Welcome to the St. Lobaf Residential Treatment Center, located in the beautiful green hills of Northfield, Minnesota. The sign on the freeway promises “Cows, Colleges and Contentment” in this charming city, and we think you’ll agree.
— The welcoming brochure
"OH BULLSHIT. LITERALLY. THIS PLACE SMELLS LIKE A HOBO’S ASSHOLE DRYING IN THE SUN AND IS FULL OF DOUCHEBAGS IN SKINNY JEANS WHO CAN’T DRIVE FOR SHIT. AND FARMS."
As one might have guessed from reading the character sheet of Homestuck, many of the characters are...not all there.So, a fellow named VastDerp (aka, the author of Kagerou) reasoned that if they were in Real Life, they'd probably be institutionalized for their own good. And really, doesn't that sound like Slice of Life right there?So it came to pass that he and his fellows (including a growing segment of Recursive Fanfiction) did write the expansive hybrid of a Tumblr Blog and Alternate Universe Fic known as Brainbent, covering the life and times of several young adults as they deal with both late puberty and their own mental illness, and the put-upon but highly competent staff of St. Lobaf as they attempt to deal with them.Residents and staff, in order of bios (though not appearance):
Karkat Vantas: The bitter and miserable focus character, institutionalized at St. Lobaf after his anxiety, depression, and anger management issues eventually drove him into fistfighting a cinderblock wall. (Spoilers: the wall won.)
Tavros Nitram: Wide-Eyed Idealist intern, and former patient of St. Lobaf's. Perpetrator of the FUSB (he sewed it, Dr. Pyrope picked the colors, Kanaya refused to go near the thing and makes it known she had no part in its creation), though he wanted it to be called Beeatrice.
Gamzee Makara: One of the longer-term residents, self-admitted for extreme depersonalization and perception issues. Has been reprimanded for smuggling or attempting to smuggle certain contraband substances into the institute. Excellent cook.
Vriska Serket: Histronic and borderline personality, admitted after she had a claustrophobic attack while getting arrested, and after being assessed, was sent to St Lobaf. Lost her arm and eye in a motorcycle accident. Has earned the loathing of the staff. Enjoys wearing pirate outfits and antagonising people.
Dave Strider: The albino youngest resident, recently taken by protective services after his Bro was arrested on unrelated charges. One of the more uncooperative residents, not speaking for months after being admitted. Hoards food.
Penelope Messenger (PM): Head Nurse, and unquestioned ruler of the front desk. Hands out mail to residents. She also collects stamps. Attracted to WV.
William Valentine (WV): Older Sidekick of Terezi's, and veteran of Desert Storm. Attracted to PM. (They met at a Firefly convention.)
Aradia Megido: Sollux's platonic better half. Not a patient at St. Lobaf's, though she regularly talks with Sollux.
Calliope: An adorable little girl with severe burns on her face that she hides with a cute decorative surgical mask. She often has therapy sessions with WV and is friends with Gamzee.
Provides examples of:
Abusive Parents: All over the damn place. The AU makes no secret of the fact that many mental illnesses are exacerbated and/or caused by dysfunctional families. That being said, the majority of the residents have Good Parents, but the abusive ones tend to stick out.
Adaptational Villainy: Bro here is a borderline abusive Jerkass rather than the Crazy AwesomeJerk with a Heart of Gold he is in canon. This is at least partially because this series was started before Bro's personality was fleshed out a bit more, so it's based on an interpretation of him that has since been somewhat contradicted by canon.
Adorkable: Tavros is made of this. Many other characters have their moments. Feferi seems to think Equius qualifies, in a socially-awkward Gentle Giant sort of way.
Adult Fear: There's one story where Dave accidentally cuts his hand while home alone - and loses time. He could have bled to death.
Aerith and Bob: The only time a name is remarked on as unusual is when a young Vriska is visited by her aunt Mindfang. The latter legally changed her name.
All Abusers Are Male: Harshly averted in Gamzee's backstory; he had an abusive girlfriend who would often assault, beat, and strangle him whenever she drank or took drugs. When he finally got up the guts to dump her, she attacked him with a garden trowel and permanently scarred his face. Disturbingly Gamzee still talks about her and the abuse like it's no big deal.
Played straight with Dave and Vriska's backstories. Particularly jarring with Vriska, as it's implied that her abusive father is a humanization of her canon Giant Spider Lusus...which was originally female.
All of the Other Reindeer: Problems with bullying drove Eridan to first use brass knuckles to attack another student, and then make the school shooting plans that got him admitted to St. Lobaf's. Nepeta's autism means that she has trouble keeping up with what her peers consider normal behavior, like wearing makeup and not pretending to be a zombie when you're in middle school. Homophobic bullying may have played a part in the suicide attempt in Tavros's backstory.
Ambiguous Disorder: As mentioned, nobody knows what John's doing there. He checked himself in, though.
Apparently Eridan is a similarly confusing individual. He was sent to St. Lobaf for depression and possible borderline personality disorder, except when he got there the doctors started wondering if he had avoidant personality disorder instead. And than it's revealed that he's to be tested for autism soon.
Ambiguously Gay: Rose is pretty strongly implied to have the hots for Kanaya (who's openly lesbian). Nepeta and Sollux both think that she's gay or bi and one of her backstories implies that her mother thinks she's a Butch Lesbian.
Anything That Moves: Gamzee, in typically chill fashion, seems to be down for sexytimes with pretty much anyone who's interested.
Appeal to Force: Karkat threatens to beat up a reader if they don't get therapy.
Attention Whore: Vriska. Her introduction to John is when she claims to need his help to put on her bra.
Birds of a Feather: Nepeta and Jade as roommates are a non-romantic version. They're both AdorkableGenki Girls with slightly feral aspects to their personalities (Nepeta with her identification with felines, Jade's isolated, outdoorsy upbringing.)
Bi the Way: Vriska would like Gamzee to know that she once dated a juggalette.
Broken Smile: Gamzee has one after he thinks Sollux hates him
Brutal Honesty: The reason Karkat's attempt to point out that Sollux may be unhealthily dependent on Aradia gets him punched in the face.
The Cameo: Every now and then as a form of Mythology Gag, iterations of characters that haven't yet appeared in Brainbent will get mentions or brief appearances (though Word of God has fervently begged the fanbase not to demand the appearance of any character who hasn't yet appeared for the sake of author sanity and plot coherence). Thus far Casey, Meenah, Latula, Mituna, Diamonds Droog (and the rest of the Midnight Crew), and Roxy have all had fleeting mentions or can be inferred to exist somewhere in the vicinity of St. Lobaf's.
More recently Calliope has been given a mention. Apparently, she's a little girl with severe burn scars who often visits WV.
Calling the Old Man Out: Dave's first meeting with Bro after the hearing sees Dave break his silence...and verbally rip Bro a new asshole for expecting Dave to be happy to see him. Bro may have come out of it a little more sympathetic if he hadn't lost it and started screaming that he'd apologised, as though that should have made what he'd done all right. Wordof God is that this Bro is, fortunately, not Dirk.
Corner of Woe: The corner of the comfort room where Gamzee curls up.
Crazy-Prepared: Because she was raised by her Crazy Survivalist grandfather, Jade picked this up. The supplies she packed before venturing out of the cabin after her grandfather died were extensive but could still be easily carried by herself and Becquerel (her Big Friendly And In No Way Supernatural Dog) and she lists several uses for condoms likely not intended by the manufacturers. They're good for gun maintenance, apparently.
Deconstruction: Word of God is that Dave and Rose's situations in the fic are intended to be this of their canonical backstories in Homestuck, since they're Played for Laughs in the actual comic but in real life would be anything but, and are taken to their logical conclusion in the fic by having CPS intervene and Rose choose unhealthy methods to cope with her situation.
What Could Have Been: Word of God has also stated that Vriska was initially supposed to play a much greater role in the story, but the intense scrutiny the author recieved due to Vriska's controversial nature made writing her more trouble than it was worth.
Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Equius, in his backstory. His need to do something meaningful and constructive with his life led him to join the police academy and spend time as a paramedic before he became an RN and got interested in mental health care.
The Fashionista: Kanaya, who makes her own clothes and also makes them for other residents.
Foil: Rose and Dave. Rose recognizes the dysfunction in her seemingly perfect family and took the intiative to deal with it, while Dave refuses to admit that there could be anything wrong with him or Bro. At least he did before Character Development started kicking in.
Friend to All Living Things: Gamzee's general affability extends to things like caterpillars and frogs. Tavros and Feferi also qualify.
Gas Lighting: Karkat suspects Sollux is doing this to him with the FUSB at first
Gentle Giant: Equius. Sollux also calls Gamzee this by name because he is incredibly tall and can (according to Karkat) hit like a freight train, but almost always maintains the demeanour of large, sleepy, friendly dog.
Harmful to Minors: Dave's Bro makes porn at home and leaves sexual implements all over the place. He never actually made an effort to prevent Dave from seeing any of it, but he never made Dave see it either. The result is pretty freaky - see Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour below.
Heroic BSOD: Certain triggers, such as one of Kanaya's stronger perfumes, can send Nepeta into this. Dave goes into one after the hearing that determines whether his Bro can have custody of him goes badly.
Hollywood Personality Disorders: Most of the portrayals of mental illness are relatively sensitive, but it has received criticism for its stereotypical and stigma-reinforcing portrayal of Vriska's HPD and BPD - though it's possible Vriska herself is playing into the stereotypes for her own obscure amusement. In-story, her diagnoses vary and conflict, and the author's depiction of Vriska is based heavily on his own experiences with his sister, who has the same (ambiguous) diagnosis.
Improbable Age: Terezi, acknowledged by her college nickname, Tiny Asian Doogie Howser. While her actual age (34) isn't improbable for a fully trained psychiatrist, the fact that she's chief of staff at Lobaf's is.
Lighter and Softer: The world isn't destroyed, nobody's been killed, The Midnight Crew are a band rather than a gang, Equius is well on the way to growing out of his bigotry, Tavros is self-confident and assertive, Gamzee remains calm and kind while sober, and the cast members who need therapy are actually in therapy.
Darker and Edgier: On the other hand, the characters getting therapy tend to be worse off mentally than in canon. Not only are quirks like Karkat's hair-trigger rants and Kanaya's fussiness expanded into full-blown mental illness, some residents have entirely new problems, such as Nepeta's processing disorders and Dave's lost time.
Likes Older Women: Eridan, a seventeen-year-old, is crushing on the thirty-one-year-old Feferi.
Long List: Sollux has a distressingly long list of horribly embarrassing things he's done during delusional periods and mood changes. Hacking a government website looking for proof of aliens was probably one of the least embarrassing.
The Mad Hatter: Most of the residents are aware that they have serious problems, and several of them specifically refer to themselves as crazy (or similar labels) with various levels of sincerity. Vriska in particular self-identifies as a crazy bitch. Also, as previously mentioned, several of them checked themselves in.
The exceptions seem to be Dave, who maintains that life with his Bro was awesome, and Eridan, who's annoyed that he was committed for plans he claims he would never have carried out.
Moe Couplet: Equius and Nepeta. Neither of them are very good at conventional social interaction - Nepeta is high-functioning autistic, and Equius is rather humorless and awkward - and they make good foils for each other's quirks. Plus, the tiny teenage girl playing with the big bruiser's hair is always a cute image.
Nightmare Fetishist: Aradia is perfectly content to live in a funeral home, and doesn't see why Sollux is afraid of the place.
Noodle Incident: Subverted with the events that lead to Aradia finding Vriska's panties in Sollux's bed: As it turns out, she took advantage of one his manic moods after the patients saw a movie.
Also subverted with the cake incident that led to Gamzee and Sollux getting banned from the kitchen.
Subverted once again with Tavros losing his cool with Vriska. Vriska was being a pain when everyone was sick by flicking albino Dave Strider's lights on and off repeatedly (Dave is extremely photosensitive). Sickness + Vriska antagonising one of the more unstable residents does not a happy Tavros make.
No Nudity Taboo: No one really taught Jade that Skinny Dipping is not generally considered socially acceptable. One update suggests this of Gamzee too; at the very least, he had no problem with giving Sollux his shirt.
No Social Skills: Karkat has trouble being nice to people even when he wants to.
Nepeta's a milder version. She's much better than Karkat at the basics of getting along with other people, but she had a lot of trouble keeping up with the ever-shifting unspoken expectations of adolescent social life.
Pet the Dog: As much of an ass as Bro is, it's shown that he does genuinely care about Dave and is concerned about how the situation is affecting him. He apologizes for his behavior at the custody hearing but by than things have already broken down too much between him and Dave for it to make a difference.
Vriska can't bring herself to be mean to Calliope and actually bonds with her.
The Pollyanna: Tavros. The only thing to noticeably crack his cheery demeanour was a Noodle Incident that involved Vriska (which is probably all the explanation we need). John, too, never seems to get upset by anything.
Primal Scene: A preteen Dave walked in on his Bro having sex on multiple occasions. He doesn't consider it a big deal.
Stepford Smiler: Gamzee's almost always happy, friendly, and relaxed, even about things like the ex-girlfriend who scarred his face.
Vriska puts on a mischievous, puckish personality who seems to be proud of her multiple diagnosis. It's also almost directly stated in several places that she's struggled with suicidal thoughts and has little-to-no self-identity, most of her mannerisms taken from her Auntie Mindfang. Also, she isn't actually a Biker Babe-it's said in one of her backstories that she actually hates them, but learned to ride one purely to impress a guy.
Trademark Favorite Food: Most of the residents will do just about anything for pumpkin pie poptarts. Also, pancake day is widely celebrated.
Training from Hell: Bro put Dave through this sort of thing. It did improve his coordination (which helps considerably since Dave can barely see; his depth perception is bad), and Dave doesn't mind it, but most everyone else agrees that it was a form of abuse.
Transsexual: Karkat. The author enjoyed pointing out that this had been hinted at before The Reveal, and clarifies that it's not the main reason he's at Lobaf, though the gender dysphoria certainly hasn't helped his other issues.
Unreliable Narrator: It's important to remember that many mental illnesses distort your perception, so fics narrated in-character and the residents' tales of their past may or may not be one-to-one accurate accountings of events.