The aftermath of first time sex, quality time with the Striders, and then a goodbye.

Your name is John Egbert, and you think you might never be able to look at your boyfriend in the eye again. And yes, you are fully aware of how ridiculous you are being.

At first, Dave had just laughed at you even as he tried to soothe your shyness away, smoothed his hands over the fringe of your hair, trying uselessly to tame it, stroking fingers along the back of your ear, your neck, rubbing soothing circles into your skin as he tried to get you to calm down. But the longer you ducked your face away from his line of sight, the less funny it seemed.

"You... don't... regret it, do you?" he suddenly asks.

"What?" your head shoots up and oh... well, you're looking at him now, blushing face and all "NO! Of course not! Don't make me pap you Dave, I will."

The blond snorts softly, visibly relaxing, "I don't care what Vantas says, papping is never becoming a thing, let it go, Egbert."

You stick your tongue out at him in answer, the epitome of maturity, John Egbert.

"But really, no regrets? None at all?" you want to take the uncertainty in his voice and throw it out the window of his high rise apartment.

"Oh my god, Dave."

"What? It was a big fucking step, okay? I mean, even I'm wondering if maybe we moved too fast," the last part is mumbled.

You feel ice water flood your stomach all at once, "D-do you... regret it...?"

"What?" Dave tilts his head enough to look at you, "Nah man, I'm not saying that because of me, I mean for your sake, hey!" You hit Dave with a pillow, "Is that anyway to treat your beau when he's worried about you?" he grouses.

"I'm telling you, Dave. I'm fine! I'm more than fine! I'm great! Aching butt notwithstanding," you lean over and brush your lips against the corner of his mouth. It's all so sweet and shmoopy, and you're pretty sure Dave enjoys the affections unironically more than he lets on.

"I get why you're worried, though," you went on once you had settled yourself back on your stomach.

"John, don't," Dave grumbles, and you know he's probably sick and tired of the whole feelings jam. But you really felt the air had to be cleared before the two of you could fully relax and move on.

"I mean, you're worried I might not have been gay, and then what would happen to us after this?" you shrug your shoulders lightly, peeking a glance at him shyly. "But you're the one who doesn't get something, a smile tugging at your lips to see that Dave was already looking back at you. It doesn't matter to me that you're a guy, Dave. Or if you were a girl. I like you because you're... Dave... You're you and you've been my best bro since we were eleven. Nothing could compete with that, okay? I didn't know how I felt until way after I realized that it'd be so easy for you to just forget me forever and move on with your life."

"I wouldn't-" Dave starts, but you shake your head.

"Even after all our years knowing each other, internet friendships can fizzle up and die anytime. For no actual explainable reason. And then we'd just... Never talk again, no trace left of what we had once. I realized that when you started spending all your time with Tavros. I... I got really jealous, I guess. I didn't want to lose you to some guy you just met months ago, when I've known you so much longer!"

"You were jealous of Tavros?"

"Dave, shoosh!" You cover his mouth with your hand. "At first I thought it was because I was losing my best friend, but then you started telling me about the times the two of you did stuff and I got so mad. Did I ever tell you I went out and got myself a girlfriend for a couple of months when you were dating Tavros?"

Only silence answered you, but the look in Dave's eyes reminds you that you're the idiot who has his mouth covered.

"Oh, right," oops. You don't remove your hand, though. "Well, yeah. Her name was Vriska. We had Public Speaking together last semester. She was kinda bossy and pushy, but once you got to know her, she was really sweet. It was nice, at first. Whenever you were busy with Tav, I'd go out with her. But I guess I just wasn't getting into it like I was supposed to. And she noticed a few things..."

Dave's eyebrow quirks up and you nod.

"Things, like how many pics I had of you on my computer, you know, from our swaps, but I told her it was just normal pictures, I don't know why she made such a big deal about them. And I guess I'd talk about you a bit, anyways. But, I mean. We're best bros, of course I'd talk about you, right? I've only known you since forever. So one day she showed up at my place and her hair was a lot shorter and blonde, and she was wearing a pair of ray bans."

"Uh mmm gff," Dave muffles from under your hand.

"I know, right?" you nod your head in agreement. "She just hauled up and kissed me, and oh my god, it was the craziest kiss we ever had. I really got into it for once, and I thought maybe things would finally start to get better. But then she stopped and she was so mad she decked me, and right then and there she broke up with me saying that she wasn't going to be someone's replacement or their beard. I had no idea what she meant."

Dave licks the palm of your hand then, "Jesus Christ, John. How dense can you be?" he says after you yelp indignantly and move your hand away from his mouth.

"Well I realize it now!" you say sulkily, wiping your hand on Dave's bare chest.

"HEY!" Dave tries to cringe back away from you until he nearly falls off the bed.

"But back then, I don't know..." you went on normally, "I guess I didn't want to think about it. But that incident with Vriska sort of made me have to really think about it." You hum thoughtfully, "You were always busy with Tavros, so I doubt you even noticed the few days when I barely talked to you at all. I spent all my time talking with Jade and Rose."

"Oh my fuck, please tell me you didn't," Dave's voice is already heavy with resignation, because he knows you had.

You laugh sheepishly, "Yeah, I told them everything about what I was thinking and how I felt, put up with Rose's psychobabble for two whole days, Dave. It was... really confusing and annoying, but it helped, I think. And Jade was the one who got me to stop being a pussy about it and admit how I felt after you and Tavros broke it off."

"Where the hell was I for all of this?"

"Learning how to suck a dick, probably," oops, your voice came out a bit curter than you wanted it to, which was not at all.

"Jealousy is an ugly thing, Egbert," Dave nudges your shoulder with his. Laying across his narrow bed side by side like this was a bit of a tight fit, but you think you were both comfortable with the closeness.

You shove him back, "So are you in a g-string."

His mock gasp makes you giggle, "You take that back!"

"Make me!"

With a quick roll that you couldn't even follow, he straddles your waist and shoves a pillow over the back of your head, forcing your face down against another.

You flail your arms and kick your legs, trying to squirm your way down to free your head or find enough of Dave to shove him away from you. In the end you manage the latter, hearing a loud thump when Dave falls off the bed and his ass hits the air mattress with enough force that his hip checks the floor and the valve on the mattress pops loose and starts to deflate.

"Fuck!"

You laugh again, huffy and breathless when you managed to sit up, taking a bit of effort with the little stabs of pain that rush up your spine. It wasn't really painful, it was more like the soreness you get after an intense work out. You do your best to ignore it, grab Dave's pillow and chuck it at his face while he was down there.

"Oh that's it, you're asking for it, Egbert."

"Whatcha gonna do about it, Strider," you smirk cockily. "Oh shit!" Oh right, you thought to yourself when you suddenly find yourself in a headlock, your making friends with Dave's armpit, Strider speed is a thing.

"Say uncle," Dave crows as he noogies your already impossibly messy hair.

"Are you kidding me?" is your indignant reply as you tried to pull your head free.

"What? I saw this on those old nineties TV shows, it's ironic," Dave says and you're pretty sure, now more than ever, that irony, in the case of the Striders, was just an excuse that allows Dave and his brother to do completely ridiculous and stupid, dorky things and get away with it while still holding onto their self-imposed title of 'cool'.

"Oh my GOD, Dave! Let go! Your pit is rank!"

"You're no bouquet of roses yourself there, honey," when did Dave become a sassy woman? You think this might be where you draw the line.

He has a point, though. The entire room was filled with both your pungent scents. You pinch Dave's side and ignore the scandalized yelp and the way the blond jumps away from you like a scalded cat. "You're right. I should take a shower," you'd been holed up in his room for more than half the day now after all. And even if Dave had his room fully stocked with days' worth of snacks and juices, you wanted something substantial to eat now, too.

Dave rubs at his abused side, but the sulk was already ebbing away from his features, and you'd say his face was back to its neutral, cool setting, if it wasn't for the hint of a blush on his cheek.

"Can I come, too?"

Your own face fills with red, you're sure of it. "I... uh..." you're even more embarrassed that your immediate response isn't 'no!' But then why should it be? And why shouldn't it be? Did you want to share a shower with Dave? It wasn't like there was any part of you he hadn't seen already. But there was also the fact that if you said yes, chances were you'd both be in there doing WHO KNOWS what until the water ran cold (you knew. You knew exactly what you'd be doing in there).

"Ah... maybe next time," you feel like a heel when Dave fights so hard to not look crestfallen. "I'm actually really hungry, and I know that if you follow me in there we'll be there until sundown."

There is the barest upward tick to Dave's lips and you know his ego feels better.

You roll over him, landing on the floor in a crouch with only the smallest wince. The air mattress is completely deflated now, and you snort softly as you reach past it to grab a pair of boxers. Turns out they're Dave's. You realize that when you have to hold them to keep them on. Oh well, good enough.

"So, did it really take your exgirlfriend cutting her hair and dying it blonde for you to finally want to get in the mood with her?" Dave asks as he stretches out at length across the bed.

You roll your eyes, "It was a wig, actually."

"So how much did she look like me?" he's getting really smug now.

"Well she did have your delicate cheekbones and long, girly lashes," you hum thoughtfully.

"Bet she looked hot," Dave said, undeterred.

You roll your eyes again, "She was almost as much of a beautiful princess as you, Dave."

"But that's the thing, Egbert. I ain't no little princess, I'm a fucking empress. Of course there's no fucking way a mere princess could stand up to the likes of me."

"Whatever you say, your majesty," you laugh and bow with a sweeping flourish of your hand, only to yelp and duck down when you dropped the hold on Dave's boxers. Ow, that tugged at sore muscles!

"Damn straight" Dave smirked, his eyes roving across your crouched body shamelessly.

"By the way, you're not allowed to flash step when we do things like this anymore," you grouse softly when you straighten. Your backside hurt, though it was a bearable level, you think you might have rushed into things just a little bit in the long run.

Dave chuckles and lounges back across the middle of the narrow bed that he now had all to himself again, "You say that now, but I bet I can make you beg me to use flash step during sex."

"I really doubt that," you mutter as you shuffle your way to the door in your best attempt not to waddle.

"Care to make it a bet?" he waggles his eyebrows, "I can show you later."

"If later is after I shower, eat, and take some aspirin, then sure. Later," you're mostly just waving Dave off now.

Your only answer from Dave is a slow, predatory grin.

"Oh god! Oh! Oooh! Mmmnh-AAAH! Aa-aaaahn! OH MY GOD, DAVE!"

You wake up at sundown to a wall shaking scream. Your name is Bro Strider and you smirk to yourself and silently congratulate your little brother on mastering flash step sex so quickly. You'll give him the praise that deserves later, in the form of a Cal hug.

You order chinese for dinner that night and make the little shits sit with you in the kitchen for an ironic family meal. You vaguely remember making a promise to yourself to leave the squirts alone from now on this morning. Ah well, you can't listen to yourself when you're sleep deprived!

Besides, right now you honestly wanted to tease the little prince of suburbia for the sake of teasing him and not to piss Dave off. You can only smirk to yourself when John refuses to meet your eye the entire time, his face a permanent cherry red. He knew that you knew, but he was pretty fucking brave to join you for dinner anyways. In all honesty, you had expected him to abscond with his own box of noodles and entrench himself in Dave's room until it was time to head back to Washington.

You don't know if you're being merciful or sadistic to keep him waiting for a ball that was never going to drop. You weren't going to bring up his neighbor startling scream, but you were letting him know that you knew with little smirks and significant quirks of your brows throughout the meal. You were leaning towards merciful, but you doubt anyone would agree with you.

Dave acts like he doesn't notice anything is out of place, though when you offer your fist under the table, he bumps it without missing a beat. It was the first time the two of you had gotten along since Mr. Egbert walked into your apartment with his little suitcase on wheels.

Friday John and Dave have an all-day movie marathon. How they could stomach watching TV for that long is beyond you, but you suspect that it's the fact that their eyes were never on the screen whenever you casually passed by the living room. Making out can have that affect. They only seem to somewhat behave themselves the few times you decide to sit down and join them throughout the day.

"What are we watching this time?" You ask as you situate yourself next to them with a bowl of popcorn that you had no intention of sharing.

"Con Air," John pipes back at you with an exuberant smile. God damn, the kid was too cute to be real.

You reach over and ruffle his hair, which earns you a laugh as the little brunette playfully slaps your hands away.

It hits you about a second too late that this could end be taken badly, and had promised yourself you wouldn't tease Dave anymore.

But Dave doesn't lose his shit over the hair ruffling.

Dave been far more relaxed today than he'd been since his boyfriend arrived. Your little affection attack hadn't even so much as made him quirk a brow in your direction. Not a single feather ruffled, Dave's calm is solid. Gee, you could only wonder why that is.

"This movie blows," you say after about ten minutes. And only ten minutes because you had been willing to give this film the benefit of the doubt.

"SSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" John waves his hand in your direction, "Shut up, this movie is great! And this is the best part."

"They're all the best part," Dave replies snidely.

"SHOOSH!" John paps your brother's face.

"Is he for real?" you ask Dave over John's head.

"'Fraid so," Dave sighs a long suffering sigh and narrowly avoids a piano finger jab to his side. He grab's Egbert's finger and brings his hand up for an ironic, chivalrous back of the hand kiss. "John loves this shitty movie unironically."

"It's not shitty!" John is quick to defend his cinematic piece of fecal matter, pulling his hand free of Dave's hold, crossing his arms in a huff, and throwing quick sulking glares at both of you before his attention is fixated on the screen once again.

So that was John Egbert's flaw. He had horrible tastes in movies. And there was no getting him to reconsider his opinions, apparently. Oh well, you knew all along that no one could be that perfect.

You stay for another forty minutes of Con Air before you can't take it anymore and make a hasty getaway with the excuse that you had a few quick orders that needed filling. John sticks his tongue out at you, and you let them have your quickly staling popcorn.

You return a couple of hours later just in time to start watching Zoolander (and also in time to stop Dave just before he unbuttoned the fly of John's pants). A Ben Stiller movie, this had Dave's pick written all over it.

You mock it openly.

Dave does a good job of being unaffected by your mocking. For about fifteen minutes. And then he tries to shove you away. He has to reach across John to do it.

"Hey!" John yelps.

You shove him back.

Dave reaches across John again to slug your shoulder, and you returned the favor. Each time the little brunette was squashed between your bigger bodies.

"Oh my fucking god! You can't be serious," John is not happy to find himself the center of this Strider sandwich. "No, fuck no. Fuck this. I'm not going to be your buffer."

He grabs Dave and hauls him over himself to shove him at you so he could move to Dave's now vacated spot. God damn, but the was kid a lot stronger than he looked. In that moment of awed silence as your mind played John lifting Dave over him in slow motion you suddenly found Dave sprawled out over your lap, his face inches from yours.

For a beat all the two of you can do is gawk at each other, and you take in the way Dave's ears suddenly start turning red. Your hands automatically fall to Dave's hips, catching him and keeping his sudden weight from their attempt to crush your goods. But then you're just holding Dave to you, and he's not crushing you, but your bodies are pretty nicely pressed together. From this close you can see the shape of your brother's eyes from behind his shades and even your own. They're wide in shock, unblinking, staring straight back at you. He sucks in a harsh breath and your own eyes widen. Because you swear you just felt...

And from the corner of your eye, you think you see John smirk, but then he's laughing and it's silly and innocent, and he calls you both dorks. Whatever spell that had fallen between you and the younger blonde seems to break then, and you two break apart simultaneously. Dave sits back and rolls his eyes at John's laughter, shoving him by the shoulder lightly. He grabs the brunette by the arm again when John tries to shove him back, and yanks the smaller boy onto his lap for cuddling. Ironic or not, you can't blame him, the kid looks cuddly.

You can feel John's eyes constantly glancing your way for the rest of the movie well into the next. Failure to Launch. You swear, between these two, every shitty movie in the history of the existence was under your roof right now.

You order Moroccan for dinner that night, and you turn off your video and recording equipment when you leave to DJ at the club. You'd had your fun, it was time to really leave the lovebirds alone. It was their final night together for a long while, after all. But you had no doubt in your mind that winter break would bring Egbert's return. Or maybe Dave would want to experience an authentic white Christmas and you'd ship him north. Hell, maybe you'd go with him.

Saturday was a somber day in the Strider household. Dave helps John pack his things, and he doesn't even try to hide or excuse their bouts of cuddles right in front of you. John's flight leaves at three in the afternoon, so he insists at being at the airport by noon. Dave's arguments that they can wait another hour fall on deaf ears. Poor kid.

But like the proper gentleman you raised him to be, Dave offers to take John's bags down to your truck, and John stays behind to give the apartment a final walkthrough for anything he might have forgotten. They kiss at the door like even that much separation was painful for them. It probably was, what do you know? You felt more like a dirty voyeur being there for that than you had during the rest of the last two weeks combined.

John makes quick work of checking the apartment over for anything he might have forgotten, finding a sock that he stuffs quickly into his pocket.

Once he was sure he found all he was going to find, he walks up to you and for a moment just... stares... "It was nice meeting you, Mr. Strider," John holds his hand out to you with a bright smile after a minute.

You quirk a brow at the twink's direction. Didn't he learn his lesson when he got here? You're not a hand shaker. Your lack of response doesn't seem to deter his smile in the slightest this time. He drops his hand and shrugs his shoulders fluidly turning on his heel to face the door.

"I just wanted to say thank you for letting me stay and bug your routine for two weeks."

"Don't worry about it, kid," is your automatic response, but John just smiles and shrugs his shoulders fluidly again. You feel a niggling sensation in the back of your mind. This... wasn't the shy, polite little twink you'd been dealing with for the last two weeks. When he turns around to face you again you're sure of it.

"It's John, remember?" he smiles, soft, sweet, and innocent. But there was something different about it now.

That smile is actually anything but innocent, "And I guess I should thank you for pushing all of Dave's buttons all this week to get your porn fix," your eyebrows shoot up above the rim of your shades, "And to get him to the point where I could nudge him to finally stop treating our relationship as a temporary thing. I really owe you a lot. Next time you should plan your pranks with me, we could make some really good ones."

If you had been anyone else, your mouth may have been hanging open, as it is, you just stare at him silently for about a minute.

"Our first meeting..." you start.

John's eyes go big and bright, "Oh wow, Mr. Strider, you're so coooool!"

Holy fuck.

"Outside the bathroom..."

"'You have gorgeous eyes,'? Is that really the best line you can come up with?"

"You..."

"Timed it so Dave would catch you in the act, it's what you wanted, right?" John shrugs one shoulder with a quirk of a smile

Shiiiiiit.

"The living room," you start.

"Pull string tied to your shoe," John finishes for you with a small laugh.

Oh shit... oh fuck.

John Egbert was smarter than either you or Dave gave him credit for. And he used that little advantage to play you both like suckers.

"Was any of it real?" you ask, glad that your voice gave away none of your shock.

"Oh, it was all real," John giggles, "The best pranks are so good because you tie them together with the truth."

I'll be damned.

"Does Dave know?" Were you the one who had been played all along?

"He's probably starting to suspect, but I don't think he's put all the pieces together just yet," John replies with a smile way too angelic for such a conniving little twat. Damn, what you'd do to really steal him from Dave right now. Just for a day. Put that little angel in disguise through his paces, teach him what it was really like to come apart at the seams.

You wouldn't, though. And not just because Dave was outside, bringing your truck around to take the kid to the airport.

"So I guess I just wanted to say thank you for all that stuff," you're about to wave off his thanks with a simple 'don't even worry about it,' but John goes on, "And also: I know he's really cute, and oblivious, which makes him cuter, and you're living together and all that, but please don't do anything questionable to Dave after I leave, okay? At least without getting my permission first."

Wait... what?

"And even then, I'd probably only agree if you let me watch," John's smile was like an angel's

He was implying not only that he thought you wanted to do the do with Dave, but that he'd be okay with it as long as you asked for his permission and let him watch. You have no idea whether or not he's shitting with you, either.

He doesn't wait for your answer; he just bounces forward, kisses your cheek, "I'll see you later, Bro." He smiles, winks, and sees himself out, leaving you standing flabbergasted in your living room, no less sure whether or not this kid was playing with your head.

He had to be, because the alternative just blew your mind away.

Your mind reels as it tries to catch up with everything that just happened.

"Damn," that's the only answer you can come up with. You pull off your cap and run your fingers through your mussed hair.

You walk towards the window in time to see a a mop of black hair get into your truck.

And just like that, John Egbert was gone from your life again, but not before he made sure his presence was permanently engraved into your mind.

If Dave doesn't marry this kid someday, you will.

Was John serious? Was he?

The world may never know.

That's all folks! I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing this story. It was fun!