I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is that this is all part of the process of getting over writer’s block
Everyone knows the cure is to try your hand at a quadrant you’ve never written before
In this case, I’m finally dipping my toe into the ashen waters so that I may claim a Homestuck achievement award that must exist for writing all the quadrants
Although that’s a lie. More like I became curious how I could ship ashen romance and then this came to me and it’s all I can thank about now. Such is my life
I assume it will probably be similar in length to Broken, so expect a couple more parts to finish it out
And you know. Enjoy. <3
Characters/Pairings: Tavros, Gamzee, Dave, Karkat, mentions of others; Tavros<>Gamzee, currently flushcrush Tavros<3Dave, Gamzee<3<Dave, and Tavros having Dave c3< Tavros c3< Gamzee feelings
Rating/Warnings: PG-16 for swearing, mentions of characters having sex, allusions to violence and injuries in this chapter. In future chapters I may need to add a possible trigger warning for violence in relationships that can seem abusive due to the nature of kismesissitude and what happens when it goes wrong (it’s hard to label exactly if it is or isn’t since hatred and violence are a part of blackrom).
Summary: There was nothing Tavros hated more than when they were like this.
There was nothing Tavros hated more than when they were like this.
When Gamzee would smile and attempt to act like his normal self, even though it was so easy to see how he was nearly boiling over with energy, just waiting for the right spark to set him aflame in a blaze of righteous rage and crazed threats of violence.
When Dave would act cool while keeping an eye on him, smirking as he slowly, word by word, chipped away at Gamzee’s façade, like some twisted archeologist looking for the secret to the Subjuggulator hidden under layers of chill bro-ism.
They would circle each other around the room in a way that most everyone else seemed to not notice or ignored. Gamzee would go into the kitchen for a drink, and then three minutes later Dave would jump to his feet, ask Tavros if he wanted something, and then go in. The two of them would pass each other and there it was – a look like flint on a rock and the spark that made Gamzee sneer.
Gamzee would settle in Dave’s seat next to Tavros, rambling about something, but there was that energy in him that was incredibly discomforting.
Tavros knew he should not feel that way about his moirail. And he never did usually.
But when Gamzee and Dave were circling, the pale affection Tavros held for him shifted and it made him feel ill.
Thankfully – or perhaps not so thankfully – Gamzee never noticed, because he was too busy watching Dave come back and settle down next to one of their other friends, nothing in his hands, blatantly revealing his guilt of only going into the kitchen to pass by Gamzee.
And then the tables would turn. When Dave got up to change the music, Gamzee would slide over to whatever friend he had just been talking to, grinning at them and asking what they thought of the shitty playlist that Dave had just switched to. Half an hour later, Gamzee would make his way over to the music and switch it to his own music.
Dave practically crashed onto the couch next to Tavros, smiling at him, commenting that wow, that music sure was off the hook, wasn’t it?
His arm wound itself away Tavros’ shoulders, and the troll would open his mouth, wanting to ask why he did this; why he played with the fire that he knew his moirail to be; why he would have to go and be like this and make him question why he had a flushcrush on the human in the first place.
Because God, all he wanted to do was strangle Dave for being so dumb in a way that was so different from the other dumb things he did that would make Tavros want to smile and kiss his face because he pitied him so desperately—
But not when Dave was like this, when his scent dripped with adrenaline as he would peek over at Gamzee and see the way he would glower daggers when no one was looking.
No one else seemed to care about the fact that Gamzee and Dave were circling each other like trapped beasts and that soon they would be falling into deep, deep blackness. Some noticed, some did not, but no one cared. The trolls saw nothing wrong with it and the humans did not understand it. They all assumed that the two could take care of themselves.
But Tavros cared far too deeply. He wanted to lock them away, separate from one another, to protect them from each other. He wanted to slap Gamzee until he remembered to keep his cool and shove a gag in Dave’s mouth before he went about playing with something he could never withstand. He wanted them to just be his moirail and his flushcrush in two different parts of his life and to not cross-over and make him feel like this anymore.
He wanted to stop feeling his stomach twist and his eyes burn from frustration.
He wanted to scream.
He did not.
He closed his mouth and forced a smile in return.
It was not his place. He was Gamzee’s moirail and he wanted to be Dave’s matesprit someday, and there was no room for him to get mixed up with their black quadrant.
He could only hope that when they did fall in with each other that it would not be as bad as he feared.
“So, wow. You and Dave finally—?”
“Motherfucking yes. Little fucker has been doing circles round this shit for ages, but this is legit now, man. Deal’s been sealed.”
“Yeah, you guys definitely have. That’s, uh, nice,” Tavros replied, his face tight as he tried to smile. However, Gamzee did not seem to notice the strain. His face was practically split with a wide grin, despite how it pulled on the cuts in his lips until one actually reopened. It took all that Tavros had to not try react to his mania like a moirail – his every pale instinct desired to put him in a headlock and talk him back down.
But he was fairly certain he was not supposed to when it was due to another one of his quadrants.
“Damn right it is,” Gamzee said in an almost sexual voice that unsettled Tavros. “Just when I was all thinking it didn’t get better, motherfucker, you would not believe how much better it is when it gets to end with my magic all over his god-forsaken body. Getting to see all the bruises and bites and shit without all the motherfucking clothes, and fuck, the rush, you don’t even know, man. So much hate and it feels so motherfucking good.”
Tavros swallowed hard and his stomach turned. But he nodded and tried to keep his smile up.
However, when Gamzee finally caught his eye, his manic grin faltered, melted, and reformed into concern.
“Bro, you ok?”
With a nervous laugh Tavros nodded and looked away as he got to his feet. “Yeah, definitely, because that’s really cool for you, so I’m happy for you.” He made his way to the kitchen, looking around before a glass on the counter caught his eye, beckoning him to pour himself some water. “And, uh, Dave has always seemed to really enjoy the flirting and stuff, which is good for you since usually humans don’t get it, so it’s good for both of you, right?”
“Tavros.” Long fingers wrapped around his upper arms and Gamzee tipped his head to the side and under Tavros’ horn so he could look at his face. “Don’t go shutting your ‘rail out. What’s up?”
The troll shrugged his shoulders. Gamzee pursed his lips.
“Bro. Come on. Just motherfucking tell me.”
“It’s really nothing.”
“That face doesn’t say it’s nothing.”
“Gamzee, just, uh, let it drop, ok?”
“But I’m all up and worried about you now.”
Finally, Tavros let out a long sigh.
“I’m sorry, Gamzee. I’m really sorry. I just don’t, um, really like it when you guys get too black. So. It’s hard to get excited about the fact that, you know.”
“We’re officially black? Motherfuckers fated to fuck each other’s shit into the oblivion of eternity?”
Tavros leaned back against Gamzee, even as his stomach knotted.
“I’m really sorry.”
Gamzee chuckled though, nuzzling against the back of his neck, saying warmly, “Nah, it’s chill. Black was never your thing. Don’t worry though, alright? I won’t fuck up your motherfucking flushcrush too much.”
When Tavros felt his face start to heat up, the chuckles turned to flat out laughs. “Man, that is so motherfucking cute, I could just eat you up. How do you not already have that motherfucker hopping on your bulge, bro?”
“I don’t know, just, wow, um. I haven’t really asked or anything since that might make things weird if he doesn’t like me back, I guess, and, yeah.”
“Just motherfucking ask. Dude’s easier than knocking back some delicious elixir.”
Tavros made a face at that and Gamzee just snuggled against his back more.
“Now you stop that, alright? I’m being totally serious. But I won’t say anything else about it, ‘cause that’s your business, not mine, man. But think about it.”
“Do you really think that, um, Dave would be interested?” Tavros asked quietly, and at the warm, pitying chuckle against his ear, he slowly relaxed. Over the next few minutes, all the anxiety eased under the blanket of pale affection.
“Knock knock,” came a smooth voice. Tavros glanced up from where he was on the couch reading to find Dave peeking through the small opening between the door and the frame. He usually left the door unlocked except for the chain so that Gamzee or Dave could drop by on their way to their own rooms, chat through the door without Tavros having to get up, and then close the door as they went on their way. It was a convenience since they all lived in the same building.
“Uh, this is where I say ‘who is it’, right?”
“‘Who’s there’ but you get a gold star for effort. And it’s your main man, the one and only Dave Fuckin’ Strider. Shocking, I know.”
“Definitely. I would have never guessed. But so, um, my main man, the one and only Dave Fuckin’ Strider who?”
“Your main man, the one and only Dave Fuckin’ Strider who got some extra food from the Teriyaki place so that he could drop in and share a meal, because damn is Dave Fuckin’ Strider as generous as a whole covenant full of nuns.”
Tavros laughed as he closed his book and got to his feet to let Dave in. And, as he had said, there stood Dave, a bag of take out in one hand and his other braced against the doorframe, no doubt to try to make himself look cool.
He was keeping a straight face, and his shades hid most anything that could have given him away, but it only took a poke to the tensed corner of his mouth to know he was fighting back a smile.
“Didn’t know it was time to grope my face.”
“This is obviously, you know, how my people thank people who bring them food.”
“I call bullshit and raise you the truth that you are trying to find a smile that is not there. I’m all serious all the time, the 24-hour grocer of all things emotionless and straight up legit.”
“The way your muscles are super tight here kind of says otherwise.”
“I’m flexing them to try to woo you. Clearly it isn’t working since you are assuming it’s something as ridiculous as a held back grin.”
Tavros had to stop a moment, the words on the tip of his tongue needing an extra push to finally make it out where so many before it had failed. “Pretty sure you don’t have to try that hard to, uh, woo me, you know,” he said, trying to keep his tone like it was before, but he knew it wavered. His heart raced at his own words and he knew his face was filling with blood.
He had finally voiced something that sounded like real flirtation.
Dave blinked at him and then, slowly, the smile finally slipped out.
“You don’t say. Tell me more, Tav. What is the least I can do to make you claim me as your own?”
“Maybe you should actually come inside? Put the food on the table and, uh, take off your scarf since it’s not cold at all, and we can talk about it,” Tavros said, laughing a bit breathlessly, his mind reeling a bit that this was something that could be happening at that very moment.
Ultimately it did not actually come up. Dave got distracted by the movie sitting on Tavros’ side table, and despite himself, Tavros took the opportunity to change the topic. Because what if Dave still saw it as a joke? Why ruin a nice evening by revealing the joke was not a joke at all to him?
But it was still a fantastic dinner, and he got Dave to stay for the movie.
Tavros ignored how Dave never took off his scarf. He ignored the long sleeves, the high collar, the angry purple mark he spied trying to peek out from beneath the shirt.
This was nice and comfortable and his chest was nearly full to bursting with how flushed he was for Dave and with so much hope that someday he would get up the courage to do something about it and maybe, just maybe, Dave would say yes.
He refused to let any other feelings take it from him.
“Shit, Gamzee, what happened?”
“Your back! It’s really torn up, and wow, did you even try to treat it at all?”
“Oh, did that fucker rip it up bad? Guess I didn’t notice.”
“How could you not? Uh, you know what, never mind. Just sit on the couch and I’ll clean it up for you, ok?”
“Bro, it’s fine. This shit will heal eventually.”
“Gamzee. Please sit down and let me take care of you.”
“Well shit, you know I can’t motherfucking say no to that face.”
“Whoa, Dave, what is that?”
“What is what?”
“Is that a bruise—?”
“Hey, no, don’t touch the scarf, man. Let a man keep his scarf on. I would feel downright unmaidenly if you saw me without my scarf.”
“You never wore scarves before though. And it’s not cold.”
“I’m from Texas.”
“Not really an excuse.”
“Technically it is. Doesn’t have to be good to be an excuse—hey now!”
“Oh my god. Dave. I mean, wow, shit.”
“Christ, give me the fucking scarf back.”
“Those are really bad bruises, and uh, they look a lot like fingers—”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Gamzee got a bit too frisky, shit happens, so can we drop it? And not expose this to everyone else on this street?”
“Uh. Ok, fine, but, you have to first tell me if you have anything else, like cuts and stuff, and whether or not you’ve treated it.”
“Christ, look, I don’t want you looking at the hate marks Gamzee left.”
“Have you been treating them?”
“Fine. Bite wound in my side could use some more disinfectant.”
“I can do that when we get back to the building.”
“Maybe I can just go do that myself like a big boy.”
“But what if you don’t?”
“Rude. Are you calling me a big baby who can’t lick his own wounds?”
“Not exactly, but uh, I’ll know for sure they’re ok if, you know, I lick them myself.”
“Alright, you won me over, but only because of that incredibly sexual image in my head now.”
Other than group events, Tavros rarely actually saw Dave and Gamzee together. Before they had taken a turn towards the black he tended to make them hang out, since he liked them both and sometimes wanted to be around them both. They had done their best to be civil, and it usually managed to be a good time. But after they started flirting Tavros slowly stopped inviting them both over at the same time, and never even considered it once they were official kismesises.
But when someone in their group would invite everyone over, Tavros had no real choice.
At first Tavros had considered himself lucky since they had to have toned down on the public displays of hate once they had become official.
In fact, this particular evening, the kismesises seemed to be avoiding one another. He thought that perhaps this was a turning point. Maybe he could learn to live with it, so long as it was not in his face. He could deal with it.
Tavros got to hang out with Gamzee and laugh over the disaster that the baking was becoming since John had gone and had too much to drink before remembering that his renowned brownies were in high demand.
Tavros got to grin at Dave over the microphone they shared while, admittedly drunkenly, showcasing their latest musical creation for everyone.
Tavros even laughed along with Nepeta when she pointed out how Dave slipped what was probably a hatenote into Gamzee’s pocket and got him to debate just what the note might say.
He was sure that he could manage this.
Until he headed to the bathroom and found the two all but devouring each other’s mouths in the hallway. Gamzee was hissing terrible things under his breath while Dave just snickered and slipped in a cruel verbal stab or two before being shoved against the wall and silenced by teeth digging into his bottom lip.
“Fuck, it’s shit like this—”
“Shut up, fucker. You get what you motherfucking asked for.”
It was only when the two startled and both snapped their heads to the side to stare at him that Tavros realized he had called out to them, and what was worse, he had done so in this tone. This tone that said nothing about acceptance or even tolerance, but instead was filled with frustration and exasperation and a hint of reprimanding.
He opened and closed his mouth a few times, voiceless now, because what had he been trying to do, what was he still here wanting to do—
No, he knew exactly what he had been doing.
His stomach knotted.
“Uh. I. I need to go. Now. So, yeah, um. Bye.”
It killed him how both of them softened, the hate for one another slipping and being replaced with concern, and they were both looking ready to call out to him and ask what was wrong.
Tavros turned and fled.
kARKAT, cAN i ASK YOU SOMETHING,
YOU JUST DID SO WHY NOT KEEP IT UP. WHAT DO YOU NEED? WHERE IN THIS GODFORSAKEN PARTY ARE YOU?
i’M NOT AT THE PARTY, aCTUALLY,
BULLSHIT. I SAW YOU HALF AN HOUR AGO. YOU AND STRIDER HAVEN’T FINALLY STOPPED BEING FUCKING PRIMA DONAS AND NEED TO MAKE OUT IN MY ROOM OR ANYTHING, DO YOU?
BECAUSE I WOULD DO A LOT TO SEE YOU TWO STOP CHASING YOUR OWN TAILS LIKE BRAIN-DEAD WOOFBEASTS BUT NOT AT THAT PRICE.
nO, uH, i LEFT THE PARTY EARLY,
IF YOU NEEDED TO INFORM ME OF HOW SHITTY A HOST I AM, YOU COULD HAVE FOUND A BETTER WAY TO DO SO THAN BY FUCKING TEXT.
nO, tHAT’S NOT IT,
cAN YOU JUST, i DUNNO, lISTEN TO ME,
MAYBE IF YOU HADN’T GONE AWOL WE COULD JUST CHAT FACE TO FACE LIKE NORMAL FUCKING SENTIENT BEINGS.
kARKAT, lOOK, iT WASN’T ANYONE’S FAULT, rEALLY,
i JUST, uH, oH JEEZ,
i NEEDED TO LEAVE BECAUSE dAVE AND gAMZEE WERE MAKING OUT OK,
HAVE YOU REGRESSED TO BEING 4 SWEEPS AGAIN OR SOMETHING?
DO I NEED TO WATCH MY FRICKING LANGUAGE SO AS NOT TO SULLY YOUR DARNED PRECIOUS LITTLE GRUB SENSIBILITIES?
SNAPPERDOODLES, THIS SURE WILL BE AWFULLY DIFFICULT, AND I WILL FEEL SILLY AS A BAG OF UNMENTIONABLES, BUT FOR YOU, TAVROS, I CAN MANAGE.
kARKAT, lOOK, jUST,
fORGET IT, oK,
WAIT. NO. HOLD ON.
THIS IS ACTUALLY SOMETHING SERIOUS, ISN’T IT?
dON’T WORRY, i’LL BE FINE,
NO. SHUT UP. THIS IS ACTUALLY SERIOUS AND I JUST TOOK A SHIT ALL OVER IT. FUCK.
LOOK, WHERE ARE YOU? THIS MIGHT GO BETTER IF I HAVE SOMETHING BEYOND PIXELS ON A SCREEN TO LOOK AT SO I DON’T MAKE A COMPLETE TOOL OF MYSELF.
AND IF YOU SAY “DON’T WORRY” OR “FORGET IT” I SWEAR TO GOD, I WILL FIND YOU ANYWAY AND FORCE FEED YOU YOUR OWN MOHAWK.
yOU KNOW, jUST SAYING SORRY WOULD WORK,
YOU WILL SHIT HAIR FOR THE NEXT WEEK.
i AM JUST HANGING OUT AT THE PARK, a COUPLE BLOCKS AWAY, bECAUSE IT’S ON THE WAY TO MY PLACE, aND I WANTED TO THINK, i GUESS,
I’LL BE THERE SOON. I JUST NEED TO FIND A CROWBAR TO GET ALL THESE BITCHES OFF ME.
i DON’T THINK jOHN APPRECIATES BEING CALLED THAT,
SHOVE IT. I MEAN JADE AND TEREZI.
GIANT PILES OF HAIRY SHIT.
“So let me see if I have this straight. You hate that Strider and Gamzee are kismesises.”
“I try not to, but yeah, I really, really do.”
“But you don’t know what it is exactly you hate about it. You just hate everything about them being black.”
“Right. Because it just, um, doesn’t seem right, and I know they’re being so dumb, even if I don’t really know why.”
“And you’re pretty sure it isn’t because you have a conflict of emotions due to your moirallegiance with Gamzee and being flushed for Strider since for-fucking-ever.”
“No. Because I’ve been protective of Gamzee before, and even Dave, and it never felt like this. This feeling just, like, it doesn’t have any red to it? If that makes sense?”
Karkat leaned back against his arms, his legs dangling off the side of the children’s play set and his lips curled down into a deep frown. He looked over at Tavros and the troll shook his head.
“No, Karkat, please tell me it’s something else. I can’t have feelings like that, not for them, because I already have romantic feelings for them, both redrom, so it wouldn’t make sense, and—”
Karkat shushed him with a hand across the mouth, muffling his protests until they quieted down to nothing.
“Can I let go with full assurance that you won’t go flying off the handle?” Tavros nodded and Karkat retracted his hand, taking a moment to wipe his palm off on his pants. “Alright, now look here, Tavros. I cannot think of anything else it could possibly be. The fact is that right now you are ashen for those two numbskulls.”
With a quiet moan, Tavros let his head fall into his hands.
“I know. I know, but, I can’t—”
“Whoa, hey, still my turn,” Karkat interrupted, elbowing Tavros so that he finally looked back up at him. “It’s not really that surprising since you care about them both, and you know what a fucking psychopath Gamzee could be if he didn’t have you to remind him to keep a lid on it and that Strider is a fucking asshole who doesn’t know when to stop before someone tries to knock his lights out. Frankly, if they don’t handle this kismesissitude well, things could go to shit and fast.”
“You really aren’t helping how I feel right now.”
“Still not done. But look, Tavros. You gave up a lot when you first became Gamzee’s moirail to get him into the shape he’s in now. You’re always there for him, to the point where you moved into the same apartment building. And you are always there to pick up the shit Dave leaves behind him, and fuck, you know what? You do whatever the fuck you can for anyone in our group! You’re always nice and always making sure to do the best and nicest thing for everyone, and you know what?”
“You need to take a step back and say ‘Nope, this is not my shit to take care of,’ and let them do whatever the fuck they do.”
Tavros blinked and his brows furrowed. Karkat rolled his eyes.
“I know it must be blowing your mind to even considering doing something for yourself for once, but seriously. Tavros. Do this for yourself. You don’t want to be their auspistice and fix all their problems? Then don’t fucking be their auspistice and fix all their problems.”
“But what if—”
“They’re goddamn grown sentient beings. They can handle themselves just fine without you.”
“But if they can’t—”
“Doesn’t matter because that’s their own damn faults, not yours. Unless you sign up to be their auspistice, which you won’t because you want to keep your moirallegiance and eventually get to that blaring matespritship we’re all just waiting for and you sure as shit deserve to keep those, then it isn’t your responsibility.”
“Tavros. Do you want to be their auspistice?”
He held his breath, glancing away and closing his hands into fists. He felt like he did not know the answer, even though every time he thought it through it always came down to—
Karkat placed a hand on his shoulder and gave it an awkward squeeze.
“Then leave the buts at home and butt out. For your own sake.”
Tavros’ breath came out in an audible sigh. He could feel the tension leaving his shoulders, bit by bit. It was not much though because he still could not say with absolute certainty that he did not want to be their auspistice, to have their relationship be his responsibility, and to keep them both in line.
However, knowing that he could ignore the ashen feelings because his red romantic feelings were more important to him and made him happy, and that he could choose that option purely for his own sake, comforted him.
He smiled ever so slightly.
“Thanks. I’ll try.”