Chapter

13

Dave and Dirk don’t talk that much about the heavy stuff. They don’t need to. Dave can hear his brother’s voice in his head.

Not, like, literally. That would be insane. But Dave knows what his bro is like. Dirk, or a version of him, instilled in Dave a way of living and thinking that would, for better or worse, persist far beyond the first thirteen years of his upbringing. And even on Earth C, it’d be kind of tough to say the dude’s general overbearing demeanor wasn’t sufficient to perpetuate the conditioning. So it’s rare he has to guess what Dirk would say he should do.

But when it comes to the boondoggle involved with triangulating his interpersonal relationships with Jade and Karkat, Dave is shooting blanks. He has no idea what to do, no idea what to say, and for once, the ghost in his head doesn’t either.

Once he might have expected the end of the haunting to come as a relief. But now that he finally sits quietly in his own mind, with nothing but his meager faculties to guide his hand, the silence is deafening.

There’s no time to waste, so he flies directly to his bro’s studio. He needs this. He needs his bro to tell him what to do. Whatever issues the guy might have, Dave has always been able to count on Dirk to give him, as Jake might say, the solid dick.

Dave knocks on the door, loud, but there’s no answer. Nothing when he calls out Dirk’s name either. Then he tries the knob, and the door swings right open.

DAVE: uh

DAVE: hey

DAVE: bro

DAVE: are you there?

Still no answer. Dave lets himself in. It’s not like his bro would actually mind. They’re family, after all.

DAVE: bro

DAVE: hey

Silence throughout the studio. Dave starts flitting from room to room, checking for any signs of Dirk.

This is strange. The guy doesn’t usually go out to do things, unless those things are actively being televised.

DAVE: dude are you like gone i have something i really need to talk to you ab–

Dave all but jumps out of his skin with a shriek when he turns to find the last individual in the world he ever expected or wanted to see.

GAMZEE: HoNk.

DAVE: jesus FUCK

GAMZEE: HeY wHaTs ShAkInG mY mAn :O)

DAVE: gamzee what the FUCK

DAVE: god i think i shit my pants

GAMZEE: i’M sOrRy To HeAr ThAt My FiNe BrOtHeR.

DAVE: gamzee what the fuck are you doing here

DAVE: did you follow me here

GAMZEE: No MaN. i’Ve BeEn WaItInG fOr YoU. hOnK.

DAVE: oh thats so much better

DAVE: why the fuck are you doing that

GAMZEE: bEcAuSe I’m HeRe To BrInG yOu ThE gOoD nEwS.

DAVE: the news of what???

GAMZEE: ThE nEwS oF mE, mY mOtHeRfUcKeR.

GAMZEE: i’M hErE tO hElP yOu GeT aLl Up AnD rEdEeMeD fRoM yOuR wIcKeD sInS.

GAMZEE: PuT yOu On A rEaL aRc To SaLvAtIoN, hOnK.

DAVE: oh my fucking god what fucking sins

DAVE: wheres dirk

GAMZEE: tHeRe’S nO nEeD tO wOrRy AbOuT hIm. :o)

GAMZEE: YoU’rE gOnNa GeT wHaT’s BeSt FoR yOu. He ToLd Me ThAt, AnD i’M gOnNa MaKe SuRe HiS wIsH mAkEs LiKe A mOtHeRfUcKiNg MiRaClE aNd GeTs TrUe.

GAMZEE: hOnK!

DAVE: did i just walk into a horror movie

DAVE: did my bro get fucking axe murdered by a clown

DAVE: jesus christ

DAVE: dont tell me his body is down in the basement right now

GAMZEE: YoU dOn’T gOt AnY nEeD tO gO aNd CoNcErN yOuRsElF wItH hIs MoRtAl FlEsH bOdY oUt HeRe In ThIs CaNdYcAnE wHiRlPoOl BeYoNd ThE iNfInItE bLaCk WiNk Of ThE wIcKeD sInGuLaRiTy, My NiNjA.

GAMZEE: a SaCk Of MeAt AnD bOnEs In OnE lIfE oR tHe NeXt Is OnLy A mEaNs To ThE fInAl ToTaLiTy ThAt WiLl DaMn AnD rAiSe Us AlL iN bRiLlIaNt ApOtHeOsIs.

GAMZEE: In ThE oNe TrUe LiFe We AlL fLoW fRoM tHe OnE tRuE pEn,

GAMZEE: aNd EvErY hEaD rOlLs DoWn ThE pAtH tO tHe OnE tRuE hAnD.

DAVE: what the fuck did any of that mean are you drunk

DAVE: n/m i dont give a shit

DAVE: out of my way pagliacci

Dave has had enough of this buffoon. He pushes Gamzee aside, and the clown goes absolutely flying into one of Dirk’s messy work benches. The vagrant jester ricochets off disorganized piles of scrap metal and anime paraphernalia like a Tony Hawk jackass clipping and flopping into an unending oblivion of pain. The circus ruckus starts a vicious Rube Goldberg machine of cartoon physics, knocking every cinder block, crusty puppet, and Japanese sword in a tornado’s radius off balance and avalanching them catastrophically onto the hapless clown’s torso.

Dave gives only a second glance to the ludicrous pandemonium. He blows open the door to the stairwell and heads down, bracing himself for the worst. But he doesn’t find Dirk in the basement either.

The only thing of note is a slumped figure in the center of the storage room, covered in a thin sheet. Dave approaches and rips it off to discover... Wait. What is this?

It’s obviously a robot, but it’s a complete mess. The form is feminine, but the head is still bald, and the face has no cover, revealing its skull-like interior. The body doesn’t have any proper protective plating yet, so it’s all a mess of wires and loose mechanical bits. Clearly a work in progress. But Dave can’t help but wonder what exactly it is that Dirk’s been working on here?

Then Dave notices the note. It’s carefully folded in the limp palm of the robot’s hand. His heart jumps into his throat, and something in his stomach drops.

Oh, no.

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