An Afternoon With Alka - a parentstuck fic
i like writing alka, shes very calming.
Alka Lalonde was bored. Of all the possible catastrophic things that could’ve happened to her, this ranked first. She spent her time writing, petting her cat and occasionally drawing it (with mild success).
But as her imagination ran free all the time, being bored was the last thing she’d ever expect to be.
And yet. There she was, laying on her big, flowery purple bed and finding herself unable to take part in any activity that usually interested her.
“This sucks,” she thought.
“This really sucks,” she said.
She looked at her cat Lancelot, who was lazily sleeping on the will of her window. Maybe she could try to play with him? But that would mean waking him up, and also getting white fur all over her new clothes.
Mmh, definitely a bad idea. Maybe she could try to join her friends who’d gone to the park have fun? God, definitely not. Who wants to be the third wheel to a couple that’s the most frustratingly bad at communication ever?
“Well, for starters, not me,” she mumbled to herself.
New ideas popped up and then started dying one after the other and after a good 30 minutes of thinking, Alka was persuaded the best course of action she could ever take was to stay in her bed forever and stare at the ceiling like it was the only thing in the universe that mattered. God, she really needed new friends.
She was about to bury herself under a pile of animal-shaped pillows when she heard a knock at her door. Salvation!
“Alka, honey, could you do me a favor and go give Dave his headphones back? He forgot them again, and I’m way too busy to do it myself. Plus, Kanaya is feeling quite faint again. Please?”
Oh, mom, you beautiful and elegant walrus. You always know exactly what to say to your daughter to make her feel better. “Yes, of course,” Alka answered, like she always did. A reason to go out, finally!
She put on her coat, boots, got out of the room (but not before hiding her diary in a very elaborate secret drawer she made), grabbed the headphones, gave her mother a kiss and headed towards her cousin’s house on her bike.
Whereas her family’s grandiose manor was situated on top of a hill, near the city, the Striders had decided to settle in a smaller house a couple of miles away, at equal distance between the English Forest and the big sea.
To call the house messy was a severe understatement. Every time Alka went there, her brain was saturated by the ridiculous amount of different colours the numerous post-it notes and pages covered in spidery writing that almost entirely covered any accessible surface emitted. She didn’t know exactly what they were creating, but boy, were they creating a lot.
When she finally arrived, the half-painted door was ajar. Timidly, she entered after giving it a couple of polite knocks.
“Hello?” she said as she took off her boots. She heard heavy footsteps coming from the living room. One of Anshu’s fathers, short compared to other trolls, but intimidating to anyone else, slowly came to her, holding a ridiculously large amount of books in his arms. His skin was dark and his eyes red. His face almost always remained impassive and Alka always wondered why all the adults joked about Karkat being a sensitive troll.
As she was studying the shape of his horns, he opened his mouth.
“May I help you?” he asked.
“Ah, Mister Strider, I-”
“Just call me Karkat,” he said as he slightly winced.
“- Sir- Uncle Karkat, your husband left his headphones at our house again.
” Oh, thank you! I’ve been looking all over the house for this thing. He hasn’t stopped in two days.“
Alka was about to ask something but quickly shut her mouth as Karkat raised his hand.
Silence fell in the room and then-
She noticed a variety of weird noises, including but not exclusively limited to goat bleeting, toots, honks, airhorn sounds and non sensical singing, all coming from the basement.
Karkat lowered his hand.
“This is what I’ve had to deal with. He just won’t fucking stop.”
He looked as done as anyone could ever be.
“Um, anyway,” Alka said to avoid having to ask what kind of music Dave Strider was hoping to create, “what are you doing with all these books?”
“Oh, those?” He said as he led her to the living-room, which absolutely lousy with all sorts of books. “We’re redecorating the place, which means I have to do some sorting and cleaning in my bookshelves. It’s….” he trailed of, as he waved his right hand in the direction of the bookshelves that had no place left, “… A work in progress.”
“Do you think I could maybe help?” Alka asked, hoping to distract herself as long as she could.
“Oh sure, you can just- start around here I guess?” he said as he pointed to a unusually high pile of books. “Books with red labels go to that box, blue labels go there, and so on…” he explained.
“And what do I do with the pages taped on the covers?” Alka asked.
“Oh these are just part of a novel I’ve been writing. Or, more accurately, novels.” He paused. “I have no idea how long it’s going to be, I’ve probably written the equivalent of 20 books already. Just put them on the couch.”
And so the quest of cleaning the Strider-Vantas living room truly begun.
Alka quickly noticed the books were almost exclusively all romance novels.
“I’ve never seen any of these in my mother’s library,” she remarked.
“Oh, your ancestors are great book collectors, no question, but I’ve been the exclusive master of all cheesy romance novels, and the person who’s going to take these away from me hasn’t hatched yet.”
“Really?” Alka said, in a tone that probably was a bit too surprised.
Karkat turned to her, intrigued.
“Oh, I mean- It’s just- You, um. You don’t seem very interested in. Uh. Emotions?” Very classy, Alka, very classy.
“Oh, I-I’m actually a pretty emotional troll, I only try to- you know, uh, like Dave always says “save your tears for when you’re really gonna need them”? I don’t know where he gets all this stuff from.“
“So you’ve read all these books?”
“Every single one of them. Do you like books?”
“I love them!” Alka answered with enthusiasm. All the friends she had were only interested in scientific books, but never fiction. Nerds.
“Oh well, I can recommend some of them to you. This one for example. “The troll in the clouds”? Real fucking good.“
"What is it about?” Alka asked.
Karkat seemed like be was about to tell her but then-
“Why don’t you guess from the cover?”
And so Alka spent the next hours inventing stories based on the book covers Karkat showed her. Some guesses were accurate, but most of them were completely off and at one point Alka could even have sworn seeing the shadow of a smile on his face.
She had just ended telling her take on “Flushed night in troll Philadelpia” when Karkat picked up a page that was hidden under the book.
“Fuck, I haven’t read this in so long. This is like-” He stopped mid sentence and frowned. Then, in a booming voice Alka had never heard before, he shouted : “DAVE.”
The sounds in the basement stopped, then she heard a few light footsteps. A door opened.
“What?” said Dave, who was wearing a hoodie on the wrong side.
“Did you add rap to a very important emotional scene in Act 3 again?” Karkat asked in the voice of a disappointed parent.
“No.” Dave said in a very unconvincing fashion.
Karkat stared at him silently for a few seconds.
“Ok, maybe I did.” Dave admitted.
The staring continued.
“What, it totally improves the scene! Look at that, a bunch of incoherent feelings and then….. BAM. An actual legit feelings jam. Catharsis. This is good writing.”
More silent staring.
“I- ok, I guess there’s already enough rap in Act 2, maybe this scene should just stay the way you intended it to be. People speaking, without a melody. God, this is almost like slam poetry,” he said as he made a disgusted face.
Karkat kept the staring for another few seconds.
“Alright, alright. No more additions without your permission,” Dave conceded.
“Thank you,” Karkat said with a faint smile.
“By the way, your niece found your headphones and brought them here,” he added.
“Oh, hi, and thanks Alka,” he said as he finally noticed her, “but you didn’t need to do that now, I actually have a whole bunch of other sets of headphones.”
“Are you saying I’ve been listening to your weird "music” for two weeks for absolutely no valid reason?“ Karkat almost shouted.
"What can I say,” Dave said as he was shrugging, “I just love sharing.”
“Why are married.” Karkat said as he let out an exasperated sigh.
“Because you love me. I’ll be in the basement!”
Karkat rolled his eyes as he started picking up books again.
“I hate that he’s right. Anyway, where were we?”
“I think this is the last,” Alka said as she was handing him the only red labeled book left on the shelf they’d almost finished emptying.
“A Thousand Nights Away From Alternia,” Karkat said in an affectionate sigh.
“Is it a good book?” Alka asked.
“It’s beautiful,” Karkat answered.
The cover was blank, so he decided to tell her the story.
“It’s about this beautiful indigo blood in a moiraillegiance with a very jealous purple blood. She falls in flushed love with a simple rust blood but her moirail just won’t let her be with the one she loves because of her blood colour and because of how possessive he is, and he starts having strong red and black feelings for his moirail. So she ends up running away with the rust blood on a fake "vacation”, and they have all sorts of adventures and keep protecting each other no matter what,“ he explained with a touch of melancholy in his voice.
"Alternia… Is that where you and mother come from? She never talks about it.”
“Oh, me, her, and our two idiot friends.”
“Was it a nice place?” Alka asked, timidly.
“Not exactly. I mean, if I were born with a different blood color, I guess it could’ve been but-” he paused.
“- but I think I still miss it, in a way.”
He looked at the sky through the glass ceiling.
“I miss my house… My bed… My-”
He looked down again as his voice started cracking.
“- my friends.”
In this angle, his hair was hiding most of his face, but Alka could’ve sworn she’d seen her uncle’s eyes get wet.
“… Anyway, I- Have you looked at the time?” He pointed to the sky, which was turning orange.
“It’s getting late. God, I can’t believe you stayed this fucking long, thank you for your help. Do you want Dave to give you a ride home?”
“No, I think I’ll be fine, thanks.”
There was a silence.
“Do you think I could come and help with the books tomorrow too?”
“Oh, sure you can. This isn’t even an eighth of my collection.”
“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then!” Alka said as she put her boots back on.
“Oh, wait, before you go-” Karkat called as she was about to cross the door.
“Tell Kanaya that if she needs help with her- her *problems*, she can ask me. She really doesn’t have to go through all this trouble just for our comfort.”
“O-kay, I will!” Alka said without really knowing what Karkat was referring to.
As she rode home on her bicycle, Alka’s thoughts were bumping into each other at the speed of light. There was so much she could ask her uncle. And so many books.
When she arrived home, the sun had long set and the sky was a dark blue.
“What were you doing? Me and your mother were starting to get worried, you know?” Rose said as Alka dropped her coat on her cat. She collected her thoughts for a few seconds, then opened her mouth to speak.
“I made a friend.”