Your name is Dave Strider and you have just made the biggest mistake in your entire life. Which might actually be saying someting at this point, because your life has been nothing but Big Fucking Mistakes lately. You feel like you deserve some kind of Fuck Up award for this one, though, because when you look down at where Karkat used to be standing and see instead a little pile of candy red and black hair, you decide you've gone and ruined everything forever.
You hadn't really meant to do whatever it is you just did. One minute he'd been standing in front of you, rambling on and on about god only knows what, and the next you'd sort of maybe tried to freeze time around him to make him shut the hell up for ten seconds. But you think you probably did something... wrong, in that regard, because you may have taken time back, not froze it, and you may be staring down at what is Karkat as a baby.
Or whatever that thing clinging to the front of your sneaker is.
You clear your throat and give it a gentle push with your toe so you can get a better look. It's almost creepy, really; some kind of little wiggly bug with Karkat's face pasted on it, like a horribly bad Photoshop job Terezi would cook up. Except it's real.
"Hey, uh. Little guy," you start, kneeling down a little to get a better look at the thing - at Karkat, you tell yourself. Just because he's a freaky little grub thing now doesn't mean he's not still Karkat.
The little grub blinks up at you, red eyes huge and confused, and you reach down to touch it.
Which doesn't go over well, because all the sudden it lets out a little "skree!" of panic and starts scuttling in the opposite direciton as you as fast as it's little legs can carry it. You panic, dropping to your knees and leaning forward and scooping it - him, up into your arms.
"Look little man, you can't go runnin' off like that. I'd probably get murdered by a hoard of angry troll friends if they find out I sorta accidentally de-aged their friendleader," you pause, pulling Karkat's small body to your chest and holding him in the crook of your arm, kind of like you've seen people do with human babies. "Or whatever I did. What did I do to you, Karkles?"
Wide eyes blink up at you, scared and nervous, and he doesn't answer. You figure grubs can't talk, much like human babies, so you're not too surprised, really, but you sort of wish he had the answer for you. You have literally no idea what to do from here.
First things first, though: get out of the hallway. The last thing you need is someone finding you both standing here and starting to ask questions. This would be a thousand times easier if you could get it worked out on your own with no one the wiser to your mistake.
You flashstep down the hall, take a corner at a gentle sprint, and skid to a halt in front of the door for your newly furnished bedroom. You slap the button to open the door so hard that it makes a rather loud thumping noise, and as soon as you step inside the Karkat grub in your arms starts to wail hysterically, little pink tears rolling down his cheeks.
"Aw come on, little Karkat, don't start crying. I can't handle crying babies!" You rub your finger at his stomach and he wraps his many little black legs around it, holding it to his chest. You think he's going to calm down then, and you start to breath a sigh of relief, because god do you hate the sound of crying.
Except then he bites you, and his mouth is still full of fangs even as a tiny little grub, and it takes you scrambling frantically around to not drop him there. The sudden shuffle of movement makes him cry even harder, tiny little clicks and whines coming from him as tears spill onto your arm. You pull your finger away from him with a hiss.
"Dammit, now I'm bleeding. I hope you're happy you ornery little thing," you say, sticking the finger in your mouth to suck the blood off while you sit down on your bed. You plop him down gently next to you, blocking the way off the side of the bed with your body, and you sigh and look him over.
He's still crying with determination and enthusiasm and he's curled in on himself as if to appear as small and insignificant as possible. He's clearly terrified of you, eyes wide and tear-filled watching you with apprehension. You reach out your hand tentatively, offering him a good look at your fingers and palm.
"I'm not gonna hurt you, I promise. Just give me a second to think about this, I'll figure out what to do," you reach a little closer to him while you say it, and he leans forward to greet your hand, sniffing at the cut he inflicted on your finger. There's a small little bead of blood welled up on the wound and he looks at it curiously, eyes wide and crying completely forgotten.
You can tell from the look on his face that he seems to be processing this new information, tiny little grub gears turning in that big head of his, and you wait patiently. Maybe he's going to stop crying. That would be nice and give you some quiet to think in.
You aren't really expecting it when all eleven inches of Karkat grub come flying at you, shooting across the bed faster than you could have thought possible, and he latches on to the front of your shirt. He's trembling, but you don't hear any more crying, and you reach a hand out and put it on his back. His skin is warm and soft, kind of like a caterpillar, and it's simultaneously the creepiest thing and the gentlest thing you've ever felt in your life.
You roll onto your back, holding him against your chest while you do it, and you lean up against your pillows, looking down at him. He's holding on to your shirt with all six of his creepy little bug-like legs, red eyes wide and curious and still damp with tears. You sigh, rubbing at the back of his head with a finger, and he gently chirps in response.
"I don't know why you suddenly like me, but at least this is better than the crying," you say, reaching up with your other hand to push your sunglasses to the top of your head, and you rub at your eyes and the bridge of your nose while you think. You have no idea what you did - you clearly thought you were doing something other than this - and you're absolutely terrified of fucking it up and making this situation even worse. What if you take him further back in time? What if you take him too far in the future? How the fuck did this even work to begin with?
You basically have no choice at this point. You are gonna have to ask for help.
When you open your eyes, you are met with Karkat's tiny face several inches away from yours and you jolt back in surprise.
"Holy shit, don't do that, dude. You're gonna give me a heart attack," you say, putting your hand back on his body and trying to push him further away from you. He clings to your collar even tighter at that, little legs poking at your skin, and you start to feel a little uncomfortable. The stare-down he's giving you, eyes locked with yours with a burning intensity. is almost way too much for you.
After a moment he seems satisfied with what he sees and you are completely and utterly surprised by what he does next:
He starts purring.
Well, something like purring, at least. There's a decent bit more chirping and clicking than a normal cat-like purr, but it's about as close of a description as you can get and you just sort of blink back at him in confusion.
"Man, too bad your grown up self isn't this easy to calm the fuck down. We wouldn't be in this mess in that case," you mumble it as you rub gently at the top of his head, fingertips working between his little nubby horns. His hair is incredibly silky soft and you wonder if it always feels like this or if it's just a product of being so young. You realize with mild surprise that you'd very much like to find out.
"Who am I kidding. This is entirely my fault," you sigh with frustration, thumping your head against the wall behind you. Karkat looks up at you in confusion when you do, moving a bit closer to your face and pressing his little forehead against your chin. You pull him closer, assuming he's probably cold.
"I'm really good at blaming others for my fuck-ups. It's kind of a thing I do," you say it quietly and he snuggles closer against your neck, almost curled into the hood of your god tier outfit at this point. "Man, I wonder if you're always this clingy. Guess I never thought to get to know you that well."
You poke him in his side, very gently, and when he doesn't stir you pull him from where he's fallen and sit him back on your chest. He's sound asleep, eyes shut gently, head flopped to the side against your shirt, and he looks downright adorable like that, which is not a word you'd thought would ever describe Karkat Vantas. You take a deep breath.
"Guess now's as good a time as any to go fix this," you say, wrapping him up in a blanket from your bed before absconding to the dining room, where you're hoping to find the other Hero of Time. If anyone can help you not fuck this up, it's her.
When you get back to the room with Aradia, she immediately squeals with delight at the little sleeping Karkat grub. She sits next to him on the bed, resting her fingers gently on his cheek and you think she's going to explode in a flurry of word vomit of "oh my god he's so cute" at any minute now.
She doesn't, though, and you're incredibly thankful for that. You already have a killer headache without the screeching of an excited girl thrown in the mix.
"Wow, he's way more manageable like this! Are you sure we shouldn't keep him this way for a while?" She giggles, teasing you and him at the same time, and you cross the room to sit on the end of the bed.
"While it's a seriously tempting idea, believe me, I think we'd be better off fixing this before Juggalo dude finds out and gets all crazy murder rage on me." She snorts, nodding in agreement.
It takes you both fucking with time in the entire room as well as around him specifically and a complicated explanation of just how old Karkat is supposed to be from Aradia before you both have him back to how he's supposed to be, all seven sweeps of pure irritation and anger.
"--ing waste of my time even trying to explain anything to you, Strider, because the empty hole where your thinkpan is supposed to be... obviously," he stops when he realizes that he's lying in a bed that's not his, blanket wrapped around his entire body, with you and Aradia standing at his bedside, watching him. He looks from one of you to the other, down at the bed, then back up at you again, and he does something you are not at all expecting.
He gets calm.
"What just happened," he says, and his voice is actually soft and oh my god did you break him? Is he broken? Because you are going to feel like a serious asshole if you ruined him for life or something.
"Uh, not much, Karkles--"
"Dave had an accident! But I fixed it so everyone and everything is fine," Aradia says it as she's walking out the door and you want to shake her to death because how can she just say that shit and leave you to fend for yourself, you are gonna get disemboweled by a sickle or something any minute now.
When you don't, and he instead just says "oh" really quietly, you think the world must be coming to an end.
"So, uh. Vantas. You feeling all right there, bro?" He looks at you with mild confusion while he untangles himself and gets slowly to his feet, nodding absently all the way.
"Yeah. A weird dream or something," he looks you over questioningly, like he can't quite figure out why you're there or why you look so familiar to him or something like that, and he shakes his head. "I don't know what the ever loving fuck you did, Strider, but don't do it ever again."
Karkat walks out the door while he says it and you stare after him, because the way he looked at you right now was just down-right creepy coming from him. Like you were someone he had known a very long time ago but just couldn't place.
Like you were some kind of family or something.
You try really hard to ignore the implications of that notion.