Violent sneezing echoed down the hallway, startling everyone who heard. Tentative knocks on the door were answered with grouchy “GO 4W4Y”s, and Nepeta had told him she had heard assorted clanking and clattering coming from the room all night.
He paced the hallway just outside her door, scaring off anyone who dared approach. Countless times, he walked up to her door, only to turn around once more. It wasn’t safe to go in if he didn’t know what was wrong.
On what felt like his thousandth parade of the hallway, he almost walked straight into Kanaya .
“WHAT,” he grumped shortly.
“I Was Going To Express My Concern Over Terezi,” she responded causally, “But It Seems You Have The Situation Under Control.”
He sighed and flumped against the wall.
“NO, I DON’T,” he complained, “SHE HASN’T TOLD ANYONE WHAT’S WRONG.”
“You Have Not Asked Her?”
“I HAVEN’T TALKED TO HER. SHE’S BEEN TELLING EVERYONE TO FUCK OFF.”
“I Feel She Would Speak To You,” she insisted, “However I Will Try To Ascertain The Problem.”
She rapped soundly on the door of Terezi’s respiteblock.
“WH4T,” was groaned through the metal.
“I Would Like To Ask You How You Are Feeling,” Kanaya said.
“F1N3,” she said shortly, betrayed by the assorted sneezin and crashses.
“You Do Not Sound Completely Well,” Kanaya said dryly, “We Are All Quite Worried About You.”
“W3LL YOU SHOULNT B3” she insisted, “1M F1NE, GO 4W4-“ she began, but cut herself off with a hacking cough.
Karkat and Kanaya exchanged understanding looks.
“Terezi Are You Ill” Kanaya asked. There was a pause.
“NO,” came decisively through the door, followed by a poorly masked cough.
“You Sound Ill,” Kanaya began to persist, only stopped by Karkat, who barreled past her and hammered on the door.
“LET US IN YOU STUPID BITCH,” he hollered.
“NO” she said again. There was a huge cough, and a faint ‘OW’
Karkat did his best to breathe evenly.
“LOOK THERE’S NO POINT IN FUCKING LYING. NEPETA HEARD YOU SNEEZING ALL GODDAMN NIGHT.”
“1M F1N3,” her insistence was weaker.
“NO YOU’RE NOT,” he declared.
“K4RK4T, R34LLY. L34V3 M3 4LON3!” she yelled.
He finally tried jiggling the doorknob. To his surprise, it turned and the door cracked open.
“GO 4W4Y,” she said again, sounding worried as she cursed herself and the lack of a lock on her door. No one else had thought to do that. Karkat grinned and pushed the door open.
It was met with an odd resistance, and he soon found out why. Her room was a mass of scalemates and used tissues; piled haphazardly anywhere there was room.
“JEGUS PYROPE,” he said, kicking scalemates out of his way. “CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF.”
“M4K3 M3,” came from within a pile of the plush toys.
“WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING IN THERE?” he asked, slogging over.
“F3LL,” she sighed, pushing herself up and turning her head from side to side, as if she was trying to see him.
“I’M RIGHT HERE.” He stood directly in front of her, “CAN’T YOU SMELL ME OR SOME STUPID FREAKY SHIT LIKE THAT?”
She reached out one hand, groping wildly through the air and finally connecting with his face, which she squished thoroughly.
“OH TH3R3 YOU 4R3,” she finally grinned
“YEAH, LIKE I JUST FUCKING SAID,” he grumbled, face still contorted by her hands into an expression best described as ‘fish lips.’
“K4RK4T PL34S3 DONT T4LK SO LOUD,” she moaned, falling back down into the pile.
“Oh, uh, sorry. Fuck this feels weird.”
“TH4NKS THOUGH,” she sighed, relieved.
“See, I told you you were sick,” he snipped.
“So… so there,” he stuck his tongue out. “I was right.”
“GR34T,” she muttered dully.
“Wait hold on a second.”
“Why were you banging into all that shit?”
“DO 1 R34LLY H4V3 TO 3XPL41N?”
“Well I could figure it out if I tried,” he defended himself weakly.
“DONT BOTH3R,” she half smirked, “K4R, YOU M1GHT NOT R3M3MB3R, BUT 1M K1ND OF BL1ND.”
She shared this piece of information as if it were a huge revelation, while he just stood and stared.
“Yeah, believe it or not I fucking noticed that Pyrope.”
“NO, YOU 4R3NT G3TT1NG 1T. 1M BL1ND 4ND 1 C4N’T SM3LL 3ITHER. 1. C4NT. S33.”
At this particular moment, he was glad she couldn’t see. He was fairly certain he had the stupidest look on his face that had ever appeared there. Finally, he snapped his jaw shut with a click.
“So that’s why you didn’t leave?”
“Y34H, G3N1US,” she sighed, “1 C4NT R34LLY GO 4NYWH3R3.”
“That’d be smart, for once. Good idea Pyrope.” He rolled his eyes.
Five minutes dragged by as she lounged back in the pile of toy. Then, she sat up cautiously, reflexively turning her head to sense the room better. She got up, and walked smack into Karkat.
“WHY 4R3 YOU ST1LL H3R3?” she whined.
“Because apparently you can’t handle yourself on your own,” he rolled his eyes. “Jegus calm down. If you keep moving you’re just going to run into more stuff. Don’t give me that stupid fucking pout,” he added, seeing her face, “for once, in your pointless existence, listen to me.”
“BUT K4RK4T, 1M GO1NG CR4ZY 1N H3R3,” she protested.
“But nothing,” he said, “you were crazy before anyway.”
“1M GO1NG,” she persisted, trying to shove past him. He rolled his eyes and stopped her easily, holding his hand on her forehead.
“Like fuck you are,” he said, “you can’t fucking see Pyrope, we can’t have you falling down stairs like that wussy idiot.”
Terezi slumped in defeat, an inadvertent sniffle adding to her general aura of depression. While Karkat was an expert at clinging to rage, even he was affected, though he never would have admitted it.
“OH FINE,” he groaned, ignoring Terezi’s wince as his yelling hit her ears while he offered his hand, “LET’S GO.”
Terezi merely stood there, waiting expectantly for Karkat to remember that she couldn’t tell what he was doing. When it became apparent he wouldn’t, she sighed expectantly.
“K4RK4T, 1 H4V3 NO 1D34 W4T YOU JUST D1D,” she reminded him.
“FUCK,” he grumbled, snatching her hand and tugging her after him, “HOW HARD IS IT TO UNDERSTAND? WE’RE GOING.”
“OH!” she grinned, “TH3N L3TS J3T!”
Karkat led her cautiously around her cluttered room and she bounced eagerly behind him. He was thankful for her inability to sense his blush as they left the room and found Kanaya there. With his free hand, he waved her away, silencing the remark he knew was coming. She just smirked and nodded, leaving the two to their own devices.
He took routes he knew would be vacant, purposely avoiding the idiots he called friends. The stupid questions they’d have didn’t need answers.
At this point, he had ceased to rush, and they walked side by side, hands still entwined. Karkat did his best to ignore this, instead focusing on keeping his intrepid companion from falling down the staircases she seemed determined to investigate.
After the umpteenth squabble about “not being such a grubstuffing idiot,” Terezi sighed.
“WH3R3 AR3 W3 GO1NG TH3N?” she asked.
“WHAT ARE YOU BABBLING ABOUT?”
“1F YOU 4R3NT L3TT1NG M3 3XPLOR3, YOU MUST H4V3 SOM3WH3R3 1N M1ND.”
“SERIOUSLY WERE YOU EXPECTING ME TO HAVE SOME KIND OF GODDAMN PLAN FOR THIS? YOU’RE LUCKY I’M EVEN DOING THIS FOR YOU, I DON’T HAVE TO PLAN FUCKING ACTIVITIES FOR US.”
“W3LL 1F YOU DONT KNOW WH3R3 W3R3 GO1NG, 1 KNOW SOM3WH3R3,” she said, grinning.
“LIKE FUCK I’M GOING TO LET YOU LEAD US ANYWHERE, YOU BLIND IDIOT,” he rolled his eyes, “WE’D BE DEAD IN SECONDS.”
“1 C4N ST1LL F33L 4ROUND YOU DOOFUS,” she defended herself, “1 KNOW W3R3 1N SOM3 B4CK CORN3R SOM3WH3R3.”
“WELL THAT DOESN’T TAKE A GENIUS,” he grumped, “WE WOULD HAVE RUN INTO SOME STUPID SHIT IF WE WEREN’T.”
“Y34H, GOOD C4LL,” she chuckled, “NOW L3T M3 T4K3 US SOM3WH3R3.”
“I THOUGHT I WAS SUPPOSED TO GUIDE YOU PLACES,” he grumbled, “IT’D BE THE ONE GODDAMN TIME ANY OF YOU LISTENED TO YOUR STUPID LEADER.”
“DONT WORRY K4R,” she grinned, “YOU C4N ST1LL HOLD MY H4ND.”
Karkat’s blushing and incoherent insistence of “I DON’T EVEN CARE ABOUT THAT WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT,” occupied his attention for long enough to allow Terezi to take the lead. Laughing, she dragged the protesting troll behind her at speeds he was decidedly uncomfortable with.
“DO YOU EVEN KNOW YOU ALMOST HIT THAT WALL?”
“NOP3,” she turned around to smile at him, “BUT 1 D1DNT, D1D 1?”
“FUCK WATCH OUT!” he cried as a turn approached, and she laughed.
“DO3S TH1S L34D UP OR DOWN?” she asked, unfazed as they hit a staircase.
“UP, WHY?” he asked as he was dragged along.
“C4US3 W3R3 GO1NG UP, DUH,” she said.
“FINE, WE’RE GOING UP,” he complained, “NOW CAN I LEAD YOU BEFORE WE BOTH DIE?”
Ever so briefly, she considered his proposition. She turned around to deny him once more, but was interrupted rather rudely by a sudden protrusion in the wall. They both slammed into it, Karkat crushing Terezi underneath him.
“WHO PUT TH4T TH3R3?” she groaned.
“THAT’S NOT EVEN THE PROBLEM!” he yelled, “YOU OKAY? I MEAN IT’S ALL YOUR FUCKING FAULT BUT STILL JEGUS YOU HIT PRETTY HARD.”
Terezi snorted. “1M F1N3,” she said, waving away Karkat as if she somehow knew his hands were outstretched towards her.
“YEAH WHATEVER. WILL YOU LET ME GO IN FRONT NOW?” he asked. “ACTUALLY FUCK THAT, I’M LEADING.”
He took her hand once more, and tugged gently, “THE ROOF, RIGHT?”
They reached the roof without further incident, Karkat smugly leading them up flight after flight of stairs. Slightly winded as they reached the top, he turned to help her up the final step. Neither of them dropped hands as they soaked in the triumph.
“WELL THAT WAS RIDICULOUS AND OVERCOMPLICATED,” Karkat finally broke the silence.
“MOST TH1NGS 1NVOLV1NG YOU 4R3,” she informed him, grinning.
“LIKE FUCK THEY ARE, PYROPE, I’M BLAMING THIS ONE ENTIRELY ON YOUR BLIND GIRL SHENANIGANS.”
“YOU D1DNT H4V3 TO H3LP M3,’ she insisted.
“WELL IT WAS EITHER THAT OR PICK PIECES OF YOU OFF THE FLOOR AT THE BOTTOM OF SOME STAIRCASE. THAT’S ONE MESS I DON’T FEEL LIKE DEALING WITH.”
“4W K4R, 1M TOUCH3D,” she giggled.
“JEGUS WHY DO YOU ASSUME EVERYTHING IS A COMPLIMENT?”
“C4US3 1T USUALLY 1S”
“WELL MAYBE I JUST DIDN’T WANT TO DEAL WITH A DEAD FRIEND DID YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? THAT BLOOD WOULD BE FUCKING MESSY.”
“PLUS 1 KNOW YOUD M1SS M3,” she grinned.
“AS IF,” he scoffed, “I’D FINALLY GET SOME PEACE AND GODDAMN QUIET.”
“TH3N WHY 4R3 YOU ST1LL HOLD1NG MY H4ND?” she asked, feigning innocence.
“I’M NOT,” he declared, immediately dropping her hand and hoping against hope it would convince her. She just laughed at him. She was always laughing at him, and he would always blush, even this time.
“DONT B3 3MB4RR4SSED K4R,” she said, “YOU KNOW 1D M1SS YOUR H1L4R1OUS D3N14LS.”
“WELL WHOOP DE FUCKING DO,” he grumbled, “BE STILL MY BEATING HEART, MY RANDOM RAGE AMUSES TEREZI PYROPE. ALL MY DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE. “
“DONT WORRY, 1 H4V3 TH4T 3FF3CT ON P3OPL3,” she grinned.
“SO WHY DID YOU DRAG US UP HERE ANYWAY?” he asked.
“TO SHOW YOU TH3 V13W,” she answered, gesturing vaguely around her. While he had to admit the stars were gorgeous in the veil, one question bothered him.
“PYROPE HOW WOULD YOU EVER KNOW THAT? YOU WERE BLIND BEFORE TOO IT’S NOT LIKE YOU COULD EVER SEE IT.”
“TH4NKS, 1 D1DN’T R34L1Z3 TH4T,” she rolled her eyes, “1 COULD ST1LL SM3LL 1T, 4ND 1T W4S D3L1C1OUS.”
“YOU ARE SO WEIRD,” he shook his head, “SERIOUSLY FUCKED UP I SWEAR.”
“1T 1S N1C3 THOUGH, 1SNT 1T?” she asked, “MY NOS3 DO3SN’T L13.”
“YEAH,” he sighed, “IT’S GORGEOUS, WHATEVER.”
What Terezi didn’t realize was that Karkat wasn’t looking at the scenery, and he was continually thankful that she couldn’t see him.
“STILL,” he added, “THIS IS PRETTY USELESS FOR YOU, REALLY.”
She smiled mysteriously, and took his hand again.
“NOT 3X4CTLY,” she said, “4FT3R 4LL, 1 COULD H4V3 US3D MY C4N3.”