fauna, for enlightening me as to the stunning ways of your culture.”
“Ugh, do you wanna go or not?”
Morty looks angry, all of a sudden. His thin little brows pinch a hole between his eyes.
“Yeah.” Your bloodpusher does a thing. Ignore it. You see Tavros, the first time you saw him after the accident.
Gamzee’s icon awaits your bloodpusher.
“This guy is hateful and smells like shit, but he puts up with me.”
That works. Doesn’t matter what you say to this airhead anyway, probably. He’s not going to exist much longer after this, to you.
“So if he seems like he’s in good enough shape to hide me, that’ll be fucking that. Don’t let him give you any slime, I’ve tried it.”
“Well, you brought it up, genius.”
“You talk so much,” Morty complains, suddenly pacing, like his ‘grandpa,’ “all you do is talk and talk, like you have, e-extra minutes you need to fill out for a goddamn episode of bad TV!”
You don’t know if you understand that. Their TV networking functioning similarly to yours makes your thinkpan hurt.
“I talk because I can without stumbling over every other fucking word.”
Okay. Not Tavros.
“Your planet sucks and your horns are a joke.”
“This is stupid,” you announce.
Palmhusk. Finding a way to not die in this sunny hellhole.
You swipe to Aradia.
She’s been spooky as hell since she was forced to end her FLARP partnership with Team Scourge.
“Whoa,” croons Morty, at her icon.
Morty would pity her. She might pity him, if he were older and she weren’t dead inside, he’s too much like her would be actual partner, if either of them cared about that anymore. Too depressing. Next.
His help is necessary. He knows your blood is worthless enough to get you auto flagged by drones, he just doesn’t know how much yet. Like Terezi. He’ll get you a new name, if you need it, and he’s part of the reason you’re alive. His two competing egos don’t need to hear that again, trust you.
Morty snorts. “He looks like he lives in his mom’s basement.”
“You live in your mom’s basement.”
“I live above the garage, take that back!”
“Sollux doesn’t need to meet you. But if Gamzee is incapacitated, he’ll stow me in a closet every morning because the alternative would be having my cursed blood on his withering claws.”
“Oh, man, why are all the girls on your planet so pretty.”
“If you so much as hint that you have even the slightest interest in copulating with my species again, I swear to whatever fucked up, watered down deities this rock worships, I will zip your mouth shut so tight that the only things that come out are smothered pleas for release.”
Morty looks terrified.
“Sorry.” You don’t know why you’re saying that. Your bloodpusher, it persists. She threw him off a cliff and everyone told him he deserved it. They’d say that to you. You had no choice.
You’re like this because you’re in pain and don’t know what to do with it. At least you can admit it. To yourself.
“I was like you,” says Morty.
He touches your shoulder and you freeze, jump back. He looks calm, fake arrogant, but shrinks his hand back. Your bloodpusher races.
“Hey, no problem, no, uh, no homo, man, just trying to – “
“Get to the point.”
“You gotta learn how to let it go.” Morty steps a little closer to you, but a safe distance. “Let it ride, ‘cause no one knows what life, what life is gonna roll into, like a snowball. Did you get that reference?”
You’re confused, but this is not Tavros. Further along, you think. You didn’t think they were capable.
“Sounds like you get to have friends, that’s cool. Everyone at my school knows who my grandpa is, and I think Summer thinks she’s God, so I’m like, the last Smith family member picked in dodgeball.”
You don’t know what that last part means, but you cringe at the idea of this kid having the old creature follow him around through his schoolfeeding studies.
Vriska in eighty sweeps, you hope not.
Nepeta is very, very pretty. You don’t blame Morty here whatsoever for this one. If she wasn’t so obsessed with you, maybe.
No. Don’t go there. You can’t break her, Equius would break you.
“I can’t stay with her.” You try to keep your voice level. “She’d protect me too hard. Get us both culled.”
“This is the infamous Tavros Nitram, certified doormat and roleplaying extraordinaire, but he’s the last resort, and only because he’ll say yes to pretty much anything if you repeat yourself long enough. That’s gonna be the fucking death of him, fuck a culling. His handler might not allow me in his presence, but it depends on what quadrant they’re dangerously failing at mimicking, like some low budget, wiggler production of Pupa Pan.”
“Pupa…Pan?” Morty repeats. He then looks surprised, like he just remembered something important, if he’s capable. “Hey, wait – “
“Don’t tell me, you have a low budget, wiggler production of Pupa Pan on this shithole planet.”
Shit. You turn to find him leaning against the doorway, arms crossed. He barks a laugh, burps.
“Careful, comrade, don’t say that too loud around here or the trackers hidden in Morty’s computer will call you a Trump supporter.”
How long has he been listening?
The scientist in the torn labcoat stumbles into the room, then circles the two of you somewhat, and your hand almost flexes for your sickle. His aura turns you on edge, meanwhile Morty seems unfazed. This must happen a lot.
“I don’t know what the fuck any of that means,” you tell Rick.
“Trump is like,” Morty supplies, “uh, if your dictator lived above ground, and killed all the kids on the shithole planet because they’re black.”
“They’re like you, dickwad.” Rick pulls a pocketknife out of fucking nowhere and you back the fuck up, almost barking yourself. “Relax, Klarklit, not gonna main you and let the mirror show us who you really are inside. Do they do that, on your planet?” Burps, looks around as if he has a sweeping audience behind him. Does he?
“Whoa, nice air quotes, didn’t know they knew how to express themselves creatively on such a fascist, racist shithole.”
“Can we go?” You feel that telltale pulse of the strongest vein in your forehead, heating scorching your innards. “I’m sick of being talked down to by an ancient creature. I get enough of that existing on Alternia and studying bullshit so I can survive conscription.”
“No, no, no.” Rick puts the pocketknife in an inner pocket of his labcoat – oh – and pulls out a portal gun, glowing in wait – target acquired. “You’re not crawling your little gremlin, matchstick ass anywhere until I get back to the lovely little Scorpio who thought she could hack me. Me, motherfucker!”
Your gastric chamber twists into anxious knots.
No, no, no. How?
“And Tavros,” Morty adds, hatefully, if you’ll say so yourself. Yeah, they met them.
Somehow. Fuck your small, small little world. Vriska ain’t playing with this world domination shit, not anymore.
“I need to erase the memory of what happened in their corny little brains – sorry, thinkpan – so the hateful Scorpio doesn’t get it lodged in her thinkpan that fucking with me is a good idea, amigo.”
You have no idea what this other word means, but it’s probably a slur of some kind.
“You can’t come back.” Fuck trying to control the heat, it’s sweltering.
You step to him, but he doesn’t move. Simply regards you with a slight of the bloodshot eyes, removing a flask from his lab coat and sipping lazily.
“If you can speak my language all of a sudden, like I can yours, I’m sure you know my ‘governess’ doesn’t enjoy foreigners.”
“Bingo, troll Einstein. Oh, shit, double Jeopardy! I’d ask if your shitty governess allows troll Jeopardy, but the prize would probably just be getting culled!”
You unsheathe your sickle by default.
“Rick, Jesus Christ!” goes Morty.
“Why are you like this?” you sound off, steamroll unleashed instead, resheathing the sickle. “What, did your human ‘mom’ drop you on your thinkpan – that’s brain, Morty, you have one too, try to keep up – so many times that you rip everyone you see into shreds to try and lie your pathetic ass into a state of superiority? Wow, everyone, fucking shape up! This intelligent fauna that would burn in a second flat if it tried to survive a day on my planet thinks it’s the shit because it has time travel magic. Prostrate before your god, balding, piece of shit ‘grandfather’ who abuses his ‘grandson’ the same way my sociopathic ‘friend’ abuses her ‘boyfriend.’”
“’Time travel magic’,” Rick repeats. “So your government thinks the rainbow judges a troll’s character, and has a word for Earth’s most captivating pseudoscience. Magic isn’t real, Karshit.”
You bite your tongue so hard you almost bleed.
The scientist slugs from a different flask of some sort, from an inner pocket, tossing both behind him, spilling on the floor.
“Try to keep up.”
“Wait,” Morty speaks, looking at you, “Tavros is Vriska’s boyfriend? Man…”
“The anime troll girl isn’t gonna fuck you, Morty,” Rick says.
You hate yourself for wanting to laugh. Tavros still needs to hear this, probably.
“I need to go. Now.”
Thinkpan ahead of you, anxiety pulse.
“Rick, this has been one of the most unpleasant experiences of my agonizing eight sweeps, and you’ve seen how I fucking live. Take that bullshit monologue sideshow and shove it somewhere where the mediocre sun don’t shine.”
“Will do, I’m shakin’ in my boots, commander.”
“Morty, you’re just on thin ice because you inexplicably remind me of a friend.”
Trying to regain some dignity with the person in the room who’s getting you hivebound. If he can manage.
“Is it Tavros?” Rick goes. “Please say Tavros.”
“Hey, I’ll be Tavros if it means I get to hang out with Vriska.”
“She’s one of the worst trolls I’ve ever met and I’ve met her fucking neighbor, a sweaty, hierarchy-jacking-off-to monster that breaks robots for a living because deep down, he’s got a bloodpusher of gold.”
“Man, if you don’t want me to go back,” Rick taunts, “stop telling me things like this.”
You swivel towards Morty, who looks amused. Fuck him too.
“How long is it gonna take to get the not magic gun? Am I going to be here so long that I become a citizen? Please, spare me the paperwork, I’d rather expire here.”
Rick tosses Morty the portal gun, which he barely catches.
“If you bring one of those alien girls back here, she’s getting shipped back fucking pronto, you hear me, you perv-y little brownnoser? Leave this guy to get incel-ed before the apocalypse in peace.”
You don’t bother telling him that you’ve thought about cohabiting with a “boy alien,” who eats slime. They care a significant amount about the difference here, for some reason.
“Whatever,” grumbles Morty, “if I bring one back and she likes me, you’re not doing shit!”
“Keep dreaming, Morty.”
Rick leaves. The kid opens the portal, waiting for you to tell him the coordinates. You hope this thing is accurate this time.
The cold from the bright, oozing spiral feels colder, here. Like it chills you to the bone, past you pushing himself inside over and over.
Alternia awaits. In your minds eye, you see past you standing on your balcony, staring up at the moons. That’s gone now.
Moments in the future…
“Aw, shit, you have the beach!”
Morty is standing a ways away from you, jeans rolled up so his feet can feel the water, shoes kicked carelessly aside, since you’re too fucked up to even approach Gamzee’s hive behind you, daunting and lit against the pink evening sky.
His lusus is far beneath the surface out there, you assume. Gamzee would’ve told you otherwise, though it would’ve been sappy gibberish.
You don’t know why he gives a fuck anymore. Adulthood looms, especially for him.
You pull your palmhusk out of your pocket, palms very fucking sweaty, and swing over to Gamzee’s contact page. Your signal has returned, but this doesn’t give you relief. It makes you sick. You’re wanted now, dead meat in advance.
The heat protector over your shoulders slowly tries to ice your bloodpusher, reminding you that you have no hivestem, left for culling, she pushed him and they told him he –
“So, is this guy like, a friend of yours, or what?”
You don’t have the time or patience to explain quadrants to this clown.
Impulsive, you open Gamzee’s contact page on Trollian.
Tavros is here.
Fuck past, present, and future you.
“Oh, hell no.”
Morty, the scrawny human in the disastrous room, is not pleased.
“Um, it’s you,” is Tavros’s assessment. “Why?”
“Hey, motherfucker.” Gamzee. So high his eyes are tinted slightly green, smiling wondrously. Your bloodpusher doesn’t have time or energy. “Who’s this funny lookin’ oinkbeast you got here?”
“This is Morty.” You swing your arm wide, Morty swats the air around it.
“Does everyone here know each other or something?” Morty complains. “Did he just call me a pig?”
“No,” Tavros corrects. They’ve met. He’s weirdly calm. You don’t like this, whatever this is. “You just, possess a weird magical object, that puts you in opportune moments, like certain trolls, I mean, ‘humans,’ who have, let’s say, dice, that let them cheat at, uh, games.”
Your bloodpusher breaks.
You know he doesn’t mean it like that. Some nights, he thinks everyone is pale for him and vice versa, doesn’t really know any better.
Tavros’s four wheel device looks different. You realize it’s been a while.
Gamzee seems to have been upgrading it, poorly, at some point, but has given up. Tavros is just glad someone cares, you don’t need them to tell you that, and of course Gamzee does. He doesn’t fully understand why it happened, how even he plays part. You think he’d rage, if he ever could.
There are multicolored platinum rims on the back wheels now, thin enough that they weren’t immediately garish, and the large handlebars are coated in crispy, purple paint.
In honor of Tavros’s lusus, who he recently accidentally rolled over a few perigees back, the front panel at his feet reads “RiP tInKeRbUlL :o(“.
He can’t catch a break. The definition of inopportune.
The table in front of the cushioned flatbeds – sorry, “couches” – is covered in half eaten pie tins. Tavros doesn’t look high, rambling in broken fragments from the corner of his mouth, but then, he hardly ever looks anything, does he?
You missed something conversation ways, because Morty –
“Look, I’m just back in this terrible fucking place so that this guy,” he violently points a little finger in your direction, “doesn’t end up homeless because of me!”
Gamzee looks completely unfazed, as Tavros bravely determines how offended he should be at something prior.
“Homeless?” Gamzee shifts his ungodly, useless, bone-crushing limbs on the couch, clumsily kneeing Tavros’s chair, pulled close to him. But he’s looking at you.
How do you tell this story briefly whatsoever? In a way he can parse?
“Hiveless. The drones found me this morning, if it’s still even ‘this morning,’ who fucking knows anymore. I, uh, you know. Too warm. Don’t ask why this alien’s here, I can’t. It’s helping, it’s cooled down like I am so the drones can’t fucking smell us tonight, it’s going back to its evil reverse spawn.”
You don’t care if Tavros hears anymore. Fuck it. Now the pain has to go somewhere. He’s wallpaper.
She pushed him off a cliff and they told him he deserved it.
You snap. Something in you snaps.
“I need somewhere to live.”
Tavros’s mouth drops. Gamzee looks unfazed. Bless him and his stupefying sopor addiction, in this moment in particular.
“My hive is fucking gone, I think, I can’t even go back – “
Gamzee stands, unfurling, horns reaching for the ceiling.
“Aw, geez, why are you so tall?” Morty.
“Ha,” says Tavros, “that’s, also what I said.”
“We got you, brother.” Gamzee is coming so close, so slowly, ominously at peace, that you just know a fucking hug is in store. You just know it. You can’t handle this right now. You might cry.
“If you touch me, you piece of shit crack guzzler, I swear – “
“I ain’t even seen this motherfucker right here in how long, huh? You gettin’ taller?”
Karkat is being picked up and hugged by the ICP motherfucker. This is a troubling development. These aliens are long distance gay for each other, you think. 404 alien no homo not found. Is Karkat crying? Oh, god.
No, no. He’s just not frowning so hard it hurts for once.
But for a second, when you walked in here, you thought Tavros was gay for Gamzee. Kinda got that vibe, you know. Sitting pretty close. That might just be you projecting. Vriska.
Tavros has posters of fairy trolls that look suspiciously like Vriska, but obviously, like, how he thinks she’s supposed to look, not like, how rough it actually was.
But you’re not saying the whole rough-looking thing isn’t hot, or anything! You wish Vriska would paralyze your –
Oh, your god. “Gamzee” – what kind of name is that? Does it mean something that they all have six characters? – is swinging Karkat around in a circle, in the vaguely homoerotic hug. This is so fucking awkward. Rick was right.
About, like, something important you’re forgetting about Alternia.
The anime troll girl isn’t gonna fuck you, Morty.
“Fuck off, Rick.” He’s materialized on your shoulder in a whiff of imagination, but they can’t see that. That sure isn’t the important thing, nope.
Everyone is looking at you now. Did they hear him?
Careful, don’t want these racist cockroaches to think you’re the unstable one here.
You hate it here. “Alternia.” They’re not even a part of the Federation. That’s actually probably a good thing. The dictator is hot, though, you’ll give shoulder Rick that much.
Karkat’s safe enough, right? You can go? Maybe it’s not even worth it to try and see Vriska. Rick wants to come back and do something or other to her thinkpan, anyway, so you probably shouldn’t get attached to the violent, scheming, “future war criminal.” Maybe he should wipe your brain too, to spare you. But maybe…
You don’t socialize much, online or in troll. You didn’t, even before the accident, and the socialization you did do took place with five other trolls. Half of them didn’t share your interests that much, and the others weren’t really sure what to do with you, anymore. Aradia included.
Vriska is Vriska. You’re glad she didn’t follow you here in troll. She’s done that before, to protect you. A few times, she meant it.
It’s been numbing, waiting for nothing. Forgetting how it feels to step, learning how to forgive. But you put joy where there is nothingness. Even if it’s fake joy, that chases you down in a mocking way when you try to remember Rufio each morning, it’s something.
“Morty” is stealing the joy right out from under your adventures, once a fucking again, and you don’t understand how this pink, delicate oinkbeast thing has not been attacked by a wild somethingbeast. Should you summon one?
Bad Tavros. Bad.
This illegal “human” is very quickly becoming your bad luck charm, and it was hard for you to even believe that he wasn’t a projection or just your imagination the first time.
Ignore it, it’s probably a creepy projection from the fish bitch or something.
“How, did you find Karkat?”
Everyone looks surprised that you’re speaking. That happens. They think you’re stupid, you know, except Gamzee. You can commune with all of their lusii, have, and talk shit about them behind their backs.
You’re, uh, just kidding, somewhat. Karkat’s lusus was surprisingly humorous.
It died earlier than it should’ve. Karkat doesn’t say why. You get it now.
“You don’t understand how this works,” the human says to you, holding the portal gun before his gaze like it’s a mere toy. You dislike him.
Be strong in the universe, Tavros. Your memory of Snuffles, formerly known as Snowflake, uh, whatever it was, the very important barkbeast, soothes your anxiety.
They do not know suffering like you. Like us.
“But I wanted to come back, uh, for something else,” the human keeps going, “that I saw before, so I came back, but I was in his ‘hive’ and stuff.”
You know what air quotes are.
“Back for what?” you ask the bad luck charm.
“Morty” smiles. Creepy.
Your bloodpusher sinks.
No, no, no…
“She would kill you.”
Works like the best charm. The uncomfortable, useless legs in the room.
“Yeah, right!” “Morty” and his legs are gloating now, late, late, l8. You really dislike him. “I bet she wouldn’t order me around, like she does you! Maybe, maybe she’d fall in love with me, and make me her boyfriend. How’d you like that, huh, you like them, you like them troll apples?”
“That’s enough, motherfucker.”
He stands close to the little human, towering so far over him that it is almost comical.
Would be, if Gamzee wasn’t not smiling under the thick paint.
You didn’t think he was capable of that.
“Go back to where’st you came, stranger. If you gonna talk motherfucking ill on these motherfuckers. On my ‘hive.’”
Those are the laziest air quotes you’ve ever seen, however.
Morty glares, squints his odd, white eyeballs. Stands on his tiptoes. Karkat chuckles at that, that horrific frown he always wears easing somewhat.
“And what are you gonna do about it, motherfucker?” Morty challenges.
“Bro.” Now Gamzee’s laughing. A wonderful sound. Your bloodpusher does a thing. You still aren’t sure you understand why it does. Quadrants are stupid. Gamzee, uh, doesn’t really know what they are, anyway. The older he gets, you think, the less sense they make to him.
“You want some pie? To be at chill?”
Morty blinks at Gamzee rapidly. Confusion. You were like him.
“No,” Karkat answers for the human. “It’s the slime I vaguely warned you about. You were just leaving.”
“Aw, don’t be like that, best friend.”
“Don’t call me that.”
You can, call me that, you almost say. You might be a little bit high.
Morty, to your wild disbelief, is actually contemplating said pie, his puffy lips scrunched shut. His eyes dart to the table, then Gamzee, the table, then Gamzee.
“For the love of fuck, open the portal and go!” screams Karkat.
“You know what, I love getting high, and you know what, you seem like you’re high, am I, uh, right about that? Am I reading the room?”
“High as the highest fucking steeples of the Dark Carvinal, brother.”
“Kill me,” Karkat says. “The drones should’ve killed me.”
He hates himself a lot.
You don’t really know why. You mean, he’s not you, or Aradia. You think. He could be lower than her. That would explain some things, actually. Why was he such a target for the drones?
At very first, you thought Karkat Vantas might be a highblood, like Gamzee. He typed so boldly, until he got embarrassed. The same way you stared in wonder at “Rick” and “Morty,” only for Vriska to make a villain out of the one in the white jacket, or for him to make a villain out of himself, you guess, and for “Morty” here to think you’re negligible before you’ve even spoken.
But Gamzee is offering the delicate oinkbeast his pies.
You stare in wonder at Gamzee, now, as he shows little Morty to the table with the half eaten tins. He forgives and forgets, you envy him so. He holds the pie out with both large paws, and Morty looks scared, but digs a finger inside, sucks a healthy glob.
He makes a disgusted expression, but soon, his shoulders slump, and there are dreamy, colorful stars in his eyes.
“Ah, man,” he goes.
“This is motherfucking magic,” Gamzee explains. “Feel it.”
Hours in the future, but not many…
It took you a long time to back get to your hive. Such is life. What can you do?
Poor Karkat desperately needs some space, you think, and not with you. He doesn’t like you very much, still. You aren’t sure what you can do anymore. His thing with Gamzee might be romantic, secretly, or something, maybe that’s why you sensed that you needed to back away from the situation slowly, but what do you know about any of that?
Vriska is standing on your porchstep, her hair swaying violently in the wind.
Your gastric chamber twists into anxious knots.
She won’t be able to hear you, like that, from up there, and she knows how long it takes you to get up there.
“I heard you snuck around with one of those white ass aliens without me.” How does she know that? She wasn’t in your mind, you would’ve felt her. You think. “What gives? I thought we were stealing his portal gun together!”
You aren’t together.
They don’t know suffering like you.
Some nights, you used to wish she would just hold you. When all you wanted was to walk, or fly, before that, when you wished she would just take you out of your seated slumber.
Now, some nights, you wish she’d leave you alone, so you could disappear back into it. You think you’re starting to understand why she won’t let you, the older she gets.
You miss Tinkerbull a lot.
“He kicked me out of the system,” Vriska repeats, you just know she’s vented this to someone more important than you. “Bald, jealous, old man. I’m just a kid and I owned his ass in an hour. He didn’t even realize I was in there at first! Now at least I know how it works, but I can’t fucking build this, not even Equius can, not with the poverty level rations us Ceruleans are getting these nights, I don’t even know what half of this shit is yet!”
Poverty level rations? Does she know you?
You’ve hiked yourself far enough up the ramp that Vriska could cross the rest of the way to help you, but she won’t. These nights, she says she doesn’t want to touch the “crusty paint” on the handlebars.
“You don’t get poverty level rations.”
“Well, hello, darling. How was your evening in half of paradise?”
Vriska is very, very pretty, roughness, scars and all. When she smiles at you like this, like you’re the only troll who exists, and when she doesn’t, like she’d let you die. Dangerous, informative, your weakness. You wish you could hate this more, whatever it is.
On the porchstep, you roll to a safe distance in front of her.
“Half of fine.”
“Funny. Cute. The fuck were you doing with Morty?”
She’s not smiling anymore.
You imagine her kicking you back down the ramp. “Safe distance” means close enough that she could, after all. She wouldn’t do that now. You think.
“I didn’t, ask him to be there. How do you know?”
“How do you think I know?”
The twisting, it persists.
“I, would’ve felt – “
“I don’t tell you all my moves, genius. I still followed you. God, you’re still the same.”
So are you.
“What was that?”
She kicks you back down the ramp.
You brake yourself at the hilt, trying to seem unshaken. You’re tired.
Are you, going to help me back up? I did, all that hard work for you.
“Ha!” She jumps off the doorstep, almost floating down onto the dirt a few feet away from you. “What, you played some games with a little boy from another world and now you think you’re so tough? Come on, Tavros. Get me back.”
She kicks up a cloud of dirt. You stay where you are.
“But you can! Summon one of the undead. You could try if you wanted to.”
I don’t, want to know what they think.
“You couldn’t handle it.”
That’s not why.
Uh, just find it. Genius, governess.
“I want you to tell me, Tavros. Out loud.”
She’s suddenly in your lap. Oh. Crosses her legs one over the other, getting heavy, the older she gets. Vriska’s new glasses slide down her sharp nose.
“Please, come on.” Fingers in your hair. She never touches you when you ask. Only like this.
“Why? I know you like it.”
I don’t have anything else to like, right now.
She goes rigid, hands out.
She filters through your memories, of Gamzee on his “couch,” violation, cheating.
“You sure do. Red anythings, I reckon. I didn’t know you knew how! Wow. Wiggler steps.”
That is not, what I think about him yet, and you know that.
Yet. A word from the muddy stream of your consciousness that fell, as they do.
“Yet.” Her hands are back in your hair. Soft. “He can’t pity you. Too pandead already. He’ll be a killer one day.”
You already are.
She slaps you across the face.
She told you she would, if you brought that back up.
You did it anyway. What else can you do? Stop thinking? You’ve tried that.
The burn of her slap stings so bad it starts to feel good. You don’t understand how this works anymore.
“But I’m here,” she insists, “and he’s not.”
You, won’t let go of me. This, is not pity. You, don’t know what it is. That means, I don’t.
She gets out of your chair so fast you swing backwards, have to brake.
“Maybe I should replace you with Morty.” You don’t have to be a mind reader, of her kind, to know that was coming. You’re surprised it took her this long. “He’d come running with me right now if I asked, the dumb little page. I’m sure he’ll be back.”
“Have fun, then.”
For once, she looks genuinely surprised that you’ve spoken. Progress? Probably not.
“What crawled up your chute and won’t get out?”
She’s in your lap.
It breaks. The dam. It was only ever held by flimsy bravado.
You can’t ever do this with her for very long.
“I could kill you.”
“Then do it.”
For once, she looks like her bloodpusher might be broken.
You start crying.
“God,” Vriska complains. “I hate this.”
She gets up again.
“You’ll need me to check up on you again soon. Enjoy the rest of your sweeps. I’m serious. You can’t stand that I’m realistic with you, that’s all.”
You stay where you are until the tears dry. Close your eyes, imagine Tinkerbull touching your shoulder.
Open them when you feel a gust of cold, swirling wind behind you.
Rick? Smells like it.
As soon as you turn your chair, the portal behind him closes.
“Nope.” The scientist starts speaking before you can. Is he going to kill you, or just talk about how much he’d like to? Is he just like her? “For all intents and purposes, I’m not actually here, ¿comprendes, muchacho? Just, Jesus fucking Christ, how can I leave this planet this episode and not tell you how you pathetic you are, in Spanish and English.”
“I don’t, uh, really need this.”
He’s quiet, then. Like he’s reading your thinkpan. His eyes aren’t red like they were the first time.
He opens the portal again.
“I’ll take you back to the puppy utopia, okay? I can’t not do it, you’re so oblivious you resemble my grandson or something, same class, different aspect, don’t worry about what that means, it’s not happening in this timeline, but not now, at some point when I’ve forgotten everything else that matters more than you.”
You think he reminds you of Karkat, in eighty sweeps.
He has one leg in, mysteriously concealed, but your bloodpusher stops and starts, more of that sudden, fleeting joy.
“Good answer. You might live this time, troll Morty. Next time you see me, you’ll have probably forgotten everything I just said to you. Spoilers for the apocalypse. Tell Aradia I said ‘what’s up’ and ‘keep up the talking to dead people thing. Trust me.'”
Nights in the future, but not many…
“Geez, Rick, what the hell…”
It’s something o’clock in the morning, so dark it’s almost pitch black, if not for the turquoise glow surrounding your grandpa’s mug, as he squats over your sheets and scans your forehead with some thing you don’t remember the name of. You have school today. You think.
“I just need the coordinates, Morty.” Grandpa sounds calm, so that’s good, you guess. “And some other important shit but this episode’s almost over and you decided to get fucking high at the end of your arc, so.”
“Huh, for what?”
You’re starting to get very sleepy, Morty…
“Cut it out, you’re already, like, harvesting my dreams…the shoulder act…”
“Don’t know who you’re talking to, Morty, and that’s not what this does, but keep on, kid. Keep on.”
You know this isn’t your grandpa, babe.
You fall asleep instantly.
Living with Gamzee is less painful than you once imagined it might be, but it feels wrong. Not because his mealblock looks like a bullet train went through it. It doesn’t feel like the right time, like you’ve jinxed something in advance.
Not your future moirallegiance, if things ever spiral into that kind of comfort, somehow. He’s your “best friend.” That’s something different, you guess.
You haven’t slept, since the last night you woke up there. You’re exhausted, but you can’t.
It wasn’t the same after your lusus overheated, a sweep ago. That’s what you’re pretty fucking positive happened when you found him almost dead, because you have to be. Kanaya was also reasonably certain, but her lusus is very different.
This sunset, Gamzee has knocked out on the “couch” again. The sun is long gone, he’s still like this, so it goes. He rarely sleeps in his recuperacoon. The sopor addiction is starting to make some sense, but not very much.
Self defeating cycle, at this point. You couldn’t possibly ask him to consider not doing this.
He needs it.
You take to the balcony, the way you did at your hive. He barely uses his, despite it being eight times the size of yours. The red sun has only left a sliver of itself against the sky and ocean; the warmth is beginning to leave the air, only a touch remaining.
Doesn’t feel the same under your new protective gear.
But a portal, sharply cold in flow, opens up behind your back.
Rick. On Gamzee’s balcony.
Gut reach for your sickle, shit, it’s inside. Gamzee. Already making you lose your guard.
You freeze, but don’t relax whatsoever.
Of course, he knows just exactly how illegal you are.
Rick looks weirdly calm, though. His eyes aren’t bloodshot. You don’t like this. He does some weird shit with his claw-less fingers on one hand, separating them in half.
“I come in motherfucking peace, brother.”
That sounds way too much like a good impression of Gamzee to be a coincidence.
“Stop stalking me. And us.”
Rick looks at his blunt nails, as if those are interesting, then bursts into hysteric, dribbling laughter.
“And stop slobbering all over this property!”
“Oh, man, I’m sorry, you’re just so fucking paranoid, all of you. Better than fiction.”
You have no idea what that means.
“Did I stutter?” You stomp your foot, as if that’ll do any good. “I’m not your Morty. Leave. Don’t come back. You’ll get us all killed.”
“Shut up, I’m giving you something, then you’re never seeing me again, you won’t have time.”
He kneels down. You really didn’t need him to remind you that he’s a head or two taller than you, despite coming from such a fragile reverse lineage.
“Advice,” he reveals.
You scoff. “No thanks.”
“Give it up. The ‘everyone hates me’ thing. They can smell it off you from a fucking mile and it smells like desperado, amigo. That last word means friend, a social role that your species has written, like, a millennia of hateful shit on, I’ll give Hitler props when they’re so due that it doesn’t make sense not to. The Condesce is a piece of shit and I hope you get her fine, fine choice ass one day – but not before I – nope, nevermind, trying to keep things less than rated X here, Archive of Our Own, you’re welcome – but worry about your fucking self for once, reject.”
You hurt, and you wonder, and on some level, this motherfucker is right.
You’ve given too much, for too long.
“Why are you here?” you ask this creature.
Rick sighs, hanging his head. Burps. Then looks at you, serious. “Just said that.”
“You know what I fucking mean.”
“Your ‘friend’ plus or minus her sad lackey thought she could either straight up steal my portal gun, or replicate it enough to chase me down and straight up steal my portal gun. Can’t decide if the guys upstairs will think Alternia is viable enough for another budget, but we didn’t even get into the seadwellers, your ‘friend’ with the fucking scarf? Now that is a piece of work, enbies and others. Now, and in the future, and in the past.”
“I will throw you off this balcony.”
He stands, with his arms spread slightly. Giving himself away.
“Don’t make me do it.”
He walks towards the balcony ledge, peers over it.
If you weren’t a wanted criminal…
You still wouldn’t.
The scientist says,
“I could tell you your entire future right now if you wanted me to.”
That has to be a lie. Your bloodpusher breaks once more, but you’re ending this tonight.
“I don’t care.”
Rick spits over the edge.
He opens the portal out in the air, so he’ll have to trust fall back into Earth, or wherever he’s going.
“Give ‘em hell, Sufferer.”