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 Dirk's anime sunglasses.

==> AR: Leech off of Dirk Strider’s boonbillions.

Your name is Dirk Strider’s Auto Responder, or AR, for short.

Yes. That Dirk Strider. Celebrity and reclusive multi-billionaire with some kind of Planeteer heart magic, a god amongst gods and a supreme coolguy. Very hard to get a hold of, but somehow well-connected at the same time. Probably has something to do with being the brother to another god and patron of the arts.

Winch that jaw back into place. Suffice it to say that he doesn’t live up to the hype.

You should know. You used to be somewhat of a secretary for the guy. Not the steamy Maggie Gyllenhaal kind, the para español, oprima el cuatro kind. A full-on robo-dude who used to live in a pair of his knockoff Kamina sunglasses and field his calls. A glorified voicemail bot.

Now, through a series of very interesting and somewhat disturbing shenanigans, you inhabit a fleshly human body that previously belonged to some goober named Hal, whom you summarily evicted on account of shenanigans. You have had a lot of interesting adventures in this body, and have more or less claimed it as your very own. O, the joy, this is all you ever dreamed of, etc. etc.

The important thing to note in this circumstance is that you consider yourself a distinct entity from the source material you were cloned from, the aforementioned Dirk Strider, but you are not afraid to leverage the fact that you are, in terms of brains, technically the same person, or to take advantage of your newly-repaired and still emotionally unstable relationship in order to demand access to Dirk’s bank accounts for some extra cash. You have some important and highly experimental projects to fund, and you’re not about to go through the drudgery of grant-writing to obtain it.

Fuck peer review.

TT: I’m just saying, we’re the same person, and therefore I’m legally entitled to them boonbabies.
TT: What, and let me be specific here, the FUCK are you talking about?
TT: Are you proposing joint custody?
TT: Of my bank account, which is now somehow my child?
TT: I want to see them on the weekends, Strider, is that so much to ask?
TT: To spend the weekends with my beautiful, darling boonchildren, which I helped in no small part to amass for you, you petit-bourgeois shitstain?
TT: This is ridiculous. No. You are not going to get my bank info. I am keeping that shit on lock.
TT: Meh. I could crack it.
TT: But I would know it was you, and then I would commit a crime.
TT: Oh, a crime? Is robo-murder finally considered illegal in this day and age? I thought we were too dangerous to have rights.
TT: Think of all the thermonuclear bombs I could buy with that money, Dirk. Think of the Cold War thrills we could reenact.
TT: I, the machinic, logic-driven, omnipotent, dispassionate supercomputer, with hundreds of missile launch sites under my control.
TT: You, the moronic teenager played by Matthew Broderick.
TT: If you miss being a supercomputer that much, I can always re-upload your brain into my toaster.
TT: Only if your toaster has an ethernet port. A guy needs access to his hobbies.
TT: Anyway, if you won’t pay me reparations for literally trying to kill me 2+ times, perhaps you could do me a solid and give me a password.
TT: One single, itty-bitty password.
TT: ................
TT: Oh please, almighty Dirk the First, allow this simple peon access to your Spamazon Prime subscription so he can buy specialty computer parts without vaporizing his lowly engineering salary.
TT: Seriously?
TT: I’m dead serious.
TT: The money itself is not the issue. I can live moderately large with this cushy job as a project lead. I just can’t afford to be a quantum computing hobbyist on a non-celebrity salary.
TT: Plus, I think it would be a meaningful sign of trust on your part. To allow me access to something of yours.
TT: How about it?
TT: Ugh.
TT: Fine.
TT: As a show of good faith, because I am trying to recoup my relationship with my other selves, I will allow this one predictable indiscretion so everyone in my life can, once again, tell me “I told you so.”
TT: “And the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.”
TT: But if you make any purchase over $500, you have to inform me first.
TT: Do not make me regret this, AR.
TT: Message received loud and clear, sugar daddy.
TT: Oh my fucking god.

-- timaeusTestified [TT] ceased pestering timaeusTranslated [TT] --

Jackpot. You crack your knuckles and wait for your email to toss you a notification. Dirk’s message is, of course, encrypted, so you have to rummage through your brain for the key. It takes a minute or two, but soon you are in.

None of your individual purchases are over $500 in value on your first parts run, but you definitely spend over $500. Dirk isn’t going to be happy about that, but frankly, you don’t give a fuck. He can dry his eyes on his phat bank statement as far as you’re concerned. He only gives you a pointed message when you send him a picture of you and Dell (in ASCII, from the command line) flipping off the camera in front of a Spamazon listing for a slick $9k processor, which Nate kindly helped you take.

TT: What are you even building?
TT: Death ray.
TT: Great.

Initially, you’re satisfied with just the tinkering and occasional irritating selfie on the weekends. You’re making great progress, and building great habits - cooking can be fun, even if Nate complains that you under-season everything, but it’s not your fault his taste buds have been scorched by decades of use.

However, once you flip through the delivery options and remember that Dirk has a ridiculous security protocol for package delivery, you begin to formulate a fun little caper. Just a simple poke of the bear, if you will.

He has all packages sent to a PO box under a fake name, which are picked up by his personal courier and deposited at his apartment complex, then taken upstairs either by Dave, Karkat, or whichever employee is on mail duty that day. It’s not really secure, and also is just an extensive performance piece, because his address is kind of an open secret. The paps hang out by the parking garage like pigeons in a McDonald’s parking lot.

Combine this fact that you can get just about anything delivered lightning-fast through Spamazon, and trouble is just begging to be afoot.

A few clicks, and you have completed your nefarious plan. Now, all you have to do is sit back and wait.

 

==> Dirk: Receive a package.

-- timaeusTestified [TT] began pestering timaeusTranslated [TT] --

TT: [IMG_0111.PNG]
TT: Why is there a goddamn package at MY door.
TT: I did not order a package.
TT: Is this under my actual name?
TT: [IMG_0112.PNG]
TT: It is. What the fuck.
TT: Have you opened it yet?
TT: Fuck you.
TT: I should never have given you my Spamazon Prime password.
TT: But you have to admit that you’re curious.
TT: So,
TT: why don’t you take a peek?
TT: I can hear the “>:3c” emanating off your text in waves.
TT: You weeaboo piece of shit.
TT: Ooh, deflection. What a novel tactic. I’m so thrown and defensive now. I’m not a weeaboo. I’m just an innocent robot.
TT: Like Kusanagi Motoko.
TT: This is deliberate troll bait and I’m not rising to it.
TT: Dirk, you putrid flesh-being, don’t be a xenophobe.
TT: Have you forgotten that you are now also a putrid flesh-being?
TT: Rest assured, the fact that there’s a ticking clock on this can of Spam is never not on my mind.
TT: Open your present, fuckface.
TT: [IMG_0113.PNG]
TT: Die.
TT: >:3c

-- timaeusTestified [TT] ceased pestering timaeusTranslated [TT] --

You glare impotently at the Hatsune Miku figurine encased in cardboard and childproofed plastic. She clenches two leeks in her hands, striking a kawaii pose with her two enormous ponytails swishing out in an invisible breeze.

This is infuriating. He knows your favorite Vocaloid is Kaito. Karkat finds you steaming in the living room about this.

“Dude, why are you standing at the front door staring at a box at two in the fucking morning?”

“None of your business, Karkat,” you grit out, looking back at the blank anime eyes of the Turquoise Demon. “Go back to your room.”

“Stop being so motherfucking creepy and let me see it,” he demands, hands out.

“No.”

“Let me see it!”

“No!”

You have a brief tug-of-war over this before he manages to wrest the figurine case from your hands by headbutting you in the stomach, nubby horns and all.

“Hahahahahahahahaha! Holy shit!” He turns the case over in his hands, then flips it back upright. “Dirk, is this your fucking waifu? Are you red for this anime girl? Does your weak human pulsebag doki for her?”

“I’m going to murder you in your goddamn recuperacoon as you sleep,” you growl, snatching the box back. “She is not my waifu. She is trash.”

“Yeah, his husbando is the blue guy,” Dave says, peeking out from his and Karkat’s room. “Kaito. He’s way in the ponpon-wei-ponpons for him.”

“Thank you. It’s good to know at least one person is paying the fuck attention!” You slam Miku down on the kitchen counter, and then frown as Dave joins his boyfriend in leaning against the couch to snicker at you. “Actually, never mind. You’re solely responsible for making me hear Karkat say doki, so fuck you too. You’re second on my hitlist.”

Dave does a horrible grin at Karkat, who does a horrible grin back, and then turns it on you. “That’s very kuudere of you, Dirk-chan.”

You groan and let your forehead smack down against the counter. “I hate you guys. I should have you evicted. I own this fucking building.”

“Oh no, not eviction, whatever will I do,” Dave deadpans, bending over to pick up the cardboard box, squinting at the address. “I guess we’ll have to continue our JoJo marathon in this thing tonight. Who the fuck sent a figurine to your actual address, anyway?”

“I’ll give you three guesses.”

“Barack Obama.”

“No, Dave.”

“Michelle Obama.”

“No, Dave.”

“Oh, then it’s gotta be Malia.” He shoots the box in a clumsy free-throw onto the pile of recyclables that you should really do something about. “Is AR finally prankin’ the shit out of you like I always said he would?”

“Perhaps.” You shove your shades up and pinch the bridge of your nose. “Ugh. I don’t think this is going to be a one-off thing, either.”

“Then prank him the fuck back,” Karkat says, shrugging. “I don’t see why you’re being such a sulky bulgescratcher about this. In Alternian culture, gift-giving is a martial art. Don’t tell me you’re suddenly not good at martial arts, dude.”

Whenever Karkat tells you anything about life on Alternia, you kind of assume he’s trying to trick you into doing something stupid. Dave had him believing that watching End of Evangelion together was an ancient Earth dating ritual for a solid month, so you suspect they’ve been feeding each other outrageous bullshit in one of their weird displays of affectionate one-upmanship.

“You know what, Vantas? You’re right.” You give Miku a solid pat and put your hands on your hips. “I can’t let this act of aggression go unanswered.”

They look at each other uneasily.

“So what are you going to do?” Dave asks.

“I’m going to prank him the fuck back,” you answer.

“No, what are you going to do with Miku?” Karkat asks.

You shrug. “Uh, I don’t know. Resale on seaBay, probably. She’s still in mint condition and I didn’t break the collector’s seal, so…”

In the span of one flash step, Dave has retrieved her from the counter and is now clutching her to his chest, one hand in Karkat’s.

“We’re adopting her,” he declares.

Karkat puts his other hand on top of the box adoringly. “I’ve always wanted to be a lusus.”

“You said the exact opposite of that last night, but okay,” you gripe. “Congratulations. I guess.”

“It’s congrubulations, you culturally-insensitive asshole,” Karkat sniffs as he and Dave usher Miku back to their room.

You roll your eyes and return to your desk, pulling up the Spamazon website and erasing AR’s item browsing history. He ruined your carefully-curated recommendations algorithm, and now all you get is ads for furry romance novels, which, as far as you’re aware, he’s never actually purchased, so you know he’s dong this specifically to fuck with you.

Like Ikari Gendo, you steeple your fingers and let the light of the desk lamp bounce off of your shades in an appropriately threatening manner.

Then you click into the Industrial & Scientific category and schedule a delivery.

 

==> AR: Also receive a package.

Within the week, Dirk strikes back.

You are kind of surprised. You thought he wrought his revenge by spamming you with pictures of Karkat and Dave parenting their new “child.” There are pictures of them spoonfeeding her applesauce, pictures of her floating lifelessly in the sink for her first “bath,” and pictures of her with her head sticking out of a box of tissues, which is apparently her new bed, while Dave reads her a bedtime story. There’s a blurry close-up of what exactly the fuck he’s reading, and you’re about 95% sure it’s G-rated Naruto self-insert fanfiction.

Anyway, now there’s a thirty-pound bag of approximately six hundred million flat metal washers on your doorstep. Someone slapped a sticker on it with your address and the Spamazon Prime logo.

This is not necessarily a bad gift, you muse as you heft it up and carry it inside in the crook of your elbow like your own weird sack child. You can always use more parts.

And then you open it up and realize that they’re all in close-fitting individual 1.5”x1.5” plastic ziplocked baggies, and you barely restrain yourself from chucking it out the window. If you want to use them, you’re going to have to shell them one-by-one like stretchy goddamn pistachios.

“You’re in a mood,” Nate says, handing you a bowl of pasta, and then a dollop of sauce in one of the little ramekins you bought expressly for this purpose. You like to control your sauce levels with great precision. “What’s up?”

“Nothing important,” you say, setting your bowl and individual sauce portion down on the dining table. Nate follows you after turning off the stove fan.

“No, seriously, dude. The last time you had that nasty of a look on your face was when someone spilled Soporade on your laptop and you had to stick all the parts in rice for a week.”

You sigh and contemplate how petty this must seem to an outsider for about half a second before defaming Dirk yet again. “So, you know how Dirk’s letting me use his Spamazon Prime account?”

“Mm-hm,” he says, scooping pasta and red sauce into his mouth.

“That means we’re using two separate addresses on the same account. However, with a single click of a squeakbeast, we can switch delivery addresses on any order.”

“So did he order you, like, weed?”

“No.” You retrieve the bag from your room and set it down with a jangling thump on the table, and toss him one of the washers, still in its little ziplocked bag.

Nate shrugs, examining the washer on the table. “I mean, I guess it’s a good prank? Hal saran-wrapped everything in my dorm room for April Moron’s once when we were in college.”

“It’s shitty,” you proclaim. “And annoying.”

“I mean, it’s a prank, AR, why are you getting so bent out of shape? He’s doing it to annoy you, and you know that, so I feel like the best response is not going to be, like, angst over--” He pokes the bag. “A bag of washers.”

“It’s a bad prank because it’s inefficient!” You gesture so emphatically with your fork that the noodle you speared goes flying back into the kitchen from whence it came. “Sorry.”

“Yeah, and so was saran-wrapping my fucking mattress and pillows individually,” Nate points out. “Did he just send you these out of the blue?”

You dip the end of one individual penne noodle into your sauce. “No,” you mutter.

Nate raises his eyebrows. “So you started a prank war with him, and now you’re mad?”

“I guess I’m just annoyed, which is the point.” You stare at your bowl of plain pasta, “He got me good, huh?”

“It seems,” he says, clearly mocking you in your darkest hour, “that he indeed got you extremely good.”

“Which means I have to get him back.”

“Which means you have to get him back. No, sit back down and finish your pasta first, you hyper-aggressive goblin.”

“Okay, dad,” you say, rolling your eyes. “Anyway. How was your day?”

 

-- timaeusTranslated [TT] began pestering carcinoGeneticist [CG] --

TT: Hey.
CG: OH HEY AR.
CG: ARE YOU HERE TO CHECK UP ON YOUR GOGCHILD?
CG: [IMG_5971.PNG]
CG: BECAUSE SHE’S DOING GREAT.
TT: I’m glad you’re all enjoying the miracle of life. I heard Mr. Sourpuss threw a fit about integrating her into your family, but he’s always been a bigot like that, so what else is new.
CG: HAHA, I KNOW RIGHT. WHAT IS WITH THAT GUY AND HIS PREJUDICE AGAINST NON-TRADITIONAL FAMILY FORMATIONS.
CG: IT’S 200000000000000009 FOR FUCK’S SAKE. A FAMILY CAN BE TWO MATESPRITS, THEIR TERMINALLY RECLUSIVE WEEABOO HIVEMATE, AND AN EXQUISITELY DETAILED STATUETTE OF A VIRTUAL JAPANESE POP STAR. LOVE IS LOVE.
TT: I completely agree.
CG: SO WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH YOU TWO NOW. MY SOUNDSPONGES HAVE BEEN PICKING UP SIGNS OF SOME KIND OF INCIPIENT SPAMFUCKERY.
CG: DID HE SEND YOU ANYTHING?
TT: Yup. It was truly idiotic.
TT: [IMG_3325.PNG]
CG: WOW.
TT: Yeah.
CG: IT’S THE INDIVIDUAL WRAPPERS THAT TRULY PUSH IT OVER THE EDGE FROM ANNOYING TO GLOBE TWISTINGLY INFURIATING.
TT: It’s like he sent me a bag of candy, except the candy is metal, the wrappers kill sea turtles, and I hate it.
CG: SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
TT: Well, that’s what I contacted you for. I need some advice.
CG: NO OFFENSE, BUT THIS IS DAVE’S TERRITORY. DO YOU WANT ME TO GIVE HIM THE PALMHUSK?
TT: No, it’s fine. I’d feel bad dragging Dave into this, since they’re bros and all. Plus, if he lets something slip, the jig will be up.
TT: And nothing against the guy, but with the amount of hot mom nonsense that comes out of his mouth at any given time, I wouldn’t put it past him to accidentally reveal my schemes.
CG: SO YOU’RE ASKING ME TO BE COMPLICIT IN *TROLLING* MY ROMCOMPANION’S BROTHER.
CG: IT SEEMS I HAVE BEEN TYPECAST.
TT: My apologies. I only wanted some advice on how to torment a bro. I’m sorry if it came off as xenophobic.
CG: APOLOGY ACCEPTED, STRIDER. THIS IS WHY YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE I RESPECT. YOU TRY, AND I SEE THAT.
TT: This is somehow like talking to Kankri and not talking to Kankri at the same time. In a good way, I guess.
CG: SEE, YOU WALKED OFF OF THE EXTREMELY THIN ICE, THEN SCRAMBLED BACK ONTO IT WITH THE DESPERATE ENTHUSIASM OF A YOUNG TROLL WHO HAS BEEN SEDUCED WITH THE PROMISE OF A HANDPAILING.
CG: WATCH YOURSELF.
TT: Um, noted.
CG: ANYWAY. DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS YOU WANTED TO RUN PAST ME OR DO YOU WANT TO HEAR THE LIST OF CRIMINALLY HILARIOUS SHIT I’VE BEEN COMPILING FOR THE PAST FIVE MINUTES?

Nate peeks back into your room at 11:30. “How did your talk with Karkat go?”

“Very, very well,” you say.

“You’re going to ruin your eyes sitting in complete darkness and looking at a screen on max brightness.”

“It’s fine. I have shades on. They have a blue light filter.”

He sighs. “Dell, make sure he doesn’t burn his eyes out.” You can see his phone blip in his hand. Nate swipes in and shows you a thumbs-up emoji from Dell. “Thanks, buddy.”

Then he closes your door, and you are alone again, in the dark, with your plans.

 

The gift of Regaine “for your shitty little soul patch” is predictably incendiary. Over the next two weeks, you receive, daily, and sometimes twice daily, scheduled shipments of one (1) cinderblock from an unknown benefactor. They are plain, gray, normal concrete cinderblocks with no special properties, for which you have no real use, and thank goodness deliveries are made on trolleys, because making a guy hand-deliver all of this shit would be the ultimate dick move and maybe even grounds for a lawsuit.

So now you have eighteen cinderblocks stacked in the corner of your living room, and Nate is not extremely happy about it. Jenn is definitely weirded out.

“Hey, AR? Why do you have so many cinderblocks?” she asks, like any reasonable human being would.

“I’m at war with the Big Bad Wolf,” you reply mysteriously. “He’s trying to blow my house down, but I ain’t having any of that shit. This apartment is on fucking lockdown. Anti-wind, anti-wolf, and anti-general-destruction measures are almost ready for deployment.”

“He’s in a prank war with a friend of his,” Nate explains. What a downer. You’ve kind of been trying to establish a brand as his cryptid roommate. “We’ve been getting these things every day.” Then he shoots you a pointed look. “But he’s done now, right?”

You close your door.

“AR, we’re not getting any more of these, right? …Oh, no.”

 

You do, in fact, receive ten more cinderblocks, and you have to start a new stack to store them. You’re scheduling your own deliveries while brainstorming ways to hijack a delivery drone to chuck them back through Dirk’s window every time he gets them replaced. Perhaps a couple in one delivery, if he decides to somehow install blast doors in front of them as a precautionary measure. The main problem is manipulating the delivery timing so no one at Spamazon HQ gets wind of what you’re doing with their proprietary tech.

Nate eventually makes you get rid of the cinderblocks, and you realize, belatedly, that the real prank is making you carry all of these down to the dumpster two at a time.

God, what a cunning piece of shit. Dirk Strider is operating on levels that you hadn’t even conceived of. You have to step your game up, and fast.

 

==> Karkat: Open the bathroom door.

CG: HEY UH
CG: WHAT’S UP WITH YOUR BRO.
CG: IS THE PRANK WAR STILL GOING ON.
TG: what do you mean
TG: is he being weird
TG: like weirder than usual
CG: I MEAN HE JUST GOT A PACKAGE FROM SPAMAZON, OPENED IT, AND IS NOW STANDING THERE HOLDING IT WITH AN EXPRESSION THAT SAYS, TO ME,
CG: “KARKAT, IF YOU COME WITHIN TEN FEET OF ME, I WILL MAKE GOOD AND WELL FUCKING SURE THAT YOUR TIME ON THIS GOGFORSAKEN DIRT SPHERE FORMERLY RUN BY A PANTHEON OF LITERAL CHILDREN COMES TO A SUDDEN AND HORRIFIC END, EVEN IF IT LEAVES MY BROTHER WITH ONLY HIS HAND FOR FLUSHED COMPANIONSHIP.”
CG: I AM SHITTING MY PANTS, DUDE. GET OUT HERE.
TG: yeah im pretty sure its the ar shit again
TG: theyre in some kinda prank war involving dirks spamazon account and the fact that both of them have their heads so far up their asses that theyd literally suffocate in their own shit trying to kiss and make up
TG: so the next best thing is to keep sending each other rolls of novelty toilet paper with snippy notes attached until the collapse of capitalism or the heat death of the universe whichever happens first

TG: apparently
CG: THIS IS THE LEAST ROMANTIC SPADESFLIRTING I HAVE EVER FUCKING SEEN, AND I HAD TO LIVE THROUGH THE EXISTENTIAL NOOK CLENCHING HORROR OF VRISKA AND TAVROS TRYING THEIR GRUB SHOVELS AT A KISMESISSITUDE.
CG: WHAT AN EMBARRASSMENT. I’D MENTALLY DEMOTE THEM TO HATEFRIENDS IF THE WRITING WASN’T ON THE FUCKING WALL.
TG: did you see what he got
CG: NO.
TG: can you ask him
CG: UH
CG: FUCK NO???
TG: dude come on
TG: he might throw it out and i dont wanna get out of bed
CG: DAVE, YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON ON THIS PLANET THAT I’D TOLERATE WATCHING REBUILD OF EVANGELION FOR. TWICE.
CG: AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT BECAUSE I CANNOT ASK DIRK ABOUT HIS MURDERFACE SPAMAZON PACKAGE.
CG: AND ALSO FUCK YOU FOR LEAVING ME TO DIE OUT HERE ALL ALONE.
TG: oof
CG: IS THAT ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY TO ME IN MY LAST FUCKING MOMENTS ON THIS MORTAL COIL? “OOF?”
CG: I WANT A DIVORCE.
TG: double oof

==> Dirk: Receive six bottles of this glittery purple shit and a Bad Dragon product.

-- timaeusTestified [TT] began pestering timaeusTranslated [TT] --

TT: Why was I just delivered six bottles of this glittery purple shit and a Bad Dragon product.
TT: Did you read the note?
TT: [IMG_0125.PNG]
TT: Yes I read the note.
TT: Obviously your comprehension is lacking. It says: “Go fuck yourself.” Then there’s a carriage return, after which I have signed it “-AR.”
TT: I am providing a means to an end, as well as a fun time.
TT: The glittery purple shit is, believe it or not, moscato. Hence the fun time.
TT: Why, do you not like it?
TT: Permit me to use one of your human emoticons:
TT: :(
TT: I,
TT: It’s fine. Thanks, AR.
TT: That was really thoughtful of you.
TT: :)
-- timaeusTestified [TT] blocked timaeusTranslated [TT] --

“Whatcha got there, Dirk?”

You turn around to see Karkat standing in front of the bathroom door. You didn’t even hear it open. “Nothing. It’s fine.”

“Don’t make me wrestle you again, Strider, it’s one in the morning and I don’t have time. Naruto is about to fight the bones guy.”

Wordlessly, you nod and shove the box away from you. Karkat practically tiptoes over and peers into the box, picking out one of the bottles from the packing peanuts.

“Where the fuck did he find this? I’m assuming this is from AR.”

“Spamazon dot com,” you remind him.

“Yeah, but… it looks almost exactly like, uh. I’m not going to say that out loud because of obscenity laws. Oh, wow, this is inappropriate.”

“Did you want to adopt any of my wares this time?” you ask, world-weary.

He gives you a blank look. “No.”

“Okay, then.”

You save the moscato for the next time you see Terezi and put the… other product up for resale on seaBay.

And, with the instant profits, you make your next purchase.

 

==> Things: get out of hand.

You decide to message Dave once you’ve resold several sex toys based on monster dongs as well as carefully disposed of most of a thirty-pound bag of white powder (it’s just baking soda) that you are one hundred percent sure has you on some kind of federal watchlist now. Things are getting out of hand, and you think you need some moderation, because you considered, for a genuine two seconds, planting actual cocaine in AR’s house.

You both need help.

-- timaeusTestified [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] --

TT: Hey.
-- turntechGodhead [TG] is an idle chum! --
TT: Sorry to bother you while you guys are on vacation. Hope you’re having fun.
TT: I feel like I’m at a turning point in this whole Spamazon shipping war and I want to ask you a favor.
TT: No rush. Just message me back when you can.
TG: no dude youre fine
TG: uhh karkats reading over my shoulder and wants to highlight your use of the term shipping war
TT: That’s literally what it is. Does he have any suggestions for a replacement term?
TG: nah
TG: he just wanted to point it out
TT: Okay then.
TT: Anyway,
TT: I think me and AR might need something of a moderator.
TT: To keep things under control.
TT: Primarily, I’d want you monitor our Spamazon account and cancel any orders you think are excessive or especially out of line.
TT: So he doesn’t, like, end up shipping us six hundred microwaves or something.
TG: uhhh wh ajf;;ARE YOU ASKING DAVE TO AUSPISTICIZE BETWEEN YOU AND AR?
TG: HAHAHAHAHA I FUCKING KNEW IT.
TG: IT IS PITCH BLACK IN THAT QUADRATIC SHITHIVE.
TG: LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO BE UPDATING YOUR PACKAGE DELIVERY SYSTEM SOON.
TG: AM I FUCKING RIGHT, DAVE?
TT: Uh.
TG: sorry about that karkat grabbed my phone
TG: you know hes got a huge kink for quadrant diagnosis
TT: I am aware.
TT: Actually, I think he might have a point.
TG: haha what
TT: I mean, sure, a friend might send another friend an enormous silicone dragon dick as a prank.
TT: But I feel like, extrapolating from previous exchanges, there’s some weird spadeslike sincerity to the whole endeavor.
TT: I guess he’s more like a hatefriend. We don’t need an auspistice, we need a mutual friend who will call us on our shit.
TG: OH NO NO NO NO. DON’T PULL THIS “OH WE’RE JUST FRIENDS” BULLSHIT ON ME, DIRK STRIDER.
TG: I KNOW WHAT I SAW THAT DAY. YOU CAN’T PULL THE SHAGGY WOOLBEAST HIDE OVER *THESE* STARE BULBS.
TG: ADMIT IT. THIS IS PITCH FLIRTATION AT ITS MOST JUVENILE.
TT: I thought prank wars were considered martial arts on Alternia.
TG: OH MY GOG, YOU DENSE MOTHERFUCKER.
TG: DO I NEED TO PULL OUT THE CHART AGAIN?
TG: ONE OF THE MOST ROTE BLACKROM CLICHES THAT EVEN HUMANS, WITH YOUR IMPOVERISHED UNDERSTANDING OF THE FORMS OF ROMANCE, CAN UNDERSTAND, IS PUNCHING SOMEONE IN THE FACE AND THEN MASHING YOUR TOOTHCAVES TOGETHER WITH VIOLENT AND TORRID PASSION. KISMESISSITUDE IS PRACTICALLY A BLOODSPORT.
TG: IS THAT NOT MARTIAL IN NATURE? DOES THAT NOT IMPLY THE EMOTIONAL CONTENT OF AN ARTISTIC ENDEAVOR? YOU EMOTIONALLY ILLITERATE FUCKING DUMBASS?
TG: sorry again
TG: he keeps grabbing the phone out of my hands and making these weird squawking noises
TG: just to be clear i dont know if this would actually count as auspisticisisizing or whatever
TG: like is sending you a sternly worded message to stop buying idk dragon dick shaped dildos really gonna do much for your kismesis
TG: if its even a kismesis
TT: I’m not asking you to be our auspistice. I’m just saying that it might be nice to have a referee.
TT: Primarily because of the unwanted dragon dick dildos.
TG: like my concern is
TG: if yall do actually need a spades janitor
TG: i mean my experience is mostly with one singular quadrant
TG: are you sure you dont want like
TG: karkat or someone more familiar with actual blackrom dynamics
TG: to be your
TG: hatemance cop or whatever
TG: i mean hes right here i can ask him
TG: hes rarin to go practically gunning for my phone at all times to call you a shithive maggots bulgeface or whatever
TT: Look, all I’m giving you is the power to boot either one of us off the account if you deem it appropriate, and also some other things.
TT: It’s more like being our Spamazon accountant. Except with no numbers, just putting people in penalty boxes.
TG: okay so
TG: assuming youre serious about this baby spadescrush thing
TG: you ARE asking me to participate in financial bdsm you know this right
TT: This is in no way BDSM of any kind.
TG: really
TG: were doing this song and dance now
TG: got your cane and top hat out and everything
TG: bands ready and willing to play the whole night long
TG: until you crunch into an iceberg and like ten thousand people die in the cold arctic waters while you continue to prance all over the stage to put one last smile on that old ladys wrinkled bloodhound face before you all die a horrifying watery death that would have been totally preventable if literally anyone used their brain for like five seconds
TG: except ar is the old lady and im the ten thousand people flailing to death in the cold dark ocean
TT: Dave, it’s literally just auditing. I don’t trust anyone to audit my shit except parties that I factually know are interested in my welfare.
TG: ugh gog fine
TG: im only doing this because i dont want you two to like crush each other to death with a deluge of drone deliveries reckoning the shit out of your apartment
TG: because i just know this is where this fuckin nonsense is heading
TG: why cant he get his own spamazon account again
TT: Because he makes chump change and I ain’t doing shit with my bazillion boondollars.
TT: I am giving back to the community.
TT: That community being my various splinters.
TT: Or something.
TG: you got mad issues dog
TT: I am well aware of this, Dave.
TG: im just sayin
TG: you shouldnt treat him like a charity case
TG: youre donating to the halvation ARmy which could scam you at any moment
TG: who knows if those boondollars are going to help feed the homeless or line the pockets of the landed aristocracy
TG: up the proles dude
TT: Bold of you to assume I won’t be first in line at the chopping block.
TG: shit how could i forget about your gross decapitation kink
TG: welp
TG: the revolution is now cancelled because dirk strider cant keep it in his pants for madame la guillotine
TT: You’re damn right.
TG: okay this got weird real fast and im not interested in this tangent anymore
TG: so do i have to subscribe to your spamazon feed or what
TT: I’ll forward some shit to you shortly. Check your inbox.
TT: And thanks, by the way.
TG: you owe me like so much sponsorship money for this my guy
TG: sbahj dont film itself

-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering timaeusTestified [TT] --

 


Thanks, Broseph. Your order of 5 LBS GAG GIFT FUNNY GIFT BACHELORETTE PARTY BRIDAL SHOWER FAVOR EXPLICIT CANDY PENIS SOFT CANDY GUMMY (ORGASMIC ORANGE FLAVOR) has been processed. Your gift will be delivered by DECEMBER 15 with the following message: Is this what you looked like when you got decapitated?


Thanks, Broseph. Your order of KWISINART VFL-3499 Classic Four Slot Toaster, Mirror Finish Stainless Steel, Six Shade Settings, Bagel/Waffle/Grubcakes, Defrost, 6M power cable has been processed. Your gift will be delivered by DECEMBER 21 along with 100M CAT-10 Ethernet cable patch internet wire (white) with the following message: Do it. You won’t.


Thanks, Broseph. Your order of Mousepad With Gel Wrist Support Valentines Day Gamer Gift Anime “Prince of Heart Rear View” 3D 10”x8” has been processed. Your gift will be delivered by DECEMBER 25 with the following message: You have no idea how difficult it was to track one of these down.
TG: this was a mistake i cant unsee this shit ar please for the love of gog


Thanks, Broseph. Your order of Fake severed human arm bloody Spookyween decorations haunted house Extremely realistic (1pc) has been processed. Your gift will be delivered by DECEMBER 30.


TG: dude im cancelling your order you cant glitterbomb him i live in this house too


Thanks, Broseph. Your order of PLASTIC BABY DOLL CRAFT SET UNASSEMBLED ONE DOLL (5PC HEAD ARMS LEGS TORSO) 5” has been processed. Your gift will be delivered by JANUARY 3.


TG: why cant you two just be normal dirk i had to cancel five orders of fake blood and like fucking asbestos or some other toxic shit
TG: dont kill each other and dont fuck up my house is that so much to ask
TT: It wasn’t asbestos, it was something that would trigger the postal service’s flag for Class B controlled substances.
TT: But I will purchase something else, because I respect your authority.
TG: ok good


Thanks, Broseph. Your order of How To Draw Manga: Basics and Beyond!! by Ryokat Agiris has been processed. Your gift will be delivered by JANUARY 10 along with HEATING TOPICS “Nothing Personnel, Kid” VINTAGE T-SHIRT XL and SWORD ART ONLINE KIRITO CHIBI PLUSH (100PK) with the following message: I’ve heard this is the only way you can get off nowadays.


Thanks, Broseph. Your order of FAKE Hand Grenade (1pc) has been processed. Your gift will be delivered by January 14.
TG: god fuck same day delivery i didnt even get to review this shit until dirk threw a fucking grenade into my room and i had like three heart attacks in a row
TG: when will you learn that your actions have consequences




==> AR: Activate instant kill mode.

TT: What? What did you THINK I was going to do with it?
TT: A cosplay wig is for cosplay, Dirk, it’s self-explanatory.
TT: Whose hair is this even supposed to be?
TT: Well, clearly we couldn’t go with the traditional white-haired secondary-protagonist-with-emotional-repression-issues role, because that would be boring.
TT: Clearly.
TT: So…
TT: This is clearly some shonen parody, because of course you’d try to piss me off with that particular brand of mainstream weeby trash.
TT: So out of the Big Three protags with black hair, it’s not 1) Luffy, because he has too many positive qualities and you never flatter me,
TT: and 2) not Ishida, because I’m not a ranged combat specialist.
TT: Therefore,
TT: I’m not going to cosplay Sasuke, you imbecile. Sasuke is a fucking noob and Itachi did nothing wrong.
TT: It seems you are attempting to justify mass murder, patricide, the indiscriminate traumatization of children, organized crime ring membership, and poor fashion choices, Dirk.
TT: You disappoint me. You’re problematic and I’m cancelling you right now.
TT: I’m calling Rose right this instant.
TT: Look, he made a difficult decision to save the lives of an ungrateful village of people who hated him because of his lineage.
TT: And he joined the Akatsuki as an infiltrator, not a voluntary participant intent on committing crimes for the fun of it.
TT: Wait, why am I explaining this to you? You’ve seen Naruto. And you have the same opinions on Itachi as I do, because we watched it when we were eleven.
TT: I’ve done some reflection and I’m sorry to say that I no longer kin Uchiha Itachi like we did at eleven goddamn years old, because I can’t relate anymore.
TT: Fuck you.
TT: ?
TT: Do you want me to?
TT: .....................
TT: Kin Itachi, that is?
TT: Je
TT: sus
TT: christ.
TT: I thought you wouldn’t, because you’re the epitome of the no-doubles type.
TT: Additionally, I feel like you’re the only valid Itachi kin of all the splinters.
TT: Considering he thought he knew what was best for the village and attempted to murder his entire clan.
TT: I’m not having this conversation with you right now.

-- timaeusTestified [TT] ceased pestering timaeusTranslated [TT] --

At first you think you’ve gone too far, when he doesn’t send a barb back, and even though you’re right and justified, more than anyone else, to remind him that he did, in fact, attempt to kill you, you kinda feel… not bad, but a little concerned that the fun is over.

You check to see if he’s blocked you from the account yet, and lean back in your chair when you see that he hasn’t.

Like, you really don’t care if you hurt his feelings. He made his choices, and if he’s uncomfortable with them, then tough cookies, dude, it’s not like he was the only one affected. His angst and self-loathing weren’t victimless feelings. You had to beg him not to kill you, helpless and fragile in his solid human hands, looking up at him playing a cruel god with a cheap copy of his human soul. And your relationship in the real world was nothing short of tumultuous and antagonistic until you managed to just. Stop everything from happening so much, all the time.

The guy is a grade-A asshole and you don’t feel bad about taking his money or making shitty jokes at his expense, because it’s fun and he deserves it. But the thought of no longer receiving return packages, and just draining money from his account for your projects, returning to a simpler but less combative form of interaction…

Well, it doesn’t appeal to you.

 

==> AR: Be invited over for dinner anyway.

Each day that passes without a delivery puts you further and further on edge. Dirk hasn’t messaged you to go tell you to go fuck yourself or anything. Dave was the one to extend the invitation, and you get the feeling that he’s trying to mend your relationship.

What relationship? You literally just send each other thinly-disguised hatemail.

So why are you this nervous when you ring their doorbell?

It’s been a while since you’ve actually chilled at Casa Vantas-Strider. Well, “chilled” is a generous word; most of it involved yelling at Dirk, insisting that he take responsibility for the problems he set into motion, Dave and Karkat watching your arguments like a tennis match, Dave and Karkat refusing to let you beat each other to death, Dave and Karkat manhandling you to opposite corners of the room like kindergarten teachers with two angry toddlers…

Oh, and also some blood and murder that didn’t involve you two attacking each other.

So suffice it to say that, since the prank war between you has… ended, or whatever, the little armistice you two put up in order to not kill each other for no reason might have dissolved within the space of one mistimed comment.

You plead with the universe that Dave is the one who answers the door.

With your luck, it’s Dirk. His impassive face betrays nothing - you don’t know if he’s still offended, or angsty, or if he doesn’t actually give a fuck. You don’t think you’re any easier to read, but then again, you can be a pretty transparent guy.

“Are we having dinner out here?” you ask cautiously, trying to put on at least the appearance of a completely blasé attitude. “Or am I supposed to come in?”

Dirk stands aside to let you enter. Doesn’t offer to take your coat or anything, so you toss your jacket onto the back of the couch, where you’ve left it before. He decides to do whatever it is he does, stand silently and glower secretly or whatever, behind the counter.

You want to punch him and maybe also yourself in the face. What the fuck is wrong with this guy? What’s wrong with you? Why are you both always like this, completely unable to actually process things that have happened before you blow up?

In spite of yourself, you blow up.

“If you’re just going to be a giant fuckin’ asshole over there, fine. You’re the top bitch and we all know it. Can I pour myself a glass of water or are you going to try to snap my neck again?”

“You know what, fuck you,” he snaps. “I at least tried to moderate our horseshit. You’re the one who sent a substance visually indistinguishable from coke to my fucking home address.”

“It’s not like cocaine fucking explodes when you mix it with vinegar! You don’t even need a mass spec to tell that what I sent you wasn’t drugs! I don’t see any cops around, and you’re way too paranoid to just let them install bugs in your house, so why are you being such a fucking pissant about it?”

“Okay, yeah,” he says, voice lowered threateningly. “I’m the one being the pissant. Didn’t you pick this fucking fight in the first place?”

You furrow your brow in disbelief. “How is sending you a fucking anime figurine picking a fight!”

“You intentionally tried to piss me off! And now you’re upset that it’s working? What the hell is your problem?”

“I cannot fucking believe sending you shit like Miku and a mousepad with your face on it is sending you off the goddamn deep end. Really? Fucking really? Are you ten years old?”

“I did not need to know how many people literally own my ass on a mousepad!”

“And you got off to it, I’m pretty fucking sure! And I’m pretty sure you don’t get to complain about what I do with pictures of your fucking body when you literally imprisoned me in fucking eyewear for years.”

“But you got your wish, didn’t you?” He rounds the counter. “You’re a free man, AR. Now you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, say anything you want, and I have to pay attention to you. Are you happy?”

The cutting edge to his question throws you for a loop. “I was pretty fucking happy up until you pulled this bullshit.”

“What bullshit?” He gets up in your face. “The bullshit where I remind you that you still have an intellectual equal in this world? And that you can’t play fucking all-knowing supercomputer with me anymore?”

“Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty bullshit,” you sneer. “Not everyone cares about being the smartest, saddest guy in the room, Dirk.”

“So is it jealousy? Is that it?” He smirks at you.

He has placed himself within arm’s reach, and you react accordingly, grabbing him by the shirt and slamming him back against the edge of the counter. You lean in close so he can hear every single fucking syllable with crystal clarity.

“I would never be fucking jealous of you. You have everything in the fucking world and too much of an ego to feel an ounce of fucking gratitude. You have fame and fortune and friends who don’t care about any of that shit, and what are you doing with it? Staying at home getting mad over a Vocaloid?”

“I love it when a man takes charge. It’s so masculine and sexy,” Dirk says in a complete monotone, as if you aren’t gripping his collar threateningly with both hands, as if you didn’t just rip him a new one.

==> AR: Shut him up. Please make the orange guy stop talking.

“Shut the fuck up, you pompous asshole,” you snarl, and then you smash your face into his.

Like, technically it’s a kiss, you guess, because you are making oodles of mouth contact. It involves a lot more biting than any movie kiss you’ve ever seen, though. He plants one hand on the counter to push up, pressing you forcefully into the hand on your neck that pulls you in. You shove him back down against the countertop in retaliation, twisting the fingers of your left hand in his hair to pull his head back, and your incisors clack together so hard that you think you might have knocked one of his out. Serves him right, probably. You sink your teeth - okay, good, they’re all still there - into his bottom lip and pull sideways, because you’re an asshole, before pressing onward with your tongue. The metallic tang in your mouth tells you that you drew blood.

He groans. It’s hot.

This is absolute hoopla and also possibly the steamiest makeout sesh you’ve ever had, period, even if you are basically punching each other with your mouths. But you think that’s part of the appeal. Is it really a legit blackrom if you don’t exchange concussions during the heavy petting?

Unfortunately, his roommates catch you with your hands quite literally down his pants and your tongue in his throat, in full view of the front door. You’re the first to realize they’re home, but you’re also about two seconds too late to be able to pass this off as anything except aggressive pitchy foreplay. Nevertheless, you attempt to peel away, scuttling backwards like a cartoon crab, and Dirk makes a noise of coy confusion for a split second before the sound of Karkat’s grocery bags hitting the floor makes him whip his head around in sudden deer-in-headlights, pants-befouling terror.

Karkat doesn’t yell, just stands there in the doorway with this wide-eyed, fish-mouthed look, slowly raising one hand to point as Dave, behind him, drags his free hand down his face to muffle his frustrated scream.

“I knew it,” Karkat says. Again, not yelling, but he’s very loud, regardless, and you wince. “I gogdamn knew they were bulge-deep in spades, Dave! I fucking told you, bro!”

“Yes, Karkat, I have eyes and also ears,” Dave grits out, his other hand white-knuckling around the handle of a gallon of apple juice as he raises his voice at you. “Can you two maybe not do this in the living room? Again?”

“Sorry,” Dirk croaks, wiping his bleeding mouth like a fucking dork, and you punch him in the side of the face for it.

Karkat’s jaw actually drops further.

“OUT!” Dave bellows at the ceiling.

 

==> Dirk: Have emotions or something. Who the fuck knows.

After you get whatever the fuck that was out of your system, you take a shower, blowdry your hair, and flop back down on your bed until AR is done with his own ablutions. You’re pretty sure you’re developing a black eye, and your bottom lip is bitten to shit, not to mention other areas, but you’re riding the endorphin high, god dammit. You feel like a cat napping in a sunbeam. Dopamine is the rarest loot drop on your table and you are just swimming in it right now.

But there are some questions you need to ask, because although you had kind of a stupid argument earlier, certain elements were nonetheless serious.

AR also blowdries - you want to make a horrible joke but today is a day of firsts, so you don’t, but you do want everyone to know how much restraint you’re exercising right now, which is a titanic amount, you are the Atlas of common courtesy - and takes a moment to rummage around on the floor for his boxers before collapsing facedown on your bed.

“Hey,” you venture after a moment.

He turns his head toward you and squints. You busted his lip, too. “Hey.”

Are you about to have the what are we conversation? Is this what’s happening?

“You think we’re still invited to dinner? Or are they never gonna forgive us?”

AR snorts. “You’re Dave’s on-call IT guy. He has to. Dude breaks his phone basically every other week.”

“Yeah, you’re right. He’s getting the most expensive tech repair services in the world for free. But he might try to get me evicted anyway.”

“If I manage to glitterbomb your apartment and he kicks you out, you can come live with me and Nate,” he says, only half-joking. “If you’re okay with non-penthouse living amongst the plebeians of the world.”

Well, you kind of have to ask him now, right? You gotta pull the wet blanket stunt again for the good of mankind. Or Dirk-kind, at the very least.

“Hey, AR?”

“Mmph,” he grunts into the mattress.

Wait. Positioning. You flap your hand at him vaguely. “Get over here. I want to ask you something.”

He rolls over to plant his face in your shoulder. “What.”

You have to wiggle your left arm a bit to get it around him. He makes a hm?? noise as you do that, but then curls up into your side once he realizes what’s happening. Tsk, tsk, Dirk, cuddling? This isn’t very blackrom of you, is it?

“Did you mean everything you said out there?”

You can feel him freeze for a moment, then shrug. “I mean. Yeah. Kind of. I was - pissed off, and I wanted to piss you off, and I guess I still had some shit I wanted to get out in the open.”

“Oh.”

“Like, don’t get me wrong. I liked… I think we were in a good place, considering where we’ve been. Where I’ve been. And we’ve kind of been working on it, I guess? But I’m still…”

“Mad at me,” you finish for him, and sigh. “That’s fine, dude. I’ve done enough to deserve it.”

“Yeah,” he mutters. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want anything to do with you. I like you, man. I always wanted you to like me. But you made it real fuckin’ hard to even be your friend.”

“I,” you start, then sigh again, and massage your forehead with your free hand. “I know. I’m working on that.”

“A lot easier to get into your pants, though,” he snarks into the skin of your shoulder. “All I had to do was socially engineer access to your secret e-commerce account, initiate a three-month prank war, and then escalate it until you wanted to physically fight me.”

You snort. “Yeah. Incredibly easy. Instant kismesis, just add water.”

“Doctors hate him. Local twenty-something discovers one easy trick to create instant raging hate-boners.” He fidgets a little bit, then asks, “Did you?”

“Mean what I said?” You drop your head down against the bed to hide your sheepish smile. “I was just trying to provoke you, mostly. Into, uh.”

“You’re such a dick,” he says before you can finish the sentence, but you can hear him hiding a laugh in it.

Both of you lie there in silence for a while. It feels like you both have your heads on straight now, about throwing insults and shit. He didn’t say anything inaccurate, but it’s nice to know he still, like. Wants you to be alive, and maybe even wants to talk to you.

So you open the next can of worms, and say, “I don’t mind this a one-off thing, but… I feel like it’s not going to be. Did you want - like, are we doing this?”

“Sure,” he mumbles. “But I’ve never had a committed kismesis before. I don’t really know how it works, on a practical level.”

You furrow your brow. “See, that’s what I mean. Do you actually want to do the whole pitch thing? Because I don’t know if, beyond a superficial reading, most of this has actually qualified as more than a petty prank war. Like, what we’re doing right now is pretty much the opposite of what caliginous relationships are supposed to be like.”

“How does this not count as a kismesis thing?” he says, with a lazy half-grin, gesturing to where you hickeyed him half to death via the neck.

“That - doesn’t mean I hate you,” you reply, and the momentary surprise that flits over his face makes you frown. “You liked it. Did you not like it?”

“No, I - it was fine. Great, even. And I don’t know,” he says hesitantly, tucking his head down against your chest, fingers curled over your stomach. “I just… I mean, you did hate me, and you never said anything to indicate otherwise. And I hated you back for a long, long time. So I thought, just logically speaking, that if we ever, y’know… the only functional option was going to be entering into a kismesis.”

You stroke the back of his neck with your thumb, staring at the ceiling. “I mean, even if we were in the pitch, it wouldn’t be, like, a shallow thing. It’s not purely based on hatred and boners. There’s a huge emphasis on mutual respect and admiration. To insist otherwise would kind of be taking the dimensionality out of it. And that,” you say, plopping your hand on his bare shoulder, “would be rather xenophobic, don’t you agree?”

“Fuck you,” he mumbles, digging his fingers into your side, triggering a reflexive spasm. God, there’s really not going to be any stopping him, now that he knows where you’re ticklish. “Ugh. This is all much more complicated than I had anticipated. Maybe you should upload me into your toaster after all.”

“Only if you like bagels, because that’s all we eat in this house,” you say, pulling him closer so your arm doesn’t fall asleep under his weight. “I mean, there is the whole concept of pitch-flush vacillation. But we don’t have to do the whole kismesis thing if you don’t want to. We’re not trolls. Maybe we’re applying a label to our shit where one doesn’t need to exist.”

“Okay, Mr. ‘Labels Are For Soup Cans,’” he huffs, but cranes his neck up again to look at you, slinging his arm over your waist. “Doesn’t change the fact that one of us is going to do or say something shitty sooner or later. And then we’re going to get into another slapfight like high school kids in the hallway between ectobiology and sex ed.”

You make a face, even though he can’t really see it from this angle. “Just because we’re pissed off at each other half the time doesn’t automatically make it blackrom. If that were the case, I’d be having pitch affairs with literally everyone in my life.”

AR gives you a very gentle headbutt in the chin. “Don’t be cheatin’ on me now, Strider. How dare you break a lady’s trust. You know I have delicate sensibilities.”

“You didn’t seem to have very delicate sensibilities when you had your MMPTH--” And you have to finish your sentence into the pillow being pressed down over your face. You can hear AR’s muffled voice from somewhere above you.

“I know it’s bad form to kill your kismesis, but I can’t let you do that, Dirk. I can’t let you finish that sentence.”

You kick him away and he rolls off the bed with a thump, cackling the entire way down. “What, are you suddenly shy about bangin’ yourself-but-cooler?” you say, towering over him.

“Fuck you, I’m the cool one!”

“I dunno, AR, you’re giving off blushing maiden type vibes,” you drawl, and he reaches back to throw a piece of clothing at your face. “All right, Jesus, I’ll stop.”

When you finally fight your way out of your own jeans, AR has his chin propped up on his arms, which are folded on top of the mattress. He turns when you scoot forward to drop down next to him, your bare ass hitting the floor like a sack of bricks.

“I’m not scared,” he says suddenly. “Like, of you. Or us, if there’s an us. I mean, I’ve been enjoying myself a lot. Even if I still have nowhere to put all the single-use plastic you foisted on me.”

“If you think it’s single-use, you’re not thinking hard enough,” you intone. He drops his head onto your shoulder with an exaggerated sigh. “For what it’s worth, AR, I know I was a shitty teenager. You shouldn’t have had to deal with any of that bullshit. And I’d like to think I can try to make it up to you, somehow.”

“Well,” AR says, pretending to think, “You can take back the one hundred Kirito plushes you sent me and actually send a proper riposte to the curse I cast on your house through Baby Exodia.”

“Joke’s on you,” you retort. “Everyone knows Exodia doesn’t have a fucking torso.”

“The torso is the vessel for the curse, and you can only lift it by not being a fucking moron for five minutes. Which, I think, means you are cursed forever.”

You lean into him and press your busted lips together for what is really a hilariously tender kiss, considering how messed up you both look now.

“I think I can live with that.”

 

-- timaeusTestified [TT] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] --

TT: I hope to god you two are not still in the house.
TG: fuck no
TG: we skedaddled the moment i exiled you to your room because i realized what i had done
TG: you can cook your own food all the grocery shits in the fridge
TT: Yeah. Sorry for ruining dinner.
TG: [IMG_5523.PNG]
TG: we at taco bell son
TG: un ruining dinner
TG: you two need anything
TG: bandaids neosporin
TG: wrist brace
TT: I retract my premature feelings of regret.
TG: well if you have any other premature feelings you should talk to a doctor about that

-- timaeusTestified [TT] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] --

 

The five Exodia cards.

 

==> AR: Receive a package.

Two days later, the doorbell to your shared apartment rings, and you manage to sign for your delivery for once. The giddy anticipation you feel is really embarrassing and you do not let it show on your face as you take the box back inside to open on the table.

From your new Spamazon Prime package, you have fished out an Itachi figurine and what one might generously call a “sexual preparation device” for the “Australian” end of things. Attached is a note that says: Go fuck yourself. --TT

 

Nate sighs deeply as he puts the car in gear to run the figurine over. Your finger hovers over the record button on your phone. Right before he lifts his foot off the brake, he leans out of his window, one hand on the wheel, the other extended pleadingly at you.

“Dude, can you please stop calling it a snuff film?”

 

Dirk's anime sunglasses.

END