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Most of the time, quite frankly, Dave has the upper hand when it comes to wrestling. A couple of years on the meteor - with proper food he doesn’t have to hoard and hope will last in the heat - has added a few inches on him, some width to his shoulders, some muscles to his still wiry frame. Karkat, on the other hand, is almost exactly as short and scrawny as before. It’s kind of weird to see, because Kanaya has gotten markedly taller, and Vriska and Terezi are starting to grow like weeds too, and from what he’s seen of Gamzee he’s practically twice the size of everyone else by now. Dave hasn’t asked why, it’s not exactly rocket science to figure out that it would be a sore subject, but he guesses it’s got something to do with the whole hemospectrum business. Some trolls probably just never get that big, so the growth spurt isn’t as remarkable.

He’s also noticed how the others have already grown way past Karkat in terms of sheer viciousness. It’s not that Dave would necessarily call them bad people - well, except for the actual murderers, maybe, though he supposed that’s also a weird and disconcerting cultural thing. Still fucked up, though. But the point is, most of them have learned to harden themselves to the brutal facts of their lives, and for all that he acts as tough as he possibly can... Karkat hasn’t really. It seems like has reserved a space inside himself that always cares, always involves itself, always feels, even when the circumstances are at the most dire. Maybe it’s not the always the best way of dealing with a crisis, that’s what you need people like Rose and Vriska for, but once the fighting has stopped and the blood is drying on the walls... that’s when you need someone who can pick people up and help them put themselves back together again.

Dave has a lot of really warm and complicated feelings for that exact trait, and as someone who has grown up on the sharp end of endless viciousness, its almost exact opposite is a nice change. He’d been sick of fighting even before entering the game, doesn’t like the parts of himself that respond to violence with becoming hard and distant, but he also knows it’s the only way for him not to fall apart. He doesn’t need to seek it out in other people.

He has definitely never enjoyed fighting before, but wrestling with Karkat doesn’t even really register as such to his mind, and not just because he pretty consistently wins. It’s just that even though Karkat will curse him out with literally every single obscenity that Alternia once had to offer, and use ugly tricks to make up for his lesser strength and weight... it’s still just a game. It involves a lot of laughter too. Actual laughter. He’s pretty sure neither of them is used to that.

It is enjoyable. In fact, sometimes... it’s kind of too enjoyable.

That’s not too weird, right? He’s a goddamned teenager, after all. And wrestling by definition involves full body contact, faces getting really close, a certain amount of panting and grunting, some shifting of positions, a lot of friction. Yeah, as he’s sure he’s remarked numerous times before, wrestling is pretty fucking gay. Also Karkat is not exactly unattractive, in an alien kind of way. Troll features are angular and a bit pinched, their bodies harder than human ones, their skin glossy under the fluorescent lights of the meteor complex. None of these things are in any way unappealing - at least when it’s him.

Karkat doesn’t seem to notice Dave’s problem, or he ignores it, or something. He doesn’t seem to have the same issue, but then again, he’s an actual alien. Who even knows how troll boners work?

It’s fine as long as he has the upper hand, though, because he can quickly disentangle himself from the troll if he feels things getting out of hand, feigning some other reason. The real trouble starts when Karkat finds out that he’s ticklish, and how easy it is to overpower him that way. Suddenly the he’s on top of Dave, straddling him and pinning him down with his hips and his hands. He leans in, panting, and grins.

“Got you, you smug fuck.”

“... uh.” Shit, what is he supposed to say? He wriggles in an attempt to get away, but that only makes the whole friction problem a lot worse.

“Not a chance, you slippery pile of shit. I’ve got you right where I want you.” His teeth aren’t as fanglike as the others’, but they’re still inhumanly sharp. Dave can feel his breath on his face, hot and weirdly sweet and just a bit metallic. He groans, trying to twist away, and immediately catches his breath.

“Maybe, uh- Maybe you should just-“

“Oooh, I see! Just because I finally won, I don’t get to bask in my victory over you, is that it? Think again, fuckass.” He shifts his hips forward as if to punctuate his statement, and Dave has to bite back an honest-to-god whimper.

“No, it’s just... You won, I totally admit defeat and- shit... bow to your might and all that crap, just... you’re kind of, um-“

“Yeah, that’s right. How about groveling a bit for a change, Dave? Would it hurt you to be a little fucking humble about this, huh?”

Fuckdamnit, he seems to have picked up that Dave goes all weak every time he shifts, even though he obviously doesn’t get why. Now he’s moving around as he speaks, their crotches grinding together haphazardly, and his lips are moving close to Dave’s face and his eyes have tiny flecks of red in them and his nails are pressing into his wrists and-

Oh no. Oh fuck.

Dave tries to say something, anything before it’s too late, and then his hips are surging up to meet Karkat’s on their own accord, a helpless tremor runs through him, and there is literally nothing he can do to hold it back. Gasping as the previous unbearable pressure melts into bliss, he presses his face against Karkat’s neck and breathes damply against his skin, trembling and weak. He can feel a trickle of cum running down the side of his dick, can feel it soaking into his underwear, and it’s all he can do to bite his lip and swallow down a harsh moan. It comes out choked and shaky, not much more dignified to tell the truth.

Karkat leans back, frowning. “Shit. Did I hurt you?”

Despite himself, Dave laughs, although it’s a pretty breathless and strange sound. He flops back against the ground, covering his face with his arm. “Shit dude, you... you really have no goddamn clue, do you? Like this is some ridiculously whimsical romance novel shit right here. Except I guess I’m not sure if that counts as building or releasing tension.”

Karkat flushes slightly, but he’s still kind of obviously confused. “Dave, you’re not making any fucking sense. Which isn’t new or anything, but you’re being unusually weird. What’s wrong?”

Just as well that he covered his face, because he can feel the heat racing up his neck, spreading across his cheeks. His shades are a bit askew, digging awkwardly into his cheek, but that’s a price he’s willing to pay at this point. “I’d love to just not tell you, to be honest, but we all know how long that would last. About as long as I just did, that is to say.” He giggles hoarsely, even if his face is practically burning by now. “See? I can’t even speak without making a joke like that at my own expense, so I might as well tell you.”

“... what?”

“Okay, fine, how about this? Pop question on some basic xeno-awkwardness: Do you even know what an erection is?”

Karkat leans back a bit, presumably trying to gauge how serious Dave is despite him covering his face. “I’ve heard you say that word sometimes. In context, it sounded like it had something to do with- with human sexuality. Or maybe you were just fucking around.”

“Nah, that’s right.” The god pajamas might be self cleaning, but his underwear is not, and the fabric is unpleasantly damp and clingy now. “I don’t want to ramble on with the risk of sounding like a flustered sex ed teacher quoting the textbook, so uh... it’s what happens to a dick as a result of getting turned on. It gets hard.”

There is a long silence from Karkat, long enough that Dave ends up shifting his arm a bit so he can glance up at him through the slit thusly created. He looks like something is slowly dawning on him, if the gradually intensifying blush is anything to go by. “I- I just thought your stupid god clothes had some kind of crotch pocket and you were carrying around random junk in there.”

Dave snorts. “Wow, I have to say... that is pretty dumb, and also sounds uncomfortable as hell.”

“Well, excuse me for not being up to scratch on human crotch-physiology. That’s really fucking neglectful of me. Maybe I should go ask Rose for a book on the subject, since it’s obviously mission critical to us all that I learn to decipher human genitalia.”

It’s at least difficult to be embarrassed as hell when he’s laughing this hard. “Holy shit, I’d love to see her face if you do. But okay, fine, maybe it’s not obvious if you’re a weird insect alien.” He pauses, then slowly lets his arm slip from his face. He’s still blushing, but at this point he’s just going to have to live with it. “Anyway, it kind of has a mind of its own, or at least does its own thing with very little brain input, and just about any stimuli can set it off. And I know it wasn’t on purpose - if you’d been trying for that kind of thing, I’m sure you would’ve done some sort of wild pirouette right off me the moment I told you to back off - but... shit, look, you were kind of bouncing up and down on it, okay? What I’m saying is it wasn’t exactly ideal conditions for not thinking about how I was already a bit worked up and how I didn’t actually mind that much and maybe you’re also unfairly fucking hot and oh my god I need to shut up right now, fuck, shit...” Yeah, he’s right back to mortified. Great job, Dave. Maybe he can just... close his eyes and attempt to ascend to another plane of existence?

“You... oh.” Karkat’s voice definitely cracks a bit at that last exclamation, and Dave isn’t sure if he’s legitimately horrified or just kind of embarrassed by the situation. “That was- I mean, the reason you were breathing like that was because you- you-“

“Came in my pants. Yep. That’s the reason. That’s my life right now, the shame I have to shoulder, the incredible burden of teenage embarrassment which I have to balance squarely on the site of my now sticky crotch.”

“Shit. Shit. That’s why you were trying to get me to...” Karkat’s shoulders slump a bit; he looks concerned now. “I’m sorry. I thought you were just being pissy about losing for once. Fuckdamnit, I- I didn’t mean to-”

“Dude, if I thought you did that on purpose, I would’ve punched you right off this misbegotten little rock by now, okay? But you didn’t, and like I said, I know you would’ve backed off if you knew what was happening.” He reaches up, gently bumps his fist against Karkat’s shoulder. “You’re not like that. We’re cool. And, uh, I’m sorry too.”

Karkat colors even deeper, seems to flounder around for something else to talk about, and as his gaze is drawn involuntarily down his brow furrows in confusion. “...wait, really? I mean, it’s not that I think you’re lying about something so fuckawfully awkward, but there just isn’t much...” He waves his arms in frustration, looking like he might want to sink through the floor too. “Fuck, this is just so gogdamn excruciating to talk about. Your pants are still dry.” A deep breath. “There. I said it.”

Now it’s Dave’s turn to look kind of perplexed. “Well, yeah. I don’t know how trolls work, but uh, there’s a bit of a damp spot and some seriously sticky underwear, and that’s about all there is. Is it different for you guys?”

Karkat fixes him with an unimpressed look. “Hey Dave, considering all your incredibly inappropriate jokes about them lately, I feel like maybe at some point you might’ve considered what a pail might be for.”

“... Now that you actually mention it, yeah, I guess that’s not actually a huge leap.” A beat, then: “Wow.”

Karkat squirms a bit, and then seems to realize that he’s still sitting on Dave. “Do you... want me to get off?”

“I mean, that would only be fair at this point, I suppose.”

Karkat blinks, and then covers his face with a groan. “Could you maybe consider not being such a sweaty, undulating seedflap, Dave? You know that’s not what I meant.”

“Well, in my defense you left that one wide open. But nah, I don’t really feel like I’ve got any dignity left to save at this point, so I don’t really care if you stay where you are. But if you’re uncomfortable or whatever...”

Karkat sighs impatiently, and then flops forward, planting his face against Dave’s shoulder with a quiet ‘oof’ noise. When he speaks next, his voice is pretty muffled, but that only means that it’s closer to normal indoor volume. “It’s really weird, hearing you call me hot. No one’s ever said that kind of thing about me.”

“I mean, as a whole we could be considered all kinds of juvenile when we got pulled into the the game, right? It would be pretty disturbing if we’d been extensively checked out in that manner before that point.”

“Yeah yeah, I know. I wasn’t trying to make a pathetic grab for sympathy, as alien as that idea might be to you. It’s perfectly normal for trolls to be isolated until maturity, so I realize there weren’t any prime opportunities for anyone to ogle my body before that point, and after we started playing we were pretty fucking busy.” He huffs. “That’s not what I meant. Just that it feels weird. It also kind of sounds like moobeast leavings, to be honest, but I guess you wouldn’t be making that up in a situation like this. Not even you are that dumb.”

“Okay dude, but you being hot is just a canonized fact, alright? If the Pope was still alive he would totally be on my side, lay down some kind of papal decree and make millions recognize it as truth, falling down on their knees to worship your skinny yet perfectly shaped ass. As it is, you’re gonna have to just take it as proof that I’m on my back here with my boxers slowly getting inseparably glued to my dick.”

That actually gets a chuckle out of Karkat, a puff of warm breath against Dave’s collarbone. “I’m pretty sure that’s just you. But thanks for the vote of confidence. It means a lot to know that some alien asshole in a cape will have to wash his underwear because of me.”

“You’re welcome. So... trolls don’t get this kind of unwanted reaction, then? I mean, apparently you don’t really get boners, but you know what I mean.”

This time Karkat’s laugh sounds a bit grim, as if recalling stuff he rather would not. “No, we definitely do - some people consistently more than others. But not usually from random physical input. For us, it’s all in the head, since our attraction is so very tied to the balance of hate and pity. So it’s more about thinking about inappropriate things at the wrong time, and if someone we already hate or pity is around and we can’t stop thinking about it... it can get awkward really fast.”

“Yeah, we get that too. So accidental frottage doesn’t do much, and it would be way more effective for you to, I don’t know, imagine me licking the inside of a bucket? Provided you find me attractive in any way, I guess.”

“Oh my fucking... Dave.” Karkat sounds like he might actually be choking. “You can’t just say something like that.”

“... Okay, no, that was not in any way sensibly put. Wow. I just apparently enjoy the taste of my own foot so much, I’ll straight up preform some contortionist shit to make sure I insert that fucker at any time I possibly can. Which also isn’t the best phrasing right at this moment, talking about inserting things like I’m basically just trying to make things weird for you too. Sorry.”

Karkat isn’t actually saying anything at this point, just making a series of squeaking, flustered little sounds. His body temperature seems to have picked up a bit too, his skin feeling a bit clammy, and just as Dave wonders if he should ask about that, he distinctly feels something move against his crotch.

“So, shot in the dark here, but uh... is that...?”

“I hate you so fucking much.” There is very little vehemence behind the statement, though, and Karkat isn’t actually trying to move away. His face is still firmly pressed against Dave’s shoulder, his shoulders shivering a bit as he strives to breathe calmly. “Do you feel clever now?”

“Well, uh, not exactly, but I’m almost a bit impressed with myself for finding the exact right thing to say to make this happen, or wrong thing depending on how you see things, but... sorry.”

“It’s not just what you said, you overstuffed dross coffer. It’s this whole stupid situation and the fact that you think I’m hot and the fact that you against all reason are an unfortunately attractive piece of shit as well. And I was doing so well at not thinking about- about anything that would make this worse, and then you opened your big fat squawk blaster and-“ He lets out a low, keening little sound, and there’s that movement again. More pronounced this time.

Dave stares up at the ceiling for a moment or two, weighing his options, and then decides with a shrug that what the hell. “So, are you okay with me touching you, or would you sickle my hand off?”

Karkat freezes up a bit. “You mean... What the fuck do you mean?”

“Down there. Is it okay if I touch you? Asking first felt kind of appropriate - by which I mean to say, it felt like basic fucking decency.”

“Oh. Oh god.” Something is definitely happening around his crotch area, and obviously Dave’s words had only made it worse. Hopefully that’s a good thing? He waits patiently, feeling like maybe it would be uncool to rush Karkat, until the troll finally manages to squeeze out an almost bashful, “Yes. It’s- Go ahead.”

“Okay. Hold on...” Dave pushes himself up a bit, clumsily maneuvering them both until he’s more or less sitting upright, with Karkat’s legs wrapped loosely around his hips. Then he edges his hand in between them, fumbling a little bit before managing to slide it under Karkat’s pants. He’d assume the normal thing at this point would be to feel him up a bit through his underwear, but on the other hand he has no idea why he’d even assume that anything normal would apply. Because the moment his hand comes close to the waistband, something immediately slithers out from under it and wraps itself around his fingers, his palm, his wrist, and Karkat lets out another hoarse whine.

”Whoa. Okay. Okay, that’s new. Hold on, I’ve got this...”

It’s a bit thinner than what he’s going to have to think of as a human dick from now on, definitely longer, tapered at the end, and more than a little bit slimy. Lubrication, probably? He explores it as much as he can with his fingers, aware of how every movement is making Karkat shiver. Then he shifts his hand along the slippery length, following it to the base under Karkat’s underwear. Even more of whatever the slimy stuff is there, and a sort of... slit? He carefully explores the opening that the prehensile thing around his hand seems to be extending from, and then tentatively pushes a finger inside. Karkat’s legs immediately tighten around him, and he lets out a barely coherent string of curses. Dave halts slightly.

“Good swearing or bad swearing? Should I stop?”

“I-If you stop, Strider, so help me the Mother Grub I will strangle you with your own soiled underwear.”

“Got it.” He moves his fingers around gently, trying to get a feel of what he’s touching. There seems to be some sort of round things lining the orifice, especially prominent and swollen right around the opening. He thinks he’s heard Karkat use a word that corresponds with this, and as an experiment tries to massage them a bit more firmly with his fingertip.

Oh. Oh, yes that’s... Shit, keep- keep doing that. More.“

Dave had tried so hard not to think the word ‘tentacle’, but it’s pretty difficult when it writhes like that and tightens further around his wrist. Clearly he’s doing something right, though, so he might as well just embrace the strange xenoporn his life has become. Using more fingers to keep rubbing what he assumes is the ‘shame globes’, he moves his whole hand a bit more vigorously too in an attempt to provide more friction.

“FuckfuckfuckfuckFUCK, Dave, oh my god Dave please-“

It takes about a minute of this improvised combination of a handjob and fingerbanging for Karkat to pass into complete incoherence. He’s getting louder too - no surprise there - which is probably why he suddenly bites down on Dave’s shoulder, muffling the downright frantic sounds he’s making. Even through Dave’s clothes it kind of hurts with those sharp teeth of his, but he isn’t about to complain, because the way Karkat moves in his arms and every muffled sound he makes is mesmerizing. He must be pretty close, right? Should he ask if-?

“Dave, I’m- Oh f-“

That’s about all Karkat manages to get out before he twitches violently, his head tilting backwards and his lips pulling back in some sort of snarl and-

-oh god, there’s slime everywhere.

Karkat is still writhing against him, eyes screwed shut, and with every gasp passing his lips comes another wave of liquid, which seems to be produced by just about every part of his genitals at once. It’s weird and also messy as fuck, but the look on his face as he slowly rides out the climax and goes limp in Dave’s arms, and the sound of his ragged breathing as he shivers... that completely makes it worth how both their pants are soaked through by now. For real, he could just keep looking at his face like this forever, the perpetual frown for once completely gone, his lips parted and slick, a light sheen of sweat making his skin practically glow. He’s not sure he’s ever seen anything quite as enthralling.

...Holy shit, he’s just stupidly heads over heels for this shouty alien, isn’t he?

“Damn. You weren’t kidding.” Dave hides his momentary embarrassment by slowly extracting his hand, looking down at the stuff covering it. Less sticky than cum, more silky in texture somehow, and bright fucking red. A bit more translucent than what he imagines Karkat’s blood is, but it would still look pretty alarming out of context. “I think I can definitely see the point of the buckets now.”

Karkat stirs feebly in his arms, bumping the side of his head against Dave’s cheek. “Idiot.” He sounds out of breath and more than a bit dazed. “Shit, though. That was... you... oh.”

“Yeah, that was nice.” Dave tilts his head forward a bit, presses a clumsy kiss on the back of Karkat’s neck. “Weird as fuck, not gonna lie, but nice.”

“Hey, fuck you asshole. I’m not the one with hardening genitals like some sort of hoofbeast.”

“... Okay, we’re both weird and alien and so are our bits.” Dave smirks, then glances down at the absolute mess between them again. “But I think at the moment the real question is... since this isn’t actually your room or mine, how the fuck are we gonna get back to either to get cleaned up without making a preposterous spectacle of ourselves? I mean, our friends are still around, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly fancy them seeing us like this. Or smelling us. Especially the latter.”

“... Oh fuck.” Karkat looks up, a tad wild-eyed, as if half expecting all of their friends to suddenly loom in the doorway. “Damnit, Dave, they could just have walked in when- when-“

“Look, this wasn’t exactly planned, okay? I was pretty much playing it by ear, and maybe I forgot about a couple of relatively insignificant details for a moment there? I was hells of preoccupied is what I’m trying to say.”

“Yes, well- Yeah. Okay. That’s fair.” Karkat is still scowling, but Dave’s gotten pretty used to telling his scowls apart, and this one is pretty mild. Mostly embarrassment, he’d guess. “So, what are we going to do about this?”

Dave ponders the dilemma for a moment, then levels his most deadpan look at Karkat. “Do you trust me?”

“Absolutely the fuck not.”

“...Yeah, close enough.” And with that, he lifts them both into the air, Karkat still in his arms. “Let’s do this, man.”

“What?! No! Put me down, Strider, you complete no-augh!”

Hey, it works. Even though Rose and Kanaya do catch a glance of them zipping past, they are sufficiently amused - and distracted - by Karkat swearing a blue streak and flailing his arms and legs in a futile effort to get down, to notice anything about the state of their clothes. Hopefully. It seems like it, anyway.

Once they’re back in Dave’s room they can take off their dirty clothes and wash off a bit, both glancing at each other awkwardly as they do so. Neither of them say anything about it, but they’re clearly comparing what they see. The differences, the similarities. Karkat reaches out after a moment or two and pokes Dave’s right nipple, looking mystified and - after Dave gives a brief explanation - incredulous.

He fusses a bit when Dave hands him some of his own clothes, but still puts them on. He seems embarrassed by the red plush material, mutters something about exhibitionism, and then demands to know if it makes him look like ‘that asshole’, which Dave takes to mean his dream bubble ancestor. He assures him that he does not, and keeps the addendum ‘not any more than you usually do’ to his own thoughts. Maybe right now is not the time to poke fun at Karkat’s sensitivity in that matter - he can do that later.

Then they just lie there and talk, close enough touch but not actively touching each other. They’re not ignoring what just happened, or pretending that it didn’t, but it also hasn’t changed too much. They’re comfortable together still. It’ll almost definitely happen again at some point, and they’re comfortable with that too.

It’s okay. No, it’s better than okay. It’s good.