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Gamzee brushes his fingers idly over the hair-pokey top of Tavros’ mohawk and smiles, lazy.

He watches the insides of his eyelids, the play of color in his own head, while his bro comments on the clouds passing overhead. One looks like a barkbeast, a dragon, a castle with um, what is it called, you know, uhh, a drawbridge, one of those.

He doesn’t look up at the clouds for himself, knowing too well that taking even one peep would ruin it. Tav’s spinning his own story and Gamzee, he’s the audience. He grins as he imagines the fantasy setting Tavros describes, pictures the dragons and heroes, paints them all in his own favorite colors. It’s beautiful.

The grass is beautiful. Back on Alternia the grass around his hive had been tall and wispy, beach grass, but this stuff is lush and deep, deep green under him. He can practically feel the color, a pulsation that bumps up into him, through him, makes him take a deep breath just to take it all in.

He reaches his arms out further over his head, sprawls wider, and hears Tavros stumble over his words a little as his fingers brush the other’s cheek. Lying head to head, his bro is just a horn’s length away.

Gamzee laughs, pulls those adventurous little digits back up to the top of Tavros’ head, runs them through his hair again, all backwards and blind but gently, careful not to press too hard or brush his horns or anything.

He settles in to feel sun on his skin and damn if it isn’t perfect.

Anybody could tell him miracles weren’t real now and he’d just laugh in their face. No rage man, no worry, just a deep down, full on belly laugh that it was right there in front of them and they couldn’t miss it if they tried.

This place is a miracle, plain and simple. They can do anything here. They can lay in the sun here, that ought to be enough to make any old fucker another believer.

Here they can wander through days and nights and take their time, waste their time, do as they please. There’s no doom hanging overhead, no danger around corners. Everyone is okay, really okay. Tavbro’s got his walk on, legs totally in one piece and working like a dream. Everybody’s heads are right where they’re supposed to be, nobody’s full of holes, and Gamzee isn’t scaring himself. Not with horns, not with the tiny little voice in his head that used to tell him to hurt, to rip, to kill, to paint and paint and paint till his fingers were sore with it.

None of that here.

They’ve got their paradise planet, the one he’s been dreaming of since before he can remember, and it’s everything. It’s the golden glow of Prospit and the deep darks of Derse, the cool Alternian shadows and a bunch of things from a ton of places he doesn’t know, hasn’t even seen floating out in that great big blanket called space. It’s a magnificent jumble and he’s happy to call it home. It’s beautiful, life is beautiful, and with his friends around him he couldn’t ask for anything more.

It’s a fucking symphony of right and Gamzee soaks it up like he’s made of little spongy bits instead of skin and bones and a blood pusher that thumps like the hardest working little motherfucker when he tips his head back, opens his eyes, and sees Tavros looking right back at him.

Gamzee rolls onto his stomach, rests on too-sharp elbows and stares down into earnest eyes, coppery brown just starting to permeate the irises.

This must be a paradise planet, because when he leans in close and upside-down bumps the tip of his nose to Tavros’ like he’s Troll Spiderman or something (holy shit if he could climb walls he would just totally lose his mind,) Tavros only flinches a little, then smiles kind of goofily and lets him nuzzle away like it’s the third Nuzzling Perigree.

Which is not a real thing but a good idea for a holiday, and Gamzee’s going to have to check with Karkat and see if he can make a motion for like, five nuzzling days to be added to the new calendar.

But he’s distracting himself with all the thinking he’s doing and Tavros is looking up at him like maybe it’s time to move, so he does. He backs off, watches Tavros roll over and mimic his pose, going a step further to prop his head in his hands to distribute the weight of his horns a little better.

Motherfucker is so fucking clever, for serious.

That’s why Gamzee’s so crazy flushed for him. Part of the why, anyway. There’s a lot of things to appreciate about Tavros, stuff that makes him just plain likeable, and then there’s the stuff that makes every gear in Gamzee’s thinkpan stick completely or spin like a bunch of useless junk because he’s just so caught up in pity. Tav’s a strong sort of brother, and Gamzee respects that, but watching him struggle is what pushes his feelings way off into the red end of the spectrum.

He wants to wrap Tavros up in his arms, smuggle him under his shirt just to keep him to himself, keep him safe and sound. He wants to make the guy’s paradise planet even paradisier, take the weight of the world, or just his horns, off his shoulders.

He’s tried explaining that and even if he doesn’t always make the most sense, he thinks his bro is starting to get it. He explains himself better in person than through a computer, and it’s so much easier to just show Tavros how bad he pities him than to type up awkward come ons that scare the poor dude off.

Maybe make out a little? Man, what was he thinking? Nothing, apparently, if he believes what Karkat shouted at him after he told him what went down. He was being stupid and he had to try a different approach, express himself properly and all that, really let his feelings out.

And maybe his angry little peacebrother’s got the right idea, because laying it all out in a fine piece of rhyme seemed to get the point across better. There were no ellipses in real life conversations, and the relieved look on Tavros’ face when he poured out some heavy emotions instead of a sly bunch of flirtation gave him a little bit of hope.

And a well thought out set of beats with accompanying lyrics describing his bro’s feelings on the matter of his own slightly stronger than average and somewhat confusing feelings gave him a little more.

Now there’s a hint of red about them that’s as much of a miracle as everything else here.

“You tell some pretty amazing stories, brother.”

Tavros’ smile turns bashful as he shakes his head, “Oh, I’m just saying stupid stuff.”

“Stupid? Nah man, never,” He pushes himself up off the ground, sits back and grins, stretching his arms out in front of him, motions for Tavros to come sit with him.

“Eh….”

He makes grabby hands and apparently Tavros simply cannot resist. He sits up as well, turning around and scooting back to nestle himself into Gamzee’s embrace. They settle in around each other, warm and only a little less awkward than the other dozen times they’ve gotten so close.

“You are such a cute little fucker,” he murmurs into the back of Tavros’ mohawk, and he doesn’t seize up the way he used to when he said stuff like that. Gamzee tips his head, brushes his lips, his fangs, over Tavros’ neck, and there’s the familiar tensing of muscle, the quick breath out that’s almost a word.

“Um.”

Well shit.

Gamzee backs off, nestles his chin against Tavros’ shoulder in a way that’s not totally comfortable but where their horns aren’t clacking together all obnoxious and kind of painful.

“Sorry bro.”

“No, no, it’s okay. You’re uh, fine really.”

Except not really, but Tavbro’s not going to say that because he never likes to say negative shit. But Gamzee got the hint anyway.

Tavros is just a little…iffy. About touching. Which is totally okay. Gamzee can get his brakes on and go as slow as he’s gotta, it’s all good.

“You know you just make me pity you more when you’re all up and twitching like a nervous fucker.”

An ‘I pity you too,’ would be nice.

“Uh, heh…whoops. It’s sort of, you know, unintentional.”

“Hmm.”

S’alright.

He figures Tav’ll come around eventually.

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“Have you titled it yet?”

“Titled what, brother?”

“The shocking new tell all memoir you’re writing. I’d suggest ‘Confessions of A Completely Useless Juggling Asshat.’ Or maybe ‘The Truth Behind the Hideous Makeup: The Embarrassing Life of Gamzee Makara.’ Or if you’re going for more of a sentimental feel, ‘Honks In the Night: A Series of Half-Remembered Ramblings.’ ”

“…what now?”

“Jesus, fuck, why do I bother? Your relationship, numbnuts. I’m asking if you put a title on your relationship yet.”

“Oh.”

Karkat is sitting all cross-legged under the trees, staring at Gamzee and obviously waiting for an answer.

But Gamzee starts off thinking on how he’s not sure what exactly to say and ends up wondering how well his brother’s sleeping these days since the dark circles he remembers being all up and under his eyes every night seem like they’ve gone and lightened up some.

Maybe he’s been getting his cuddle on too? Does wonders for a troll’s health.

“Hey asshole, I asked you a question. Anyone alive in that festering pan of yours or have you officially checked out?”

Gamzee jumps a little, refocuses, offers Karkat a bashful grin, “Whoa, aw man, sorry, got lost a second there.”

Karkat scowls, a little concerned but mostly just irritated, “I figured. You forgot to blink and that’s kind of a tip off,” He unfolds and refolds himself, one leg over the other before leaning back against the tree behind him, an awkward little jumble of hard angles and soft black fabric, “So?”

Gamzee shrugs his shoulders, makes a noncommittal noise.

“What the hell does that mean? I want a yes or no.”

“Nah…haven’t gotten around to puttin’ a name on anything or nothin’.”

“Are you serious? Have you talked to him about it?”

Gamzee shrugs again, shakes his head, “Not really.”

Karkat bristles.

He probably knows Gamzee’s flushed feelings better than Gamzee himself. He’s dragged every detail of the situation out into the open and analyzed it thoroughly. He’s been practically frothing at the mouth over Gamzee’s relationship status limbo ever since Tavros actually let him go in for a kiss and he just won’t let the subject drop.

“All this time and neither or you have brought it up? Fucking hell, do I have to step in? Get me my husktop, I’m breaking out the memos.”

Gamzee rolls his eyes, which sets Karkat growling. When he scoots over and leans against his palebrother’s shoulder though, the aggravated sound stops. He puts an arm around Gamzee and sighs, long and drawn out and exasperated.

He’s kind of bossy and angry and all that, but he takes their moirallegiance seriously. Super seriously. He pats Gamzee’s shoulder comfortingly and doesn’t say anything for a while, lets him listen to the breeze like he knows he likes to do.

“I won’t really break out the memos,” he says finally, grudgingly, “I kind of just want to grab Tavros by the shoulders and shake him a little. Is all.”

Gamzee chuckles at that, winces a little because he knows how hard Karkat is capable of shaking people, “It’s no big deal, bro. Me and Tav got a good thing going.”

“Yeah, whatever that thing is.”

Owch.

Karkat gives his shoulder a slightly rougher pat, rubs at his arm like he’s trying to warm him up, which he probably is. His moirail is a little toaster oven next to him, a few degrees warmer than Tavros even, and Gamzee gets nearly sleepy when Karkat’s heat seeps into him.

“I just want you to be in a healthy fucking relationship, okay? I don’t like the idea of you two idiots tip-toeing around matespritship for the rest of your goddamn lives.”

“We’re not gonna, man. We got a handle on this shit. Tav’s using the P word an’ everything. Things just gotta-“

“Move at their own motherfucking pace, I know. You keep saying that and nothing seems to change. You keep leaving it up to Tavros whether you’re in a relationship or not and he just keeps ‘Uhh, umm, well uhh, the thing is, uhh, I don’t know if uhhh, uhhhhhhhhh-ing’ and it’s getting a just a little fucking out of hand.”

Gamzee growls a low, short sound. Insulting his potential matesprit is not appreciated.

Potential matesprit. Ugh.

“Sorry, sorry,” Karkat mutters, squishes a little closer to him in a half-hug, “I’m just. Bluh. Do you want a matespritship with him or not?”

Is the sky blue?

…wait. Is the sky blue here?

Gamzee looks up to check and yup, there it is. Blue sky. Fuckin’ miracles, man, all over the place.

“ ‘Course,” He says, looking back down to Karkat beside him, “But if a brother’s not ready, I’m not gonna all up and force the fucking matter.”

“I know but…”

“But?”

“Look. All I’m saying is…there’s something not right here. You two are all the fuck over each other like fucking tangle buddies at a cuddly bullshit party. It’s nauseating. You’re living in each other’s goddamn pockets but you’re not in a matespritship. He keeps dodging the issue- I know, I asked him about it and fuck you, I can interrogate my moirail’s red partners if I want to and fuck you twice, I did not pick up interrogation techniques from Terezi, don’t even suggest it-“

“Wasn’t gonna say a fuckin’ thing except for askin’ what’s a tangle buddy.”

“Never mind that. Anyway, I think it’s more than a little troubling when I ask a guy what his intentions toward my moirail are and he can’t give me a straight answer. Either you’re settling down or you’re not. Either you’re filling buckets or you’re not-“

“Whooooa man-“

“No. No, don’t even. It’s a serious fucking issue. Your relationship is not concupiscent and that’s kind of a threat to me, in case you haven’t fucking noticed.”

Aw.

Aw shit.

“…I guess I wasn’t thinkin’ of it that way.”

“Yeah well. Maybe you should.”

He seriously hasn’t ever even considered it in that light, but Karkat’s got a point. One of the major things separating a moirallegiance from a matespritship is desire, sexual desire, and while Gamzee knows he’s got all these feelings for his Tavbro that are practically clawing up his insides with how bad he wants him, he’s…not totally sure how Tavros feels about it all.

He’s not all that big on touching. Like, that kind of touching. They’re at the point where he’ll sneak on up and hug Gamzee any old time, squish their faces together like he can’t hardly stand to be any further than a half an inch away. They’re close, for sure, and the fact that he’s gotten so comfortable about it makes Gamzee all warm and fucking fuzzy inside.

Anything more than that though. It’s a touchy subject.

Oh wait fuck that’s a pun.

Gamzee almost smiles before he remembers that he’s having a serious conversation and stops himself.

“I’m sorry, brother. Didn’t mean to be all up and neglecting your worries.”

Now it’s Karkat’s turn to make a noncommittal noise.

“But I also gotta say that you shouldn’t even be gettin’ your worry on in the first place. Nothin’ me and Tavbro got goin’ on is all up and encroachin’ on what we got.” He puts an arm around Karkat, pulls him in for a full on hug, “You’re the only moirail for me, man. Don’t let any other thought get fuckin’ cozy in your pan.”

Karkat’s next noncommittal noise sounds a little more cheerful, at least. He makes an honestly pleased noise when Gamzee reaches up and ruffles his hair affectionately, “Hn. I’m not actively concerned or anything, I’m not that much of a dainty flower. Just, you know. Work your shit out, alright?”

He sounds maybe just a little bit actively concerned.

“Alright, brother.”

He’s seriously got to work this shit out.

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“So, hey,” Gamzee says, taking a seat beside Tavros on the edge of the windmill he’s claimed as his new hive. It’s a little different than his old one but it must feel familiar to him, and Gamzee can appreciate that.

“So hey,” Tavros parrots back in a more chipper tone, smiling wide enough to show all his fangs. He leans happily into Gamzee’s side, swings his legs in the open air and the sight of it makes Gamzee’s bloodpusher ache.

Motherfucker’s so happy to have those legs…it’s just too fuckin’ sweet.

“Tav you know I pity you like fuckin’ crazy, right?”

It’s just starting to get dark, and when Tavros looks up at him it’s with wide, surprised, slightly glowing eyes, “Wow, uh, well yeah. Where did…that come from?”

“Ain’t comin’ from anywhere. Just is.”

“Oh,” Tavros shrugs his shoulders, kind of awkward, but keeps smiling, “Well I uh, I pity you too.”

Gamzee can’t help but smile back. Hearing that kind of thing warms up his insides just as quick as Tavros’ arm brushing his warms him on the outside.

“Man you are just too fuckin’ much,” He says, straight up grabbing Tavros in a cuddly headlock, mussing his hair and making him laugh so hard he snorts a little, “Cutest fucker on the whole damn planet.”

“Haha, nahh, that’s definitely you!”

Gamzee grins. He wishes his best motherfucking friend Karkat could see them right now. He’d get his understand on of just how flushed they are. The most flushed. Flushed…est fuckers around. Damn straight.

“I beg to fucking differ, brother,” Gamzee sighs, all kinds of content, before remembering what he started this conversation for in the first place and that’s kind of a downer, “Oh. Aw, shit, right. Um. Man, would it be chill if I asked a serious kind of question?”

He loosens his hold and Tavros leans away a little, looking unsure, “Uh…of course. I mean, go right ahead.”

It shouldn’t be a serious thing, really. Not like it’s a big fuckin’ issue. Just something they really gotta iron out.

“Well see, I was talkin’ with my holy fuckin’ peacebro the other day and he got me all to thinkin’ about some things,” It’s a good start. Hardly even feels painfully awkward yet. Tavros nods encouragingly, so Gamzee continues, “Thing is, we got all this pity up and choking us with feelings, right? Miracle sparks flyin’ over here, for sure,” Tavros nods again, his smile in competition with the worried turn of his brow, “But people don’t think we’re up and flushed.”

And by people he means Karkat, but hey, Karkat is people so it’s not a lie or anything.

“…what? But. Well, that’s kind of, pretty ridiculous.”

“That’s the same think I was thinkin’, bro.”

“If you know it and, uh, I know it, then why do they have the, well, the wrong idea, more or less?”

Gamzee shrugs like he doesn’t know the answer, hesitates on blurting out the truth, “I don’t know man, I guess ‘cause we’re not official with callin’ ourselves a bitchin’ ‘spritship?”

At the mention of matespritship, Tavros winces a little, “Oh. That. I guess that is sort of a, uh, a thing that might confuse people, probably.”

“It is just the tiniest fucking bit confusing, man,” Gamzee admits.

“Uh…”

Tav’s doing that thing where he wants to say something, probably has a lot to say, but he’s stopping the words because he thinks they’ll be stupid or wrong or annoying, or whatever other crazy thought he’s got bouncing around his head. Guy always thinks what he’s got to contribute isn’t worth saying, but it’s like their skirt wearin’ sister says, Everyone Has An Important Job To Do, and everybody’s got something important to say.

“Go ahead, brother.”

Tavros needs that nudge, but once he’s got it he’s off and saying exactly what’s on his mind,

“Well it’s just, I think I can kind of see where this is headed, sort of. That is, I can understand why people are confused, and maybe, why you’re confused, and it’s probably because of something that I’ve been mostly, or, uh, totally, avoiding. And it’s not exactly fair for me to be keeping you, uhh, out of the loop, so to speak.”

He looks to Gamzee for encouragement and gets it in the form of a baffled stare, a slight nod.

“So to get back to the, uh, crux of the issue, I guess, can I start by saying that I have only the greatest, or, the strongest, um, that is, the most pitying feelings for you? Because, I do. I really do pity you.”

There’s a sinking sort of feeling in Gamzee’s digestive sack that hasn’t quite caught up with his head. He puts on a smile for Tavros’ sake, so he doesn’t freak out and freeze up, “You can say that any fuckin’ time, brother. You know I love hearin’ it.”

Tavros blushes coppery brown, moves his hands into his lap and holds them together so tight it seems like a strain, “Right. And uh, it sort of follows that, I’m…flushed for you, which is, um, oh man, uhh…”

Gamzee reaches out and untangles Tavros’ hold on his hands, substitutes one of his own. Tavros clings to it just as tight, almost painful when he squeezes Gamzee’s fingers, but it seems to help him get a hold of himself.

“I guess the point I’m trying to, uh, sort of unsuccessfully get to is that, the uh, well, the expectation that comes with being in a, uh, flushed relationship is my, um, my issue. That is, the uh, the sexual aspect.”

If he concentrates real hard, Gamzee can just hear Karkat’s voice in the back of his head, a snarling, shouting ‘Oh my god, here we go,’ but he doesn’t pay it any mind, is just relieved that Tavros is the one bringing this shit up. He’d feel like kind of a dick if he had to do it, which now that he thinks on it is probably why he hasn’t done so already.

“And by that I guess I mean, well, the fact that I am sort of not at all interested in being involved in the sexual aspect, and, um, yes. That’s about it.”

Right.

Wait.

What?

“…so if I’m getting’ the nubs and gists of all this,” Gamzee says slowly, trying to wrap his head around what just went down, hardly feeling it when Tavros’ squeezes his hand even tighter, nerves making him dig his nails in, “You’re sayin’ you’re not up and ready for the mystic physicality of it, but…you’re still all full of flushed feelings?”

“Um.”

“…or maybe my nubs and gists are off?”

“Sort of,” Tavros releases his hand, goes back to holding his own, sort of loose and tentative now, “Except that, it isn’t so much that I’m not ready, per se, as I am just, um, never going to, uhh, want to.”

Never?

“Never is…one serious mother of a long time, Tav.”

Tavros winces at that, looks a little sick, “I know.”

Aw man, maybe he’s getting the wrong idea.

“Nah, nah,” Gamzee says, trying to cover as quick as he can, “I mean, that’s okay brother, you take all the never you want, just…” Just what? Just that’s totally not the way things work. That’s like, unnatural, “Seems a little motherfucking soon to be callin’ shots like that, you know?”

“Um.”

Gamzee stares at him earnestly, waits for him to say all the shit he’s probably itching to, but he won’t do it. He just ‘ums’ and that’s not enough to go on. Gamzee’s not a mind reader, he missed out on all that miracle psychic shit, unlike his fine brother right here.

“No kinda rush, man, don’t worry on it,” He tries, putting up his hands like he’s surrendering to a higher fuckin’ power, “Everybody’s gotta go with what they feel, and if you’re not feelin’ it you can’t be up and actin’ on it, right? So we wait till you feel it. It’s all good.”

He grins, figures that’s that.

“Uh. No, um, I don’t think…Gamzee I don’t think you’re, uh, understanding me, completely.”

“M’not?”

“No.”

His voice turns a little stern, a little upset, and Gamzee’s not sure how to handle it. He’s all about good vibes, smiles and laughter and cuddling up like snuggly fucking grubs in a rug. When Tavros looks at him like he’s angry, hurt, confused, he doesn’t have a fucking clue how to react.

“Ummm…”

Now it’s his turn to say a whole lot of nothing.

Which is okay apparently, because Tavros has found his voice again and he looks like he wants to use the fuck out of it.

“It isn’t a, uh, a matter of waiting, or anything like that. If you say you’re going to wait well, you’re going to be waiting for, uh, forever, because I’m not about to change or, or do anything that I’m not comfortable with. This is just the way it is, and I, uh, I know that it’s not the way things usually are but, well, things are really different here in a, a lot of ways and, I think maybe that entitles me to be different in the ways that I want to be?”

He gives Gamzee a stern, serious look.

Gamzee smiles at him.

Maybe not the right move.

“I got no problem waitin’ forever for you, brother. You’re worth all the wait.”

Which he thinks is romantic as shit and also true, but it just makes Tavros frown and make a little frustrated noise. He tries to fix it, whatever it is he just messed up,

“And there ain’t a thing wrong with bein’ different. You be as different as you want, I won’t try and change you. You don’t gotta do anything that makes you any less than comfy as fuck. Don’t even gotta worry over drones and shit like before.”

Tavros is silent this time, but his frown stays on his face like a stubborn little fucker, “Gamzee,” he says, almost pleading, seriously stressed out and it makes Gamzee frown too, “You’re going to want to be physical and, well, intimate, and uhh…dammit, um, sexual. Someday. Right?”

Is this a trick question?

Gamzee gives him a look up, down, trying to puzzle it out before just answering straight up, “…someday, yeah. I figure it’s the matespritly thing to do.”

“But I don’t want to,” Tavros says, voice cracking a little as he stresses it, “Ever.”

Ever. Rhymes with never. Never ever. Never ever wants to.

Hm.

That’s. Hm.

“But…why not?”

“Just…because. It’s just, uh, the way I am, I think. I mean, I’m sure.”

“Do you just not feel all that red shit for me?”

“What? No! No, I do. I’m really, really red for you, I told you that already!” Poor fucker’s so flustered, Gamzee feels bad making it worse but he’s gotta keep asking questions if he wants to understand any bit of this, “I am…I just, I have all the emotional pieces and, um, not the physical parts. I guess. And I mean that as in, uh, urges, not actual, physical parts, because…I do have all the appropriate parts now. Um. If all that makes sense.”

“I guess,” Not really. Not at all. It’s actually giving him a wicked headache to try and get it. In a way it’s all starting to make sense. He thinks back on how twitchy Tavros used to be any time he’d touch him and feels guilty as fuck. He probably didn’t even want to get touched like that in the first place. Fuck, “I mean, no. No, I’m sorry man I’m trying but I don’t think I’m gettin’ my understand on too easy.”

Tavros’ shoulders sink a little as he breathes out, calming down. The panicked look is leaving his eyes, so he just looks tired, sad instead, “I know. I’m sorry. Um. I should have talked to you about this before, probably, or, definitely. It’s kind of, uh, a big thing, I guess.”

“Kinda…”

“Um.”

This time Gamzee thinks he knows what Tavros is thinking on and not saying.

He’s not sure he wants to hear it.

He thinks maybe he’ll leave it alone for now.

“It’s okay, man. It’s kinda confusing the fuck out of me, but it’s okay.”

Tavros looks as unsure as Gamzee feels, but he puts on a nervous smile, “Yeah, uh, it’s pretty confusing to be, um, on the inside of it too.”

“Is it ‘cause you all up and broke your brain when you fell?”

Tavros stares at him, blank as fuck.

Gamzee tries to clarify, “Like how Karkat says you don’t hate on anybody and shit ‘cause you’re kind of missin’ that part in your head.”

It only takes a second for Tavros’ face to go copper, the sudden, shocked reaction more intense than anything Gamzee’s ever seen from him. It’s sort of mystifying till he realizes that his bro is angry, seriously angry, and it’s at him. Shit.

“There’s nothing wrong with me!” Tavros looks like he might cry, which just makes Gamzee’s insides go all kinds of messed up and desperate with how bad he wants to hold him, but his bro is scooting away, starting to get up, “I’m not broken and, my brain is just fine, thank you very much, even if I don’t want to have a, uh, concupiscent sort of relationship.”

Gamzee stares up at him, mouth hanging open with a lot of words he can’t get in the right order. What the hell do you even say to somebody at a time like this?

“I think maybe you should, probably just, um, go.”

Oh.

Well shit.

“Tav, hey, hold on a sec, brother-“

“I think. Maybe. You should just go. For a little while. Maybe. Please.”

A long, silent moment passes between them. The stars are starting to show in the sky, an audience that Gamzee doesn’t really want around to see any kind of trouble unfold with him and his flush crush.

If he’s even allowed to feel that way about him now.

Gamzee nods and gets up, dragging his feet.

He says sorry, since he got Tavros all kinds of upset and he didn’t mean to.

Shyly, still angry, Tavros says he’s sorry too, and he knows Gamzee didn’t meant to freak him out. But he doesn’t want to talk about this anymore. Not right now. He’ll see Gamzee later.

He maneuvers his horns through the window like he’s putting together a puzzle, heads back inside and out of sight.

Gamzee climbs down from Tavros’ windmill not knowing when later is.

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“WOW. I thought I was the master of fucking things up royally but man, you two have outdone yourselves this time, haven’t you?”

Gamzee sighs and shifts, sprawls out across more of Karkat’s floor and bumps his foot against a pile of movies in the process. He knocks the whole damn thing over, sighs again, then sits up to start restacking them, “I don’t even know what I up and did, brother…”

“Hurt his feelings, obviously. Doesn’t take a certificate from the frothing asshole guild of Alternia to figure that out.”

“Wasn’t on purpose though.”

Karkat scoffs and the sound comes out muffled.

“Half the time anyone gets their feelings hurt it’s because of something accidental. Shit you’re not expecting is what hurts the most.”

Gamzee drops one romcom on top of another, stops, turns, and stares. Karkat is so, so smart sometimes. Best peace prophet, for sure, “Guess that’s why I’m all kinds of shook up over this. Wasn’t expectin’ Tavbro to get so mad. Or…any of what went down, I guess.”

From underneath a giant and suspiciously bright and scale patterned blanket, Karkat snorts a laugh, “Well yeah, who would expect somebody to pull a ‘I don’t ever want to have sex’ card,” He shakes his head and the blanket sways with him, “Un-fucking-believable.”

Gamzee sets the last of the fallen movies back in order and lays back down, rolling onto his stomach so he can face his moirail, all curled up in the corner, “You think?”

Karkat tugs the blanket down off his head, leaving his hair stuck up and his face pink from sitting too long in too much heat, “Think what?”

“It’s unbelievable. I try not to be up and doubting anything ‘cause I figure any fucking thing is possible. But I thought maybe I could be getting a second opinion from a right thinkin’ brother like yourself.”

“Oh,” Karkat frowns, scrunches his nose up, “Honestly? I don’t really know what to make of it.”

Not exactly the answer Gamzee was looking for. Damn.

“If I didn’t know better I’d say he was bullshitting you and making up excuses or something,” Karkat shrugs, shimmies his blanket off his shoulders and rewraps it snug around his chest, “I mean, where do you even pull something like that from? How can anybody be just, not sexual?”

Gamzee shrugs back miserably. He hasn’t got the slightest motherfucking clue.

“Either way he should have told you sooner. You have to be clear in what you want out of a relationship, keep the lines of communication open and all of that crap.”

“Hmm.”

Karkat stares at him, frowning, probably thinking up an hour long lecture on the finer points of romance, but in the end he just rolls his eyes and unfolds his arms, spreading the blanket wide like a set of wings, “Quit moping and get your ass over here.”

Gamzee is more than happy to scoot on over into the warmth of his best friend’s arms, snuggle up in his magical fucking blanket fort.

“Only thing worse than a clown is a sad clown,” Karkat mutters, wrapping the two of them up in the blanket again.

Gamzee curls up to make himself closer to Karkat’s size, scrunching his legs in so he can nestle into his friend’s heat, rest his head against Karkat’s and listen to him growl out low warnings to watch his fucking monstrous horns.

Even if he doesn’t exactly have any advice to give, just being around his moirail is a comfort. Gamzee grows sleepy in the heat, feels his brain creep slower than usual, lulled into a calmer state when Karkat absentmindedly brushes a hand against his cheek in a pap.

He could just pass the fuck out here and forget the world.

There’s a click at Karkat’s window.

The sound repeats again, and again, makes them both look up.

A small white bird is trying to land on a windowsill that isn’t all there, flapping its little wings and tapping its beak into the glass.

The sight of it breaks the spell, fuckin’ dazzling bright against the dark outside. All the colors get sharper as Gamzee’s brain snaps back to attention. What the fuck was he doing again? Shit, spaced out like a motherfucker.

He shrugs off the blanket and shivers, strolls up to the window to get a closer look at their animal visitor, listening to Karkat curse a blue streak behind him.

The bird won’t quit tapping on the glass so he unlatches the window, lets the little fucker flit inside. Karkat snaps something at him about opening the door for just fucking anyone but it’s not a door brother, just a window, and this little bird’s got a message. Like, literally. There’s a piece of paper rolled up and wrapped around his leg, and once it lands on the desk, Gamzee reaches over and offers it a hand.

It stares at him with big, inky black eyes, copper ebbing at the edges and shit- shit, this little guy is from Tav.

It hops right into Gamzee’s palm, calm as the fucking dickens, and lets him slide the paper off its leg. Once it’s unwrapped the winged brother is off and out the window again, flying out into the night like it’s not even a thing.

“What the hell was that about?” Karkat demands, and when he doesn’t get an answer because Gamzee is just too awestruck, he growls in frustration and gets up to slam the window shut, blanket still draped around his shoulders and dragging on the floor like a patchwork cape.

“I got fuckin’ mail, brother,” Gamzee says finally, taking a seat on the floor all cross legged and twisted up as he unrolls the little piece of paper in his hand. The color, the quirk to the writing (actual hand writing!) inside confirms his suspicions and makes him grin, “Tavbro sent me a letter. Apology style.”

Karkat stares at him and he’s got that look on his face like he just swallowed a pinecone soaked in sour grubsauce, “Are you kidding me? A bird? What is he, Troll Snow White?”

Gamzee ignores him, not so much on purpose as he’s just all about the letter. He scans over the text and squints at the places where Tav rambles and stops making a lot of sense, rights himself on just where in the words he’s at and reads on. By the end he’s still grinning, but confused as ever.

“What does it say?” Karkat asks impatiently.

“Maaaaan I don’t even know,” Gamzee starts to say, and in the pause between thoughts Karkat has just enough time to ask what exactly is wrong with him that he was never properly educated on the “miracle” that is reading words in a sequence, but Gamzee goes ahead and cuts him off before he can get too wrapped up in mixin’ up metaphors, “He’s sayin’ sorry, and laying shit out in explanatory fashion I guess, but then also still bein’ kinda mad at me? Or something. I don’t know, bro.”

It’s what at the end of the letter that’s giving him any peace at all, a request to hang out soon so they can talk. Talking is good, right? Talking is miracles.

“Oh my god would you please stop staring at my wall like it’s your long lost brain stem and give me that fucking letter?” Karkat snatches the piece of paper the moment Gamzee remembers to hold it up, scans it halfway through quicker than Gamzee can imagine anybody being able to read anything ever, then curls his lip in disgust. He schools his expression into blankness before looking back at Gamzee over the top of the page, “It’s a rap.”

“Fuck yes, brother.”

“I seriously cannot stand either of you.”

Gamzee watches him read over the rest of it, eyes darting to and fro on the page, brow furrowing at points until he’s done and looking up at Gamzee like he doesn’t really get it either.

“Can you read it aloud to me, best friend?” Gamzee asks, all smiles, and Karkat looks horrified.

“What? No. Read it to yourself, you backward lunatic.”

“Karkaaaaat.”

“No.”

“C’mon man, it might help me get my understand on better if I hear it comin’ from a voice that ain’t the one in my head.”

“I doubt even a straight shot of knowledge to your frontal comprehension lobe would help you ‘get your understand on,’ but fine, fine, for you, fine.”

He shoots Gamzee a sharp look, trying and failing to stop him from feeling any warm fuzziness over the ‘for you’ he threw in there. He sneers at Gamzee’s smiling face and directs his attention back to the letter, already slightly crumpled from being handled and squished by blankets.

He begins to read,

“Gamzee,

To begin let me apologize,

for my attempt to, uh, monopolize,

our conversation and make the issues about me,

which they sort of are, but uh, also you because, see,

This affects the both of us,

and the things we still have to discuss,

And I’m sorry I got flustered,

but I’m proud of what I’ve mustered,

It’s taken time and confidence,

to be myself and make some sense,

of things I feel and who I am,

but I think I, maybe, finally understand,

And it would be, well, really great if you did too,

but, I won’t hold it against you,

if you can’t wrap your horns around,

this concept that seems to confound,

Maybe we can talk about it,

if you don’t mind, and, uh, will permit,

My pity’s still here, without a doubt,

and I’d really like to, you know, work things out.

-Tavros.”

Gamzee listens close, trying to hone in on exactly what Tavros is trying to say, trying to get it, and it’s still not totally coming to him but there’s so many feels in his long horned brother’s writing, it makes his chest ache. He damn near tears up, and as he watches Karkat read he can see the shift in the other’s expression.

His obvious irritation fades, blends into a quiet calm, the same expression he wears when he’s meditating, thinking hard on how to solve a problem, and by the end he looks annoyed again, a different kind of annoyed where he’s beating himself up something fierce and thinking of every way he could have done better.

Gamzee’s got an encyclopedia of Karkat expressions filed away and he has practically every one memorized just in case he needs ‘em for any old thing.

“You didn’t read it to a beat, brother,” Gamzee says finally, once Karkat’s been too quiet for too long. He’s just teasing, and Karkat rolls his eyes in response.

“Fuck you, I’m not a mentally deficient rhyme slave like you two imbeciles.”

“Ain’t no slave, bro, just strict beats and sweet rhymes.”

“Would you shut up? I’m trying to draw some deep sentiment and meaning out of this tripe.”

“Sorry bro.”

Gamzee leaves him alone, lets him keep on being quiet.

Karkat looks totally lost in thought, setting the letter aside and sitting down in a pool of blanket.

He stares at the backs of his hands and at nothing in particular.

“I think maybe I get it,” he says, and Gamzee sits up all kinds of alert and aware. Karkat eyes him, unsure, and rebundles himself in his blanket.

“When you spend sweeps thinking there’s something wrong with you, and then you realize that there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just the way you are…it’s hard, okay?” He folds in on himself a little, scowling and self-loathing, “It’s hard, but I think I kind of understand.”

He looks up and Gamzee reaches over to give his hair an extra ruffle because he looks like he’s in some kind of pain, something deep, deep down and old and achey.

Karkat shrugs his shoulders, barely a movement under all the fabric, “There are things about people that just are and they can’t change them. You’re stuck with your blood, your height, your horns…so why not other shit? If Tavros says he’s made that way then…maybe he is.”

Oh.

“So…”

“So Tavros is afraid you’re going to reject him for being different and that’s why he’s been avoiding this whole situation. He freaked the fuck out when you suggested there was something wrong with him because he’s been trying to convince himself otherwise for forever. And he probably wants to be with you but whether or not that works is up to the two of you and whether or not you’re okay with not having a concupiscent red relationship.”

Oh.

Well fuck.

“When you lay it out like that it makes a motherfucking ton more sense.”

With an exaggerated sigh, Karkat slumps over and into Gamzee’s lap, the back of his head nestled comfortably against the other’s thigh, “I’m so glad you can see the light.”

“Nah, seriously,” Gamzee takes Karkat’s face in his hands, earning a scowl, trying to convey just how important this is, “I don’t know where I’d be without you, man.”

Karkat scoffs and Gamzee moves a hand over his mouth to keep him from saying anything snarky.

“Best friend, are you gonna be up and alright with me not havin’ a red relationship with all the lusty touches and shit?”

Karkat’s voice is muffled under his palm, but he just sounds confused so Gamzee elaborates.

“Like is it gonna bother you any? I don’t wanna-“

“No, dumbass,” Karkat forcibly moves Gamzee’s hand from his mouth, glares up at him, “I mean…you’re going to stay with him?”

“If a fucker will have me, yeah,” He taps the tips of his fingers against Karkat’s chin, a steady beat that’s just his nerves up and spilling out in a physical fashion, “No matter what, I’m flushed as fuck.”

Karkat furrows his brow, opens his mouth to say something before closing it, opening it again, “Then I’m alright with whatever relationship you and your eternal screw up of a matesprit get into.”

Karkat’s okay with it.

Okay with him and Tav. Okay with their matespritship.

And the whole thing gives Gamzee so many feelings he can hardly take it. He has to squish Karkat’s face with his hands just to convey how unbelievably fucking happy he is.

It’s almost worth the vicious bite to his ring finger.

:

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:

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:

There are stars overhead when Gamzee visits Tavros’ hive. He finds his long horned bro sitting in the grass outside, poking at something on the ground. When he gets up close he can see that he’s not poking, he’s drawing something in the dirt, a little picture of his lusus.

The urge to sweep him up into a hug is there, practically swelling his chest with how much he’s feeling it, but the notion hits him that running up and hugging somebody who might still be mad at you might not be the best idea.

Hugging Tavros at any time might not be the best idea.

So he jams his hands in his pants pockets, keeps them safe until he’s sure if he can whip the fuckers out for some hug action.

“Hey bro?”

Tavros sits up straighter in a quick jolt, looks back at him and smiles slightly, nervous, “Oh wow, man, hi. Sorry, I kind of, uhh, spaced out there, a little.”

Which is really more Gamzee’s thing and a moment later when they both get the joke they laugh, fill up the awkward quiet space with something sweet.

After that there’s nothing but the rustle of grass, the slow creak of the mindmill behind them, and finally, finally Tavros asks if Gamzee wants to sit with him. Or maybe, uh, if he’d prefer, they could sort of, take a walk?

And really, Gamzee has no preference. But now that he’s looking at Tavros, seeing the antsy twitch of his legs, he figures that’s what his brother’s really wanting to do, “Sure man, we can take a sweet motherfuckin’ stroll.”

He thinks about offering Tav a hand up, reconsiders since he’s still not sure where they’re at or what Tavros even thinks about having any kind of hand on hand touching. This shit is confusing, makes him feel like there’s no right answer and he doesn’t have time to sit and wonder at the makings behind it.

It’s alright though, Tavros can stand up on his own and he does. He gathers himself up and steps real careful over the drawings he made on the ground, comes up beside Gamzee and they start walking side by side, in no particular direction, around his hive.

“So, I guess I can just, assume you got my letter?”

“Hell yeah, brother. Hand delivered by the cutest fuckin’ messenger,” Wait. No, “Er, wing delivered.”

Tavros smiles shyly at him, warming up, and it’s such a relief, “I thought maybe you’d appreciate the uh, miracle of flight. I mean, not that it’s really so much of a miracle for birds, but uhh…”

He’s fiddling with his hands, not sure what to do with them and Gamzee would be doing a lot of the same if it weren’t for the convenient pockets somebody slipped right the fuck into the seams of his pants.

“So what did you think of it?” Tavros asks, all on edge, “And in this case I’m referring to, well, not the method of delivery but rather, uh, the letter itself,” He forces his hands down at his sides to stop the fidgeting, “That is, the content of it. I also wouldn’t mind hearing your opinion on the rhymes as well, but uhh, I think maybe that’s slightly less important. At the moment.”

Gamzee nods sagely, closes his eyes for a second to relive the moment, opens them just soon enough to avoid tripping over a rock, “Man, firstly, that set of rhymes was fuckin’ sick, so no need to be analyzing those. Shit made my head fuckin’ spin just thinkin’ on beats to match,” But he’s getting off topic, “But oh, shit, no, I looked that shit over like twelve times to make sure I got it all and I think I’m makin’ heads of tails now.”

Tavros slows his pace and Gamzee matches it, “O-oh. And…?”

“And?”

“Uhh. Well. Do you, um, have a response? Or something?”

“Oh. Shit, I didn’t prepare a fuckin’ thing. I could free style it but, maaaan-“

“No, I mean,” Tavros is trying to be serious and it’s not working. His smile keeps breaking his own concentration, “You could just tell me what you’re thinking, without the uh, slam format. If that would make things easier.”

“Fuck, yeah. Might be better that way. Well shit, um,” Gamzee slips one hand out of his pocket, holds up four fingers for each of the points he had to remember to be touching on, “First off thanks for sayin’ sorry, but it ain’t even necessary. I’m the brother that should be layin’ out all the sick apologies.”

“Well you don’t really have to-“

Gamzee puts down one finger and gestures for Tavros to wait, let him finish, “Second of all, I can respect that you wanna talk shit out, and I’m good for any conversation that’s gotta be gettin’ had,” Another finger down, “Thirdmost, I’m still wrappin’ my horns around things, but I can keep on wrappin’ till I get it,” And another finger down, “Which brings us to fourthly, best of the fuckin’ digits I gotta be hittin’ on, and that’s the fact that I am all kinds of in favor of workin’ things out.”

“Oh,” Tavros says, which isn’t much but it sounds pleased as fuckin’ punch and he’s got some copper color creepin’ up into his cheeks, “Okay, that’s uh, that’s good. Great.”

Gamzee drops his arm back down and doesn’t bother shoving his hand in his pocket. He thinks maybe he’s got his hug impulses under control.

But a second later when Tavros’ hand brushes his just the slightest little bit, he shoves it right back into the land of pockets and darkness, “Fuck, sorry bro.”

Which leaves Tavros looking at him with his brow bent up in confused hurt, “Uhh…hm.”

Gamzee figures he’s screwing this up just as fast as he had it fixed, thinks he’s going to have to go back to Karkat’s and give him the bad news and listen to him yell for a while, for like, the whole rest of the night.

“Maybe, possibly this is a good time to start working on, uh, wrapping your horns around things and, you know, understanding?”

Gamzee stops in his tracks and looks at Tavros, eager to learn, more than happy to try and finally get it, “Yeah man?”

To his surprise the first part of the lesson involves Tavros reaching over and grasping his wrist lightly, asking with eye contact if this is okay, which of course it is, he can get a hold of Gamzee any time and it’s totally chill.

He draws Gamzee’s hand out into the open air, intertwines their fingers. His hand is warm, sleepy warm, welcoming warm.

“It’s okay to hold my hand,” he explains, “In case you thought, maybe, it wasn’t. Which is sort of the impression I got, just now.”

Gamzee takes a moment to marvel at how his bro here is practically a mind reader after all, then squeezes Tavros’ hand in his, a silent answer before a spoken one, “I didn’t want to be all up and touching you if you don’t want to be touched.”

He figures he’s done enough of that already, and while he’s here he should probably apologize for all that, the times he went ahead and grabbed Tavros and tried to get all up on him thinking it was okay when it really probably wasn’t.

“But, I like having my hand held,” Tavros’ counters, brow still furrowed, but smiling, “I like, well, a lot of the ways you touch me. Just not, ummm…”

“More than any of that?” Gamzee offers.

“Yeah, that is, probably a good way to put it.”

“But you used to tense up like a motherfucker when I touched you.”

“Well, yeah,” Tavros squeezes his hand a little tighter, not too tight, just making sure he stays there, “I was sort of, I don’t know, afraid if I let you touch me a little, um, you’d think that you could touch me a lot and, well, I wasn’t ready to uh, deal with that, I guess?” His other hand is twisting up the bottom of his shirt something fierce, “I didn’t want to give you the, uh, the wrong impression. Which is also, I suppose, why I was sort of, uh, hesitant, to put a title on things. If that makes sense and doesn’t sound stupid.”

“Makes a fuckin’ world of sense, brother.”

Gamzee reaches over to take Tavros’ other hand before he worries a whole straight through his shirt with how he’s messing with it.

“So can I still cuddle up on you and all that shit?”

Tavros takes a half a step towards him, just a shuffle, but Gamzee notices, “Of course you can. I’d be um, pretty upset if you didn’t, actually.”

Gamzee can’t help but grin at that, and when he catches Tavros smiling too, ducking his head down to try and hide it, he laughs “Well fuck man, I can snuggle right the fuck up with you any time. No way I’m gonna skip out on that.”

“Hugging is okay too,” Tavros adds, takes another half step and he’s right in front of Gamzee, not quite meeting his eyes, “That sort of goes, you know, without saying, I’d think, but, just so we’re all clear.”

“Fuckin’ sweet.”

Gamzee gives up holding Tavros’ hands only so he can pull him in for a hug. They rearrange themselves a few times, maneuvering hands and horns until they find something comfortable, and back up together in baby steps so Gamzee is against the stone of Tavros’ hive and he can lean back and get his relax on with his one and only flushed brother wrapped up in his arms.

“I don’t mind kissing either,” Tavros says, and presses the softest kiss to the corner of Gamzee’s mouth, smudging his makeup, “It’s kind of nice, actually.”

Gamzee wants to savor that touch, really enjoy it, but he’s still got a worry bumping around his mind, “I’m with you, bro. But I don’t wanna fuck up and push you too far or anything.”

Tavros licks at the spot on his lip where a bit of makeup is smudged. It doesn’t do much good.

“Oh, uh, that’s a good point. But um…I think probably if you just ask beforehand, that is, before you do anything different, then it should be fine. I’ll just tell you if I’m okay with things or not. Would that work?”

“Bitchtits.”

Tavros laughs at that, hides his face against Gamzee’s neck and nuzzles in, holds onto him tighter and it’s everything. It’s all Gamzee could have asked for.

“So, you don’t mind?” Tavros asks after a solid minute of cuddly silence, “I mean, won’t mind? In the future? Not, uh, filling buckets, or anything? Not that it’s a necessary part of the process anymore but, you uh, know what I mean.”

Gamzee has to stop and think on it. He wants to be as honest as possible. He nuzzles back so Tavros doesn’t get nervous letting his brain run a million miles an hour while he’s taking time to mull it over. The answer he gave Karkat still stands.

“No matter what I’m fuckin’ flushed for you, bro,” he says, and rearranges again, holds Tavros out at arm’s length so he can look him in the eyes, “Not gonna lie, it’s the kind of thing that can disappoint a motherfucker for sure, but it’s no big. It’s like…Like this. Like the universe just up and dropped me this fuckin’ miracle out of the sky, this cake with like, sweet shit baked into it, and all these colors painted on, and it’s the most perfect goddamn miracle cake anybody ever did see.

And I grabbed that fucker up thinkin’ that it’s got a motherfucking cherry on top ‘cause every other cake I seen has a cherry up on top. Then I find out this cake ain’t got a cherry to be found and I’m like shit man, I was really expecting one of those juicy little red fuckers. But that cherry’s the smallest fuckin’ part of the whole cake and man, it’s just fine without. I can eat my cake without a cherry on it any time.”

Tavros stares at him, raises on eyebrow but hey, he’s smiling and that’s a sure sign of a good thing.

“The cake is you, bro,” Gamzee explains, in case he didn’t get it. And it was a pretty long explanation so, you know, if he spaced out halfway through he wouldn’t blame him one fuckin’ bit, “And what I’m trying to up and tell you is just- it is what it is, and what it is, is miracles,” He grins and Tavros’ grins right back, “Long as I get to stay with you and keep chillin’ same as ever, I’ll be the happiest fucker in the motherfucking universe.”

“Well then,” Tavros’ smile turns a little sassy, cheeky fucker, Gamzee loves that look, “Perhaps you should have some, uh, new stationery printed, so everyone knows that you are actually the happiest fucker in the, well, universe.”

“Shiiiiiiit man, I don’t even know where I’d get that shit printed!”

“Or you could just tell people we’re, uh.”

“Matesprits?”

“Yes. Matesprits. That’s more or less, exactly the word I was looking for.”

“So can a motherfucker get a kiss from his matesprit?”

“I think, yes, that could probably be arranged.”

They arrange the fuck out of it.