Karkat groaned, burying his face in his hands. He wasn't sure why he'd thought things would go any more smoothly once they'd managed to meet up in person; at least when they'd been limited to a Trollian window, he'd had the filter of blue and gray text between him and the walking cloud of utter stupidity that was John Egbert.
"Look," he growled, "I've explained the plan to you three times. I've explained it to Rose, and she says it's sound in principle, whatever the fuck that means."
"Yeah, but she's kind of -" John began, and Karkat cut him off.
"I've explained it to Dave, and - ok, he completely blew me off, but I think he did it an approving way."
"How do you blow someone off in an approving way?"
"I've explained it to all of my friends, and the ones that still have enough of a shred of sanity to stop trying to kill and/or drink each other think it'll work, which, as little as I like to borrow a psychopath's catchphrase, is a fucking miracle in this group."
"Wait, who's still sane? I can't keep track."
Karkat paused in his ranting just long enough to give John an even dirtier look than he'd already been giving the human, and continued, "And I've talked it over at length with Jade and she's fucking confusing but I think she's saying it'll work."
John nodded slowly. "Well, yeah, Jade likes the plan. That's kind of why I'm willing to listen at all! It's just..."
"Just what?" Karkat demanded.
"Just it seems like an awfully awful plan! It's too dangerous - you guys have already lost more than half your guys, and I really don't want to see any of my friends get hurt! My human friends or my troll friends!" John exclaimed, pushing himself halfway to his feet as he shoved both palms into the tabletop. Karkat looked up at him, meeting blue glare with gold until the hard set of the human's brows softened and John looked away.
"What," Karkat drawled, "can't you commit to anything that isn't completely terrible and inane? Does the plan not have enough chances for you to reenact scenes from a horrible, horrible movie?"
John pouted, making a show of being hurt that Karkat was mostly sure was not sincere. "Rose says that my ability to keep my sense of humor is part of why I'm one of the most psycha- psychical- psychologically normal people left on either team," he said, in a tone that was probably supposed to be haughty but really just came across as uncertain.
"You don't have a fucking sense of humor," Karkat retorted. "You have an incredibly stupid obsession with the incredibly stupid phenomenon of Nic Cage. Incidentally, every time I think about Cage, I'm a little more glad that your planet got destroyed before he could make any more movies, because the only thing that could make paradox space worse is more Nic Cage movies. Like maybe one where he's a wizard or something stupid like that."
For a long moment, John looked genuinely taken aback. "...Nic Cage is awesome," he said.
Karkat's jaw dropped. "Really? Really Egbert? I say that I'm glad your planet is uninhabitable and your species is probably functionally extinct, and you're still hung up on Nicolas Fucking Cage? If you'd said you were glad Alternia was gone, I'd probably have stabbed you!"
John shrugged, not meeting the troll's eyes. He reached out and began to straighten the heaps of printouts strewn between them on the tabletop - heaps, not piles, Karkat had insisted earlier; piles were stupid and this was supposed to be a serious council of war, not time to discuss feelings in the plan pile. That seemed to have turned out well.
"Look, I know you've already talked to everyone about it, but can I have a chance to talk to people, too, before we do anything we can't take back?" John asked, after a long moment. "Because I know you mean well but with you 'talking to' sometimes means 'yelling at' and that's not really the best way to make plans."
"Fuck that, we can't waste any... more..." Karkat trailed off, and made a sound - even he couldn't say for sure if it was a snort or a chuckle. Time was one of those things they had an excess of here, with both Knight and Maid still fully active. "Sure, whatever. Knock yourself out."
"Thanks," John said, looking up again and offering a shaky, bucktoothed smile.
"Yeah, don't mention it. Literally," Karkat replied. Then, before he was quite sure what he was saying, added, "Hey, does this mean we aren't friends anymore?"
John looked confused for a moment before his expression shifted to horror, and Karkat could practically feel his own shame globe expanding. This had to be the record on turnaround from rational Present Karkat to dumbass Past Karkat, he thought. Horrible, gut-wrenching regret in one-point-five-seconds. What in the world had possessed him to say that?
Oh god. John was getting up. Was he just going to walk out? Did this mean they really weren't friends anymore? Karkat was frozen, trying to come up with something to say that wasn't completely composed of the words "fuck," "ass," and "fuckass," when suddenly a pair of arms - strong, but feeling oddly warm and soft - wrapped around his shoulders, and John was leaning his head against Karkat's own.
"That's a pretty stupid thing to think!" John admonished, and the moment was too surreal, all Karkat could focus on was the way that fine human hair tickled against the side of his face. "You only yell when you're worried, I know you well enough to know that. So it's kind of nice to know that you care enough to get worked up over something when I'm involved!"
"...really." It wasn't quite a question, the way Karkat said it, because if it was a question then that would be inviting the human to reconsider and even John wasn't stupid enough to come to that conclusion twice.
"Really!" John drew back, and there was a little red blotch in the middle of his forehead where he'd been pressing it against Karkat's horn.
There didn't really seem to be a lot else to say to that.