The conscription fleet is still days away, but Gamzee fancies he can catch a glimpse of a glimmer reflecting off the hull of one of the great ships in the starry sky. He lifts an arm to point it out, and with an irritated sigh, Karkat humors him and looks up.
"There's nothing up there," him moirail tells him. "Well, nothing new anyway. Just a million asshole stars looking down and judging us."
Gamzee grins slowly, and without warning turns to flop over and lie with his head on one of Karkat's folded knees. The rough cement of the roof is still warm beneath his back, warmer even than the scarlet-blooded troll's leg beneath Gamzee's head. It's odd, not being able to hear the ocean when he's outside, but they'd both agreed that this was a time they needed to be together, and Karkat has not gone more than a few miles from his hive since their eyes began to fill with color nearly a sweep ago.
"You know something, palebro?" Gamzee asks, as Karkat pushes his head aside, just a little, so that the indigo's horn doesn't poke him in the stomach.
"What." The annoyance is laced heavily with amusement. Karkat looks down at Gamzee, his face at a comical angle from the clown's perspective, his hair a thick, short tangle against the rich purple of the sky.
"I'm gonna motherfucking miss you when I'm culled," replies Gamzee.
Karkat goes rigid, sharp lines against the brilliant night sky. When he speaks, his voice is hard and sharp as well. "What the everpitying fuck are you talking about, bulgebite?" he demands, lifting a hand to curl around one of Gamzee's horns, claws digging uncomfortably into the soft keratin where orange turns to yellow. "Why the hell would you even say that? You are not getting culled."
Gamzee shrugs, reaches up to gently pry Karkat's hand from his horn and folds their fingers together. "I mean, fucking look at me, I ain't cut out for adult life, any motherfucker with functioning eyes can be telling that. Probably be culling me before we get on the ships, just to save the space," he says philosophically. Karkat tries to reply, and Gamzee cuts him off with a vague wave of his free hand. "Chill, bro, chill. I got a good run - nearly nine sweeps, right? How many bitches make it to nine? Especially with an absent lusus and a bottle-a-day sopor habit?"
"Then don't go meet the conscription drones, slimepan!" Karkat exclaims. "This is literally the easiest concept on the planet, you should not need me to explain this to you. A bunch of us are heading for the hills, you know."
"Eh." Gamzee realizes his hand is still in mid-air; the lanky angles of his wrist and knuckles forming utterly mundane shapes that strike him as unspeakably fanciful.
"I'm serious!" Karkat continues, sounding annoyed at his moirail's dismissive non-answer. "We're not letting them hook Sollux up in the belly of some ship, or cull Tavros for being a cripple. And we're not going to let them get their forks in you for being a fucking immature, sopored-up pathetic mess, even if you are!" Hanging unsaid is, and we're not letting them kill me for being a disgusting mutant; that's not something to say aloud, even if the lawnrings around Karkat's hive are empty.
"So'm I," Gamzee grunts. He reaches up, takes hold of Karkat's chin and makes the other troll look down at him. "A few lowbloods can go missing, and the drones won't be getting their bother on - but there ain't enough of us indigos to ignore if one of us ain't accounted for. I don't show, and they'll have motherfuckers out looking for me. And Karkat - I ain't worth putting the rest of you in danger like that."
Karkat's jaw is tense in Gamzee's hand, and although he can't turn away, his red eyes are flicking everywhere but Gamzee's face. Red-tinted tears begin to well, and Karkat wipes them away angrily with the back of his free hand. "You're really ready to go through with this fucked up charade of self-sacrifice, aren't you?"
"Hundred-percent motherfucking honest," Gamzee says, as solemnly as is possible through the sopor. "You need this rebellion, invertebrother. You got a chance, too, I figure. Be a pretty poor moirail if I let myself get in the way of that miracle, wouldn't I? Just... watch out for Tav, would you?"
Karkat loses it then, trying to draw a ragged breath and breaking down in wracking sobs. Gamzee pushes himself upright and draws the smaller troll to him, shooshing him, papping him on the back as Karkat clings to the front of Gamzee's shirt.
Wishing he was actually as sanguine about this whole mess as the show he's putting on for his moirail.