Eventually his feet led him to a room far from the others; he knocked softly and entered, Sollux? You in here?
Where else would I be?
Karkat laughed uneasily, Yeah, true
He sat down next to the other troll and hesitantly stated, So Im going to go out on a fucking limb and guess youre pissed at me.
Wow, what made you think that? Sollux had his back to Karkat.
Listen, Im sorry I didnt tell you about Feferi, I thought shed find you. I honestly believed that. Besides its not like we can control who we meet in these stupid things.
A large sigh left Sollux and he slumped against Karkat, I know, I know. Im still pithed though. You could have at least said something. After a while Sollux spoke up again, So hows John?
I dont know, fine for the moment, Karkat answered while grabbing a spare screwdriver and undoing a hatch. Hes stable right now, but I dont know when hell have another episode, its best to finish this as soon as possible.
Sollux nodded, I understand. You know, he turned his attention to the wires Karkat was pulling out; Ive been pulling all nighterth thince you asked me to do thith for you.
Im aware, thank you Sollux. He offered his Moirail a weak smile he knew he couldnt see. Im really thankful for your help; I doubt I could do this on my own.
Thats right; youd fuck this up in five minutes flat, he chuckled and focused on what his hands were doing. KK what color is thith wire?
And thith one?
Karkat shifted easily into the role of being Solluxs eyes. He answered quickly and helped as much as he could. It was always amazing working next to Sollux; the troll overcame most of the struggles that come with being blind quickly. It was remarkable how much he had progressed. Karkat joked, So I guess you cant smell colors huh?
No KK, that shit ith impossible, I dont know how Terezi did it, he grabbed a soldering iron and started fusing connections on a few wires. KK thith is the right wires correct?
Y-Yeah, youre fine, Karkat watched as Solluxs psionic powers flared up briefly and he made the connection. Youre getting better at that, Karkat commented.
Yeah, I found if I use it in small bursts I can see for a lot longer than one continuous wave, Sollux explained letting his psionics dwindle and his world go dark again. Its annoying, not being able to see. You dont notice how much you miss theeing until you cant.
I couldnt imagine something like that Sollux, Im sorry.
He shrugged and grabbed a circuit board. All the tiny details became clear for about three seconds, enough time for Sollux to memorize what it was and start putting the correct wires in place. It wathnt your fault KK. Dont beat yourself up over it. I deserved what happened. We both got what wath coming to us.
Youve told me this, but it doesnt mean I dont feel at least partly responsible. If I was a better leader and maybe kept things under control
He scratched his head and growled, I dont know. Fuck it. Everything happened so fast that day. Its really remarkable actually, that so much went wrong so quickly.
Yeah it wath thomething else. Im surprised we lived, actually. He gave the circuit board to Karkat and pointed to where it needed to be attached. But we did, tho thatth good. Sollux rested a hand on Karkats shoulder. You are a good leader KK; we still follow you, that should be proof enough.
Thanks, Karkat pulled Sollux up and they admired their work. When will it be done?
Give me two more days. Maybe tomorrow if you come down and help me again.
Thank you, again. This means a lot.
Sollux gave Karkat a little push towards the door, Dont mention it, just make sure your Matesprit is ok. Youre the first pair weve ever seen.
I will. And Sollux? The blind troll looked his way, Please be careful in these dream bubbles. I know the reunions are great, but theres something I just cant shake about them. Its bothering me.
Dont worry KK, theyre only dreams, he could tell that answers wasnt good enough so he added, Ill watch myself. Ill also report to you if anything odd happens.
Karkat seemed satisfied with that answer and left Sollux alone. He didnt let his mind wander too much as he made his way back to the bedroom. The hallways were growing cold again and Karkat briefly wondered if the heaters were failing or if something was seriously wrong. The hallways had always been cold during the evening cycles of the meteor, but it was getting dangerous. Individual rooms had better heating than others, especially rooms that were filled with electronics.
Karkat! He looked up and saw John standing by the door to their room. Hey do you have a minute?
Of course, Karkat pulled John into a hug, I always have time for you.
Great, he pulled Karkat into their bedroom and pushed him on the bed. John flopped down beside Karkat and looked into his eyes. So
I think we should try to see my dad tonight. But I dont know how to do it
Karkat gave John a quick smile and said softly, Dont worry about it, well figure it out. Im thinking we just have to make sure were connected when we go to sleep.
can we try now?
He hesitated in answering, Its still a bit early, I dont want to waste so much of my day sleeping. Johns eyes fell and he mumbled something that Karkat thought sounded like Ok, whatever
you have to understand that I have stuff I need to do, Im a leader John, same with you.
its just this is really important to me. John sat up and moved to the edge of the bed, his back to Karkat. I dont want to miss this opportunity. I just want dads approval, for all of this. I want him to tell me that its ok and that Im doing the right thing. I want him to see me and you and be happy with me.
You should know better than anyone else here that he loves you, and after all youve told me, he probably has hundreds of those Im proud of you notes ready to go.
A small laugh escaped Johns mouth and smiled, Y-yeah youre right. Im just
I dont know Karkat, I guess I just dont want to miss any chances of being with him.
Feelings were in turmoil over what to do, part of Karkat wanted to drop everything and help his Matesprit, but the other part of him told him to hold off and wait until he checked in with the others. Listen; just let me do one round ok? I just want to talk with everyone once. Its almost the end of day so I can gather reports fairly quickly.
Just as he was about to leave Karkat turned back to John, Oh and put on a jacket or blanket or something. I dont like how cold the halls have been getting. Im going to have to check out the heaters with Sollux tomorrow.
Ill do that, his voice didnt really have the spirit it normally had, and Karkat noticed. Come back soon, he offered.
The door shut behind him and John fell back on the bed, Alone again, huh? He rolled over and closed his eyes. Its not like he couldnt feel Karkat, but there was a difference between feeling the air that moved from his lungs, and actually being there beside him. I could just go follow him, but I dont want to feel like a lost puppy
Instead he closed his eyes and allowed himself to take a quick nap.
Dave! Have you seen Kanaya around?
The human flinched ever so slightly before turning and replying smoothly, No man, last I heard she was in her room with Rose.
Thanks, Karkat grumbled and heading down the hall leading to the other troll rooms.
What do you need her for? Groaning he quickly explained he was doing a progress check but once again before he could leave he was interrupted by Dave, And why do you live so far from the other trolls?
really fucking personal and Im not going to explain it to you. Not now at least, and probably not ever actually.
Dave threw his hands up, Hey man thats just fine, a guys gotta have his personal space. Everyone has secrets.
More than you probably know, He remarked quietly and tried to leave once more.
Karkat! Hold up, Dave swung his legs gracefully over the couch and approached him, I know Ive been an ass, I get it. And I know forgiveness isnt easy to earn. But I just feel like
sometimes I see myself in you, and I wonder how things would have been if I wasnt a complete asshole. I think we could have been bros or something.
Maybe in some alternate timeline we are, you never know.
Dave laughed uneasily, Yeah maybe. Anyways, He rubbed the back of his head uneasily, you go do your leader stuff, sorry I held you up.
There was an awkward air of loneliness that hung in the room and Karkat was pretty sure he was going to regret the next things that came out of his mouth. Strider, do you want to come with?
The other froze and turned around slowly in disbelief. Youre serious right now, arent you? He asked, trying to hide his shock, Youre not fucking with me? Karkat nodded, After all that shit, youre going to actually invite me to go with you on your leader business shit?
Karkat nodded again, Listen asshole, the human peace offering symbol of an olive branch has to be extended somehow. I dont have the silly tree, so a hand will have to do as a stand in. Cool grey eyes watched hot crimson ones as he extended a hand, Im the knight of blood, its a protector class, like yours, only mine is about bonds, friendships
and right now
he sighed, Well our team is pretty fractured. Ill man up and put my big boy pants on and make the first damn move. So, what do you say? Want to come with while I make my rounds?
S-Sure, yeah bro, no problem, Dave shuffled into step beside Karkat. The awkward air never disappeared. So
is John better?
Depends on what you mean by better. He stopped thinking hes a raging monstrous animal, but he still hates himself, so yeah, hes ok, but not at the same time.
I noticed that
the body issues I mean, Dave didnt know how much he could talk about John in front of his Matesprit so he treaded lightly. He came and talked to me a few days ago
are you going to do anything about it?
What exactly can I do? If you have any suggestions Id love to fucking hear them.
well shit Karkat I dont know. All this technology garbage goes right over my head. Rose tried explaining the process to me once, but I lost her at the mention of DNA molecules.
Sighing Karkat placed a cautious hand on Daves shoulder, the other human still flinched but didnt move away, Im working on it, dont worry. Ill do anything I can to make John truly happy. You have my word.
They approached Roses door and Dave knocked softly, Hey Rose, you there?
Dave? Yeah Im here, do you require my services? I told you that youd finally need counseling after this adventure.
Ugh! No, Rose, I dont need your creepy mind evaluation services. Jegus fuck Lalonde, Karkat just wants to talk to you.
Karkat stepped forward, And Kanaya if shes in there by chance.
The door opened and the smaller female walked out, Yeah Im here, Kanaya just left to the bathroom, shell return momentarily. So, is it your brain that needs picking?
He dismissed the idea with a wave and invited himself in. No, Im just doing some checkups on you two. I need to know your progress with the evacuation duties.
Rose smiled smoothly; Dave caught the slight disappointment in her features at the loss of a potential patient. Well that makes more sense, a leader doing his leader-y duties. How may I be of service?
I told you and Kanaya to prepare food stores and the various specialized equipment that wed need for the move. What is the status of that?
There was a slight moment of hesitation before Rose replied, Well, she tried to articulate smoothly, you see there is a slight difference between you trolls think is a natural and healthy diet in emergencies and what we believe the same thing is, as humans. As it turns out the way you guys live would probably kill us. So
I mean no disrespect, but we cant risk us dying while conforming to your diets. Kanaya and I are trying to sort everything out between the two groups as quickly as possible. However
she paused again, there is just only so much we can do.
This was something that Karkat hadnt thought about, he had assumed the differences between the two species were mild enough to conserve on packing by eating many of the same foods. He thought for a second then came up with an idea, You said that the differences between trolls and humans is the problem correct? Rose nodded, What if I assigned, I mean, asked John to help you out?
Oh, Roses eyes widened a bit at the realization, that would work splendidly. His knowledge of both species would speed things ahead much faster as I would not have to explain to him the differences in human biology like I do with Kanaya. Fantastic idea Karkat.
I have my moments, he grumbled and moved the topic on, What about the device management?
is a bit more complicated than diet plans, Rose admitted. Last time we ventured into the great unknown of the asteroid lab facilities we took nothing with us. This was a regrettable decision as their usefulness was immediately missed. But
But? Dave pressed, feeling left out of the conversation.
But, a smoother voice continued from the doorway, most of these objects are far too large to captchalogue even with the most versatile sylladex combination. Kanaya frowned slightly before adding, Which is distressing news, it means that we are limited to what we can store in our sylladexes and what we can carry on our backs.
Karkat cursed and stared down at the floor thinking hard. Then the most reasonable answer is to use the sylladex system to carry our food stores and anything heavy, then our clothes or shelter gear will be carried by hand.
Yo hold up guys, Dave burst back into the conversation. Ok so like, remember when John was fucking with his deck? The question was directed towards Rose, but Karkat nodded too, Besides being as embarrassing as hell, he also brought up something of mild interest. So he did some pretty silly shit, but in that silliness he did show that combination of items is something that is not only useful, but easy to do as well. Dave straightened up, I purpose that we combine as many as our items together as we can, and well, please
can everyone get a deck that allows for easy access to their items? If I have to watch yall struggle with your fucking dexes I might blow my brains out with Jades gun. He watched as everyone seemed to nod in unison.
Ill make sure everyone is using something helpful, Karkat took out a small computer device and jotted down a few notes.
Dave said a bit curious, Speaking of Jade
where is she? I havent seen her around in ages
now that you mention it, I havent seen her either
Rose shook her head as Kanaya confirmed that she hadnt seen the girl either. Well, Dave said a bit hastily, Im going to go look for her, Ill leave all the leader shit to you Vantas.
Before Karkat could say anything to interject or encourage, Strider had already flash-stepped out of the room and was gone. And before Karkat could leave the room as well Rose asked him a question. What was Dave doing with you anyways? I thought the two of you didnt get along?
I was extending an offer of peace, I guess. Friendship is what you guys call it. Karkats hand rested on the button to close the door, I figure if the leader cant even make peace then I have no business being a leader, right? He didnt wait for a confirmation, Ill send John down to help you guys as soon as possible. Hes going through something, so itll probably be tomorrow
Thanks for the update you two, he added before leaving them to their thoughts.
Jade! Dave called down the darkened halls of the lab. Jade! He started routinely checking all closed doors. Some of them were shut more quickly than others, the sights behind were much too gruesome. Fuck someone should really throw out the rotting meat from those failed ecto tanks. Holy shit. He held his nose and moved down the hallway in a quickened pace. He didnt really know how far away Harley had gotten, or if she had even left the main area. The girl had a habit of disappearing then reappearing when least expected. He retraced his memories and realized that she hadnt come to the group meeting early that day. Damn it Jade you better be ok
When Karkat opened the door to his room he found John lying face down on the bed. Quietly he moved towards his sleeping partner and sat down next to him. Gently he brushed some stray hairs from his face and nuzzled his neck. He could hear Johns quiet giggle and the other turned over and looked up at Karkat. H-Hey Karkat, he said with a yawn.
Took a nap I see, Karkat gave him a small smile and scooted so his back was against the wall.
John yawned again and replied, Yeah, there wasnt much else to do. He noted the worry in Karkats emotions and was quick to add, Dont worry, Im still being careful, I didnt even go into a dream bubble Karkat. Trust me. Hahaha it was just your average troll dreams, you know, blood, gore, conquering unknown planets. The usual.
Karkat relaxed slightly and motioned for John to sit up and join him. Im paranoid, what can I say? Just
ah fuck it, youre fine. Just dont use sleeping as a crutch is all Im getting at.
John rolled out of bed and stretched. Hey Karkat howd everything go with the planning preparations?
Fine, things are moving at an ok pace, Karkat decided to keep the status of his missing sister secret for the time being. John didnt need any added stress, especially from something that might not even be a cause for concern. The human girl could have easily overslept and missed the meeting or simply forgot. Kanaya and Rose need your help though, so I said you would help out tomorrow.
Oh? John said, his curiosity waking up. What do they need help with?
Figuring out food plans for the move. Apparently human and troll emergency diets are vastly different and Rose expressed her interest in having someone who is well versed in both human and troll biology to help out. Karkat watched John make a pouty face and let out a huff. Shoosh. Youre the best fucking option we have here. I sure as hell dont know anything about the goddamn pink monkeys. You were one for your whole life; it makes the most sense to send you so dont grumble.
But Karkat, John whined, I thought it was going to be something cool
and besides what if I dont know as much about troll stuff?
Dismissing Johns complaining Karkat moved on, Kanaya will be there to back you up, youll be fine. They just need an extra head in the planning is all. Karkat stopped talking and watched John, What are you doing?
Oh? Im stretching! I dunno I feel really pent up lately. Like I need to move more or something.
Its probably from sleeping so much dumbass. Come on, he got up and grabbed Johns hand, Well take a run or something.
Jade! Dave called once more into the hall. Goddamn it, Jade werent you raised by a dog? You should come when fucking called.
Rude! Came a shout in reply. It sounded from a room around the corner; Dave eagerly pushed the door open. You shouldnt make fun of someones heritage Dave, its not nice. Want me to start squawking at you? Or how about I throw some ramen noodles at you when I think you need to be fed?
Wow Jade way to be appreciative that someone bothered to come all the way down here to find you, he said ducking under some fallen cables. What are you doing halfway to hell anyways?
She turned around and removed a set of heavy goggles, Unlike some people here, Im actually trying to make life better instead of bickering and running around like chickens with their heads cut off.
I dont follow
Of course not, she stood up and dusted herself off. Im fixing a lot of these machines down here. Did you know the heater core had been broken for days? Not to mention the idiotic problem you guys are having upstairs with the important gadgets being too large to transport. Did anyone think of, I dont know making them smaller by chance?
Dave rubbed his head, Ah, no. I guess we didnt think about that stuff.
The lab is organized in a way that each floor is identical to the floor above it, at least that is true from the four floors I had been on. So I can experiment with these machines without ruining the ones were using upstairs. She smiled a bit to herself, Its really simple silly! Pulling Dave further into the room she explained some more about the things she was fixing. She already made a modified version of their Alchemiter. Its a work in progress, she explained, there are still a few bugs, but its a start.
Jade this shits amazing; you should really go talk to that creepy computer troll
Oh I have. Sollux has been really helpful, actually. He knows Im down here; its hard for him to make it this far into the lab without help. So much of it looks the same, and with his blindness
well I dont think anyone wants to risk a team member getting hurt.
Dave picked up a few electronic devices, How did you figure all this out? Harley this is awesome. He pressed a button and the machine made a little beeping sound, What does this one do?
I swear to god youre as bad as John, she snatched the device from Daves hand and turned it off. That one scans for live wires, its not dangerous, but some of these others might. She put it down and turned back to what she was working on when Dave burst in. I know this stuff because Im good at it. Programming, robotics, Im pretty talented with anything electronic or motorized.
Whats this one?
It was a large assortment of wires and components that resembled the guts of a computer. Nothing was shielded and all the inner workings were exposed. This is a transporter. Or at least, its the guts of one. Ive stripped it to try to figure it out, but its not going so good. She held a hand up to the wires and dragged a finger down the parts, Its so complex, she said slowly in awe. Ive never seen anything like it, not even in my own house.
well it wasnt here, Dave realized standing up. This kinda stuff goes way over my head Harley; sorry I dont really catch on. If this was a mixer, or you needed a new track whipped up I could totally be your man. But this stuff, it just flies over my head. He headed towards the door, If you need any sword training let me know, Im also your guy for that. Dave disappeared down the hall. Oh, he said popping his head back in the door, could you find it in your super mega busy day to check in for dinner or something? A lot of us thought you vanished from existence.
She dismissed him with a wave, Yeah Dave no problem, Ill check in. Jade laughed and smiled at Dave. Thanks for checking on me though, it was sweet of you.
better? Karkat asked when they finally reached the showers. They were both breathing hard after their run.
Yeah, much actually, John panted besides him.
Good, Karkat smiled, I thought an hour would be too much for you, but it seems it was almost too fucking much for myself.
Dave spotted John and Karkat when he rounded the corner, Sup fearless leaders, he greeted as he walked by. I just caught up with Jade.
Is she ok? Karkat asked?
More than ok, shes fucking brilliant. Next time shes around ask her what shes been up to. Youll be amazed bro, totally amazed. She probably like solved all of our problems without even trying.
What? Strider no get back here!
John held a hand out to stop Karkat, Wait! What was up with my sister?
N-Nothing John, it was fine, everythings fine.
Dave smirked as he headed off laughing silently as John drilled Karkat for information.
I told you its fine John, nothing happened.
John growled low under his breath, Next time let me know if something happens to my sister. I dont like being kept in the dark about that kind of thing.
Yeah yeah, Karkat replied, Sorry John. He ran a towel through his hair and threw it at his Matesprit. Ill tell you what; Ill buy you dinner to make up for it.
Kaaarkaaaat, we dont pay for dinner! He elbowed him and pulled grabbed his hand, But its a nice sentiment.
Much later that night when everyone else was probably fast asleep John and Karkat sat facing each other. Hesitantly Karkat took Johns hand in his, Do you want to try?
Johns eager grin was more than enough of an answer, Yeah of course I do!
Settle down moron, you cant sleep if youre a ball of energy. John nodded and flopped down on his pillow, taking Karkat with him. Shhhh, he made the quiet relaxing sound that lulled John to sleep so many times before. Gently they pressed their heads together and John drifted off to sleep, Karkat right behind him.
Nothing went as planned. Everything fell apart around them. There was fire and inhuman screeching from all around, not to mention the rain of blood and smell of death.
John awoke screaming and Karkat gasped awake as well. What the hell was that?
I dont know Karkat, I dont know! Their hearts were both beating faster than they were comfortable with.
Shit, I think it was me, Karkat admitted. I probably wasnt focusing enough. He fell back in bed and rubbed his eyes. Sorry you had to see that, fucking hell.
John fell back too, I thought it would be waaaaay easier than that Karkat. I mean Dave has shared dreams with Davesprite all the time it seems. Plus a few times Ive shared dreams with the others when I got knocked out in my old session.
I dont know John, the dream bubbles I was in always had a center controller of the dream, maybe thats where we went wrong? There wasnt enough time for an answer from Johns part, Sorry you had to see that stuff
my dreams are rather
no its ok Karkat, I know you didnt try to have an army of trolls burn down my house and then string you up and uh
yeah, not your fault. He rested his head on Karkats shoulder. Your troll dreams suck more than mine.
Ive had more years to practice, Karkat replied resting his head on Johns. I dont really want to sleep, how about we watch some shitty movie? We havent done that in a while.
Sure Karkat, Ill even let you pick.
Well try again tomorrow, Karkat offered.
John smiled and felt a little sick, Uh, sure
or we could just forget the whole meet my dad thing
Karkat felt pang of regret and disappointment run through him, No we cant give up, this meant a lot to you. Well find your dad, and Ill do all the customary human greetings and itll be fan-fucking-tastic. You just take the lead next time, Ill follow.
Yeah, sure, we can try
John trailed off when Karkat put in the movie. His eyes werent really watching the movie though, they were replying the vision of his house burning to the ground, and amongst the blood and smell of death, the even sicker smell of baked goods burning surrounded his memories.