Sollux kicked up his feet onto his desk as the students left his classroom, admiring his mismatched shoes while the bell rang itself out.

"Last person shut the door!" he called.


He sighed. Another successful day.

He enjoyed enlightening the idiot students of Alternia High with his knowledge of technology. He especially enjoyed ridiculing them when they failed to acknowledge his instructions. He always taught the easiest, most direct, and correct method, so when they thought they knew better, they always ended up taking a longer way or failing completely.

Of course he wasn't that good…

He was just better than everybody else.

Sollux looked older than most of the students he taught, but he would never let them know that he was actually their age. It wouldn't ruin his credibility per se, but he wanted to keep up his respect quota. He was merely eight sweeps and he already was teaching his own generation. But all they needed to know was that he was better than them.

Now the school day was over and he just had to wait for all the students to clear. He didn't want to show off too much, it'd give him a bad reputation and he was pretty sure the more violent of the trolls would destroy his ride if they ever figured out which one was his. It never took a long time for the students to clear, so after a few moments, he thought to finally lock up his classroom (he graded papers digitally) and leave.

But a knock on the door stopped him from doing such. Who could be bothering him after school? He told each and every one of his students that they come to him before school. He came and left early, that was how he rolled. He'll just have to lecture this student so they wouldn't bother him again.

"Come in," he called, shifting his legs down. He didn't want deal with them, but he'd give the kid a long lecture so he'd never think to knock on the door after school again so he wouldn't ever have to deal with it later.

The door opened with a click and leaned forward to see who it was to decipher his first choice words.

But all thoughts of lecture and reprimanding flew out the window when Karkat Vantas walked into the room, clad in his heavy sweater, and greeted him with a small growl.

Of course, Sollux knew that Karkat's outward behavior was just a show by the way he had seen him react in class. He didn't talk to anybody else unless they talked to him first and between all his crass language, he still helped the other students, at least when he could. Most of the time he understood and memorized the instructions, but for some reason, he always managed to program the computer impossibly wrong. He insisted he was designing viruses to destroy the computers on purpose, but Sollux always saw the look of surprise when the monitor shut down after his error. He never really meant to do that.

Adorable, really.

He was a good kid, honest in his intentions. The other teachers also had good input for him, quiet in class, a pleasure to have, and a promising leader. He did very will grade-wise and always came on top or competitively eligible for the top against other students.

He just liked to cover up his mistakes with elaborate words.

But for some reason, when he made those mistakes, Sollux could never get himself to ridicule his student in the same demeaning manner that he did with his other students. He always ended up laughing, leaning over his shoulders and fixing the computer with his magic touch while instructing him on his error.

Karkat was his favorite student, enough said. He always managed to be an exception to Sollux's rules.

"Sit down," Sollux offered, gesturing to the seat on the opposite side of the desk.

Karkat nodded and plopped himself down in the chair, his hands stuffed in his sweater's front pocket.

"I almost thought you weren't going to be here."

"You're lucky this time; I was just about to leave, but I'll stay if you need me to."

"Yeah, yeah, lucky me. I know you hate to have your fucking time wasted on fucktard students, but this is important.

"Did you need help with something?"

His student shifted his eyes to the floor and Sollux could see his hands moving in his pocket as a nervous gesture. He wasn't used to talking to teachers one on one.

"It's not about school," he admitted.

"Doesn't matter," Sollux replied, though he was a bit nervous. He wasn't much older than Karkat and he wasn't sure if he had the enough experience to help. That was the downside to being such a prodigious, young teacher.

"Yeah. I have a fucking problem and I don't trust anybody else enough to ask them for advice because I know they'll use some kind of unnecessary reverse psychology on themselves and somehow figure that the best thing to do is not listen to a word I say and tell everybody else about what they do hear coming out of my mouth. I waited until the last moment, until everybody else left, before I came in to talk to you. I didn't want anybody else to overhear."

Sollux took a moment to sum up the small speech and glean the information that he needed.

"So you want me to help you, but not tell anybody about your problem, right?"


"Well, everybody's gone for sure. I'll do the best I can to help and I'll be sure to keep this a secret between you and me unless I have your permission to ask others who can help you better than I can. Does that sound all good and fair?"

Man, he was starting to sound old. Regulations really made you sound like a geezer. It looked like he didn't need to worry about it that much; he was a professional. Besides, he had Karkat's permission to ask him for permission to ask others to help if he couldn't help him by himself. Easy enough.

"As long as you keep to it, yeah."

"Alright then, let's hear your problem."

"You fucking swear not to tell anybody?"

"I swear."

"You swear that you're going to fucking help me right?"

"To the best of my ability. Why? Is there something you're risking by telling me?"

"No! I just-!" Karkat let out a frustrated sigh and looked down at his hidden hands.

His lips twitched the slightest bit as he mumbled words that Sollux couldn't hear.

"What was that?"

Karkat fidgeted in his seat and Sollux could see where the other troll was biting his lip because a pointy tooth poked over his flesh.

"I'm carrying a fucking wriggler…"

All will be explained in the next chapter.