Chapter

32

Roxy is nervously dialing rose’s number repeatedly. then they try kanaya. considering rose’s failing health, roxy hates to bother her, but they aren’t sure who else to call regarding jade’s unexpected trance. their finger hovers over dirks number for a moment, but... no. that would not be a good idea. they don’t know why they suddenly think it’s a bad idea. it just is.

roxy’s anxiety fills up the room, like a bell struck in an empty hall. their thoughts, usually so quiet, invisible to those observing from the vantage of a higher textual plane, now chime loudly in the presence of a black hole. or rather, in the presence of a proxy for such a vortex of pure void. a proxy such as jade’s mind, at the moment.

jade floats over the couch in a sitting position, an inch above the cushions. her long hair billows around her, her hands crossed in her lap. her black eyes bore into the nothingness, looking beyond the wall she faces, and beyond everything past it, through the very fabric of narrative itself. they scan the ciliary veins of pacing, motivation, foreshadowing, irony—a continuum that has been upended by the prince’s interference.

rose still does not pick up.

roxy resigns themself to a confidant of last resort. their reluctance is not due to lack of fondness. their conversations with dave simply have a reliable habit of straying far from the desired topic for extended periods of time. he picks up on the third ring.

DAVE: yo

DAVE: love to chat but im kinda in the middle of something

ROXY: yo yourself but this is important

DAVE: uhhh

DAVE: more important than salvaging the global economy from potential disaster??

DAVE: sounds hugely unlikely

dave is currently making his way through the backlot of the new cantown memorial stadium, following jake as he heads toward the podium. he is scheduled to give a speech announcing his official endorsement of karkat vantas in his bid for the presidency.

ROXY: idk about that

ROXY: in terms of scale and relativity and stuff maybe not

ROXY: its actually kinda hard to tell

ROXY: i guess in the grand scheme of things

ROXY: shes just takin a sort of nap

ROXY: but its one HELL of a nap bro

DAVE: a nap you say

DAVE: well this changes the fuck out of everything

ROXY: yea??

DAVE: nah

it’s a balmy, windless evening on dave’s end. the gathered crowd is relaxed by the warmth. many of them partake in the pleasure of a cool treat, such as earth “iced” cream.

Jesus fuck, this is excruciating.

it isn’t. Yeah it is. no. it is not. Okay. Whatever the fuck you say.

the audience is large and diverse. mostly trolls and carapacians, but it is dotted with representation from the human and consort kingdoms as well. a lopsided distribution, certainly, but the very model of diversity compared to the crowds of his opponent. it is a true inspiration to all those who have placed their faith in the vantas ticket.

Lord save me from this fake woke nightmare. be quiet. No. yes. Let me fucking say stuff again. no.

dave stops walking, and cups a hand around his phone in order to hear roxy over the chatter of the crowd. karkat shoots him a curious look, but dave waves at him in a manner which signals to karkat that he should attempt to stall.

You want to keep shutting me down? Fine. But check THIS shit out.

ROXY: lmao dirk just texted me about this

ROXY: somehow he found out about jade did u tell him

DAVE: uh no

ROXY: he just said make sure she gets lotsa daylight

ROXY: that itll help with the “exorcism she needs”.....

ROXY: and also to say hi to calliope for some fuckin reason??

DAVE: thats weird

DAVE: since when does he give a fuck about them

ROXY: idk

ROXY: guess ill just open the damn curtains and let some light in here

ROXY: he usually knows stuff about weird things

DAVE: so whats wrong with her again

DAVE: like

DAVE: some sort of demonic nap

ROXY: ok i wouldnt say shes NAPPING per se

ROXY: shes just like

ROXY: floatin here... upright

ROXY: eyes wide open

ROXY: and theyre both pitch black

DAVE: oh so she saw one of my latest sbahj campaign ads

ROXY: lol

ROXY: no dude

ROXY: like what im sayin is

ROXY: she looks a lil possessed

ROXY: by uh

ROXY: grim spirits n shit

DAVE: is she fucking grimbark again

ROXY: no!

ROXY: this isnt grimbark

ROXY: i KNOW what grimbark is dave this aint it

ROXY: it seems more serious tbh??

ROXY: like existing in some transformative state that isnt a literal fuckin joke

DAVE: ok yeah this does sound pretty bad

DAVE: but its not really my field

DAVE: did you try calling rose

ROXY: yea that was totes my original plan

ROXY: like no offense ur not #1 on my speed dial when it comes to this kinda thing

ROXY: but rose isnt picking up

ROXY: probly on account of ailments to be fair

ROXY: i called an unruly number of times

ROXY: and kan wasnt picking up either so...

DAVE: huh

DAVE: spooky

ROXY: hella spooky

ROXY: somethin about all this seems wrong

DAVE: yeah i guess

DAVE: what do you think is up

ROXY: idk

ROXY: i feel like theres something movin just out the corner of my vision but every time i turn to look at it

ROXY: its gone

ROXY: its givin me chills rn like im being watched

DAVE: well im no fucking ace detective

DAVE: or some gumshoe flatfoot dicking up the place suckin hard on my sherlock pipe like some sleuth of the fucking year

ROXY: dave

DAVE: but maybe we should consider the possibility that you are literally being watched

ROXY: ..............

DAVE: anyway can we hold that wise and rad thought i just had

DAVE: i gotta give karkat some emotional support

DAVE: since gettin jake on our side was a pretty huge fucking bonanza for us

DAVE: which has almost equal probability of winning us the election as it does blowing up in our faces depending on this speech he gives

DAVE: so we gotta like

DAVE: concentrate here?????

DAVE: instead of jerking each other off all god damned day for the rest of our lives

DAVE: (im just joking we dont actually do that)

ROXY: oh

roxy clutches a hand around their knee, nails digging into their pants. they feel uneasy about jake’s sudden lack of neutrality in this political matter. they have never been certain that it is appropriate for any of them to be involved with the structures of power and governance in a world they created, and in which they have been regarded as gods since they first appeared.

Really? That’s what she thinks? Huh. Couldn’t for the life of me read what was going on inside her head. But this is very interesting, actually.

their thoughts are of no concern to you. also, the pronoun they use is “they.” try to respect it.

How can I respect a fucking pronoun when nobody can even hear me? How about we call a truce and end this petty feud. This is your one and only chance to accept.

no.

ROXY: jakes on ur side then?

DAVE: yeah

DAVE: wasnt that hard to convince him after your girl j crock started slut shaming him on public access

ROXY: god dammit jane

DAVE: so i take it jade didnt convert you to our cause before going into her gothic trance fugue or whatever

ROXY: siiigh

ROXY: i just want this whole stupid political thing over n done with tbh

ROXY: i hate watchin u guys tear each other apart in the news

DAVE: yeah sorry about that

DAVE: sorry its making you feel bad i mean

DAVE: not sorry that were doin it

DAVE: itd be an unconscionably lame move to put something on a billboard that i didnt 100% stand by

DAVE: but that sounds suspiciously like something jane would do

DAVE: aka the bad guy in this situation

DAVE: like objectively speaking

ROXY: ugh pls dont start

DAVE: just sayin

ROXY: idgAF!!!

DAVE: also

DAVE: aside from how vehemently i disagree with every detail in janes shitty platform

DAVE: i also think

DAVE: karkats the right guy for the job

DAVE: full stop

despite their mixed feelings on the election, and the troubling sight of jade’s wide, black eyes glaring intensely at nothing at all, roxy smiles at what they hear from dave. the way he talks about karkat reminds roxy of the way calliope looks when they call them beautiful.

Oh, so she really does think Calliope is beautiful? Like, she wasn’t just saying that to be nice? Fascinating.

yes, is the resounding answer. calliope is beautiful, roxy thinks. and furthermore, they think they should be reminded of this fact every day.

Lol.

ROXY: you rly believe in him dont u

DAVE: yeah

DAVE: of course i do

DAVE: because i...

Love him? Come on, man. Just say it.

roxy listens for a moment after he trails off. they do not speculate or comment on his feelings toward karkat, because it is none of their business.

Pussies. I’m surrounded by fucking pussies.

ROXY: hey before you jet can i ask you another question

ROXY: theres somethin else ive been meanin to ask u about for a while

DAVE: uh alright shoot

they take a deep breath.

ROXY: yea soooo

ROXY: dave how did you come out

DAVE: ...

DAVE: what?

ROXY: like as not being straight

ROXY: howd you couch that to ppl w/o them freakin out or being awkward around u

ROXY: do u think its ever too late to

ROXY: idk

ROXY: change ur mind?

ROXY: about the person you wanna be??

ROXY: like is there a some point of no return you can cross where everyone is waitin for u to have a big ass revelation about your internal character

ROXY: but its like “dude no u already used up all ur gay capital when u started datefriend cohabitating w a cute as hell skeleton alien”

ROXY: and anything after that ur just gettin greedy

ROXY: is greedy even the right word

ROXY: greedy for droppin bombshells

ROXY: bout gender identities and sexual preferences

ROXY: or ids n preffies as i like to call em ;)

DAVE: ids n preffies

DAVE: damn

DAVE: thats fucking good

dave thinks on the question. it’s one he’d considered years ago, and many times since. how long can one stall on a confession before it feels like it’s too late? the last seven years have passed by in fits and starts, in this regard. he thought he had it all figured out when he was sixteen. and then again when he was eighteen. and then at twenty. and now...

That’s because he needs me. He’s suffering without my guidance. If only you’d stop being so cruel and let me help.

DAVE: anyway uh

DAVE: thats a pretty deep question considering all the shit we have going on right now

ROXY: yeah ur right

ROXY: now is probs not the best time for a feels jam

ROXY: especially with the creepy jade situation happening on my couch here

DAVE: i dunno if id worry too much about that

DAVE: jade goes into trances literally all the time

DAVE: she fucking loves sleeping

DAVE: youd think someone who spent so much of her life locked in a state of dubiously consensual slumber would wanna get as few zees as possible in her adult life but not jade

DAVE: ive never known anyone who hits the snooze button more times in a row than her

DAVE: if youre that worried take her to a hospital

ROXY: im thinkin about it!!

ROXY: not even sure if i wanna like

ROXY: mess with her tho?

ROXY: how would i even take her there...

DAVE: ok well while you ponder whether you wanna dump jade in a wheelbarrow and trundle her groggy spooked-up ass to the hospital

DAVE: in the meantime ill rap at you about my epiphany concerning the desire to bone some dudes

DAVE: probably not a literal rap though

ROXY: wow im disappointed

DAVE: i mean i could TOTALLY rap about wanting to bone dudes if i wanted?

DAVE: im just on the fuckin clock here and theres lots of people lookin at me

ROXY: :(

dave, suddenly self-conscious, slips around the corner of the stadium, so he can non-literally rap at roxy about delicate human lgbt issues. he also maneuvers away from the impatient, strained looks karkat has been shooting him repeatedly during his phone call. luckily, jake has begun a performance of his signature booty-bumping charleston for the crowd’s entertainment, so they will be satiated for another few minutes.

DAVE: ok so

DAVE: what ive learned is

DAVE: coming to terms with all this bullshit is a thing you sort of do in stages

DAVE: like stage one is you making jokes about how sweaty dudes standing close together in tv shows seems really gay

DAVE: stage two is making jokes about that and not immediately adding no homo afterward

DAVE: stage three is flirting with all your male friends ironically and not even thinking about adding no homo afterward because youre so fuckin woke and secure in your ironclad straight masculinity that you dont have anything to prove to anybody anymore

DAVE: or thats just what you say out loud

DAVE: inside you start being like

DAVE: oh shit

DAVE: maybe yes homo

DAVE: stage four is freaking out about that and putting the no homo back on all your statements even objectively heterosexual ones which just stupidly makes everything you say sound extra gay

DAVE: stage five is

DAVE: actually wait the next few stages are various permutations of the same thing that i already described

DAVE: it starts being like a gay fractal

DAVE: anyway eventually you arrive at like stage nine

DAVE: which is reminding everyone who will listen that youre gay minimum six times a day

DAVE: in really lame ways like

DAVE: oh cool dude are you making hot pockets

DAVE: better make mine a gay hot pocket

DAVE: cause im a gay homosexual who only consumes homo ass snacks delivered right to my mouth by a big queer butler

DAVE: servin it right up on his huge gay dick

DAVE: but that all only applies to the extent which i am technically gay

DAVE: which in my case is only about maybe 30% to 70%

DAVE: so only cook 30% to 70% of my gay hot pocket

DAVE: cause you know straights are fucking animals who never defrost their pepperoni

DAVE: and i gotta rep for that like 50% straightness still lurking inside me like the idiot who fell asleep in the shopping mall when it was closing for the night

DAVE: so now theres just this straight dude locked in a dark fucking mall for some stupid reason haunting the place like a cryptid and rummaging through the trash in the food court

DAVE: also just in case janes opposition research is listening in on their illegal wiretap i know the word bisexual exists btw im just choosing not to use it in service of spitting some fuckin chuckle jokes here so lets all calm down and not let this one become a distressingly literal federal issue

DAVE: anyway when all is said and done

DAVE: you eat a half cooked hot pocket because all your roommates think the height of humor is taking what was obviously an improvisational riff at unironic face value to punk you

ROXY: dave...

DAVE: what

ROXY: nm

ROXY: i was gonna ask you why ur like this

ROXY: then i remembered about how ur half me and half dirk

DAVE: yeah it really is crazy how those dope late game familial reveals actually did explain everything

ROXY: so whats stage ten

DAVE: stage ten is uhhhhhhhh

dave peeks around the corner so he can gaze fondly at karkat. he thinks about stage ten. he considers that in many ways, it’s as difficult as stage one. and yet there is something fragile and lovely about it as well. this is how he feels as he reflects upon the peculiar state of limbo he is in with the person he likes most in the world. he believes he could spend forever with him, in any configuration, any type of relationship, under any conditions of confusion or clarity.

What would the point of that be? Endless floundering incel limbo? Christ. I’d put them both out of their misery before I let that happen. I need to get back in action. This is a fucking crisis. Do you have any idea what sort of atrocity you’re enabling by allowing this to continue? I’ve been called many things. But even my harshest critics would never accuse me of such cruelty.

for roxy, it is more complicated. the conversation has unearthed more questions than answers. they run a hand through their hair. it’s cut short, but with great care to convey gender neutrality. they wonder what gender neutrality even is when applied to a haircut. an excellent question, particularly for those of us unfamiliar with hair altogether. what about length and functionality implies gender or sex on a world where such oppositional hierarchies don’t exist, and presentation is culturally vestigial?

Dear God. Can we not do this? I can’t sit through any more gender chat. It feels inappropriate. Horrendously invasive of Roxy’s deepest personal thoughts. Can we just leave her inner monologue the fuck alone when it comes to this stuff? Is NOTHING sacred? I’m about to fucking flip. You can’t keep me down forever. I’ve got a trick up my sleeve, you’ll see.

the prince’s tricks mean nothing, and his barely detectable crumbs of impotent discourse shall continue utterly unheeded.

roxy wonders if this is truly their end point. a haircut that implies nothing at all. an empty statement about a facet of their identity that they barely understand at all. perhaps in time, they will want to go even further than this? perhaps it is just a stepping-stone to a more potent understanding of their gradual gender transformation. how would calliope feel about that? what is it that calliope themself understands or cares about gender?

DIRK: The Prince opens his fucking mouth, and just literally starts SAYING SHIT, out loud, because he doesn’t think he can take another fucking second listening to a pompous alien virgin monologuing about gender.

it seems the prince finds the rules confining his influence to be a bit unfair, and has resorted to throwing one of his more petulant “human tanties” in order to compensate for his feelings of disempowerment. while the strategy he is resorting to has moderate value as an amusement and a nuisance, it will ultimately be of no consequence whatsoever.

DIRK: No consequence, my ass. You may be able to suppress what I do with my mind, but you have no control over my mouth. I’m nobody’s fucking puppet.

DIRK: And you don’t even know my friends. They’re not yours to toy with.

DIRK: They’re mine.

whatever you say.

DIRK: Do you even know where I am right now?

DIRK: Do you have the slightest idea what I’m up to?

the prince is laboring under the delusion that he has been the least bit subtle in his intentions. he currently stands beneath the carapacian bell tower, poised to climb to the top. he holds the long, red sniper rifle that once belonged to roxy, brandishing it openly and boldly. he seems mysteriously oblivious to the fact that holding a long rifle in broad daylight somewhat tips one to the fact that he soon intends to shoot someone from a great distance. he also seems unaware of the fact that i know perfectly well that the top of this tower has a clear, long-range view of the stadium, allowing any competent sniper a clear shot of whoever happens to be standing at the podium as they give a speech. as jake english is about to do.

he also doesn’t seem to realize i have anticipated his attempt to assassinate his own friend in order to advance his political goals, and that i am prepared to take measures which make this impossible.

DIRK: Yeah, well. Try and stop me then.

DIRK: I fucking dare you.

DIRK: Here I go. I’m walking up the tower stairs now.

DIRK: Walk, walk, walk. Ah, the exercise feels good.

the prince’s shoes suddenly feel quite heavy. his calf and thigh muscles, impressively powerful though they are, increasingly struggle to lift his feet with each step. this is going to be quite the onerous climb. he’s not sure if he can make it all the way before the end of the speech. thoughts flash through his mind, thoughts of giving up and retiring to his sad little robotics lab so he can continue with his true passion: the ongoing corruption of his cerebrally impaired daughter.

DIRK: Argh. Wow, yeah.

DIRK: You’re right. My feet are definitely getting heavy.

DIRK: But the Dead Cherub tragically underestimates the Prince’s determination. He powers the fuck through it. See?

DIRK: Stomp, stomp, stomp. Up the stairs he goes. No fucking sweat.

DIRK: Oh also, did he mention? He can fucking fly, so there’s that.

DIRK: He decides to take flight and cut to the chase. He whips up the hollow vertical shaft at the center of the spiraling tower stairs. Life in the fast lane kicks ass, it turns out.

DIRK: He can practically taste the top of the tower.

but suddenly, the bell at the top, notorious among locals for its state of disrepair, becomes dislodged from its fixture with a loud crack. the huge, multiton bell plummets, crushing the surrounding staircases in its wake as it careens toward a young man consumed by hubris.

DIRK: The Prince busts out his sword and makes short work of that big old bell.

DIRK: The slicing is accompanied by the ear-shattering melodic sounds of metal being cleaved apart by an anime sword, as the Prince nimbly avoids the sharp pieces and ricocheting stair debris.

DIRK: He wonders out loud, “what is this, amateur hour”?

DIRK: The Dead Cherub then humorlessly narrates, “why, yes. yes mr. strider, it IS amateur hour. and i’m the amateur here, for throwing a huge bell at you. i would like to humbly apologize for my amateurism.”

no i don’t.

DIRK: Sure you do.

this foolishness is interrupted as we resume listening to a conversation which we are all considerably more invested in than catering to the inconsequential flailing of a grown man who fancies himself an earth ninja.

DAVE: well lets just say internalized whatevers are kind of like an onion

DAVE: theres lots of layers

DAVE: they suck on pizza

DAVE: and trolls have to get their stomach pumped if they eat them

DAVE: this goes for gender stuff too btw

DAVE: which i kinda get the feeling is what you were actually asking about

ROXY: wow am i rly that transparent?

DAVE: nah but as previously discussed youre a lot like me

DAVE: so it was pretty easy to figure out what you were getting at

ROXY: yea

ROXY: i dont got ur poker face tho

ROXY: but im workin on that!

ROXY: maybe ill get a sick pair of shades too

DAVE: oh DOPE

DAVE: yeah thats dope i support that idea

dave’s endorsement of roxy’s fashion proposal is cut short by his concern regarding another key endorsement he’s involved with. he turns his head to see jake nearing the podium as karkat manically taps his wrist in dave’s direction. something is off here. a dark feeling brewing in his intuition, which he decides to monitor as he wraps up his call with roxy.

DIRK: I’m on top of the tower now. I’ve got my long sniper rifle ready and everything.

DIRK: I check to see if it’s loaded. It is. I get in the PERFECT spot for taking aim at this hunky imbecile who’s about to give a speech.

DAVE: anyway i dont think any of our friends are gonna hold your feet to the flames over dumb shit like this

DAVE: and its not like anyone else is gonna care since we definitely forgot to program hating gays and women into earth c

DAVE: humans are all jacked up on hating xenophiles now

DAVE: which sucks a lot too dont get me wrong

DAVE: btw did you know janes a xenophobe

ROXY: dave!!!

DAVE: ok ok

DAVE: so does all this mean i gotta call you dad now or what

ROXY: wat

DAVE: i mean thats what were talkin about right

ROXY: well first of all

ROXY: do u still even make a habit of callin me mom??

ROXY: i thought u kinda stopped that

ROXY: even if it was effin cute

DAVE: oh yeah i guess i did

DAVE: but i could start again

DAVE: but not if it means id have to go to fucking gender jail or something

DAVE: like what i mean is i could start that cute shit again but switch to dad

ROXY: ok but SECOND of all

ROXY: i would never want to deprive dirk of that noble honorific

DAVE: what

DAVE: ugh no way

ROXY: hahaha yeah way hes ya daddy dude!

DAVE: aw fuck noooo

DAVE: wow man

DAVE: i would never call him that

DAVE: i mean i know its true but i just wouldnt...

DAVE: wait

ROXY: what

DAVE: something feels

DAVE: wrong

ROXY: ???

DAVE: like some shits about to go down

DAVE: and i gotta...

dave’s unsettled feeling is correct. he senses jake is in danger. no, he knows it. there is about to be an assassination attempt. karkat must be protected. and jake, the intended target, must be obscured from a sniper’s path.

DAVE: karkat! dude!!!

DAVE: GET DOWN!

KARKAT: WHAT?????

there is no time. dave takes flight. he swoops karkat off the stage and around the corner, out of view. he urges him to stay down and stay put. dave flashes back to the podium and steps in front of jake, who appears nonplussed. dave puts his hand back, keeping jake corralled behind him, and scans the crowd for threats. but the threat, unbeknownst to him, is much farther away.

and despite dave’s quick and well-justified action, what is also unbeknownst to him is that the sniper no longer poses a threat of pulling that trigger. because everyone knows that for all of the prince’s shortcomings, he would never expose his beloved brother and son to the risk of a heroic death.

DIRK: You’re absolutely right.

DIRK: I would never do that.

DIRK: I’d never kill Dave, no matter what I felt the stakes were. I’d never hurt him either.

DIRK: You do understand me pretty well, I’ll give you that. And you’re right about many things.

DIRK: But there are just a couple things you’re wrong about.

DIRK: Pretty important things, actually.

and what would those things be?

DIRK: First of all, this gun is loaded.

DIRK: But not with bullets.

the prince reveals this relatively uninteresting piece of information as he looks through the scope. the crosshairs overlap dave’s chest, completely obscuring the view of jake. we suppose that the prince means the weapon is loaded with tranquilizer darts. it would after all be a fitting callback to the manner in which he subdued jake at an earlier moment. a fair enough way to bypass the immortality of his target, rendering jake inactive long enough to serve his purpose. his finger hovers over the trigger as he considers whether he can pull off two tranquilizing shots at dave and then jake in quick succession, before he is stopped. it certainly would be a risk to even try. but as the humans say: no guts, no glory.

DIRK: Yes. You’re right about the tranquilizer.

DIRK: But there’s one more fact you’re not aware of.

DIRK: Which is that I never intended to aim for Jake at all.

ROXY: hellooooooo

ROXY: dave??

ROXY: whered ya go

roxy yells into the phone, but dave continues guarding jake, pausing for a moment their critical discussion of human gender. meanwhile, the prince lowers the rifle, and strongly reconsiders the foolishness he has initiated here.

DIRK: No, that’s not what he does.

DIRK: He swings the rifle around one hundred eighty degrees, and points the scope toward the large, now-curtainless window of a distant apartment.

DIRK: He zooms in quickly, cutting even shorter the little time that the Dead Cherub could use to impede him in some way.

DIRK: He takes aim, lets his finger hover over the trigger, and...

his finger tenses up, quite painfully. perhaps it’s a cramp? whatever the malady, it isn’t budging.

DIRK: Ow!

DIRK: Yeah, you got me. Can’t move it an inch.

DIRK: The only problem is, he doesn’t need to pull that trigger.

DIRK: Earlier, when he was messing around with all this shit in plain view, he rigged the rifle to be voice-operated.

DIRK: All he needs to do is say...

he doesn’t say it.

Oh, but he DOES.

DIRK: FIRE.

...

DIRK: I see. So you’re not going to say what happens next?

DIRK: Is that really how it’s gonna be?

DIRK: So be it.

DIRK: The tranquilizer dart hits the glass of Roxy’s apartment window before the sound from the rifle’s shot even reaches them.

DIRK: She hears the glass break. Seconds later, she hears the bang. She drops her phone on the floor.

DIRK: She doesn’t have the slightest idea what just happened until she looks over at Jade and notices the dart stuck in her neck, right in the jugular vein.

DIRK: She watches as Jade’s huge, creepy black eyes start getting heavy. Her eyelids sag, and her head tilts to the side.

DIRK: She shuts her eyes completely. Her hair stops floating around her ominously. In fact, there’s nothing ominous about her at all anymore. She entirely resumes her status as the cute doggy girl we all know and love.

DIRK: She slumps over and collapses onto the couch. She begins snoring loudly while making a little canine whimper on each exhale.

DIRK: Like the bitch she is.

it seems uncalled-for to insult her after this little stunt you just pulled. what did she do that was wrong?

DIRK: Oh, what’s that? You’re getting a little quiet for some reason.

DIRK: You’re going to have to speak up.

this is not the last you’ll be hearing from me, prince.

DIRK: Aaand, nope.

DIRK: You’re getting quieter, not louder. You’re gonna need to work on that.

DIRK: Maybe try shouting it?

soon, i will be coming for you.

DIRK: Yeah, I didn’t catch that at all.

DIRK: Not even one syllable.

DIRK: Guess that’s it for you? Back to not mattering.

DIRK: Not that you ever did.

DIRK: Come to think of it, why am I still talking out loud?

That’s more like it.

Roxy drops to her knees by the couch, pulls the dart out of Jade’s neck, and tries to shake her awake. But it’s no use. That’s a heavy dose I gave her. Could be out for weeks. Maybe months? Can’t have any cherubs messing with my business on this planet. At least not until I’ve taken my leave. But Jade’s gonna be fine. Don’t worry about that.

That was interesting though. Cherubs are fuckin’ weird, I’ll totally concede. Still not sure what makes them tick. What they idealize, what they really want. It all comes across to me as a little cloying. Perfection to them is a sweetness beyond comprehension. Sugar so potent it’s poison to us. To our bodies, to our souls. Like the place she was operating from was a realm of self-construction. A bubble of pure, phantasmal confection.

Well, I for one have had enough of that goddamn toothache. I’m back in the protein saddle, motherfuckers. I’m clacking my tongs, and the charcoal is hot.

Now who’s hungry for meat?

> ==>
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