"Here," Dave said, handing John a piece of paper. "Based on what I told you, mark out the routes that are safe to travel."

John glanced at the paper in his hands. It was a map scribbled out in red crayon- blocks and crudely drawn buildings and roads and a big star over what John took to be the center of the Dersite city. He began pointing to what he took to be the back alleyways, avoiding main roads that lead to or were close to that seven-pointed star Dave had drawn. How the hell did he manage to do that anyway?

They had been at it for hours. Dave shared just about everything he knew: from the king and queen to the archagent to the underlings. John learned very quickly that Derse was more complicated than he had originally thought. Prospit didn't have any agents and its inhabitants certainly didn't have to sneak around like criminals; out of sight and out of danger. Only go out when it was absolutely necessary or when going out to wreak subtle havoc. Which was a little anti-climactic John had pointed out, but apparently it was all for ironic purposes and probably shouldn't be attempted by anyone but Dave in retrospect.

John had made a point to ask what kind of 'sick chaos' the other had caused, but all he got in response was a smirk and a "Don't worry about it."

"Hey, why don't you show me how to do that flashstepping thing later since you're teaching me all this other stuff?"

One of Dave's eyebrows shot up from behind his shades. "You kidding? It took me years to get to the point I'm at. And I'm not even that fast and I've been going at it over 10 years. I mean, I'm awesome still, but I'm pretty slow, too."

"Uh-huh..."

"Plus you threw up pretty bad last time. The last thing I want to deal with is the reaction your stomach is gonna have when you try it yourself."

John made a face; he could've sworn he felt his stomach lurch just at the thought of his last experience. "Now that you mention it, it might be a bad idea after all."

Dave pushed himself up from his seat on the floor. "Yeah, that's what I thought."

John glanced up at him, not bothering to get up himself. Dave had been kind enough to let him use the computer chair as a seat. What a gentleman.

The blond stretched, lacing his fingers together and pushing his arms high above his head. He inhaled deeply through his nose, held it for a moment, then released through his mouth, dropping his hands back to his sides. "I think that's enough Derse-ology for today," he said, cracking his knuckles casually. Slowly. One by one.

It drove John insane, but he said nothing. He just simply watched the other's fingers with a certain, bitter disdain. This kid was going to get arthritis. Could dream people even get arthritis? Well if they could, Dave was going to get it. Oh, and he even had two ways to crack ea- scratch that, he had three ways to crack each finger. Fingers that were now snapping in John's face.

"Hello? Earth to John. Do you copy? Over."

John blinked. "Wh... what?"

"Did you hear anything I just said?"

"I-"

Dave cut him off. "Stay. Here." He pointed for emphasis.

"Wait, where are you going?"

"Holy jesus, John. I didn't think you'd be zoning that bad. I mean I know I'm gorgous to look at and all, but these pretty lips aren't just there for show."

"Hey! Who said I was-"

"But don't worry about it man, I mean it's perfectly understandable. I mean, if I weren't me, I'd be all over me, get what I'm saying? But anyway, where was I? ...oh right. Stay. I don't trust you out there yet."

John opened his mouth in protest again, but Dave was faster, walking towards the window as he spoke.

"I will literally be back in two minutes. Or less. Time me, I dare you." With his index and middle fingers, Dave gave the other a salute just before he jumped out the window, flashdropping (was that even a thing?) out of sight before he could fall properly like a normal person.

John sighed and rested his chin in his palm. Four hours of lectures about Derse and he wasn't allowed to go out yet? Granted, a good portion of those lectures were just Dave going off on rants and tangents about things that John could care less about. Dave liked to talk. A lot. Half of what he said wasn't even relatively important- of course to Dave it was probably all important.

So, much like a grounded teenage girl, John moped in his seat, expecting Dave to take his sweet time despite what he'd said before his departure. But true to his word, and much to the boy's surprise, Dave showed up again after about a minute or so. But he wasn't alone. Like the gentleman Dave probably had buried away deep in his being, he gingerly helped a girl in through the window, holding onto her delicate hand carefully as he did. She was a pretty girl.

A very pretty girl.

A very very pretty girl.

Suddenly, John wished that Dave would've taken his time.

She approached John and offered a hand. Every one of her movements seemed perfectly calculated, even when she went to brush back some blond hair that'd fallen from behind her headband.

It took John a split second to remember what he was supposed to do with her hand, but the moment it clicked, he moved quickly to make up for his moment of hesitation.

Oh wow her hands were soft.

"You're John, I presume?"

Oh wow she already knew his name.

"Wh- yeah. That's me! John!"

"Good. Then I have some questions for you."

Oh wow she wanted to talk to him.

"John?"

"Yeah?"

"Would you please let go of my hand now?"

John glanced down, horrified to see that he was still shaking her hand. As though it were 100 degrees, he dropped her hand and pulled his back. It joined his other hand awkwardly in his lap. "Sorry." He made an effort not to show any of his embarrassment show, unsure of whether or not it was actually successful. John had never been that great at talking to girls, but he never remembered be so awful at it, either. Hopefully the rest of the conversation would play out in his favor.

"My name is Rose," she said, not bothering to sit down. John wondered for a moment if he should stand and join her, but he figured that would just leave him in an even more awkward position than he was already in. So he stayed put. "Dave has told me about you. All that he knows anyway."

Out of the corner of his eye, John saw Dave plop down onto the floor. "Rose is way good at gathering information around here," he piped up. "She can hear a pin drop in the capitol, I swear."

John looked his way and then back to Rose. "What does that have to do with me?" he asked.

"She's gonna help us find your girlfriend, lover boy."

John inhaled sharply. "She's not my girlfriend!" he snapped, directing the anger towards Dave- who shrugged. "Haha, she's not my girlfriend," he said laughed once his attention was back to Rose. "She's just a really close friend is all."

"Regardless of your relations," Rose said without missing a beat, her words crisp as ever, "I'd like to help in any way I can. With our combined efforts, it should be possible to find her, or at least find out what happened to her. I'm sure Dave has already informed you your search may be fruitless?"

John bit his lip, not really eager to get in this conversation again. "Yeah. He has."

"But we're still willing to help."

"Yeah," Dave said, butting in again. "And it'll give us a little more to do than finding ways to pile up the archagent's paperwork- and that's can be a hell of a party, let me tell you." He grinned a little.

Rose crossed her arms. "But I'll need you to answer some questions, like I said."

"That's fine," John answered. If there was something he could do to get closer to finding Jade, then he was going to do it. "But I just have a quick question before you start."

Rose raised an eyebrow.

"You can't just be helping me because you're bored."

"That wasn't a question."

John didn't bother to hide how unamused he was. "Okay, then why are you helping me? Not that I don't appreciate it or anything. But I mean we literally just met and you're going to help me find my friend- another person you've never met. So what's the deal?"

The girl let out a bit of a sigh. "It's... difficult to explain. Not even I am fully aware of all the details, but I'll do my best." She took a moment to collect her thoughts, touching the knuckle of her index finger to her lips as she sorted out precisely what she wanted to say. "We act as princes and princesses of Prospit and Derse. Now you're celebrated on Prospit as some sort of beacon of hope, for it is fated that Prospit is to lose the battle against Derse. Here, it is the opposite and we are far from celebrated and have to stay hidden to keep our lives.

"The gods have told me nothing more regarding this subject, but I theorize that the prince and princess of Derse have been put here to rid of the black king and queen- hence the price on our heads. Now obviously we are not here for the purpose of saving Prospit. Were that the case, we would have failed. But now that Prospit is destroyed, I believe that our time to move is drawing closer.

"With you on our side, we may have a better chance of success. If you were to help, that is. I am by no means going to drag you into something you do not wish to be a part of. Dave and I have already agreed to risk it. You must've been dropped here for reasons other than coincidence. And as a fellow prince it, may just be your duty to assist."

John bit his lip, trying to process everything she had just said. "So you want to help me so I'll help you?"

"Basically."

Maybe it was common for people on Derse to talk more than was necessary.

"Well," John said, rubbing the back of his neck. "I don't-"

"You don't have to make up your mind about it now, of course."

John looked up at her.

Rose continued. "But when the time comes, you will have to make the choice. It is then that you will decide. I won't pester you about if futher. And neither will Dave." She threw him a warning glance.

Dave put up his hands definsively. "Hey don't gimme that look. I wasn't gonna say nothing."

"So anyway, John," she turned back to the Prospitian boy, a small smile on her lips. "Shall we begin?"

Notes: Wow I don't even think I know what Rose just said. But whatever it's an AU she can say whatever she wants. It don't gotta be canon.

But I seriously apologize to the fandom for this. Wow I have no idea how to write Rose that was a total shot in the dark.