"Alright, I've been waiting eight years to hear a laugh that perfect, but in this context I have no idea what's so fucking funny," Bro admitted, taking a long drink of coffee as he watched James continued to laugh politely behind his hand, "I just explained that Dave's gonna turn John down, and you're just laughing?"
"Brodrick," James said, clearing his throat still wearing a large grin, "Do you believe in fate?"
"You mean besides the soulmate thing?"
"No, including that. Do you believe that fate actually plays a roll in that?"
"I don't understand, how the fuck does this connect to you laughing your ass off?"
"First off, language, and second off, just answer the question."
Bro thought for a minute. He'd. . . Never really thought about it. It didn't seem all that plausible, if you thought about it objectively. Some unseen force pushing together some universal plan. The entire idea was actually kind of laughable, that things were really supposed to fall in some divine pattern and cause a bunch of chain reactions to set up the way the world was supposed to play out. And even as he thought this his eyes landed on his mate and he paused. James said he lived in Washington. Two thousand miles away. And he was here on a trip with his son, and Bro had decided last minute to pull himself out of bed, throw on a pair of ass hugging pants and go to the bank, something that easily could have waited a day or two. They ran into each other in a city of two million people, and if Bro had waited an extra ten seconds to leave or if James had made one extra stop along the way to Texas, they would have bypassed each other completely.
"Yeah. Yeah I do."
"Well I believe they seem to be the perfect example of it," James laughed again, his cheeks tinted pink as his mouth continued to pull up in a smile.
"Babe, please, explain, I'm lost."
"Do you remember how I said that John had a school project that I was supposed to head over to?" He queried calmly, taking a small bite of the pie that he'd been served a few minutes prior as he looked at Bro.
"Yeah, I still don't-"
"It was a pen pal project, both him and his cousin Jade were in it. Jades screen name was based on her love of gardening, and John's, if I remember correctly from when he was first telling me about it, was based off of one of his favorite movies. Ghostbusters."
Bro raised an eyebrow. "Your son's a dork."
"Shush you. But because of that fact, I remembered the name he'd been given, and-" James began laughing again, and Bro let out an annoyed huff.
"Does the name EctoBiologist ring a bell?"
Bro stopped completely, looking at James with an almost blank expression. He hadn't said that name yet. He'd just said 'Dave's pen pal'.
"It rings the god damn Liberty Bell," He admitted, a small smirk gracing his features, "Holy shit."
"It appears you won't be having to have that dreaded talk with Dave after all," James said, still sporting a prize grin.
"And he was so set on fighting this whole soulmate system," Bro shrugged, clicking his tongue as his fingers tapped lightly at the table of their cafe, "Pity. He's gonna be crushed."
"Well, hopefully he'll just do as instructed. If things go according to plan, they should be meeting in less than a few hours," James pointed out, sitting back as he adjusted his tie.
"So we have a few hours to ourselves?" Bro queried, and glancing up, James actually blushed.
"I. . . I suppose so."
"Good. First, what's your favorite color?"
This sent James into another bout of laughter, but this time Bro joined him more than willingly.
"Okay, Fef, what wath the point of thith?" Sollux asked, tipping back in his chair. It was ten minutes to 3, and he, Karkat, and Fef were all waiting on Dave. "Good to thee you and all, but I do have a life outthide of this experiment you know."
"Hardly," Karkat scoffed, and Sollux could only glare.
"Well, our actual meeting was cut kind of short," Fef said, looking almost guilty, "So I thought that we should redo it! You know, we still have two months left of this thing, we really should be keeping up on our research."
"And what do I even contribute? All I know ith that Aquarium ith a huge prick, that'th been the thame thtory thince week one."
"Prick? Oh, you ass," A voice hissed quietly from a few tables over, and all three of the people at Sollux's table turned, looking at some young adult sporting black and purple hair with a sour expression. There were three other people at his table, two of whom were cringing and hiding their faces while the third just hid behind the menu completely.
"Shh! Don't give us away," The other boy at the table said softly, but the other merely adjusted his glasses, now turning his attention to the menu on his table.
"Exuthe me?" Sollux questioned, draping his arm over the back of his chair as he glared at the stranger, "I don't think I athked for a thecond opinion, thankth."
"W-well at least you hav-ve enough manners to thank me for my contribution," The stranger responded, and Sollux scoffed.
"Do I know you? I don't think you have any right to barge in on a converthation that I'm having with my friendth and drop your own commentth in."
"I do w-when you use such an unoriginal insults."
"Why doeth it fucking matter?" Sollux asked indignantly, now actually looking a little pissed. Who the fuck did this guy think he was?
"Because I think I deserv-ve something more intriguing than 'prick', don't you Tw-wins?" He stranger questioned, now wearing a smug smile.
"What the fuck?" Karkat muttered, looking between the two of them as Sollux squinted through his glasses before his eyes widened.
"W-what, no more insults?" The stranger queried, sliding out of the booth he was in with odd ease to turn and face Sollux alone, both of his hands dipping in his front pockets as his stance relaxed slightly. The held the same air about him that Dave did; cool, calm and collected. Except unlike Dave, this guy looked far more high-and-mighty, his chin tipped up just slightly.
Sollux stood quickly enough that his chair tipped over, clattering loudly and turning more than a few heads as he faced the stranger, "What the fuck are you doing here?"
"Glad I got such a w-warm w-welcome," The man chuckled in response, stepping forward with raised eyebrows. Sollux held his own ground, his arms crossing over his chest.
"You're Aquarium?" Fef questioned, looking back at the booth he was at before looking at him again, "What are you doing here, how did you-"
"One thec, Fef," Sollux interrupted, his glare now looking more confused and more curious. Something about this guy seemed. . . Relaxing. He knew him, he just didn't know how. Well, knew him besides all the months of talking to him over the internet, but not the point.
How the fuck could he be relaxing? He was the worlds biggest pain in the ass.
"But Sollux-!" She started, yet this time it was the one with purple hair to interrupt her.
"W-wait, Sollux?" Sollux watched as the aloofness practically melted away from the guy, his expression going from smug to surprised and almost horrified as his left hand flew to his right wrist, pulling down his sleeve as he looked down, "You'v-ve got to be fucking joking me."
"What did I miss?" The boy back at the stranger's table asked, his blue eyes looking between the two of them before looking back at Fef, as if she could provide an answer. She just shrugged, seemingly just as out of the loop. Looking back at them, the blue eyed boy spoke again, "Eridan, are you alright?"
"Eridan?!" The name came out loud enough that even more people in the diner turned their heads to look at was currently expiring, but neither of the two boys seemed to care. "Aww fuck no," Sollux snapped out, covering his mouth with both his hands as he stumbled back slightly and losing his balance.
"W-well don't collapse now-w!" Eridan snipped back, catching Sollux's forearm and stopping him from tipping over completely, "You should hav-ve done that minutes ago, you lost your chance."
"Hey, don't touch him!" Karkat snapped, about to stand up when Sollux lifted a hand, still looking at Eridan.
"Why the fuck should I? He's manhandling you and being a dick."
"Becauthe he thtopped me from tripping and he'th. . . "
"I'm his mate, is w-what, meaning he's still surprised ov-ver this and punching me most likely w-would not be the best course of action." Neither Sollux nor Eridan had looked away from each other, both of their eyes still tangled in some hate filled and amazed gaze.
"You're his-" A girl from Eridan's table started, glancing at the scene with red glasses hiding her eyes and a devilish grin painting her lips.
"Mate?" Karkat finished, hardly even looking surprised. Sitting back down and shaking his head, he plucked up his water, downing half of it before speaking again, "Always an adventure with you, Captor. Can't even go to a fucking diner without something revolutionary happening."
"Thut up," He responded, shifting so he could stand on his own. As if on cue Eridan let go, and instead of turning away he held out his hand.
"Eridan Ampora," He introduced calmly, swallowing down the lump in his throat. Much to his surprise, Sollux gripped his hand tightly, shaking it once.
"So, you really do hav-ve a lisp. I thought you w-were just trying to make reading your messages a hassle."
"And I thought you were mocking me with that thutter," He responded honestly, looking down at their hands, "Your handthake ith weak, dude."
For some unknown reason, snickering broke out at Eridan's table, all three of the strangers beginning to laugh as Eridan looked behind his back with a glare. The menu that had been held in front of one of the strangers dropped, and it revealed a girl with long brown hair, large green eyes and a slim, button nose, which was crinkled as she giggled.
The name rang out as Fef's mouth split into a smile, and Jade could only continue giggling, but this time beaming widely as she nodded. Sliding out of her booth, she walked over to the table before putting both of her hands behind her back, bouncing on the balls of her feet. "Surprise!"
Standing immediately and wrapping her arms tightly around Jade, Fef pulled her mate close as she laughed as well. "You're here!" She exclaimed, and the other girl could only responded enthusiastically, hugging her around her waist. It turned out that Jade was at least half a head shorter than Fef, and it was perfect for Fef to rest her forehead against the top of Jade's head.
"What, did you think I was gonna pass up a chance on meeting you?" Jade questioned, tipping her head up to bump her nose against Fef's with a hum and a grin.
Fef's own nose crinkled at that as her smile turned fond, but the words continued through the moment. "I just don't understand! Both you and Twins are here, does that mean-"
"Gallows and Ecto are waiting at the booth, yes," Jade laughed, and she looked around for a moment before frowning, "But this is Geneticist, right?"
"Yeah, his real name is Karkat," Fef introduced, and Terezi seemed to perk up at that.
Jade smiled at him and he gave a half hearted wave before she glanced around, "Where's Turntech?"
He could tell. It was him.
That was John.
And he was sitting there talking with his group.
Dave had been on his way to the diner, and glancing at his phone he saw that it was 3:02. Hardly late, and he knew nobody would really care, even though Karkat might give him shit about it. He was about to go in the front door when he glanced in, just on chance. And he saw him.
Dark hair, really fucking blue eyes, a ridiculously big smile and the perfect expression on his face.
It clicked, just then, as Dave's hand was on the door.
This was when he was supposed to meet John. This was him. Looking at the name on his wrist again, he almost wanted to let out a relieved laugh when he remembered the other night. Remembered reading the words, "I love you too," out loud at he read the response he hadn't been expect. Remembered four months worth of words. Remembered Ecto.
"Fuck," Dave said aloud, stumbling away from the door before beginning to walk away. After a moment he felt like there was still a chance 'John' could just exit the place and catch him.
So he began running.
He ran as fast as his feet would go, sprinting away from that god forsaken diner and away from the person that he was being forced to be with.
He felt bad. John deserved to know what had happened, he deserved to know that Dave really wasn't meant for him.
But Ecto was so much more important.
"He should be here by now," Fef frowned, and back at the booth John just looked around the table. Terezi was sitting there, tracing the name on her wrist with a furrowed brow and a somber expression. It came to John's mind that if she'd been born blind, she'd never actually seen her wrist. Maybe she didn't even know what the name was. For some reason that idea made John pity her.
"You alright?" He questioned, and she just nodded, mouth set in a thin line. Abruptly, she stood, grabbing her cane and making her way over to the other table before sitting across from Karkat, her normal smirk back in place as she immediately started teasing him. John didn't understand what had just happened, but he went with it anyways, giving a small smile as he continued to sit in his booth.
Looking around the diner, now, John felt his heart sink. Eridan was talking with Sollux, and both of them even looked kind of happy. Jade was still smiling and hugging Fef, and and this point Terezi was feeling Karkat's face, laughing as the boy just wore a pained expression with the smallest of smirks.
And then there was John, sitting alone.
Turntech was supposed to be there. Right?