A/N: I have started rewriting this, finally, so that's what I've been doing during my most recent impromptu hiatus... Seriously, why did I have new readers before updating this? My writing was absolute shit, and I am so sorry for you guys having to read it. Hopefully this is better.

I will mark chapters that have been updated with underlined "A/N" (so, "A/N"), and erase previous Author's Notes.

For the new readers, I will have Sixteen to eighteen back story chapters before I make it to the excerpt in Italics, and I have terrible update consistency ^_^' I have absolutely no intention of not finishing this story, so please pardon the bad update times. (Also, chapters will not be this short; it's just a prologue.)

Ciao for now!


Sneakers racing down the alleyway, their soles squeaking on the wet cement as they dodge and leap over bits of trash and mice that have made their home in the dark corners of bins and soggy papers. Two heads bob in time with their sprinting feet, passing in and out of the light of the streetlamps dotting the worn brick walls as the redhead of the two speeds up as they approach the cement wall that marks their escape. Two pairs of feet leap in unison off the wet ground, launching themselves straight at the wall. Two sets of hands find a purchase on the rough top.

One set launches their owner clear over the top, while the other twists their bearer's weight to spin their feet around and over the other side.

Their two bodies land on the opposite side, two boys listening closely to the angered shout of their pursuers, and sharing a quick grin, before resuming their hurried pace, because these two boys know what happens if they were to be caught.

Your family is poor. You're not even going to deny it. You're butt-fucking poor, and with a college-education in your future plans, you're pretty much screwed sideways with a tuning fork.

You pretty much relied on your school's End of the Year Relay Race, with the prize being two hundred dollars towards tuition. You are by no means a weak runner, and you spend almost every day training to make sure you're the absolute fastest in your class; in a sprinting challenge, you'd have the money easy, but, unfortunately for you, your teacher partners up everyone in the class. Every fucking year, you've been landed with the slowest, stupidest, or assholiest students imaginable, and you have yet to even come close to winning. You'd kind of hoped that after five years of failed attempts since first grade, your teacher would take pity on you, but no. This year you're stuck with the slowest of them all.

Karkat Vantas has always been the book you will forever judge by its cover. He may look small with his loose-fitting clothes, but underneath it, you're positive he's fucking chubby; it would make sense with his tendency in PE to without fail always be at the back of everything. Sprinting? Last. Endurance? A mile and a half behind. Pushups? Slowest and last one done. Rumor even has it he's homeless, and living under the bridge with his dad; god, that would be perfect.

Of course, there's always a rumor that he killed a police officer when he was three, so you're not sure how much water anything said about him holds.

Regardless, Karkat Vantas is short as fuck, freckly enough for it to be a disease, and again, slow. So fucking slow. You don't even think you've seen him run.

You don't speak a word to him until the last day of school, in fact just avoiding him for fear of letting on how disappointed you were in being paired with him. When everyone gathers on the track around the back of the school, June heat curling its muggy fingers over your arm, you finally confront him. He raises a perfect red eyebrow in response to your demand not to fuck this up, before he snorts and strides away. You almost call him back, but think better of it and go to your starting position, spinning the baton in your hand.

You'll be running first, passing aforementioned baton to Karkat halfway around the track, where he's standing with his hands in his pockets nonchalantly, like he doesn't actually want this money; you tighten your grip on the baton and clench your teeth.

Almost missing the starting shout, you jerk yourself into movement, leaping forward into a sprint and easily pass your classmates. You keep your gaze on Karkat, watching as he goes from relaxed to determined the closer you get to him, almost slowing your legs in surprise. Instead, you push them harder, reaching forward blindly to give the baton to Karkat. You feel it slip out of your fingers as you're sure the tuition money will, but, no.

Karkat goes off like a rocket, practically ripping the baton from your fingers to launch himself onto the track, sneakers practically flying over tartan. You slow to a stop, unable to keep your eyes off of him as he sails over the finish lines before anyone else has even gotten to their second partner, unable to jerk yourself from your surprise.

You vaguely hear a collective cheer from the surrounding spectators at Karkat's (and your) victory, instead focusing on the look Karkat throws you from the other side of the track, one eyebrow quirked. The only thought that really registers is you don't think you're ever not going to be surprised by Karkat Vantas.