Sweet. So, second Homestuck fic and running. This one is based off a zingled log (found here: revolutionator. tumblr .com/post/5694309347/if-this-turns-out-to-be-pirate-again-shes-officially, I suggest you read this first!), done by the lovely ladies of tumblr, revolutionator and piratenkoenigin.
Warnings: Some language, violence. Also, I guess I should mention that when this was written, I had only just started Act 5, so I apologize if what happens in this fic does not necessarily reflect canon.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Hussie!
The Bro Code Forbids
The dorm room didn't look quite as big as it had before they moved all of his things in, but compared to some of the other open doors he'd passed, he figured his was still pretty spacious. Though, John supposed, that could be because everyone else's roommates had already moved in, and his was nowhere to be seen.
"Are you going to be okay?" dad asked, his voice a little raspy with fatherly grief. John turned to him, and despite how anxious he felt about Dave's absence, he still had the decency to give his dad a concerned, pitying expression.
"Yeah dad, of course," he said softly. Dad sniffled a little and looked at John lovingly.
"I can't believe how grown up you look." John gaped when he saw tears running down his father's cheeks and immediately moved toward him, wrapping his arms around his father's chest. Gosh it was weird he could do that now. Dad pressed The Kiss of Fatherly Affection to the crown of his head and murmured, "I'm so proud of you, son," and John suddenly felt tears well up in his own eyes.
"I love you, dad," he said, voice muffled against his father's shoulder. Dad squeezed him once more before releasing him, one hand on his shoulder as he looked him in the eyes.
"I love you too, John." He patted John's shoulder. "Don't forget to call if you need anything. It's not too far for me to drive," he said. John grinned and wiped the tears from his eyes.
"Yeah dad, I know." His father smiled and made his way for the door.
John thought he could really get used to Bellingham. There was something calm in the autumn air as he walked through red square, despite the bustle of new and returning students. He thought briefly, heat rising in his cheeks, that Dave would probably really enjoy taking photos out here.
"John~!" chirped a high-pitched voice, the single syllable stretched out so long that John couldn't help but turn and wonder if it was indeed intended for him. His grin widened as a short girl with long black hair and big, round glasses came bounding towards him.
"Jade!" he exclaimed, and she jumped towards him, throwing her arms around his neck; he spun around from the force of her hug, her blue skirt fluttering. When she let go of him, he looked at her, a large (derpy, he could hear Dave's voice in his head) grin on his face. "Gosh, Jade, I'm so glad we ran into each other!"
"Haha, me too!" she giggled. "I'm really glad it was actually you, since a lot of the guys here seem to also be wearing plaid with big rectangle glasses!"
"Jeez Jade, don't make me sound like such a hipster, we both know that's Dave's area of expertise."
There was a moment of silence, and John worried that somehow he'd made things awkward already, but she just tilted her head to the side and gazed at him questioningly. "Where is he?"
A blush rose to his cheeks and he averted his eyes. "He hasn't come in yet. I thought he was supposed to fly in today, but I haven't heard from him."
Even though he wasn't looking at her, he could tell she was concerned. Somehow he wasn't surprised that Jade's emotions seemed to radiate from her. "I'm sure he'll be here soon, John."
Nodding absently, John forced a grin. "Uh, yeah! But anyways, where are you living, Jade? I haven't seen you at all around north campus!"
"I'm in Fairhaven, actually."
"Haha, that seems so like you."
"What about you?"
"Oh, we're so far away from each other!"
"Well what are you doing now? We should hang out while we have the chance."
"That sounds like fun! We're closer to your dorm, should we go there?"
John paused. "Um, no, l-let's go see yours! I haven't been to south campus at all yet."
She gave him a searching look, but her tone was as enthusiastic as ever as she said, "Okay!"
They both shifted their bags and turned towards south campus. John stared at the brick ground. "It's kind of weird…"
"You not saying evasive things about the future."
He looked at her then, but her gaze was on the ground, a sad smile on her lips.
Light was slowly leaving the sky when John finally made his way back across campus. He and Jade had watched a movie or two, talked to Rose online, and eventually Jade dragged him to the lounge and forced him to play the piano for her. He had tried to be discreet with the way he texted Dave every few hours asking if everything was okay, asking why he wasn't answering. She politely didn't comment, instead doing her best to distract him from his obvious anxiety. He was thankful for her attempts, even if they didn't quite work.
When he finally arrived back to his residence hall, he had to force himself not to run to his room, half expecting Dave might be there waiting for him…
But when he opened the door, it was exactly the same as he left it. A few posters from Nic Cage movies on the wall above his bed, plain blue bedspread tidy and well-kept, a small bookshelf next to his bed, full of code guides and textbooks and shitty movies, a relatively small keyboard propped up next to his desk, a small television and his laptop covering his desk, one picture of he and his father at the circus a few years ago on the windowsill. Dave's side of the room was still empty, untouched.
Something in his chest seized, and John closed and locked the door behind him, heading straight for his bed and crawling on top of the covers, pulling the stuffed bunny Dave had given him all those years ago to him and curling up with it held it against his chest. He tried to ignore the tears that dripped from his eyes, slowly wetting his pillow.
"I – I can't…"
Jack Noir stood over Eridan's dead body, his head unrecognizable for the bullet that just ripped through it. "Try to concentrate, John," he snarled, dropping the shotgun he had stolen from Jade and lifting his sword instead.
"Please – please stop—"
With one clean swipe, the heads of Equius, Nepeta, and Feferi all rolled to the ground, their bodies slumping forward. The edge of the sword became lodged in Terezi's throat, and her scream, curdled with the blood filling her lungs, drowned out John's sobs.
"But you surely don't care about this worthless lot of trolls. Not like you care about the humans," Jack said, voice seething with hateful condescension as he walked to the other end of the lineup of John's friends, each one on their knees, hands tied behind their backs. He raised the shotgun again, finally stopping behind Jade, whose weeping became louder as Terezi's screaming finally died. John fought against his binds.
"Oh God, please, please don't!"
"Now do you understand how fucking serious this is!" Jack shouted. He raised the gun again and without moving pointed it at Vriska, pulling the trigger. Thud. "Where did you put the fucking ring!"
"Let me go!" John screamed. Another thrust of the sword pierced so deeply through Gamzee's back that the tip of it could be seen poking through his chest. "L-Let my friends go, please, I'm begging you!"
"This will all end if you just give me what I want."
"I don't know what you're talking about," he sobbed, pulling helplessly at the chains holding him against the wall. Another shot was fired, and Tavros' body fell to the ground.
"John, this is entirely your fault." Another shot, Aradia's body went limp.
"G-God," he groaned, choking on his own sobs.
"If it weren't for you, for your incompetence, none of this would be happening." John barely registered the next shot, his ears ringing from the previous ones. He could see Kanaya slump to the ground through his tears. Only four of his friends remained. Sollux had his head bent, his entire body quaking with fear; Karkat was staring at John, mouth agape with labored breaths as tears streamed from his wide eyes; Rose's eyes were closed tightly, her sobs becoming louder with each shot; Dave's shades were ever present, but even John could see the tear tracks running steadily down his cheeks.
"I'm sorry," he cried. "I'm so sorry!"
"Oh, sorry doesn't cut it, John, not when your friends have you to thank for their deaths."
"Don't fucking listen to him." Dave's voice cut through the hysteria, tone quivering but determined. Jack Noir stood up straight, expression affronted. He walked over and stood behind Dave, kicking him roughly so that he fell forward, his sunglasses falling from his face, revealing blood red eyes that were staring straight into John's. John tried to call out Dave's name, but his breath hitched in his throat. Rose wailed at the sight of her brother, Karkat's heavy breathing reduced to whimpers. Jack raised the shotgun once more, aiming at the back of Dave's head.
"No! KILL ME INSTEAD!"
John awoke with a start, breathing heavily and shivering despite the sweat soaking his clothes and hair. The room was dark and he stared at his surroundings, frightened and unsure of where he was, exactly, until he saw the empty bed across from him and remembered. Dave.
He instinctually reached for his PDA, but it wasn't next to his pillow where he usually kept it when he slept. Blinking and trying to shake the confusion and exhaustion of the night-terror he'd just experienced, John slowly realized that he had fallen asleep with his clothes on. He reached into his pocket and found his PDA there, urgently bringing it in front of his face. But there were still no text responses from Dave. The time on his PDA said 3:23am, but John didn't care; he knew Dave wouldn't either. He pressed the second speed-dial option and waited with baited breath as it began to ring.
Sorry bitches, but Dave Strider is much too cool to get to his phone right now. You might as well leave a message, though I can't promise I'll call back. Beep.
"D-Dave," he said into the phone, his voice scratchy from sleep and trembling with fear. "Please call me back. I… I need you."
Pressing the end button, John carefully removed his glasses and laid his head back down on his pillow, clutching the PDA as he slowly drifted back to sleep.
Dave Strider turned the rental van onto Indian Street, squinting through his sunglasses at every intersection, wondering when the school would finally come into view. He glanced over at Bro, who was sound asleep in the passenger's seat. He considered punching him awake, but figured he didn't really want to start an epic battle while driving. They were about to arrive, anyways.
The closer they got, the more Dave had to fight down the increasing (and totally unironic) feeling of nervousness that was forming a clump of anxiety at the bottom of his stomach. He had told John a long time ago that when they finally met, he was afraid that his façade would crack, that finally seeing John in person after so many torturous years of wanting but never being allowed would force him to completely lose his cool. What had John said to him? "for some stupid reason i can't really imagine being with anyone except you." Oh, jegus. That had been months ago. Now the countdown was clinging to mere minutes.
Finally the hill they were climbing rounded out and some tall buildings came into view, and Dave was pretty sure the brick one straight ahead was the one he'd be living in for the rest of the year. With John.
He pulled into the roundabout. There was only one other car there at 5:50am, and he parked behind it, pulling the emergency brake and taking the key out of the ignition. Quietly, Dave unbuckled and got out of the van, walking around the back to get into the trunk. He felt a little bad for the crazy extra baggage fees Bro'd had to pay for his turntable, but like hell he was going to leave that shit back in Texas. How else was he supposed to make his mad tunage? He ran a hand over it for a moment before turning to his laptop bag, planning to look online at when move-in would start today. But to his surprise, he pulled out his iPhone, the one he'd assumed was in his pocket.
Glancing at it, he noticed there were eight unread messages, and one voicemail. Confused, he opened his inbox, eyes widening behind the shades at all of the texts from John.
EB: we just arrived in bellingham! gosh it is pretty.
EB: hey dave i'm all moved in, my dad just left. thought i'd let you know.
EB: well if you get here while i'm gone, i just went to look around campus. text when you get here.
EB: guess what! i ran into jade! we're going to hang at her dorm. i'm a little worried though, shouldn't your plane have gotten in already?
EB: dave is everything okay? you haven't answered any of my texts all day…
EB: seriously why aren't you answering, i am getting really worried.
GG: hi dave! :) i was just wondering if everything is okay cuz john seems really worried! hehe he didnt say that of course but i can tell. you should text him back! 3
EB: damnit dave okay i am heading back from jade's. you better be there!
Hands quivering a little, Dave called his voicemail inbox and raised the phone to his ear.
You have one unheard message. First unheard message: "D-Dave. Please call me back. I… I need you."
His arms went numb and his face paled. "Shit," he murmured, slamming the trunk closed and running to the door at the bottom of the roundabout. It was locked. "Fuck." Dave turned to the car next to the door, and gestured at the woman sitting in the driver's seat. The passenger's side window rolled down and he walked towards the car.
"Hey is there any way you can let me into the building? I don't have my key yet but I really need to get in," he said hurriedly. She looked at him with concern.
"I don't have a key, but my daughter should be – oh, there she is now."
Dave turned and saw the woman's daughter leaving the building and quickly ran to the door before it could close, swerving around the girl as she walked out with her eyes glued to her phone. He didn't quite know where he was going, but he knew his room number, so he climbed the closest stairs he could find, which brought him to the main lounge. He jumped over the railing for the walkway and ran past the rows of mailboxes and front desk, taking the stairs three at a time.
In what was likely less than a minute, Dave stood panting lightly in front of their door, marked with nametags in the shape of gaming controllers by the resident advisor. How fucking cute, he thought, trying the doorknob and finding it locked. Of course. He pounded on the door, not giving a single fuck that he was being so loud at six o'clock in the morning. After about another minute, he finally heard the lock on the other side of the door click, and the door opened slowly.
A non-speckled, fully clothed, messy-haired, bleary, baggy-eyed John peeked his head out, obviously still half asleep. "Wh-what…?" he yawned. He blinked a few times before his eyes could register, however blurry without his glasses, the blond hair, the shades, the red sleeves and record shirt. Suddenly John's eyes were wide, his entire body at alert. He looked up, blue eyes dark and watery. "D…Dave?"
They stared at each other for a few moments, until Dave whispered, voice catching ever so slightly, "Shit, Egbert."
Almost without thinking, John moved forward, carefully wrapping his arms around Dave's waist. Dave froze, thinking back to John's apparently honest claim that Dave should expect many hugs, and felt his heart swell as he returned the gesture.
"I'm so sorry I'm late, and that I never responded to any of your texts," he murmured into John's ear. "The plane ended up getting delayed for stupid reasons, and I thought I had my phone with me, but I guess it got stowed away with my laptop. I should have noticed, I'm so, so sorry." John didn't say anything, and suddenly Dave could feel him trembling a little. "Egbert, I… I just listened to your voicemail. Is everything okay?" At that, John's arms tightened significantly around Dave.
"I had a nightmare," he said quietly, voice muffled against Dave's neck. He nuzzled closer, and Dave couldn't ignore the way John's breaths puffed against his skin. "I-It was awful…"
"It's okay, bro, I'm here now." He fought with himself for a moment before deciding to place a gentle kiss on John's earlobe. "Is there anything I can do to make it better?"
"Go…back to sleep…" John mumbled, his exhaustion clearly starting to get the better of him.
"Okay. Get in bed, I'll just run and tell Bro what's happening." When he started to move away, John whimpered softly and tightened his grip.
"Please don't leave me," he whispered, and there was something so tragic in his tired voice, Dave knew it must have been one fucked up horrorterror. A feeling of protectiveness surged through him.
"I won't. I'm not gonna leave you." He slowly guided John back into the room, laying him down on the bed before, gulping in anticipation, he followed suit. John immediately reached for him, hands clutching his shirt and pulling himself closer, their foreheads gently touching, legs entangling. John sighed softly and appeared to drift off almost instantaneously. Ignoring the way his heart pounded against his ribcage, Dave carefully pulled his iPhone from his pocket and sent Bro a quick text.
lock the car before someone steals my shit
Finally, phone away, Dave rested a hand on John's hip and closed his eyes.
Several hours later, when Dave felt himself becoming conscious, he opened his eyes and again felt his heart swell at the sight that met him; John, still sleeping, had his head tilted up and pressed closely to Dave's, his lips parted and puffing air past his big front teeth onto Dave's chin. Dave had to remind himself that this wasn't a dream.
"John," he said softly. Slowly, John's eyes fluttered open, confused for a few moments, until it dawned on him where he was, and who exactly was with him. A deep blush rose in his cheeks, and Dave smirked. He knew he'd been looking forward to seeing that.
"Oh," John said, and Dave could feel the shiver that ran through him.
"I didn't realize the nightmare repelling bed sharing gig would start so early on in our relationship, Egbert. Don't you think we're moving a little fast?" John gaped, his ears reddening. Shit, he is fucking cute.
"I-I'm sorry! I didn't want to make you uncomfortable!" He sat up abruptly before Dave had the chance to hold him still, and gasped. Dave's eyes narrowed a little.
"What is it?"
Confused, Dave disentangled his legs from John's and rolled over so that he was facing the rest of their room. To his surprise, all of his belongings were set up; red bedspread made (though it was messily done), MacBook and Nikon on his desk and his turntable next to it, a poster of the Midnight Crew and a lot of his photography taped to the wall. It looked like there was a smuppet with a note attached to it on his bed.
"Shit, he didn't actually leave one of those things with me, did he?" Dave groaned, sitting up and moving over to his bed to look at the note as John put on his glasses.
Hey, Lil Bro. You and John seemed a little preoccupied so I took it upon myself to set up all of your shit so you wouldn't have to wake up. I'm probably on the plane back by now. Have fun in college. – Bro
Much to his own horror, his cheeks turned pink with embarrassment. Bro had seem him and John together like that? He would probably never live it down…
"What does it say?" John asked. Dave crumpled the note in his hand and turned to face his friend, perfectly aware of the blush on his face. He might have had the decency to feel mortified if John wasn't looking at him with those wide eyes, hair sticking up every which way and plaid button-up slipping over one shoulder. Jegus, Egbert…
"Oh, just that Bro set up my shit and is headed back for Texas," he replied, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible. John frowned and looked away.
"I'm sorry, Dave. I didn't think you wouldn't get to say goodbye to him…"
Dave watched him for a moment before moving closer, touching John's face softly. He looked up just in time for Dave to lean in, pressing his lips firmly against John's. Dave was suddenly thankful for the way his eyes were hidden behind his sunglasses, because he kept them open, watching as John closed his, color rising in his cheeks while he leaned into the kiss. Surely he'd never seen something so beautiful.
Several moments passed, and Dave was the one to pull away first, which he supposed was a good sign. John opened his eyes slowly, staring at Dave in surprise with lips parted. "Bro and I said goodbye to each other before we even left, so don't go all feeling guilty for nothing." He ruffled John's hair and gave him a half-smile. "Now come the fuck on, Egbert, did you really sleep in those clothes? Shit bro, at least try to have some class."
Sensing John was feeling a little dazed, Dave decidedly turned around, heading towards John's closet to give him some space and find him a change. After a couple minutes of sifting through John's shirts (most of them t-shirts with lame video game references), Dave almost decided to just tell John he might as well give up trying to be cool, but John coughed before he could. It sounded embarrassed.
"Um… Dave…" Dave turned around to see John biting his lower lip, eyes averted. "That was… my first kiss."
The coolkid froze. That was John's first…? Well, Dave couldn't quite admit to being surprised—he obviously thought Egbert was the most adorable goddamn thing to walk the planet and didn't quite understand why everyone wasn't trying to jump him all hours of the day, but… John had said back then that he couldn't connect to others, that after sburb he couldn't really fathom being with anyone. Anyone but me. A surge of pride rushed through Dave, and he dropped the shirt he was holding before walking back over to the bed and climbing halfway onto it, one knee balancing on the edge while his hands planted themselves firmly into the covers at either side of John, his face moving so closely to John's that he could feel his shallow breathing on his lips. He paused there for a moment, amazed that this was even happening, before leaning in again for a short kiss.
"And that was your second," he said, his voice low. Another kiss. "And that was your third." He pulled back and watched John's half-lidded expression closely. "Are we used to this yet?"
John blinked and looked into Dave's shades, his blush lingering. "I don't think I ever want to get used to feeling like this."
We are the ever-living ghost of what once was
But no one is ever gonna love you more than I do
No One's Gonna Love You, Band of Horses