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Vriska Serket Does Not Want Children

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Vriska Serket does not want children. At 25 years old, she has many friends with children, and she has seen them covered in almost every bodily fluid that comes out of the human body and not even notice it because they're running on three hours of sleep spread out across two days. She doesn't even really want pets-- her mother had gotten her a tarantula when she was 8 that she lovingly took care of until it died last year and it ruined any more high-maintenance pets for her. She's happy to watch Nepeta's cat when she goes out of town for a weekend (it's hard to say no to Nepeta when she's a sobbing mess over having to leave her cat, and she always gets tricked into promising to take good care of him), and she's even willing to spend an afternoon with Kanaya's daughter so she can go grocery shopping, but those are never responsibilities she's wanted to take on full time.

Even if she did want children, she's very aware that it would be an awful idea. Vriska is far from what most people would consider good with children-- the one time she had watched Willow overnight, she had let the four-year-old stay up until one in the morning watching shitty movies and gorging herself on popcorn and candy until she woke up at four in the morning puking her little guts up all over her Disney princess bedding. But even then, Vriska hadn't called Kanaya and Rose because she didn't want to disturb what she was sure was kinky parent sex, she just pried up the bedding and threw it in the laundry and put on Tangled to distract the girl from her aching tummy, which mostly worked, until the movie ended, she threw up again on the couch, and then they stayed up for the rest of the night in an endless loop of Disney movies and vomit. They had banned Vriska from babysitting alone and she had agreed that was probably the best course of action.

She likes the independence of not having anyone or anything relying on her, anyway. The closest thing she has to a dependent is Terezi, who hasn't lived with her since they graduated from college but still likes to break into her apartment and get into all of her shit anyway, and that habit, while annoying, still doesn't stop her from doing basically whatever she wants.

She spends most of the time that she's not working either playing video games or going out to clubs and parties. She's not actually a huge fan of the clubbing environment-- the music is too loud to actually socialize and get to know anyone, not to mention the fact that it's usually shit, so the only option for meeting new people is to grind on them and hope they write their number on your hand and it's still half-legible in the morning, which it somehow never fucking is-- but she's also not a chump. An older girlfriend had snuck her into a club for the first time when she was 16 and it had seemed like the coolest fucking thing ever then, and she refuses to admit that she can't find joy in any other hobbies so she's insistent that clubbing is still the coolest fucking thing ever.

She meets John Egbert doing the former for once, which is always weird for her. League of Legends is an awful game for worse people, but she thrives in the toxic environment because she's pretty sure insults only charge her battery or something.

She's good enough at the game that she can basically pick whatever she wants and still win, so she likes to play Elise in literally any lane and laugh at all the "Elise top?" comments she gets before wrecking everyone's shit. On this particular occasion she's playing with Terezi, who is starting to get particularly venomous in all-chat about how the enemy jungler is some real flaming garbage and should probably quit the game, and he sends the both of them friend requests after. Terezi refuses, and Vriska is curious enough to accept, and then they start talking.

They hit it off immediately, because he's exactly the sort of dopey easy target she loves to hit on and his jokes are half-decent. The deal is pretty much sealed when they find out that they actually live pretty close to each other-- she lives in Seattle proper, he lives in some suburb called Maple Valley 40 minutes outside of the city-- and are about the same age-- his birthday is in April and hers is at the tail end of October, they're both 25. They plan to go see some action movie that she thinks looks awful and he says he's wanted to see for a couple weeks now.

They have a few dates before she ends up back in his house, always meeting up in the city. She says that they should go back to her apartment and he says that he has to be home in the morning, but she could come to his house if she wanted, and she likes him enough to put up with the 38 minute drive (he speeds a little, she notices with a little grin) if only to practically tackle him in the doorway.

Vriska is not a morning person. In college, she'd carefully orchestrated it so her earliest classes would start at noon even if it meant that she was out until 8:00 PM most nights. She is not surprised that he is not in bed with her when she wakes up, nor, when she glances at the clock, that it is 2:08 PM. It is not the latest she's ever slept, and she'd had a couple drinks at dinner even if he hadn't.

She's enticed out of bed by the smell of grilled cheese sandwiches, and she wonders if he'd made her breakfast and she slept through it or if he's simply realized that if she's slept in this late, she will probably only sleep in later if he doesn't wake her up and put food in her. She'd like to think that she wouldn't sleep that much later, but she knows that they were up past four in the morning despite how awful that decision was or his insistence that he really needed to be up in the morning, Jesus Christ.

They are the same height, she realizes, when she steals one of his shirts and it doesn't hang down too-long like the shirts she's stolen from past partners so she actually has to put her underwear back on. She doesn't know how she didn't notice it before.

There's a kid sitting at the table when she gets to the kitchen.

So there are a few things she didn't notice.

"Oh! Good morning. Jeez, I was worried I killed you or something."

"Oh please, I would have killed you," she says without thinking, and then her eyes snap to the kid sitting at the table. She looks maybe six, probably not old enough to get sex jokes. Vriska slides a little further into the kitchen, giving the kid a wary little wave when she beams at her like she hadn't noticed her until she was in front of her, and murmurs lowly to John once she's in the kitchen. "Pretty sure I wasn't conked out for six years after pushing a kid out?"

He snorts and shoots her a funny look that makes her stomach do a little half-flop that she chooses to ignore. This is an interrogation! "You are so weird. No, she's not yours. And she's seven." He says, not bothering to make himself quiet, and she glances over at the girl again.

"Is she yours?" She questions, like her brain has concocted this situation where a child just broke into his house, told him she was seven, and demanded grilled cheese sandwiches-- no, wait, grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches, she realizes, squinting a little closer at the one sitting on a plate. Then again, she guesses if a kid broke into John's house his response probably would be to make her a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich, so the situation is more plausible than it sounds.

"Of course not. I kidnapped her just like I kidnapped you. I have a real thing for keeping little girls and pretty ladies locked in my house and making them lunch." He says with a sort of deadpan humor that she is not used to hearing from him. More importantly, he's still talking at full volume, apparently sharing none of her concern for the girl overhearing their conversation. "Yes, of course she's mine," he clarifies after a minute. He slides the sandwich in the pan onto a second plate.

Vriska runs a hand through her hair. So, John has a seven-year-old. A seven-year-old he didn't bother to tell her about in the month that they've been talking. But suddenly a lot of things click into place for her-- the way he hadn't been able to play very often (he was probably so awful at the game because he'd been too busy with a kid to play much over the last seven years), that he hadn't been able to see the movie despite wanting to for a couple weeks because he's on CST (Child Standard Time), the fact that he needed to be home in the morning because of course his kid couldn't just be by herself.

Her eyes widen a little and she snaps her eyes up to his face from where she had been sort of zoning out at the floor for a minute. Her whisper grows a lot harsher, more like a whisper-yell. "Oh my God, John, was she here?"

He looks confused for a second. "Here...?" Then his dummy brain catches up and his face flushes a little. "Oh jeez, no! No, she was at her mom's. We trade every week on Sundays. She dropped her off while you were sleeping." Oh. That makes more sense.

"So... when were you planning on telling me?"

John blinks up from where he just dropped two pieces of toast in bubbling butter in the pan, and then smacks his forehead. "Fuck, I didn't say anything, did I?"

"You did not." She blinks, and then smacks his shoulder. "John! You can't swear in front of your seven-year-old, dude!"

As if on cue, the little girl gets up and shuffles over to her father, tugging at the hem of his shirt to get him to look at her. He does immediately, and she forms what Vriska recognizes as signs even if she does not know sign language. Nepeta's older sister communicates entirely in sign language, and Nepeta uses it sometimes when she is feeling non-verbal, but Vriska's always needed someone to translate for her. She keeps meaning to learn.

John signs something back and she watches his fingers with fascination. He signs like he's playing music in the air, looks unfairly good doing it which is fucking weird because it's literally hands, shut the fuck up Vriska. His daughter signs back, and then they're having a silent conversation, only evident by his little laughs and her little grin, and Vriska feels put out that she is locked out of the joke. She watches John's face instead of complaining, and he does not look focused at all, like this is second nature for him. Nepeta always looks frustrated when she signs, like she's forcing her hands to do what she wants them to.

"No bacon on mine, please," Vriska says aloud after a minute, when the awkwardness is a little too much to bear, and John's eyes snap back to hers and then down to the pan. The toast is definitely extra toasted, and has also soaked in most of the butter that was in the pan, but she doesn't mind. He opens his mouth to apologize and she just holds up a hand to stop him. "So, what's her name?"

John signs the question to the little girl, and she looks back up at Vriska with big blue eyes and a smile as she signs, very slowly and deliberately, C-A-S-E-Y. Vriska, at least, has learned most of the alphabet (maybe she mixes up D and F sometimes, but neither of those are in her name; and maybe she mixes up S and E sometimes, but Casey makes a lot more sense than Caesy), though she thinks this answer wouldn't be very helpful if she hadn't.

"That's a very nice name," she says somewhat awkwardly. John signs it. Casey grins, the same smile as John.

The conversation cannot continue because the little girl's hands are suddenly occupied by the plate with grilled cheese and bacon sandwich that John pushes into it, and she goes back to the table. "I was an idiot in highschool. In my senior year I messed around with a girlfriend and we ended up with Casey. She was sort of wake up call number one for me. Even then I don't think I was the best dad for the first couple of years. My dad died when she was three, and that was wake up call number two. I'm sorry that I didn't tell you, Vriska. When you have a kid in highschool you forget that not everybody heard about it."

She nods a bit. "If I was in your situation in highschool I probably would have run away. I dunno if I'm really parent material-- I definitely wasn't then." There's some sinking, guilty feeling in the pit of her stomach. She doesn't know why. "So the sign language...?"

"She was born with 70 dB HL and it just got worse as she got older. We don't know the cause of it, other than something genetic. Obviously her mom and I were super concerned about it at first, but her doctors have always reassured us that she was completely healthy otherwise, and then everything just sort of shifted. Now I mostly get angry that people are acting like my kid is broken. She's a really smart kid. And she's always been deaf, so it's not like it was ever something she's had to adapt to, if that makes sense." He slides her sandwich onto a plate for her, and she moves to sit at the table next to Casey.

Casey is already halfway through her sandwich, and grins between Vriska and her father with her mouth still full. Vriska makes a face. "That's rude," she scolds, speaking as loudly and clearly as she can. John still lifts a hand to translate, and Casey's face makes all the motions for laughter but the only sound is soft, wheezing breaths if Vriska listens very closely. She feels bad for thinking it's somewhat off-putting. Again, Casey lifts a hand to sign at her father, and he signs back, and they have a conversation that she is locked out of while she picks at her sandwich.

She's used to getting out of the house or apartment she's wound up in as soon as possible the morning after, but she's at John's house for a few hours after that. They play MarioKart with Casey and Vriska feels less inhibition than she perhaps otherwise would around a child with her swearing as John and Casey both destroy her ("You shouldn't have picked Toad!" "Fuck you, Toad is the best!"), and they watch probably the billionth shitty Disney movie Vriska has seen ("We should watch Treasure Planet." "What? No. Treasure Planet sucks, that's why it bombed. We're watching Pocahontas." "You think Pocahontas is better than Treasure Planet?"), and John makes alfredo for dinner with Vriska's begrudging help ("What do you mean you're not gonna put chicken in it?" "It's not necessary!" "Yes it fucking is numbnuts, give me a knife." "Are you gonna stab me?" "Probably not."), and suddenly the sun is down and she realizes that he will have to drive her home. He seems to have the same realization around the same time, because he starts to get sort of awkwardly quiet around her.

"This was fun, but there's already a chance that a crazy blind lady broke into my apartment while I've been over here and she's gonna start wrecking my shit like a housecat throwing a temper tantrum when its dinner is late soon. So uh, should I just all an Uber, or...?"

"Don't be ridiculous. I'll take you home, lemme just get shoes on the kid."

Right. The kid. There wasn't a booster seat in the car last night or whatever. Is she big enough not to need one? Or maybe it was just with her mom? Vriska guesses that makes the most sense if it's a week-to-week trade. Sure enough, when they get out to the car there is a booster seat in the back that Casey happily buckles herself into, and Vriska makes the uncomfortable choice to sit in the back next to Casey because she feels sort of rude sitting up in the front where the kid will have no idea what's going on. The sun is setting when they start their drive, and it's down by the time they pull in front of her apartment building, the three of them having been sitting in an awkward silence the whole car ride.

She leans forward with one elbow on the center console to kiss John's cheek, and waves goodbye to Casey before signing "Nice to meet you" (or, perhaps, "nics to msst you," it's hard to say). When she gets into her apartment, she's relieved to find it empty, collapsing onto the couch. Vriska has never wanted to be a parent before, but she likes John. She supposes his kid was palatable. And he only has her half of the time anyway, so she really wouldn't have to spend time with her if she didn't want to...

Still, after a minute she pulls out her phone and calls Nepeta. She answers on the second ring. "Hey, Nep. You think you could teach me sign language?"