EPILOGUE SIX

Chapter

33

Speaking of meat, holy shit. You just look more fucked up every time we come back to you, don’t you, John?

You’re a disgraceful mess right now. Covered in blood, mysteriously sticky, bruised all over your arms, legs, and neck. Terezi practically raked rows into your back. You catch sight of yourself in the rearview mirror. You’re kind of embarrassed by what a postcoital train wreck you look like when all she’s got is mussed hair. And you should be embarrassed. Seriously, it’s like you were mauled by a wild animal. Jesus, don’t either of you have any shame?

I’m kidding, of course. I’m the last person to criticize a little power play in the bedroom. I just didn’t expect you to be the kind of person who was into that sort of thing.

You were into it, right?

You’re not sure. You feel weird. Shaky and numb, exposed like a grape with the skin peeled off. You pull your hoodie over your bandaged chest, and rub the side of your face where she backhanded you during the backseat fracas. Just once. That’s a blackrom thing, right? This, all this, it was a blackrom thing, right? You’re like a broken cup glued back together, wondering if Terezi actually like-likes you, or if you’ve just infinitely cucked yourself into the one quadrant you like the least.

You’re feeling something for her too, but it’s on a whole other planet from where she is.

Terezi doesn’t make eye contact with you when she slithers back into her shirt. She rolls down the window and floats outside.

JOHN: um.

TEREZI: W3LL? COM3 ON

You sit together on the hatch, like when you first met up days ago. Terezi crawls into your arms, and nuzzles right up against your chest so you have no choice but to hold on to her. You would have done it anyway if she asked, because you’re a total sap. The kind of guy who no doubt thinks banging a girl in a car is some deep, soul-shattering experience that bonds you for life. Yeah, John, you do think that. You think that you and Terezi are basically married now.

TEREZI: 1 G1V3 UP

JOHN: oh. don’t do that.

JOHN: like, i’m not suddenly going to be ok with you dying here alone just because of, uh... what we just did.

She elbows you gently, and snorts into your neck. You think that’s one of the most amazing sounds you’ve ever heard. Objectively though, it’s a horrendous sound. Like a sound a pig makes when you’re not looking, so you can’t quite tell if it was snorting or farting. But for some reason, the little noise gives you palpitations. Holy shit, dude, you’ve got it bad.

TEREZI: NO 1D1OT

TEREZI: 1 G1V3 UP ON VR1SK4

Terezi says this like someone announcing they’ve lost their faith in God. And comparing Vriska to God sounds about right to me, since by now they’re both approximately just as fake, seeing as I replaced the latter, and the former fucked off into that black hole a little earlier, never to be seen again. Can’t say I feel too broken up about it.

But you, John, feel extremely sad. Not for Vriska, but for Terezi. You run a comforting hand up and down her arm.

JOHN: terezi.

JOHN: come home with me.

TEREZI: C4N W3 3V3N GO HOM3?

JOHN: uh...

Can you? You’re so, so tired.

JOHN: um, i don’t know actually.

TEREZI: >:?

TEREZI: WH4T

JOHN: i mean... i don’t know if i can use my retcon powers right now.

JOHN: i’m so...

You feel the same way you did at the end of your battle with Lord English. One foot out of reality already. Like you could close your eyes and sleep forever.

But you can’t yet, John. Try a little harder to stay awake. You can rest soon.

You wake up, with your back flat on the car trunk, Terezi shaking you and looking genuinely frantic. You didn’t even realize you fell asleep.

TEREZI: JOHN!

TEREZI: JOHN!!!

JOHN: hey.

JOHN: let me take a nap, ok?

JOHN: then...

JOHN: then i’ll take us home.

TEREZI: 1 DONT TH1NK TH4TS 4 GOOD 1D34 JOHN

She used your first name three whole times in a row. Wow. It’s truly pathetic how happy that makes you. But it gives you the energy to push yourself into a sitting position. You rub your face and realize that you’ve lost your glasses. You feel so awful that you didn’t even notice how blurry everything looks without them. You grope for Terezi’s hand and get her thigh instead.

JOHN: hold on to me, ok.

JOHN: no matter what happens... don’t let go.

TEREZI: 4R3 YOU SUR3 YOU C4N DO 1T

JOHN: no, but...

You won’t know if you don’t try. So you give it everything you’ve got.

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