Title: Let's Rock The Heist
Summary: Extensive time spent cowering behind bullet-riddled pool tables seemed a sure-fire recipe for tolerance, if not reluctant friendship.
Word Count: 1356
Mob dads au
Karkat ran close to the walls, skimming his hand across the rough plaster as he turned corner after corner. Doors with peeling paint, numerals missing or incomplete, blurred as he quickened his pace. Muted gunshots echoed from floor below.Finally, he was met with the sight of a hall closet, door just ajar. He scurried inside, curling into a ball in a nest of dusty towels, and then his elbow made contact with a set of small, sharp teeth.
“Hey, watch it! This is our hideout, you lousy grub!”
His eyes adjusting to the darkness, Karkat could make out two other hunched figures taking shelter. One girl glared at him between the tendrils of all old mop that she had placed on her head for camouflage; the light leaking through the crack of the door illuminated her glasses like two giant insect eyes. Another girl squatted in the corner, having already laid claim to the pile of towels he’d dived into. She must have been the one he'd accidentally elbowed.
“Scram, scum! We got here first!” Karkat bared his teeth at the girl in the bucket.
“You’ve got plenty of room, asshole! And my dad told me to find a spot and stick to it while he finished work, so just try and see if you can kick me out–”
The girl in the corner somehow managed to tackle him, whacking him over the head with a bottle of detergent and smothering him in the towels. “Shut it, screwball! I’d don’t wanna get my brains blown out today, if you don’t mind!”
An explosion rocked the hotel, knocking stacks of soap to the floor as the bespeckled girl shrieked and cowered into the bucket for cover, and Karkat’s assailant was thrown backwards into the wall, freeing him.
The door opened, and all three tumbled out into the hall as the contents of the laundry closet rained upon the carpet in a rainbow of colored bleaches.
“Time to go, girls.”
Karkat looked up at the strange woman towering over him, face cloaked in the shadow of her hat. She smelled so strongly of smoke and gunpowder that he almost coughed, had two pairs of feet not accidentally-on-purpose stepped on his back as they scampered towards her.
“Escorting the ladies like a true gentleman,” the woman crooned at him, taking each girl’s hand. “Thanks.”
Karkat watched dumbstruck as the trio faded into thin air.
His dad arrived a few minutes later, the shoulder of his coat smoldering slightly from a series of cigarette burns.
“Nice job not gettin’ blasted to high heavens, kid,” he growled, hauling Karkat up by the collar. “Ugh, you reek. Is that lavender?”
After a series of four other–rather unfair and outmatched–wrestling matches for control of bullet-proof areas around the city, Karkat finally expended his limited vocabulary of insults and was forced to seek further information for the sake of verbal attacks.
“That’s Marquise Spinneret Mindfang to you! You shall address me, your superior, by my full title and nothing else!” the girl with glasses answered him. Her companion rolled her eyes.
“She’s Vriska, and Mom says her head’s so full of hot air that she can barely walk straight,” she informed Karkat, laughing. Vriska lunged for her, and promptly tripped over a broken beer bottle.
“I’m Terezi,” said Terezi, grinning widely as she shook Karkat’s hand with a grip tight enough to hurt. “We’re the Scourge Sisters.”
“Karkat,” Karkat grunted. The three sat in awkward silence for a moment. The unmistakeable cracks of a Tommy gun shattering glass could be heard from the next room. Vriska picked shards of woods from the sole of her shoe with a disinterested air.
“So, uh,” Karkat started, “know any card games?”
They kept a score tally that inflated and deflated according to who was arguing that the other two were dirty cheaters. Vriska was, in fact, the dirtiest cheater, but Karkat doubted that all the flatfoots in town could’ve caught her in the act. Terezi just possessed a talent for reading faces and steady luck. Karkat just…stunk.
Ms. Scourge–never Mrs., the sisters warned him–always came by to collect her daughters, and Karkat became almost used to watching the three evaporate from the room. It still freaked him out a little, but he never asked for an explanation and the girls never provided him with one.
He began to look forward to being dragged along to brawls with the Crew. Occasionally Uncle Droog would bring Aradia or Uncle Boxcars would get fed up and throw Tavros over his shoulder and into the van, and they’d have enough people to play bridge. Karkat had tried convincing Sollux to tag along once, but he refused outright and Uncle Deuce let him stay behind, as always. When it came to matters between father and son, Sollux always got his way, and Karkat would complain–loudly–to his new friends about it.
“It sucks, doesn’t it?” Vriska piped up once, drawing a new card from the deck. “Knowing that no matter what you do, your parent won’t give a shit about what you want.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Terezi scoffed. “Mom lets you get away with murder!”
“Oh please, everyone knows you’re her faaaaaaaavorite,” Vriska threw back with a chuckle, but there was just enough of a sneer on her mouth and an edge in her voice to give her away. The sisters held their gaze for a just a moment longer, and Karkat’s eyes flew from one to the other, watching their faces like Uncle Deuce had taught him to watch lit fuses.
Vriska drew again, and wordlessly, they all looked away.
It came out of the blue one night, as Karkat half-shuffled, half-lugged his way down the the alley to the waiting manhole, his dad leaning on his right shoulder and cursing with every step. Bullet-busted kneecaps asides, it had been a pretty bad night. They were down to five joints now, and Karkat knew Dad would give Those Green Bastards the full fury of hell before he let the number drop to four. He helped his wheezing caretaker make use of a rusty trashcan to lean against, and went to work prying the manhole cover off with the bloody crowbar.
“Say, kid, I oughta start bringing you out on the floor with us. You’re getting too old to be gun-shy.”
Karkat paused, crowbar still stuck beneath the manhole rim. He’d been present at fights since he could run fast enough to get out of harm’s way, as Dad scoffed at the idea of paying someone to supervise his kid. Uncle Droog had stayed behind at the casino to mind the others and him a few times, but that left the Crew down one man and soon Karkat had to tag along simply because there was nowhere else for him to go. He’d been within firing range more often than not, and he no longer felt nauseated at the sight of blood, whether it be that of a friend or foe. But the thought of facing down hired muscle three times his size with only a suit for armor and a crate for cover made him feel faint.
“Kid? Oy, kid!” Karkat snapped out of his grisly thoughts.
“Yeah, I guess. Playing solitaire is getting kind of boring, anyway.” Indeed, the Scourge Sisters hadn’t shown up to a fight in months. He almost missed Terezi’s manic laughter when she beat him at Old Maid. Almost. He could’ve done without Vriska, though.
“You’re still pretty scrawny, so you’ll have to wait until you can lift the heavy stuff,” his dad said, trying and failing to find the first rung of the ladder with his foot. “But you’re pretty good with that sickle, so we can keep you on the sidelines until things get up close and personal. Heh, it’ll be your introduction to the family business.”
As Dad cursed with each shaky step into the sewer, Karkat tugged the iron plate back over their heads, trying not to imagine his carcass among the stiffs that “the family business” always left behind.
- Homestuck: Let's Rock The Heist - Chapter 1