The nattily complex was a great marker of how far they had come. With its polished mahogany tables, glossy, hardwood flooring, and overall honey complexion, it became something of a standard for future buildings waiting to be erected. The smarter of the ex-Prospitians and Dersites were given the task of running the fine establishment, and their service mirrored the elegance and refined taste loyal patrons had come to expect.
Pfft. What am I saying? It's a surprise those black-and-white-carapaced sycophants can even poor a drink without spilling it on themselves, but Rose had wanted a bar. The remaining trolls and humans had siphoned enough grist from Past John to appease her wishes and prevent another Grimdark Rose accident. Last time that happened, a hollow, newborn library was brought to its knees and the rest of Lubress's residents were forced to hide all the pictures of Rose's mom in a time capsule.
Lubress. That's what they named that hunk of rock destined for repopulation. They were trying to piece their universes back together, and attempt to obtain some semblance of a home. Lubress was all they got. Not that it was ugly or anything, it was actually quite stunning a planet, but reconstruction was going slower than they wanted, and only a few trolls were working towards repopulation. And there, of course, was the curse they had yet to fix. Doc Scratch doesn't give out property without a price. They had just a few sweeps to replenish Lubress, lest the universe explode.
What could Doc get out of this little arrangement? No idea. I wouldn't peg him as a sadist, but it's surely possible he just wants to watch a universe explode. Maybe pop a little popcorn, screw open the top of a glass Coke, nestle in the clouds like an angel cliché, and listen to the screams from down below. Nothing's set in stone, but that's my guess.
So far, they had two towns built. The small planet was sized to harbor at least twelve. It had already been one and half years.
Some had already given up; marked on their calendars so accurately precise was the date of apocalypse. Sollux and Aradia had been more accepting, but were determined to live out the rest of their lives happily together. Kanaya went through a bit of a Rainbow Drinking crisis, but recovered and eventually came to terms with the universe ending. Gamzee went missing for a few weeks, but when he returned, he was chill as well. Karkat and Terezi were the only trolls left with hope, and they were acting on it as if it was a whispered instruction from God. No one worried about the humans' faith. They were persistent and like hell they would be deterred so easily.
And while the building did nothing to assist their community-esque reconstruction efforts, it was something of a milestone, to show how intricately their salvaged civilization was enhancing, how much hope there was left for the rest of them. But for Rose, of course, it served a much different function. It was her haven, the place to go when she felt able, necessary, or just plain simply had nothing better to do, which seemed like always nowadays. It looked to all other inhabitants of the diminutive planet like she only left the place to sleep in her self-dubbed house. Or maybe it was the other way around. Maybe she only left her home to hold up appearances at the shack she slept in, for her perspective on the manner was truly vice versa. Maybe somewhere along the way, late nights and early mornings served in a mahogany bar stool knitted a dependence or fondness or maybe even an un-breached commitment to the one-shopped franchise. She wasn't suffering from alcoholism, though, it was just that now she could understand her mother's thirst, and was very much successful at living up to that aspect of her life.
That's how John knew where to find her. All it took was a sprinkle of common sense, and a familiarity of the two towns.
He was given no response from the bartender (barista?) upon entrance besides a clawed finger pointing to a seat and then him. He walked over to Rose's stool and hesitantly sat in the adjacent seat. The obsidian Dersite pointed to their wine selection and gave an expression reminiscent of a raised eyebrow when all he ordered was a glass of water.
"If you're going to apologize, don't bother. It's not your fault."
"But I really am sorry, Rose. Truly." He tried, a desperate air to his overall complexion.
"I know you are." She took a thoughtful sip of her apple martini, "That's just the kind of person you are, John. And I'm fine with it, really. I hope you don't find this offensive, but it's not you I'm worried about."
"But — I'm still just really sorry."
"And while it's not you I'm worried about, you're worried about me. You really do have a heart of gold on that sleeve of yours. But there's no need. I'm fine."
"You're not fine, Rose." He folded his arms across his chest and tilted his head to the side, "What was that word you always liked to use? Oh, yeah. Denial."
"I did throw that one around quite a bit, didn't I? But it's irrelevant with my case. Being as involved in psychiatry as I am, wouldn't you say it'd be hard not to notice if something was wrong?"
"I don't know. Maybe we're dealing with this weird loop-hole thing. Like when I couldn't see what my subconscious was drawing on all of my posters. Maybe you can't see the clock properly enough to know how many hours you spend in here."
"Are you suggesting my judgment is bias? You underestimate my devotion to psychiatry. I wouldn't overlook its impartiality even if I was the one with the problem. You insult me."
"Gosh, Rose, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. I'm just saying maybe your subconscious is being all…ninja-like and hiding the fact that you have a problem."
"And now you're questioning my subconscious's fidelity? I assure you, it's not doing a thing behind my back. In fact, it's right in front of me, 'ninja-like' properties where I can't see them, and hands where I can."
"Ha. You sounded like Dave for a second."
Rose's lips drooped unnoticeably at that.
While Dave had his cool and detached shades to separate his emotions from the physical world, Rose had an invisible mask compiled of visual apathy. Very few times it would slip, but even then, it was ever so slightly and barely noticeable. It seemed like reminders of her and Dave's shared genes were always a special occasion; not the rule, but the exception, thus deriving a rule of its own exception.
"I told you it wasn't your fault."
"No, not about that. I know how hearing that kind of stuff bothers you and I said it anyway, that's my fault."
Though surprise buzzed around her head, and begged for further questioning as to either what he meant or how he deduced that so easily, her face remained impassive and maybe even just a tad bit snooty.
"I'm sorry. I don't follow. Why are you apologizing?"
He huffed an exasperated sigh and rolled his eyes.
"Nothing. Never mind. Forget I said anything."
"Oh, now I've gone and made a mess of things. What did I say this time?"
"Maybe you're not the only one in your position, Rose. Maybe when Karkat suggested repopulation, I didn't really want to give a definite answer, and I wasn't ready, but you don't think I had someone in mind too? Rose, you're a great friend, the best, but this just—"
"It's fine. I have enough insight to calculate a relationship between you and me wouldn't work out. I can't fathom how Dave and Jade do it. It's just — we're too different for something compatible. You don't get what my sarcasm means when it really counts, and I'll always second guess your sincerity even though I have no tangible reason to. And I'm not even quite sure on why I do. It's just the way I operate."
That's how Dave operates too, John narrowly missed saying.
"You said there was someone you had in mind." She took a sip from her fruity, salt-topped beverage, "Jade…?"
He stuffed his hands in his pockets and looked away. That was all the answer she needed.
"Well, this is really messed up, isn't it?" she let out a soft, bitter laugh and a smile that had nothing to do with mirth, "I mean, imagine if we had quadrants. That would make things even more confusing."
"You know, Rose, it's really subtle. But I think you're less composed when you drink."
"Wait. No, what? I'm still on this quadrant thing it could totally fix ev'r'thing!" She exclaimed with a tipsy air.
"Whoa, Rose, I—"
"'Twas a joke, Egbert."
There was a bit of a quiet moment, because they both knew Dave would've gotten it, and Jade wouldn't have done it. And being reminded just wasn't what they needed right now, when there was so much more to build, to expand on. They had to keep their eyes on the prize of existence instead of moping around a bar all day for such an insignificant cause as unrequited love.
The Dersite finally delivered John's drink and he ripped open the straw.
"So, did you get to see Aradia and Sollux's kid, yet?"
"No, unfortunately, I've been a bit busy."
John snorted, but it went through his straw and caused air pockets to bubble in his drink.
"Well, um, he's an adorable kid…troll…grub-looking…thing…I guess."
"Don't sound too enthusiastic."
"I just…wasn't expecting him to look like that. I mean, he really is a cutie, but I thought the only difference between trolls and humans were horns, blood color, and skin color. It just caught me by surprise."
"Not the only thing that caught you…"
John gave an alarmed look.
"Kanaya told me you fainted. Lucky for you, I heard a certain Gnostic gardener was there to catch you."
John just blushed and stared into the clear liquid contained within his glass, not daring a glance at the blonde.
"Well, what did you expect? We were the only humans there to help with her giving birth. Because, I mean, trolls normally have the mother grub do all that stuff for them, but now it's not an option. And you know Sollux wasn't going to move an inch…but how did Kanaya find out?"
"No idea. Word gets around, I guess."
"What about Terezi and Karkat, hmm? That's going to be one heck of a scream fest. I bet you he'll faint or something."
"Shut up. Worse than me, 'cause he's Karkat."
"Oh, yes, of course. 'Cause he's Karkat."
"Whatever, you know, Terezi's turned him into something of a housewife. I think he's more excited about the baby — err, wriggler than anyone else."
"Why wouldn't he be, it's his child. Grub. Offspring. Whatever."
"Well, I don't know, I'd peg him as one of those guys who doesn't really care during the whole pregnancy, but when the…offspring… is actually there, he'd gush all over it or something. Then again, I guess I did kind of expect him to act like a douche. But I guess it's more tolerable since he's doing it her name…? I don't know."
"Has he gotten on to you for breathing your stupid human breath in front of her?"
"Well, it's worse for me. Can't get anywhere near them without him screaming some nonsense about how he can smell the alcohol on me or how the kid could catch my grimdark."
"Still. It's a little exciting, don't you think? I mean, the baby could arrive any day now!"
"I guess a new face around here could be quite refreshing, yes."
"Oh, don't be so formal! You know you're excited too!"
"Well, anyway, I should probably be heading out. Me and Gamzee are going to see if we can't slay some stray imps for more grist. Roads don't build themselves, you know."
"Shouldn't, um, Dave be going with you two? I mean, doesn't he normally participate in your little grist outings?"
"Actually. I think he might be busy."
This certainly caught her by surprise.
John held open the door with an expectant smile. A dark flash tore through the unblocked threshold, throwing up John's hair and clothes in a mad whirlwind of speed. He chuckled to himself and walked out the door as Dave materialized in the seat he had once claimed.
"One orange Faygo." He told the Dersite.
Well, that was certainly an interesting little experiment. Hope you guys enjoyed it. I had planned on making this a chapter-fic, but that all depends on reviews. Love it? Hate it? Would like to see an under-appreciated pairing? Lay it on me, bro. As long as you review, I'm chill. You don't even need an account. Just go ahead and press that irresistable button.
You know the one.