The new planet’s pretty weird. Water flowing up? What’s the deal with that? But it’s cool. It’s not blown up, at least.
Karkat complains about it, but that’s just Karkat.
“Doesn’t this goddamned death-star ever fucking set?”
“Ha ha, oh man, that reminds me!” John says. “You totally need to see Star Wars!”
He can definitely alchemize the shit out of Star Wars. That’s like a basic universal necessity. He tries to explain Star Wars to Karkat but Karkat just starts talking about how maybe if he stares into the sun long enough it’ll burn out his ears so he won’t have to listen to this inane puppetshow, which doesn’t even make sense, but Karkat’s looking kind of flushed or whatever it is trolls look like when they’ve been out in the sun too long so John says, “Maybe you should lay down.”
Karkat leans against him as they walk over to a tree growing quickly, quicker now, out of the splitting rocks of this new world, this empty planet growing green. Karkat doesn’t lean too hard, though, which is nice ‘cause sometimes John’s chest still hurts and right now it’s pinching, sort of.
The shadows beneath the tree are deep and cool and sweetly black, and one of (but not all) the lines between Karkat’s eyes eases, and he grumbles when John helps him and maybe he calls John a fuckass. John laughs.
The sun withdraws slowly. A dark pattern crosses Karkat’s face, where the lingering light of the sun peeks around the leaves. Time is weird here, too. He hopes they find the others soon. They’re here, he knows. Somewhere.
A breeze pulls at John’s hair, at his hood, at his shoulders; he feels the wind in his skin. He turns to it. The leaves rustle overhead, and the wind rushes over his skin, and Karkat rolls onto his side and curls so his thick, bony knees brush John’s hip. John’s chest pinches. He takes a breath; his ribs ease.
“Hey, Egbert,” Karkat whispers, “you colossal dipshit. Put your fat head down before you fall over and crush my pulmonary sac.”
“Hey, Vantas,” John says, “you jerkass. Normal people say, Why don’t you lie down?”
“Why don’t you go—” And Karkat does a very rude thing with his hands.
If John had not taken such magnanimous pity on Karkat, he would totally make a secret vow to prank the shit out of him in the near future. He vows anyway.
The breeze pushes at John, pushes him back; it runs against his chest. He lets the wind bring him low. Karkat’s breath touches his shoulder.
Karkat says, “We better find some fucking caves before my entire face melts off.”
“Definitely next on the list,” John says. “I mean, I’d hate for your entire face to melt off. Man, that would be so gross.”
“Shut up, idiot,” Karkat says. John guesses it says a lot about how far they’ve all come that it sounds a little sweet when Karkat says it like that, all grumbly like he’s clearing his throat.
John closes his eyes. The leaves whisper, and Karkat’s breath rattles softly. That goddamned death-star sinks lower, drifting to the horizon that juts up to meet the sky. The wind is singing, and it sings, hello, hello, welcome home, and in his sleep John smiles. He turns his head, chasing the song. Karkat breathes against his cheek. This small wind scrapes and hisses, but it’s warm as the day cools and the song is the same.